Siquijor Hotspots: Siquijor Church & Bell Tower, Lazi Church & Convent, Salagdoong Beach, Enchanted Balete & Cambugahay Falls

Salagdoong Beach
Salagdoong Beach in Maria is the most popular choice, complete with water slides and cliff-diving platforms

For an island its size, Siquijor – the third smallest province in Philippines after Batanes and Camiguin – packs a punch with its surprising variety of attractions. During the Spanish period, the island was called Isla de Fuego or “Island of Fire”, because of the massive colonies of fireflies that lit up its coastline at night. Today, like moths drawn to a flame, tourists are gravitating to this island for its enchanting attractions.

St. Isidore the Laborer Convent (Lazi Convent)
Built in 1884, St. Isidore the Laborer Convent (Lazi Convent) is the largest in the Philippines
St. Isidore the Laborer Church (Lazi Church)
Hardwood tiles of St. Isidore Church in Lazi

Upon arriving at the pier in Siquijor, one cannot help but notice the crystal shallows of the shoreline. If there’s one thing this island province is proud of, it is its white-sand beaches. The most popular one is the government-managed Salagdoong Beach in Maria town. Aside from lazing around the pockets of white sand, one can enjoy the water slides and cliff-diving platforms built on a central limestone outcrop. Other notable coastlines are Kagusuan Beach in Maria, Paliton Beach in San Juan and Siquijor Beach in Siquijor town.

Constructed of coral stone and timber, the churches of Siquijor cannot be missed. Stout and austere, they lack the embellishments of Baroque religious structures elsewhere in the Visayas. In a way, they look more like fortresses than places of worship. In the past, these edifices did serve the purpose of providing a vital vantage point to watch out for Muslim pirates. The best examples are the church and bell tower of St. Francis of Assisi in Siquijor town, near the pier; and the church and convent of St. Isidore the Laborer in Lazi. Buit in 1884 as a vacation house for priests, the Lazi Convent, in particular, is often considered to be the largest and one of the oldest convents in the Philippines, and even in the whole of Asia. On the other hand, the Lazi Church was the first church I’ve seen with wooden tiles made of apitong and tugas, species of native hardwood.  Other examples of Spanish-period churches are the St. Vincent de Ferrer Church in Enrique Villanueva, Our Lady of Divine Providence Church in Maria and the St. Augustine Church in San Juan.

Cambuhagay Falls
Lush waterfalls and natural pools of Cambugahay Falls in Lazi
Enchanted 400-Year-Old Balete (Banyan) Tree
400-year-old Balete (Banyan) Tree

But far older than these colonial structures is the enchanted balete (banyan) tree growing by the roadside at Lazi town. Believed to be over four centuries old, the ghoulish behemoth looms over a cold spring where townsfolk bathe and wash their clothes. Supernatural voices and apparitions of engkantos (forest spirits) are frequently in the vicinity.

Besides enjoying its coastlines, one can take a refreshing dip in the island’s verdant interior at Cambugahay Falls in Lazi, or the Capilay Spring Park in San Juan. The former is a series of small waterfalls and swimming pools of the most inviting hues of blue, surrounded by lush vegetation; whilst the latter is a public swimming pool fed by a clean, cold spring right the middle of town. At Cambugahay, just keep an eye on your things, as theft is commonplace.

Another aspect of the province, one that both attracts and repels tourists, is its reputation as an abode of supernatural powers, both good and bad, harnessed by mambabarangs (witches and sorcerers) and mananambals (folk healers). The provincial government, however, is strongly discouraging tourists from availing of occult services, putting up a cautionary billboard at the pier of Siquijor town. But isn’t this mystical aspect something that makes Siquijor special? I appreciate the contribution of folk healing for its socio-cultural values, so we made it a point to visit the most famous healer on the island, 87-year-old Consolacion Achay, to experience a bolo-bolo ritual, which I will talk about in greater detail in a succeeding post.

Blue Wave Inn, Siquijor Town
Blue Wave Inn Resort, Siquijor town

HOW TO GET THERE: The jump-off point to Siquijor island is Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, which can be reached by air or ferry from Manila or Cebu. From Dumaguete, fast crafts (45 minutes, PHP 140-160) travel throughout the day to Siquijor town.

Contact the boat companies for the latest schedules: Delta Ferries – +63 9175323588 or +63 9351321658; GL Shipping Lines – +63 35 4805534; and Ocean Fast Ferries – +63 32 2557560. 

The most convenient way to explore the island is on rental motorbike (PHP 250-500/day, exc. gasoline) or jeepney (up to 12 persons, PHP 2,000/day).

WHERE TO STAY: At the popular Salagdoong Beach in Maria, there’s the government-owned Hotel Agripino and Salagdoong Beach Resort, where rooms start at PHP 900 for A/C twin rooms. Look for Lucy Looc, Mobile: +63 9068229044. A good value midrange option in Siquijor town is Blue Wave Inn Resort, where non-A/C double rooms start at PHP 1,250, with breakfast for two.  The best rooms, however, are the A/C island view family rooms with balconies facing the beachfront at PHP 4,000 (4 to 6 pax). Tel. +63 35 4809190

20 comments

  1. Byron says:

    Looks a nice enough place for me! Too bad we didn’t push through this one last March.

    Interesting that despite its reputation of being a total aswang/earthling hive, it still boasts heavenly beaches.

  2. Would love to do a Dumaguete-Siquijor trip. Great shot on the Cambugahay Falls.

  3. Myx says:

    I Love Siquijor! I still need to blog about it hehe one of my top favorite Philippine Destinations talaga 😀

  4. @Byron: I think its occult reputation lends a unique appeal!
    @travelfillers: That’s a nice combo. Thanks!
    @Mica: What’s great about it is that it has a little bit of everything, just like Bohol…

  5. Jherson Jaya says:

    The name of the Island frightens me hehe… but as I grow older and knowing some bit of good infos about the Island, I eventualy planned a Dumaguete-Siquijor Travel Adventure on November =) lol

    love your post sir’

  6. Been planning to go to Siquijor for years, your post and photos made me want to go even more! Thanks! 🙂

  7. when people asks me, where to go… Siquijor is always on top of list! truly one majestic place… 🙂

  8. I agree! Thanks for sharing Pinoy Adventurista =)

  9. I have been to this place and it is so different from hearsay that people talked about. What I like about Siquijor is its friendly and warm people and the quiet environment that are really perfect to have a vacation! I love Salagdoong Beach Resort and Kawayan Holiday Resort, both are beautiful. 😀

    • Thanks for sharing! I agree, Siquijodnons are some the friendliest Filipinos I’ve met, friendlier and more accommodating that the locals I meet in Dumaguete on many occasions. Salagdoong is a nice place to enjoy with family or barkada, however, I wish visitors will take care of it better. Broken bottles and junk food wrappers littered the beach and rock formations…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello! Thanks for sharing. I learned a lot of things from this blog before we went to Siquijor. It is very helpful.

    I also want to do a favor to our very kind driver and tour guide when we went to Siquijor.
    He took care of our valuable belongings while we were walking around, he is very kind and did not complain even if we ended the tour very late, he is a very careful driver and knowledgeable about the island. You can try to haggle with him. Make sure to contact him before going to the island. Other drivers would give you very high prices and they will follow you like bees.

    His rates are very cheap!!!

    Joseph’s contact number: 0906-953-4204

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hello! Thanks for sharing. I learned a lot of things from this blog before we went to Siquijor. It is very helpful.

    I also want to do a favor to our very kind driver and tour guide when we went to Siquijor.
    He took care of our valuable belongings while we were walking around, he is very kind and did not complain even if we ended the tour very late, he is a very careful driver and knowledgeable about the island. You can try to haggle with him. Make sure to contact him before going to the island. Other drivers would give you very high prices and they will follow you like bees.

    His rates are very cheap!!!

    Joseph’s contact number: 0906-953-4204

  12. JUAN-ted says:

    Great Province of Siquijor shots! Cheers! http://www.juan-ted.com

  13. WoW..!! Awesome place i’ll put this on my bucket list for next year..

  14. I recommend kuya rolly ….siquijor tour guide……tricycle driver….09065806033….,,,,

  15. Laura says:

    Great post and photos! You’ve inspired me to visit siquijor now thanks for sharing! 🙂

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