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A Travel Guide to the Magical Island of Siquijor

In this travel guide for the magical island of Siquijor, we will go over everything you need to know to plan your budget trip to Siquijor - including where to stay in Siquijor, things to do in Siquijor, and more!



CONTENTS




 


Why Siquijor?


Creating an itinerary for the Philippines can be quite dizzying. There are SO many places to choose from, and with the ability to extend your 30-day visa continuously for up to 2 years, time is not often the main obstacle.


Of the 7641 islands in the Philippines, choosing which islands to visit can be a dilemma.


Through other travellers' recommendations, I narrowed it down to three - the easterly island of Siargao, known for wicked surf all year round and a thriving ex-pat community, the popular archipelago of Palawan, with its emerald waters and white sand beaches, or finally Siquijor, the tiny mystic island of the central Visayas.


In the end, choosing Siquijor was the best decision! Joe and I were spellbound by the beauty of the island.


Avoiding the crowds is a huge priority for me when travelling, and in Siquijor we found that it's not touristic to the point that it feels busy or spoilt - but there is enough infrastructure to make it a relaxing place to visit (a variety of eateries, plenty of ATMs, lots of things to do and decent budget accommodation). It reminded us of Koh Lanta in many ways, which is our favourite place in Thailand.



EXHIBIT A


The busiest beach on the island (Paliton) at the busiest time of day (Sunset) during the busiest time of the year (Feb/March).


I don't know about you but I don't think it's that busy at all!



People enjoying sunset at Paliton Beach Siquijor
Paliton Beach

 


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Where is Siquijor?


The province of Siquijor is located in the central Visayas region, more or less slap bang in the middle of the 7000 islands of the Philippines.


The islands of Negros Oriental, Cebu, and Bohol can all be reached in a couple of hours by ferry.

The entire island of Siquijor can be circumnavigated by moped in about 3-4 hours.


The roads are well-paved and dotted with small villages, white sandy beaches, abundant trees, flowers, and verdant hills. Most beaches will greet you with turquoise seas, swaying palm trees, and magnificent sunsets. Underwater is just as grand, if not more, than above. Siquijor sits pretty in the Sulu Sea, a part of the famous coral triangle, with access to world-class scuba diving and snorkelling. You'll find vibrant hard and soft corals, sea turtles, and thousands of species of tropical fish, all reached just by wading into the sea from the shore.



 


A History of the Magic of Siquijor


Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines and was 'discovered' by Esteban Rodriguez and Juan Aguirre in 1565, the same year that Spain began its 343-year occupation of the Philippines. Before this, the island was known to the locals as Katagusan, named after the 'Tugas,' or Molave trees, that grew there.


Siquijor was known to the Spanish conquistadors as Isla de Fuego or the “Island of Fire” for it was literally lit by fireflies at night swarming the branches of its Molave trees.


During the 1600s Siquijor Island was on a major trade route through the Philippines. During the many voyages through the region, rumour has it that Spanish crews started falling ill and would drop to the nearest island to seek medical help. The locals referred them to Shamans for traditional forms of healing, and the Spaniards got so freaked out that they labelled everyone as witches and sorcerers and bailed.


Until this day the so-called witches or healers, who are actually known as mananambal in local terms, practice their traditional healing processes on the island.


This is normally through massage, tinctures, herbs, oils, and love potions!


Like Caribbean voodoo, Siquijor rituals fuse elements of conventional Roman Catholicism and beliefs that prevailed before Spanish missionaries brought Christianity over.


Siquijor’s reputation as a haven of witchcraft has spread so far that during the Islamic uprising of the 1970s in the Philippines, both soldiers and Muslim guerrillas came to buy amulets to protect them from bullets. It's this same mystic allure that has drawn many tourists to Siquijor in the last two decades.



The cliff jumping sport at Salagdoong
Salagdoong

 



Where to Stay in Siquijor


San Juan is the main tourist area of Siquijor - and whilst normally I would avoid staying in the busiest part of an island, in this case, it's really not that built up. The rest of the island is much quieter if you're looking for some solace in nature, but it is very limited in things to do and places to eat.


I would strongly suggest staying near San Juan to have access to all of the restaurants and shops. We stayed in Tubod - a 5-minute drive south of San Juan.


The location was perfect, as it was away from the bustle but close enough. We were also directly in front of Tubod Marine Reserve, where we could rent snorkelling gear and enjoy the underwater magic.


Equally staying near Paliton, a 5-minute drive north of San Juan would also be ideal, especially for sunsets and swimming.


For me, the best place to find accommodation in Asia is booking.com. This is where we found this cute bungalow Miki's Guesthouse for 1000PHP (£15) per night.


A cute budget bungalow surrounded by trees in Siquijor
Miki's Guesthouse


 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE for the Philippines I suggest browsing on Travel Supermarket and choosing a cheap policy with a high Defaqto rating.


 


Things to Do in Siquijor


This is a list of all the activities I enjoyed while staying in Siquijor. For more details on the where, how, and how much, check out my more detailed article on things to do in Siquijor.


  • Paddleboarding at Paliton Beach

  • Snorkelling at Tubod Marine Park

  • Free-diving course with Apo Divers

  • Scuba diving with Siquijor Divers

  • Chasing the waterfalls of Cambugahay, Lugnason + others

  • Cliff jumping and floaty bobbing at Salagdoon

  • The beautiful butterfly sanctuary

  • Guided treks and caving

  • Live music at Baha Bar or Monkey Business

  • Exploring the island by motorbike

  • Swimming at Paliton North or Salagdoon

  • Sunset rituals at Tubod, Paliton, or Coral Cay Beach

  • Gorge Pizza at Marco Polo, enjoy smoothie bowls at Luca Loko, or Filipino food at Tagbalayon.



I Dream of Mangoes Free Diving
Free Diving in Tubod Marine Park

Black and yellow butterfly
The Butterfly Sanctuary

 


How to Get to Siquijor


Fly to Dumaguete or Cebu from Manila for £80 return, check the prices on Skyscanner and always book directly with the airline.


From Dumaguete, the ferry takes two hours and runs 4-5 times a day. You can buy a ticket on the day or ahead of time with 12go Asia - it is around £7.


From Cebu, the ferry takes 4 hours and runs 2 times a day. See the schedule here. The ticket price is 1200 PHP



 


When to Go to Siquijor

WET ~ June to October

DRY ~ November to May


The best time to visit is Feb/March before it gets too hot.


You will still get the occasional downpour, but who doesn't like a bit of tropical rain now and then? Ferries won't run if it's too windy, so I would avoid visiting during the monsoon months unless you don't mind getting stuck!



A small colourful church in Siquijor
A small colourful church in Siquijor

 


All in All


Joe and I loved our time in Siquijor, and as you can tell from this travel guide, we had plenty to do to occupy our time in Siquijor for 2 weeks.


Some travel blogs say Siquijor is still undiscovered, and some say the opposite, that these days Siquijor is super touristic.


Actually, I felt like it was somewhere in between. There was definitely a buzz, but you could still easily find a whole beach to yourself.


The sunsets are fabulous, there is a reason why they are a daily ritual for many Filipinos. The marine sanctuaries are dazzling and enjoying the reef on our doorstep was an absolute highlight of our time there.


It's worth mentioning that it also doesn't feel like anyone is ever trying to rip you off. Everything is fairly priced and we didn't feel the need to haggle at all. We received a lot of warmth and openness from the local people!



 


Thank you for reading my travel guide to Siquijor.


If you are thinking of adding Siquijor to your itinerary and you what like a more detailed list of things to do, check out my article here.


As flights throughout Southeast Asia are super cheap, it's well worth tagging another country onto your itinerary. Check out my blog post on planning a trip around the world for more travel tips!


Happy Travels

xx



START PLANNING YOUR NEXT TRIP



 

Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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