Siquijor Island, also known as the Island of Fire (Isla del Fuego) encompasses everything you imagine when you think of paradise. When I visited Siquijor, my first thought was “welcome to the Philippines”.
This off-the-beaten track hidden gem boasts white sand beaches lined with leaning palm trees, inviting crystal clear waters, and stunning jungle waterfalls to swim in. Siquijor is a mysterious island also known for its witchcraft, healing and spirituality, hence it's other nickname "the Magic Island"
Siquijor oozes charm, and it's beauty is partly due to the fact it's not overrun with tourists, despite there being the infrastructure for it. When driving around you will encounter an abundance of trees and jungle areas of all different shapes and sizes, a stunning reminder that the Philippines is a tropical Country.
There is a wonderful relaxed, laid back island vibe, people are warm and friendly, and everyone speaks excellent English making it easier to have a laugh and communicate.
Moalboal Eco Lodge share a complete travel guide to Siquijor Island. We will tell you 14 of the best things to do on Siquijor, the best tourist spots to visit, how to get there, and where to stay to help you plan your perfect Siquijor itinerary.
Please Note: Things change, lockdowns come and go, new places open and established places close. Some activities survive, others don't, and although this is a guide to help you plan your trip, we recommend you always check the details first to avoid disappointment.
Where is Siquijor Island?
Siquijor can be found off the South tip of Cebu, and due to its location, it can also be reached from the neighbouring islands of Bohol and Negros.
We think Siquijor should be included in your island hopping trip to the Philippines, and can be part of a Cebu - Negros - Siquijor - Bohol adventure.
How to get around Siquijor
There are a few ways to travel around Siquijor. You can take an island tour, charter a trike or habal-habal (motorbike taxi) or if you want freedom then hire a scooter at the port or from your accommodation.
A scooter or motorbike can be rented for P350-P500 per day depending on the season. The roads around the island are concreted, easy to drive on (although you may encounter a few bumpy tracks if you are going off the beaten track), and there are some tourist signs to help guide you.
Although Siquijor looks like a large island, you can circumnavigate the coastal road in about two hours. Nearly all the must-see tourist spots are along the southwest coast, and the main tourist hub is San Juan which is the best place to base yourself.
San Juan is conveniently located for the best restaurants, waterfalls, beaches, driving into the mountains, plus it’s a gorgeous place for sunset drinks. It's also near the areas of Lazi (for more beaches as waterfalls), and both sea ports of Siquijor (10 minutes away) and Larena (30 minutes away).
Now you have all the logistics, let's jump right in to all the exciting things to do on Siquijor.
1. Swim in a jungle waterfall at Lugnason Falls
Lugnason Falls, or Zodiac Falls as it's also known, may not be on everyone's Siquijor itinerary, but it's well worth a visit. A stunning waterfall hidden inland of the San Juan area, it has a large rock pool for swimming surrounded by lush jungle. The deafening sound of cicadas can be heard all around you, it's a truly awesome place to visit to awaken your senses. (Cicadas are generally found only in mountainous or jungle locations, so it’s a beautiful treat to hear them)
We arrived at 9am and no one else was here. It was free to park, had free entry, and although we didn't use a guide, one was available for a donation (it's how the locals earn money). We walked 5 minutes down a stony dirt trail towards the main waterfall, and could hear the power of the water (and cicadas) before we saw it.
Such a wonderful sight, the water cascading through the trees and over the rocks into an inviting jade swimming pool five metres below
About 20 stone steps take you to the foot of the waterfall if you wanted to swim. It's not too cold, just refreshing, and adventure seekers can jump in (be careful - it's not that deep). If you don't want to dip and wish to sit and appreciate the surroundings, you will find a couple of makeshift bamboo seats.
There is an option to take an adventure trial trek up the river to find your own horoscope inside the falls.
2. Old Enchanted Balete Tree and Fish Spa
Entrance fee: P20, Parking charge: P5
The 400-year-old Enchanted Balete Tree with its huge hanging vines has a very spiritual background. It’s a place local shaman use for sacred rituals, but for tourists, it makes for a nice photo stop. There are also a couple of funny cartoon cut outs which make a great but silly photo.
Mystical people believe balete trees possess spiritual powers, and are dwelling places for various supernatural beings. Local folklore says sorcery rituals are performed inside the chambers formed by these sacred trees.
In front of the strangler fig tree as it is known elsewhere, dip your feet into a small natural pool for a fish pedicure, and let the garra rufa fish nibble away at dead skin on the souls of your feet. There are a few small souvenir stalls at the entrance selling Love Potions, Voodoo Dolls, key rings, fridge magnets an Mystic Herbal Wines.
A restaurant is above the shop if you are here around lunchtime and want a bite to eat.
Note: Sadly there are two monkeys in a cage, please do not interact with them which shows your approval. It's illegal to keep monkeys in the Philippines, but more importantly it's animal cruelty as they do live here freely in the trees. How would you like to live in a cage with people staring at you?
3. Hapitanan "broom shot"
For another cheesy photo opportunity, stop at a small shop on the side of the road in Hapitanan. The staff will walk you to the small platform and take a photo at the right angle which looks as though you are flying a witch’s broom mid air. Drop a donation in the box, and grab a fresh buko (coconut) drink or refreshment when here.
4. Lunch at Twenty 4 Cafe, Lazi
A popular and cute cafe to stop for lunch is Twenty 4 Restaurant and Burger Bar. They serve an excellent range of vegan, vegetarian, Filipino and Western dishes at reasonable prices, plus decent coffee. Their waffles are huge, and perfect for sharing. If you want to buy a loaf of bread for any reason, they have an excellent selection of seven different types.
5. Cambugahay Falls and Tarzan Swing, Lazi
Entrance: FREE, Parking charge: P10
A beautiful three level waterfall with large milky jade swimming pools, Cambugahay Falls is definitely the most visited place in Siquijor, by locals as well as tourists. It's in Lazi, about 30 minutes away from San Juan.
There is something here for everyone, so it's easy to see why it was so busy on our last stop in the afternoon. Many locals were here having so much fun, and plenty of laughter could be heard, so to avoid the crowds I recommend you visit in the morning.
Walk down 150 purpose built stone steps (with a handrail) to reach the waterfalls. Choose which pool you want to dip into, maybe swim in all three! For the added fun factor, there are a few Tarzan rope swings, just pay P50 for unlimited swings, and they will demonstrate how to backflip. Keep trying until you perfect it, but belly flops can sting after a while!
There are also large bamboo rafts floating around, enough for a few people to stand on and navigate the swimming area.
6. Sunset and dinner at Aroi Maknak Thai Cafe & Restaurant
A gorgeous place on the waterfront, we whiled away a few hours at this chillaxing venue, enjoying tasty Thai snacks, cold beers and a spectacular view.
For our first visit (yes we ate here twice!), we sat at the loungy floor area with big cushions. Their varied menu included traditional Thai dishes, veggie and vegan starters, smoothies, and the famous mango sticky rice desserts. On our second visit for dinner, we sat at a table overlooking the water, and the ambient lights and music were just right!
Other recommended restaurants:
7. Sunset Drinks at Rum Bar
Another sunset spot is the humble beach bar, but one that shouldn't be overlooked. It’s aptly named the Rum Bar.
We sat on one of the few bamboo seats facing the ocean. To our right were the beautiful 45° angle palm trees and views of Negros mountains. Happy hour is 4-7pm on food and drinks, if you fancy a chilli cheese bomb snack with your rum coke or cold beer.
8. Paliton Beach - by day or for sunset
Claimed by many to be the best beach on the island, Paliton Beach has the quintessential paradise island view of beachfront palm trees leaning towards the ocean.
I visited here twice in three years and it seems to have changed, possibly because of the pandemic. When I first came here, it was stunningly beautiful with only a few stalls. For my return visit, it has lots of tyre swings, more trash and many refreshment stalls. It's very busy so less quiet than before, and it's THE place people flock to for sunset.
Admittedly it's a stunning sunset spot, and if you want a taste of local life with music and happy people, head to Paliton Beach as this is the place for you. Find one of the makeshift wooden tables to sit on, grab a beer or coke, and watch kids happily laughing and swinging on tyre swings.
Other mentionable beaches along the south coast:
Monkey Beach, Kagusuan Beach, Talisay Beach and Salagdoong Beach which is famous for its cliff jump into the ocean (this can only be done at high tide so check first before visiting if you want to do this). There are two concrete diving boards to jump from at 5 metres and 10 metres.
9. Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)
There are two areas of Paliton Beach, and at the small one, you can hire a SUP board for an hour, half a day or a full day. The ocean is calm and inviting, and there are a few local stands selling buko juice (fresh coconut) and soft drinks.
This beach would be a relaxing and quiet place to top up your tan if the stalls weren't here, but it's a great place to enjoy SUP on the glass-like ocean.
10. Mountain Bike Trail Tours
For the adventures folks who enjoy mountain biking and getting off the beaten track, take a 2-3 hour bike tour. Organised through Baha Bar, they have purpose built mountain bikes for your comfort and safety.
11. Join a beach party at La Isla Bonita
Our friend JunJun (he used to own Villa Sandra in Malapascua and has just started to run beach parties at La Isla Bonita beach. Sunset vibes, Full Moon Party, reggae music, fire dancing, and some of his incredible vegan food are available. Check out their Facebook page for the next event.
12. Skydive Siquijor
If skydiving is on your bucket list of adventures, you can do it here in Siquijor with SkydiveCebu! Start your Tandem Skydiving day at Siquijor’s small airport with certified instructors from the United States Parachute Association (USPA). After a 15-20 minute briefing, you will soar through the air with stunning views of the island. They also have a centre on Bantayan Island which is off the north coast of Cebu.
13. Scuba Diving or Snorkelling at Apo Island
For diving of a different type, go scuba diving at the famous volcanic Apo Island. There are a few small dive centres to choose from (check out reviews on Trip Advisor for Sea Pearl Divers, Siquijor Divers, and Dive Point Siquijor).
Apo Island is a marine park boasting a thriving coral reef, is located 30km off Siquijor’s coast, and half way to Dauin, Negros. Thousands of different fish species and plenty of turtles can be seen here, so if you have the time, be sure to include a day trip to Apo Island on your Siquijor itinerary.
14. Photograph the Siquijor signs
From the Port of Siquijor (if you are arriving from Dumaguete), you will pass two photo opportunities.
Welcome to Siquijor in front of Saint Francis de Assisi Church, and a little further down the road heading towards San Juan is “I Love Siquijor”
Other Popular Tourist Attractions
Best time to visit Siquijor
Siquijor, Cebu and it's neighbouring islands have two seasons: hot and dry (April to September) and hot and wet (October to March). However, climate change means it rains whenever it wants regardless of the season, and it will be dry and sunny when it chooses to be. My advice is to visit when you want and make the best of any situation, just as we have done on our many travels around Asia.
Pre-pandemic, the busiest months were March - June, but as Siquijor is still establishing itself as a tourist destination don't expect as many people as you would in Moalboal or other popular places.
Booking an Island tour around Siquijor
If you don’t want to ride a motorcycle, you can do a tricycle tour. The cost is roughly P1,500 for up to 3 pax, and usually includes a visit to the following attractions: Paliton Beach, Capilay Hot Spring, Old Balete Tree and fish spa, Hapitanan Cafe and Restaurant (witch broomstick photo), Lazi Church and Convent, Cambugahay Falls with Tarzan swing, Church of Our lady of Divine providence in Sta. Maria, Salagdoong Beach, San Vicente Ferrer Parish Church, Guiwanon Spring Park, Pasalubong Center, St. Francis Asisi Church with Welcome to Siquijor sign (near Siquijor port).
Where to stay in Siquijor
We stayed at the stunning Mandala Tribe Treehouse. Set amongst garden of palm trees and flowers, it also features a partial outdoor bathroom (just like Moalboal Eco Lodge!). It's peaceful, tranquil, and the perfect place for nature lovers like us
Other places to stay:
How to get from Cebu to Siquijor
Important Note: Shipping schedules are subject to change, especially at the time of writing when international tourism is just returning, so always check times before departure. Always carry your bike registration papers with you as you need to show them in Negros, and if you are ever stopped by the police. Sometimes there are fines for not wearing a helmet, so always travel legal and it won't matter if you are stopped by the police.
There are a few different options to travel from Cebu to Siquijor, so you can mix and match the options to suit you.
Liloan (Cebu) to Larena (Siquijor North), is a direct boat but departure times aren't nice (2am), and they only travel certain days of the week (Sunday and Tuesday)
Travel as a passenger, or with a motorbike/car on a RORO (roll on roll off option). We travelled 2 pax with a motorbike, and all prices quoted are based on this.
Cebu to Siquijor journey:
Liloan (Cebu) to Sibulan (Negros), Maayo Shipping. Drive 20 minutes to Port of Dumaguete, then boat to Siquijor Port with Montenegro Shipping. This is the breakdown:
Liloan (Cebu) to Sibulan (Dumaguete, Negros) - Maayo Shipping - 7.30am
P2.60 for a 125cc bike and 2 pax (plus P10 terminal fee and P22.50 RORO Wharf fee all paid separately).
Journey time: 30 minutes
Dumaguete Port (Negros) to Siquijor Port
Montenegro Shipping - 10am
P820 125cc bike and 2 pax ( need to show your bike registration papers)
Plus P65 RORO fee and P15 passenger terminal fee, all paid separately
Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Siquijor to Cebu journey:
Larena (Siquijor) - Bato (Cebu), Maayo Shipping (11am and 1pm)
Cost: P1,045 + P65 terminal fee
Journey time: 4 hours
Where to stay in Cebu
When visiting Cebu, Moalboal Eco Lodge is the perfect place to stay. Located in the middle of a peaceful field with no traffic noise, it’s close enough to amenities, but far away so you can have a good night’s sleep. There is plenty of space to observe physical distancing at the Eco Lodge.
Nestled in amongst palm trees, bamboo and coconut trees, Moalboal Eco Lodge have beautiful Bamboo Cottages suitable for solo travellers, couples and friends. We have two private rooms and a spacious 4-6 bed family room, a breakfast area, kitchen, and a stunning hammock/yoga/sunset deck. Take a look at our rooms!
For help regarding travel and Visa requirements, visit our
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