My friend and I went to Dumaguete recently and decided to take a side trip to Siquijor. The place, known for it’s mysticism due to stories which says that the island’s inhabitants practice witchcraft and sorcery is not frequented by travelers. This is the very reason why I was hesitant in visiting the island in the past (boo hoo). Thankfully, something in me changed and I finally decided to have it a go.
A few days before we set for Siquijor, there was an impending typhoon set to cross the Visayas anytime. Thank heavens it stayed put during the days we were traveling (oh, my lucky stars!). Thus, we were able to get around without a problem 😄.
Our jump off point for the trip was Dumaguete. From Dumaguete Port, it takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours to get to Dumaguete depending on which boat you take and the weather. There are several boats which plies the Dumaguete -Siquijor route and a few, Dumaguete – Larena (Larena is a major town in Siquijor). It is advisable that you check the port for the schedule before your trip as they vary from day to day, but to give you an idea, this link will show you which boat companies go to the island: http://www.siquijordirectory.com/ferryshipping.html
We rode the Aleson boat scheduled to depart at 8:30 am. The fare is 120 for the air-conditioned cabin and we took that. I learned though that it’s much better to ride al fresco since the smell inside the air-conditioned room is quite nauseating (it’s a mix of cheap air freshener and gasoline fumes). It was quite unexpected that the boat left on the dot and we actually reached the island at exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes as promised by the ticket seller. We were greeted by crystal clear water and a small stretch of white sand beach as soon as we disembarked from the boat.
Outside the port area are tricycle drivers trying to get customers. This is where we found someone who would take us to our hotel and then, the tour of the island. I didn’t do much research for this trip and haphazardly chose the hotel we were going to stay at. Big mistake. Apparently, the resort is a 40 minute drive from the port and although its right by the beach, the beach there is not really that good for swimming (this we learned later on). So much for planning! We had to haggle with the tricycle driver since he was asking for 300 pesos for the ride going to the hotel and 1000 pesos for the tour. We finally agreed at 1100 all-in which I think is a pretty good price considering the distance of our hotel.
The ride to the resort we were staying at in Larena was quite long, and when we finally reached the side street leading to it, that’s when I realized we booked a hotel in the middle of nowhere. There was no way we could find food elsewhere on foot, and there was no public transportation available by the resort. You will have to walk through a 300 meters(?) rough road planked by trees and scanty houses to get to the main highway which by the way, very few multicabs and tricycles pass by. So the chance of me going anywhere outside the resort is NIL. Call me scaredy cat for all I care. Anyway, we managed to check-in the reserved room even though it was quite early for the check-in time. When we reached the garden cottage that we reserved, lo and behold, it looked like it wasn’t occupied for quite sometime. The room had a rustic appeal but it wasn’t kept clean. Imagine the surface of the bathroom with reptile droppings here and there. Oh it wasn’t occupied a lot most likely and they didn’t even check to clean it before we arrived. What a waste.
After we left our things in the room, we sought out our ride for the tour who patiently waited for us by the reception area. From here on, the adventure starts! Since there were only two of us traveling, we decided to take the coastal island tour which took us to the following places:
Our driver told us that this beach is controlled by the local government. Here we took our lunch as we were starving when we got here. They have a restaurant, rooms for visitors staying overnight, cottages for day trip travelers and there’s even a diving board by the cliff for those who are looking for some adrenalin rush (it’s for free by the way). They don’t have a lifeguard though or I didn’t see one so you dive/swim at your own risk. The beach on the right side is not only picturesque but has fine white sand. The limestone formation on both ends of the beach adds to it’s charm.
San Isidro Labrador Parish (Lazi Church)
The church and the convent in front of it (I didn’t get to take a picture of it) are both National Historical Shrines.
A short ride from Lazi Church and we arrived at Cambugahay Falls. You have to go down 100 or so steps to reach the falls itself. Once you have descended from the steps, you will be amazed by the turquoise blue water. You can swim, cliff dive (be careful though since some parts are shallow) and jump off the top imitating Tarzan by using a natural “baging”.
Century Old Balete Tree
This Balete or Banyan tree is said to be 400 years old. Beside is a small stream with doctor fish swimming freely. Yes, you can sit down and have a foot spa for free!
Capilay Spring Park
Perfect place for a relaxing swim! Not for those who can’t swim though since the pool is deep. Did I mention that you can swim here for free? Where can you find something like this in the city? Nowhere!
St. Francis de Assisi Church
This is our last stop. You can actually see this church upon arriving in Siquijor since it is right by the port, thus the sign, Welcome to Siquijor.
We were transported back to our resort after the tour. The plan was we were going to swim by the beach to watch the sunset but it prove futile since we were greeted by low tide and cloudy skies! The water on the beach barely reached my mid-calf and we just decided to stroll along the coast. The place was quite secluded, perfect for a private getaway but that was not I was looking for. It was probably better if we stayed somewhere in San Juan since it is where the backpackers inns are located and it probably has the longest strip of white beach in the province.
We found what looked like mating starfish while walking in the beach and there were lots of them. That night at our cottage was kinda scary since we can hear the gecko, locally known as “tuko” outside. We were afraid that reptile might find its way inside our room.
The landscape of Siquijor is very much like other islands in the Visayas, what sets it apart is the tranquility and the feeling of seclusion that you find since there are not a lot of tourists there. The place is yet to be commercialized and the rusticity of the island is what draws in foreigners and locals alike. I must say, the place is kept very clean, probably one of the cleanest provinces I have been. And contrary to the rumor that the inhabitants practice witchcraft, they are actually very nice and accommodating people.
Til next post 😀