This is another one of those trips I did a year and a half ago, but only blogging about it now, because I have all the time in the world. And I want to close this chapter of my life. LOL. We spent 5 days and 4 nights in Siquijor and this was the second leg of our 25-day trip in November 2018.
So, before this, we were in Legazpi. We flew from Legazpi to Cebu, stayed overnight (well, just hours actually), and then woke up early the next day to take the ferry to Siquijor.
We didn’t book an accommodation in Cebu because we were planning to stay at this place right beside the pier (JSU-PSU Mariner’s Court), but when I texted them to make a reservation, they said they don’t accept reservations. So we walked in, and unfortunately, they only have a free bed for females. We asked if they had a room instead, but unfortunately, they are fully booked because it was Nov 28th, when we were there and they had an event since it was a holiday on Nov 30th. Just bad luck on our part so we looked for a place at the last minute, we found Teofel Hostel, which is around 2kms away from Pier 1. At that point, we just wanted a place that is not too far from the pier (since we need to leave early) and is affordable. It was not that bad actually, they had a nice rooftop. We just had a hard time lugging our bags on the stairs. We had dinner at a small carinderia somewhere close and went to a BPI somewhere to withdraw some money, then we were off for our few hours of sleep.
CEBU CITY TO LARENA, SIQUIJOR
Before I start this, I want to put out a warning to not buy tickets from just anyone! When we arrived at the pier in the evening, there was a man claiming he’s from the office and was trying to convince us that he’ll get us tickets. Knowing not to bite, I walked to the ticket office instead and asked when we can purchase tickets. We were told that we can buy the next day when they open at 6am. The trip is at 8am, so you can only buy it on the same day. We woke up at 5am so that we can get there and queue by 6am. It took us a couple of minutes actually, but the line wasn’t super crazy. I queued and paid for the tickets while Marc was left with our bags to guard them.
This is not a direct trip, it docks at Tagbilaran Port first in Bohol, and then to Larena Port. No need to go down when you get to Tagbilaran Port, they will just let the passengers going to Bohol leave and then it will proceed to Larena Port. The travel time is 4 hours, but since it stops at Tagbilaran for around 20 minutes, you will arrive in Siquijor at around 12:30pm. The ticket now is PHP 1200, but I forgot how much we paid in Nov 2018. But I remember, there is a PHP50 difference between the open air and tourist class tickets. It was super cold on the ferry so make sure you have a jacket. Imagine being in that super cold ferry for 4 hours!
There are two ports in Siquijor and the ones from Cebu and Bohol will dock at Larena Port, which is the farther one from the center. The other one is Siquijor Port, which services boats going to and coming from Dumaguete.
Our accommodation is in San Juan, Siquijor, which is around 20km away from Larena Port. I was able to find a photo of the tricycle tariff rate here. I think there is also a different list if you will use a bigger tricycle. There were only two of us, so I think yeah, we paid PHP500. But to summarize:
Larena to San Juan – PHP400-500
Larena to Siquijor – PHP100-350
Larena to Lazi – PHP600-700
within Larena – PHP50-250
Larena to Enrique Villanueva – PHP300-400
Larena to Maria – PHP400-600
For me, this is great because it’s an approved price and it’s the same for everyone. Don’t you just hate it when the tricycle driver just decides the price or if you ask them how much and then they’d say it’s up to you? So this is great.
ACCOMMODATION: THE BRUCE
The Bruce is located in San Juan, Siquijor, along San Juan Beach. It is closer to Siquijor Port than Larena Port. Ok, I totally recommend this place! I recommended it to a friend who went to Siquijor a few months after I did and she booked there as well. We booked the fan room without a kitchen for 2 pax, which is only PHP1,000. It is seriously a steal! There is no prepayment needed, you pay upon arrival. I just reserved through text and that was it! It’s a beachfront accommodation with the most amazing view of the sunset. This is the most important part of it – THE SUNSET! It’s so nice to come home everyday, after motorcycling around the island and just see that beautiful sunset at the end of the day. They have hammocks on the beach so that’s where we spent every afternoon, sunset-watching.
They also have a swimming pool, kayaks, and wifi – all free use for guests! They just don’t have a restaurant, but they have a water boiler in the room and cups so you can have coffee. They have sister establishments, Sylvia and Dagsa, which I will talk about shortly.
One pesky thing to note: ANTS. But this is not unique to The Bruce or Siquijor. You would deal with ants a lot when you’re in the Philippines.
You can also see Apo Island from here. One afternoon while viewing the sunset (I think it was right on the first day), we saw a flashing light from another island and we eventually figured out that it was the lighthouse from Apo Island. So originally, we weren’t even planning to go to Dumaguete, after 5 days in Siquijor, we were planning to go back to Cebu and spend the rest of the days in Moalboal before flying to Siargao. But because of that, we made a last-minute decision to go to Dumaguete and have a day trip in Apo Island.
I don’t think I have photos of our room, but the photos on The Bruce’s website under Standard Fan Room for 2 pax was exactly like our room.
To go around the island, we decided to rent a motorcycle since Marc has an international driver’s license. I believe the rent per day was PHP350 (or maybe PHP300? I really couldn’t remember), and then we paid for the gas separately. We rented it at a store near our accommodation, and we saw it when we were looking for a place where we can do our laundry. Hitting two birds with one stone, right there! We rented it for 3 days because despite staying in Siquijor for 5 days and 4 nights, we are only there for a full 3 days and wouldn’t be able to really use the motorcycle on our first and last days. If you or anyone in your party can drive a motorcycle, then this is the best way to go around. Then, use Google Maps, it’s really not that difficult to navigate around the island. Hiring a motorcycle is an option, but a more expensive one. Our only issue is that they only provided one helmet, so Marc was worried about that the entire time he was driving and made sure to be careful.
We didn’t see any jeepneys the entire time we were there. I read on Wikitravel that there are jeepneys but nope, didn’t see one!
There are several towns in Siquijor and we tried to group the places we wanted to see depending on where it is located. Because Siquijor has a circumferential road, it’s just easier that way. We definitely wanted to go to Salagdoong Beach, but we were warned about the safety of the area so we decided not to go.
LAZI CHURCH & SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR CONVENT
This was our first stop because it was on the way to Cambugahay Falls. Apparently, the church is officially called San Isidro Labrador Church but it’s most commonly known as Lazi Church. So this is actually San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent. Fun fact (according to Wikipedia, LOL): It was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. It is also nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2006 under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It does look really pretty, and I love churches so this is a must-see for me.
Obviously, this was the highlight of our Siquijor trip! It’s a three-tiered waterfall with swings and rafts. The water kind of reminds me of the swimming area at Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang. We went here on a Thursday, I think after lunch and sure, there were tourists but it’s really not that crowded.
So when you park outside the entrance, you will need to take the stairs going down to the falls and you will see the biggest tier first, where the two swings are plus the raft. And then as you walk further to the last tier, there is another swing. We stayed here first before moving the main one.
I didn’t try the swing because I don’t think I will survive (LOL) and I don’t really want to do it with a life vest on. But Marc did so many times because you pay once (50 pesos) for unlimited jumps. I was just taking photos at times, and chilling on the raft.
By the way, there is really no place to leave your stuff so this can be a concern if there is no one willing to stay behind to look after your stuff. So what we did was, we paid an ate who was selling stuff at the falls if we can leave out stuff in her store. She said yes and that turned out really convenient for us because we were able to go around with just Marc’s GoPro, not worrying about our clothes getting wet or our stuff getting stolen or something.
OLD ENCHANTED BALETE TREE
This balete tree is 400 years old! Since this is also in Lazi, we dropped by on the way back to San Juan. It’s easy to spot because it’s right by the road. There is a natural spring that flows underneath the tree, and it goes to a pool with a lot of fish. You can dip your toes in and let the fish doctors do their job. Of course, I did it, too! I love stuff like this!
Our first stop on our second day of motorcycling around is this sign near the Siquijor Port. We just passed by it so we parked on the side of the road and took a few minutes to take photos.
Ok, when I decided I wanted to go to Siquijor, I didn’t think I would go caving but Marc wanted to do it, and going on a trip together means having to compromise so we did go to a cave. Going here is a bit tricky because once you are no longer on the main road, the roads get narrower and some of them are not paved. It was really a challenge and we had to be extra careful because I didn’t have a helmet. It’s almost as far as going to Larena Port, but the huge difference is, we are not on the main road, we are literally driving on the mountain side of Siquijor.
Cantabon Cave is located near Mt. Bandila-an in Brgy Cantabon. Once you reach the barangay, there is a small registration office near a basketball court. Don’t worry about getting lost, Google Maps will not fail you! They will tell you how much everything is, what you need, and your total. So other than the entrance fee, there is a fee for the tour guide as well as helmet + light and shoe rental. We decided to rent shoes because we were wearing slippers. I had aqua shoes but the sole is not really thick and thought it might be better to use their shoes. We had two guides with us, and they were both so nice. From our conversation with them, they said they only do this during vacation since they are still studying. The guides are mostly students in their teens.
There’s water inside the cave so you would totally get wet so make sure you’re dressed appropriately. I was wearing a swimsuit underneath my tank top and shorts. I don’t really dabble into physical activities much, I mean this isn’t really my go-to activity whenever I travel but this was fun! It was easy for me because I’m obviously short and can insert myself into small spaces.
MT. BANDILA-AN NATIONAL PARK
Since we’re already in the area, we decided to proceed to Mt. Bandila-an National Park. There are directions from Cantabon Cave so we just followed that, because if you will do the route that Google Maps suggest, it will be a longer ride. And since it’s a shortcut, do not expect paved roads, you will take dirt roads, and sometimes they are a bit wet, could be slippery as well, so be careful. I really enjoyed the vines from the trees and all the greenery since you’re passing through a forest, meanwhile, Marc was worried while driving and was focused on that.
We decided to come here because this is where the highest point in Siquijor is. It’s 632 meters above sea level. Once you get to the entrance, keep driving until you find the stairs to the viewing platform. We drove until the stairs, parked our motorcycle, and climb the stairs going to the viewpoint. Once you get on top, there’s really nothing special, just the fact that you are at the highest point in Siquijor. There are also really tall trees around so although there is indeed a view, it is quite limited. One thing to note though is that it is really cold up here and it was super windy! I had to sit down at some point because I felt like the platform was moving, or maybe I was just super paranoid. HAHA.
GUIWANON SPRING PARK
From Mt. Bandila-an, we then made our way to Guiwanon Spring Park. Instead of going back to to Poblacion and passing through Cantabon Cave again, we took a right turn before you get to the office (but after the cave). It was a different route that was actually quite scenic, with so many plants and trees, random houses and resorts from time to time. It’s not totally deserted, but it’s one of those roads that I think are usually less travelled. I don’t know the exact route, but we passed by Bonbon Catholic Church before finally entering the Circumferential Road again.
So the entrance of Guiwanon Spring Park is along the main road, but it’s not so obvious! We definitely passed by the pin on Google Maps, but didn’t see any sign or entrance. We had to go back and ask people where the entrance before parking. It is very easy to miss! Or are we the only ones who missed it?! I Googled it and this what I saw:
There is a small pathway going inside, and then you see the small hut where you will pay the entrance fee. It’s just PHP10 or PHP20 I think, super cheap. There is nothing much to it, but I loved the bamboo bridges leading up to the small huts where you can rest, have lunch or do karaoke. And the view of the mangroves is beautiful!
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI CHURCH
I wanted to come here, but I wasn’t sure if we’ll be able to go, but we did on the way back from Guiwanon Spring Park! It was totally by accident because we passed by the poblacion area so we saw the church and stopped to have something to eat as well. Of course, I was happy. LOL.
This was the only place we visited on our last day because we were hungover. We only went out in the afternoon and stayed here until sunset. The view of the sunset from our hotel’s beach was beautiful, but man, it is even so much more beautiful here. The beach is free, just park your motorcycle outside and find your spot at the beach.
I had to look for the names of some of the restaurants on Google Maps because some of these are just random ones we saw on the way back home. Luckily, they’re all on Google Maps!
This is absolutely our favorite restaurant! We went here I think 3 or 4 times, both for lunch (or brunch I think) and dinner! I have to say though, the food is a bit expensive but the servings are huge and it’s good so I think it’s worth it. They also have performers every night so we really enjoyed coming here. Dagsa and Sylvia are actually owned by the same family that owns The Bruce, that’s why they are close to each other.
We went here thrice as well. One for lunch, one for dinner, and another for a drinking night. It is definitely the place to be on a Saturday night! It is pretty chill during lunch or dinner (food is also good, btw) but they turn the space into a party area on Saturday nights. It was so much fun, but felt bitin! I knew some people who went to other places after the cut-off, but we went back to our room because we were already drunk.
WHITE VILLAS RESORT
This is right beside The Bruce so we had breakfast here on our last day in Siquijor. I also enjoyed their food! It’s also a bit expensive since it’s a resort.
We ate here on the way back from Cambugahay Falls. We were hungry and saw this since it’s just by the road, so we stopped to eat something. I think it’s a hostel or guesthouse as well. The food was very simple, not that bad, but also not special.
THE BIG BELLY
This is in the poblacion area and we ate here on the way back from Guiwanon Spring Park. It’s another one of those moments where we’re hungry, so we had to make a stop somewhere to eat.
D’BARKADS FOOD HAUS
LOL. This is right in front of The Bruce and we just wanted a quick breakfast before leaving for the day so we had tapsilog here.
We dropped by really quickly, but there was no space so we left. We didn’t really like the vibe actually.
SIQUIJOR PORT TO DUMAGUETE
We exited via Siquijor Port going to Dumaguete. This is closer to San Juan, just a little under 10kms. I think we left just before noon. Anyway, there are several trips from Siquijor to Dumaguete everyday so just check the schedule before leaving. We bought our tickets just from the ticket office at the port. Via Oceanjet, it just took us under an hour. I don’t remember how much we paid then but I think now, it’s PHP250.