Siquijor Island: a backpacker guide

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For many Filipinos, Siquijor Island is seen as a mysterious other-world full of witchcraft and mountain-dwelling healers famous all over the country. This can make it making it a not-so-popular holiday destination for the locals.

However, for most of us, Siquijor is just another amazing Filipino island full of hidden treasures to explore!

Find everything you need to know in this detailed Siquijor guide!


Siquijor guide

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How to get to Siquijor:

Getting to Siquijor is very easy and cheap as there are many ways to reach the island depending on where you are.
Here is an in-depth “How to get to Siquijor” guide with everything you need to know:

From Cebu City:

If you are in Cebu City you have to take 2 ferries, the first one from Cebu City to Bohol and then the second from Bohol to Siquijor.

The first ferry leaves from Cebu Pier 1 every morning at 7 AM and arrives at Tagbilaran Pier, Bohol at 9 AM. Here you will have to wait until 10.20 AM for the next ferry, which will arrive at Larena Pier, Siquijor at 11.40 AM.

The first ferry costs 500 PHP while the second ferry costs 700 PHP. The joint ticket for both ferries costs 1200 PHP ($23 USD), you can book them directly on the website of the company (http://www.oceanjet.net/), which is the only company going from Cebu City.

From South Cebu:

If you are in Moalboal, Oslob, Alegria, Samboan or anywhere else in southern Cebu, it makes sense for you to leave from Liloan Port, at the very southern tip of Cebu island.
From any of these towns, you can hop on the local bus. There is only one road that goes around Southern Cebu so you can’t miss it (just make sure you are heading south.

In Liloan you can find a direct ferry that goes straight to Siquijor once a day. If you miss it, you can still make it to Siquijor on the same day but you will have to go through Dumaguete, as there is only one direct ferry per day that connects Cebu to Siquijor.

The direct ferry leaves from Liloan pier at 10AM and costs 200 PHP ($4 USD).

NOTE: What many other Siquijor guides do not mention is that the local bus from Moalboal will stop in Bato Ceres Bus Terminal instead than at the Liloan Pier.
From here you will have to take either another bus or a tricycle to reach the actual pier Liloan (which is about 5 km away)

From Dumaguete (Negros):

There are many ferries connecting Dumaguete and Siquijor, all day long. Expect to pay anything from 130 to 250 PHP ($3-5 USD).

Where to stay in Siquijor

The ferry will drop you either at Siquijor Port or Larena Port (both on the North-West of the island), however, the best area to stay in is San Juan (South-West) as it’s where most of the restaurants, bars and accommodations are.

Some of our favourite accommodations under $11 USD/night in the San Juan area are:

HostelNote RatingPrice (USD)
Lazy Lizard HostelSmall & chill hostel8.9/10from $8 (dorm bed)Book now
Love Shack HostelBest location9.4/10from $9 (dorm bed)Book now
Travis Post HomestayPerfect for couples9.1/10from $11
(per double room)
Book now

Other interesting options we would recommend in the San Juan area are Glamping Siquijor by the Beach, which offers awesome sea view tents ($40 USD/ tent-night) and Bermuda Triangle Bungalows ($90 USD/night).

In conclusion, we wouldn’t recommend you to stay anywhere else on the island, but there are also hotels and homestays in Lazi, Siquijor and in other places towns if you have to stay there for any reasons.

How to get around the island:

The best option to get around the island of Siquijor is by bike.

Rent a motorbike:

You can rent one right at the pier for as low as 320PHP (probably even less if you are ready to bargain a little more! – regular price is 350PHP/day – $7/USD). As soon as you exit the harbour you will be approached by many people offering you anything. Just look for the ones offering bikes for rent and bargain the price. Also, the longer you stay the easier will be to have a discount.

Unlike in other Southeast Asian countries, we had no problems with scratches, fake damages or documents, so we’d highly recommend it. We got our bikes at Larena Port.

By tricycle:

For those who don’t drive bikes, the best option is to get around by tricycle. You can get one to go from point A to point B pretty much anywhere on the island, or hire one for a full day if you want to go exploring.

Going by tricycle could be also good if you have no idea where to go, as locals know the good places way better than anybody else.

Sabas Beach, Siquijor

Cost of life

Here are some of the expenseswe have had during our stay there:

  • Ferry: 200 – 1200PHP ($4-23 USD)  
  • Bike rental: 320PHP/day ($6 USD/day) 
  • Lunch at a local restaurant: 100 – 250PHP ($2-5 USD) 
  • Lunch at a western restaurant 500 – 1000PHP ($9-19 USD) 
  • Dorm bed: < 500 PHP/night ($10 USD/night) 
  • Private room: from 750 PHP/night ($15 USD/night) 
  • Diving: 3000PHP/2 dives ($29 USD/dive)

What to do in Siquijor

Despite its small size, there is a lot to do in Siquijor, more than what most people think.

Cambugahay Falls:

The most famous spot is probably Cambugahay Falls. Have fun on the swings for as low as 50PHP ($1 USD) for the day.

The waterfall is beautiful but it’s quite crowded as well, even very early in the morning. Luckily there are several other waterfalls around the island and they are all pretty much unexplored as they are not as popular.

Diving & snorkeling:

If you like diving and snorkeling you got plenty of options in Siquijor. There are over 20 marine sanctuaries all around the island and many diving spots as well.

Beaches:

The beaches are pretty nice, with the most famous ones known as ‘Little Boracay’ and “Paliton Beach”- both near San Juan, and many others in different areas of Siquijor (especially in the south-eastern tip of the island).

However, we must mention that some of them (including the most remote ones) were so beautiful but very polluted. They were literally covered in plastic and it was a very sad scene to watch.

Cliff jumping:

Siquijor is also where you can find the “jumping platform” you’ve probably already seen on Instagram many times, a perfect place for some fun.

Check out our full blog posts about things to do in Siquijor! (coming soon)

What to expect

Siquijor is more a chill place than a party place. Don’t expect to find much going on after 10 PM, with the exception of a few bars in the San Juan area.
The island is also a very budget-friendly destination, especially if compared to El Nido Palawan or other places in the Philippines.

The roads are in very good conditions, especially along the main “Provincial Road” that goes all around the island. Minor roads are in worse conditions but still practicable.

The island is not too big, you can drive around the whole island in about 2 to 3 hours.

Mystic traditions:

Are you aware of the Mystic traditions of Siquijor?
Those who have been travelling in the Philippines for a while may have probably been forewarned not to visit this place. The island, in fact, is enveloped by mystic traditions which the growing tourism industry is capitalizing on. The mystical island of Siquijor is known to have magic potions, shamans, witches and sorcerers and for many Filipinos, it is never safe to wander at night.

Siquijor is also known as a haven for faith healers, herbal oils and “hilot” (local massage).

They love basketball:

If you like basketball Siquijor is your place.

To start with, we must mention that basketball is a big thing everywhere in the Philippines.
Fun fact, it’s even more popular in Siquijor and you can expect to see basketball courts everywhere on the island, just on the sides of the main road, or under a palm tree. The sport is a huge thing in Filipino’s culture and local kids are always playing, join them for a genuine experience.

Marine life

Sharks, barracudas, giant clams, sea turtles: all can be found in Siquijor, even on a single dive and on the same spot, or even when snorkeling. Get your mask ready and fins ready guys!

High expectations

Don’t expect much from some of the most famous attractions: the butterfly sanctuary, the old tree, and other spots included in many of the guides you find online are quite disappointing.

Instead, it’s way better to go off the beaten path, Siquijor has a lot more to offer.

Best time to visit Siquijor

The climate of Siquijor is tropical, warm all year round.

The months with most rain are October – December while the driest ones are February – April.

April is the driest month, but you should consider it is also when national holidays occur

Source: https://en.climate-data.org/asia/philippines/siquijor/siquijor-20988/

Our 6 best tips

  • Get a bike right at the pier: it’s easy, cheap, and it allows you to save money even on the first transportation. If you end up leaving Siquijor from a different town/pier and you think you can’t return the bike at the same place where you got it, you can easily arrange a bike pick-up via WhatsApp from anywhere in the island for a small fee.
  • Check out the southeastern tip of the island. It’s pretty much untouched and surprisingly beautiful. This area includes Sabas Beach, Secret Beach and others. To be very fair we must also mention that even though these beaches are completely off the beaten path, they are all heavily affected by plastic pollution. Locals seem not to care much about it and they keep throwing plastic anywhere on the beach which is very very sad.
  • Get a guide in ‘Tulapos Marine Sanctuary’: locals recommended us this spot for snorkelling and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Read more about it on our full blog posts about things to do in Siquijor! (coming soon)
  • Visit Cambugahay Falls at sunrise as it’s the only time of the day you can have the place for yourself. The waterfall officially opens at 7 AM and it’s free of charge, however, locals will tell you you need a guide if you want to go there before 7 AM. You definitely don’t need any guides, the path is very easy and it’s just a 5-minute walk maximum.
  • Try Roch Cuisine at the ‘San Juan Bridge’!
    Roch Cuisine at the San Juan bridge is easily one of the best places to eat in Siquijor. This local pop-up restaurant has great food at a fair price, with a stunning sunset view! Make sure to be there for sunset and eat straight away, as it’s always full and closes at around 8 PM.
    TIP: Don’t miss the mango cake!
  • If you drive near San Juan during the day there are several other restaurants right after the bridge. The food is good, very cheap and the sea view is just amazing.
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