I had decided to go to Siquijor and ride round it, staying one night and then returning to Negros where I was based. Before you atempt this, please read the horror story on my transportation tip. You are much better hiring a bike on Siquijor, although I believe there are only automatic and semi-automatic scooters for hire. I was fortunate enough to have the comparative luxury of a Suzuki 125cc which I have come to love, it is a great little bike. I do need a clutch.
Whatever chariot you manage to acquire you will be treated to a simply delightful 75km circumnavigation round the island on good paved roads with some wonderful scenery. You will also be blessed with a complete absence of the almost suicidal lunacy, ignorance and automotive incompetence that seems to signify driving on adjacent Negros island. It really is a joy if you like to ride.
Once off the Highway, properly named the Siquijor Circumferential Road, it is a completely different story. The interior roads are in states of repair varying from poor to atrocious, a situation not helped by the recent typhoon and subsequent floods. The image of the country road is one of the better stretches of the road going from San Juan up towards the mountains and it is all in pretty bad shape. A dirt bike would have been useful. The run back down the other side to where it comes out between Siquijor City and Larena is a pure joy. Stunning views out ofer the ocean, as you can see, a beautiful brand new tarmaced road (not concrete), plenty of bends to play with and one of the loveliest places I have ridden.
There is one thing to mention though, which you should be aware of. Use of helmets in the Visayas seems to be very hit and miss. Most places do not seem to enforce what I believe is a national law but I was stopped in the Municipality of San Juan for not wearing one. I explained the situation to the very polite young officer, saying I had come from Dumaguete, it was not my bike and I didn't have a helmet as I was a tourist etc. etc. He informed me that I should have one the next time I came here and waved me on my way without even a hint of a fine / bribe which I was expecting.
I subsequently spoke to a senior police officer in a social setting and he informed me they do two roadblocks a day each of two hours duration, so make your own decision about wearing one. This information was current as of February 2012.
Don't let the helmet thing put you off, it is well worth the effort to get there and do it and gave me one of my best days in the Philippines thus far.
The Island of Siquijor offers many things, Caving, Trekking and Snorkeling to name a few. If your a Beach Bum like me then you are in the right place my friend..
When you are in Cambugahay Falls... Take a dip/dive... You won't be able to resist it anyway..
For more info check their own website:
If you would have to mention two things that came to your mind when you think about Philippines, one of them would likely be diving.
And for a good reason. Philippines underwater is paradise and as you'dexpect there are numerous dive shops for equipment rental & courses and excellent dive spots to enjoy all around the country!
Even small Siquijor Island has its options for diving. There's one dive resort called Kiwi Dive Resort that advertises 16 different dive sites around the island:
divesites around Siquijor
...but at my time of visit only the sites nearest to the resort were on offer due to the state of disrepair of the bigger boat. But never mind, the underwater scenery near the resort is fantastic too as I know from experience at Cedric's Wall, Sandugan Canyon and the Sanctuary. I liked especially the Canyon, since the corals are on a slope starting already at 5 meters depth, so this dive had one of the best safety stop I ever had!
These are not the places to go if you're after sharks, big rays etc. but is fantastic to enjoy the beauty of quite untouched soft- and hard coral, wealth of reef fishes and a good chance to spot other sealife such as snakes, shrimps, turtles and nudibranches. With an average visibility of 20+ meters (in sunlight) and few to none other divers around it is an excellent and pieceful experience and a must if you're around.
Kiwi Dive Resort has reasonable equipment for rental ($22 per dive incl guiding/boat).
more photos in the travelogue
The forest around Siquijor's highest peak (577m) is designated a nature reserve. It hosts several species of endemic flora and fauna and is the focus of pilgrims. On the top, which is reached by a few dozen of steps from the road, is a viewing platform which offers great views all around the island.
We just passed by and had a look from the platform - a good reason on itself -, as it was already late, but you may enjoy a full day of activity here. There are several caves to explore and - reputedly - a multi station pelgrim route along paths through the reserve, dedicated to Our Lady of of Lourdes of which the Final Station is on the top next to the viewing platform.
The approach route is very nice, cutting through the interior of Siquijor and accessible on a motorbike or chartered car.
Hiking is maybe the nicest option ca. 7km from the Siquijor-Larena mainroad, you'll meet lot's of locals as you pass through their villages, and the route is partly overgrown which reduces the heat somewhat. But it remains a challenge!
factual info on MT Bandila-an
From Lazi Town, you can divert to a very scenic road that traverses Siquijor through its Central Highlands. After driving some 10 lonely minutes on the quiet countrysidal road, you will sure notice the spot where a few dozen people hang around inthe middle of nowhere.
There's a little stall selling drinks and it's probably the only few square meters on the island where a big sign announces that you actually have to pay a parking fee for the vehicle. The driver warns to never leave your possessions unguarded, even your shoes.
Now you know you arrived at The Falls!
Given the unusual high degree of commercial activity your expectation rises with the minute as you descend for around 30 steps along the stairs. Then suddenly you stand eye in eye with The Falls.
A very pretty place indeed. The surroundings are very green and water is plunging down in few stages of which the highest drop could be close to 2 meters. The pools are deep here so you can try your favorite jumps /dives or just enjoy a refreshing swim.
Likely not the most breathtaking water falls you ever saw, but definately worth another 1-2 hour break although for the adventurous it also looks inviting to explore the area for half a day.
This Catholic church in Lazi town was built in 1884 during the Spanish Colonial Period and declared National Cultural Treasure.
Its tropical appearance of coloured coral stone and partly overgrown belltower within a large grassy compound surrounded by palm trees, is a nice sight and worth a stop.
You can also have a look inside if the caretaker is around (and awake), chances seems best in morning or after 3pm.
The original wooden floor is what locals are most proud of (since it got a special mention in the book of a famous church historian), and it has a fair share of interesting religious artefacts, statues and the like.
When you pass through the quiet town of Lazi, your eye will certainly be caught by the giant hard wooden structure that is declared a National Cultural Treasure and one of the largest of its kind in Asia.
Finished in 1891, the Convent is still in a remarkbale good state. You can go upstairs in the main building facing the road to arrive in a big hall with antique furniture and several interesting paintings.
The more important artefacts are exhibited in the Heritage musuem, which is part of the main Hall. We found the door locked with no one around (awake) carrying the key.
see photo's of the Siquijor Heritage Museum (from the official website)
Next stop from Tulapos Sanctuary is Salagdoong, near the town of Maria. This is a favorite weekend hangout for locals.
Salagdoong has a nice beach and good swimming, and is more or less developed for family recreation. There are lovely picnic area's, nicely manicured photo settings, a decent restaurant and -maybe the biggest attraction - a karaoke machine so powerful that it can entertain a crowd of thousands!
After a good lunch of kinilaw and fresh squid, we went into the water for a snorkelled swim but either we were on the wrong spot or at the wrong time, there was not much to see.
Anyway, definately a pleasant place for an hour or so.
Tulapos Sanctuary is another fantastic and peaceful spot to snorkel.
Different from the Kiwi House reef which is one big underwater garden with loads of small fish and micro organism, Tulapos has a lower density of corals but it therefore has enough space for bigger fish.
Snorkelling here is really a discovery experience. At one moment you think it's a bit quiet, suddenly a school of big batfishes or barracudas may appear. Since the sanctuary is so vast, you can marvel here for hours.
If the caretaker is around, you have to register and pay a "conservation fee" of PHP 50 (USD1,--) each.
By the way, besides of snorkeling / diving there's not much to do here. Beach not really worthwhile.
The House Reef at Kiwi is a superb place for snorkelling!
You just get into the ocean from the beach, swim to deeper parts first traversing an area with sand and sea grasses, inhabited by several beautiful species of sea stars and sea urchin.
Gradually the scenery changes to rocky and then there's finally the coral reef. This reef is around 30-50 meters wide and between ca. 3 to 15 meters deep. Beyond the reef is a steep slope going down to around 25 meters. Part of it is called Cedric's Wall, a renowed dive site.
The reef itself is very rich with mostly hard corals and reef fishes. There are some sandy spots where we saw a big Hawksbill turtle resting and also we followed an impressive banded sea snake sliddering between the corals. And then observing all kinds of creatures that we couldn't give a name!
Near the outer edge of the reef we encountered enormous schools of tiny fishes in all most amazing colours like yellow, purple, orange, lit by the sun against the deep dark blue backdrop of the ocean. Just amazing!
Recommended to go by high to medium high tide, for both visibilty and navigation reasons.
Snorkelling gear is for rental at Kiwi for PHP 150/full day. Grab a yellow mask.
Daily by around 5pm it's time to find yourself a good spot to enjoy sunset, preferably with your favorite drink and company.
As the sun downs behind the mountains of Negros, the sky changes colors, the most amazing ones, different every day. Fishermen float slowly down the coast line. They have no eye for the magnificent scenery, but add to the magic of the moment.
Surely not unique to Siquijor, and not guaranteed on a daily basis but highly recommended to plan carefully! Have anti mosquito spray at hand.
more sunsets spotted from Siquijor
At the resort, they offer free kayaks to use. So if you are in the mood for a good kayaking experience, then u really shouldn't miss it!
We really had fun doing it at sunrise.