I loved the vibe of this small island Siquijor south of Bohol. With the motorbike you can drive around the island in one day including activities. Siquijor is known for diving, just like the rest of the Philippines, next to the healers living on the island. I didn’t visited the healers, think I’m too down-to-earth to believe and preferred the snorkeling tour to Apo Island. But of course it is up to you!! One way or the other, you will fall in love with Siquijor just like I did!! We booked two days and three nights at Siquijor, see below the route and things you can do on Stunning Siquijor.
Siquijor is located 1,5 hours by direct ferry (Ocean Jet) south of Bohol. The ferry left perfectly on time at 10:20 from Tagbilaran and we arrived around 12:00 in Larena, the second port after Siquijor town. From here its an half an hour ride to San Juan, the area where most of the restaurants and hotels are located. The return ferry left at 12:30 from Larena directly to Tagbilaran. Good to book these popular ferry tickets in advance.
Outside the port terminal tricycles are waiting to bring you to your hotel, they have fixed prices (400PP to San Juan) and they normally drive only one way. Not efficient, but this to give business to everybody on the island. At our accommodation we rented a motorbike for 350PP per day, including two helmets. The motorbike it perfect to discover the island by yourself, stop wherever you like to stop.
Things to do on Siquijor
You can easily discover the island by yourself with a motorbike and a printed map, picture of a tourist map or maps.me! In one day you can circle around the entire island including the first 3 and even 4 activities. The second day I did a full day tour to Apo Island. If you like to visit the healers; add another day, they are located in the mountains in the center of the island. I will recommend you to stay 3-4 days on Siquijor.
1. Swing in the Cambugahay Falls
Our first stop after breakfast in San Juan were the Cambugahay waterfalls. Head to the village of Lazi and follow the signs about 2 km upstream river Po-o. Here you can park the motorbike and pay the 10PP entrance fee. Then walk down the steep stairway to the main swimming area. There are several natural swimming pools some with bamboo rafts on it. A lot of people climb onto the meters high bamboo platforms to swing with a rope into the emerald water. The water is perfect to cool off and enjoy the scenery but it could get crowded.
Tip: Walk the slippery trails up or down to avoid the crowds. Bring water/reef shoes for protection when walking the dirt paths.
2. Swim and Jump at Salagdoong Beach
Next stop for us is Salagdoong Beach. During our stay Kagusuan Beach was closed for tourists, so we went straight to Salagdoong Beach passing the town of Maria and beautiful nature of Siquijor. The maps.me is working perfectly using it at the back of the motorbike, I directed my father where to turn right. Passing a forest and a toll gate where you have to pay the 50PP entrance fee for the resort. The turquoise water is inviting you to dive immediately into the water.
You can climb up to the rock and jump about 10 meters off the cliff! I swam all around it with my snorkeling gear but not much to spot here. The water and beach are lovely at this almost deserted resort. The restaurant is busy with tourist but perfect to get a snack and some drinks. We went for a late lunch just outside Salagdoong beach/forest to the right on the Siquijor circumferential road which is called Harbour Lights; owned by an American. Very welcoming restaurant with good food.
3. Go Snorkeling with Barracudas
After lunch we headed more up north of Siquijor to the next stop of The Tulapos Marine Sanctuary. Before we got there we stopped at a nice beach and searched for some nice shells. I love looking for them, very relaxing activity and enjoying the sun at the same time. When the main road turns to the left at village Enrique Villanueva, you go straight to the sanctuary. Some locals helped us to point us to this snorkeling spot. You can’t snorkel here by yourself to be honest, the guides know how to spot the barracudas and they will pull you into the shoal of fish. And the be honest the current is very strong so you need flippers to keep up with the fish and current. Next to this it is a long walk through shallow water with stones, corrals and mangroves.
You can rent all the material you need and guides at the small booth on the beach. Here you register yourself and pay the entrance fee and guide to the marine park; 320PP per person. I loved this snorkel tour, its different than any other snorkel tour, the uncountable barracudas are overwhelming. At the end of the tour the guide pointed out the huge clams that are changing their colors; perfect finish! Time to head back to San Juan, perhaps you are on time to see the sunset at Paliton Beach.
Tip: Bring your swim suit, sunscreen, underwater camera, reef booties, flippers and snorkeling gear for the day.
4. Watch the Sunset at Paliton Beach
Perfect to finish the day to see the sun set at this lovely Paliton Beach near San Juan. Here you can get a fresh coconut for 50PP and if you want to add the local rum you pay 80PP. At this small white beach with perfect blue water and where the music is coming from the beach stalls, will give you the real holiday feeling!! If you want to get sportive you can rent a SUP board for 300PP per hour, make sure you go with high tide otherwise your fins will get stuck.
5. Amaze the Underwater World of Apo Island
I loved this trip to Apo Island since my middle name is mermaid; love to be in the water surfing, swimming and snorkeling. I booked this trip to Apo island two days in advance at Apo Divers and paid 2100PP per person including snorkel material, coffee/tea, snacks and lunch. The boat is huge and comfortable with enough space to chill and enjoy the ±1 hour journey to the first snorkeling stop. The boat left around 8:00 at a small port where I was dropped off by the Apo Divers where I had to be present at 7:10. All went very smooth. At the port more tourists arrived not only to snorkel, but also for diving and some only for transport; they booked accommodation on Apo Island itself.
In total we did three snorkel stops with a guide, all at the southern part of Apo Island. I spotted at least 7 turtles in total at all three snorkel stops!! I swam with them for meters which was magical and relaxing and the coral is colorful and beautiful (check my Philippines Instagram stories turtle movie). My guide was 74 years old and with his hand made flippers he pointed out the water snakes, turtles, fish and coral. At the last stop you could even see the gas bubbles from the volcanic activity under water. I can barely describe what I saw under water, but I hope you get an good impression from my pictures and convince you to go snorkeling at the great Apo Island in the Philippines. Around 16:00 we were back with the boat in Siquijor.
Where to Stay on Siquijor
I was traveling together with my father to Siquijor; to give us both the privacy I booked two rooms at the Sand 1 Hostel (±1200PP per night per room) in San Juan. The rooms were perfectly new, clean, fresh and they offered free coffee! The front desk is very helpful, I really will recommend you to stay at this small Hostel with only 5 rooms. The location is perfect at the road behind the beach and with the motorbike you are close to everything.
Where to Eat and Drink on Siquijor
The main bars and restaurants are located at the stretched town of San Juan. I starts around Paliton Beach till 10 km in the direction of Lazi.
My favorite spot in Siquijor is the Beach Bar and Lounge. This place consists of two separate “restaurants” which share the seating on the beach; Glow Beach Café where you can order the perfect breakfast bowls (320PP) and smoothies and Island Casitas Siquijor where you can order for example a tuna sandwich with fries (220PP) and coffee. They offer sunset cocktails too! All day a perfect spot on the beach with great a great view, food and ambiance.
Luca Loko: To be honest we drove all the way to U Story Restaurant but that was fully booked. I had a recommendation from travelers to eat here, but was not lucky. I was quite a drive from San Juan and on our way back we ended up at the nice place of Loca Loka. The food was good, some western influences with traditional food, the couscous with shrimps tasted delicious. I would go back to this small but popular restaurant.
Baha Bar: We went to Baha Bar on a Friday night where they served a popular all-inclusive traditional BBQ buffet for 450PP per person. This buffet was including the famous Philippines roasted suckling pig (lechon) and fresh grilled fish, with pasta, vegetables, desserts and soft drinks. Be on time it could get crowded!
Monkey Business: My father loved the breakfast here, American style with bacon, eggs and bread. My mango pancake with too much coconut milk was disappointing but the ambiance is great. The paintings, reggae music and over decoration makes it a very original place.
Dagsa: We drove by this huge and busy restaurant and we gave it a try. We had to wait before we were able to get table. That means indeed it’s a popular place here in Siquijor. I ordered the fish skewer BBQ (395PP) which was ok. But the Oreo ice desert was the best. I was so full afterward but loved it, after a full day of snorkeling I deserved it!!
Tip: Make your new Instagram profile photo at the Coconut tree near Coral Cay. Perfect shot and the Coral Cay Resort offer a great mango juice!!
I think Siquijor must be on your list, the island has a good and chill vibe. Not as busy as Bohol and the scenery is beautiful and cheap compared to other parts of the Philippines I have seen so far; Enjoy Siquijor!!!