An island of witchcraft, healing, spiritual rituals and… beach. Siquijor is truly an island like no other. For centuries, the indigenous people of this small island off the coast of Bohol have lived in the mountains, where they brew and concoct special potions to heal physical ailments, heal emotional wounds and ward off evil spirits.
However, unless you need an exorcism, you might be more wondering what kind of adventure the island has in store for you. Like most islands in the Visayas, Siquijor is a vacationer’s paradise, with white sand beaches, turquoise waters, mysterious caves, incredible coral reefs, magnificent snorkeling spots and gorgeous guesthouses. With one of the highest literacy rates in the country, you can expect many friendly locals eager to speak English with you.
To get there, take a ferry from Dumaguete or Tagbilaran to the port of Siquijor, where you can take a tricycle into town.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Siquijor Island:
1. Old Magic Barrett Tree
Like many of Siquijor’s attractions, the Barret Tree has a mystical and spiritual background. The 400-year-old tree is often used by local monks for sacred ceremonies. However, you are unlikely to stumble upon any witchcraft during your visit.
Instead, you dip your toes into the fish pond in the roots. Sit back and let the fish eat the dead skin on the bottom of your feet. As you sit, you can gaze at the size of this majestic barrett tree, surrounded by hundreds of sturdy vines. Come to think of it, this tree does look like the best place for witchcraft.
2. Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary
In the village of Cabilao in the town of La Reina, you will find this amazing butterfly sanctuary worth a visit. With 200 square meters of habitat, you can interact with and observe more than 20 species of butterflies. You’ll see them at every stage of life, from caterpillars to chrysalis.
Not only will this adventure add to your Siquijor Island experience, it will also contribute to youth education. The Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary is an educational conservation center that teaches school children about biodiversity and how to protect it. Your admission fee will go towards a great cause.
3. Sarago East Beach
Ask the locals which beach is the best, and they’ll likely say Saladoun Beach. This is a local favorite not only for its pristine sand and warm waters, but also for its seaside activities!
For those who are adventurous, there is cliff diving, where you can jump straight into the water from the 7 and 10 meter planks. There are also water slides in the rocks that meander and allow you to sail into the sea. Just make sure you take a moment at the top of both activities to look around and enjoy the spectacular views.
4. Lugnathan Falls
No trip to the Philippine islands is complete without a visit to the magnificent waterfalls. Lugnathan Falls is idyllic, with clear water flowing into the turquoise basin below. The depth of the pool is perfect for swimming, and the pressure of the waterfall is often ideal for a back massage.
Autumn water comes from the steam above, fed by natural springs. For several years, the spring was completely dry and there were no waterfalls. Then, a local sorcerer is said to have blessed the spring, and the water came back to life.
5. Tubod Marine Reserve
There are three rules to follow when you visit this protected marine reserve in Siquijor: don’t collect any shells, don’t step on coral, and don’t fish. Because the rules are being followed so respectfully, this marine reserve is absolutely thriving!
Directly in front of Coco Grove Beach Resort, there is plenty to explore in this 7-hectare enclave. On the ground, you can choose to rest on a floating raft with sun loungers, or get around in a kayak. Underwater, you can snorkel and get acquainted with the plethora of sea creatures that hang out.
6. Paliton Beach
Located near the town of San Juan is Paliton Beach. There is no main public access to this beach, and you might even miss it if you look for it yourself – it’s just that secluded.
Rent a tricycle to take you and he’ll point out small, frivolous paths through an undeveloped piece of land. The beach will be waiting to greet you as you walk through!
You’ll find bright white sand beaches that seem to reflect the sun, with large coral boulders on either side. Some beaches have turquoise waters, while others are filled with coral reefs to explore. Take your snorkel!
7. Cancheron Ranch
Owned by a Filipino-American couple who loves the Wild West era, Kanheron Ranch transports you to an old frontier with deer heads on the walls, cowhide sofas, log cabin vaulted ceilings and everything you could expect in a single seen in old western movies.
You can break in yourself and admire the cowboy hats, boots and belt buckles all around. Or, if you want to visit a museum featuring Western artifacts, join an hour-long expedition where your guide will guide you on a case-by-case basis. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours.
8. Al Capone’s Pizzeria
When you’re in need of a little comfort food, there’s only one place in Siquijor that will satisfy your cravings, and that’s Al Capone’s Pizzeria. Using the best imported cheeses and meats, then skillfully cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven, you can look forward to the best pies you’ll have in weeks. This gem of a restaurant also serves up perfectly paired sandwiches, wings and salads.
They have some great beers and wifi if you want a few hours of comfort. Or, if it might be raining or too hot to venture outside, call them for a delivery.
9. Kaguchan Beach
For unspoilt views and some serious privacy, you can spend the day relaxing on this hidden beach. Seriously, there’s a good chance no one else will bother you, as this beach isn’t even well known to the locals. Having said that, you’ll want to double-check with your tricycle driver that he knows where to go.
Once you arrive, it’s pure heaven. There are interesting rock formations that have eroded into the reef cliffs, which not only make interesting climbing spots, but some ejected rocks provide a sandy, shady place to lie beneath.
Enjoy playing in the water alone.
10. Saki Restaurant
For breathtaking views of the ocean from overlooking cliffs, visit Restaurant Saki.
This Asian sushi restaurant in Siquijor is the perfect place to enjoy a cold beer or a cocktail made by a bartender who really knows what they’re doing. Your sushi will be made by Yoshimi, a food artist who is passionate about his work. Order the sushi platter and expect hearty portions that are perfect for sharing.
Stay until evening and you’ll get one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. There are comfortable chairs pointing in that direction, so feel free to blend in with the ambience and enjoy life’s precious moments.
11. Kantabang Caves
Spelunking is not for the faint of heart! If you like fear-defying, heart-pounding extreme sports, check out Kantabong Caves.
Located 800 meters underground, the only way is down. You will be bound and ascend to the depths of the earth for 20 minutes. You’ll turn on your headlamps, illuminating the smooth, alien-like walls of Katabang Caves that hang from every direction. Your guide will be by your side to explain everything to you!
It’s going to be cold there, so bring a sweater.
12. Marel Underwater World Museum
A comprehensive collection of shells, corals and crabs of all shapes, sizes and species – Marelle’s Underwater World Museum is an educational and fascinating way to spend an hour of your day.
At Marelle’s Underwater World Museum, you’ll find exhibits related to Siquijor’s fishing culture, such as catamarans, fishing nets, charts, charts and maps.
This is also one of the best places to buy creative and unique souvenirs. They have a lot of “Siquijor” themed shells that have been turned into magnets, key chains and trinkets.
13. Siquijor Mountain Bike Tour
If you thought Siquijor’s beaches and waterfalls were beautiful, wait until you explore inland.
With miles of green hills, once you start your mountain bike tour, it will feel like you and your group are the only humans on earth.
There are “red, blue and green” classes to suit every mountain biking skill and experience. You’ll explore with a guide who is familiar with each route and ensures you have a fun and safe adventure.
14. San Juan Beach Snorkeling
If you’re a decent swimmer, there’s a surprise waiting on the shores of San Juan Beach.
Bring your snorkel, or even rent some flip flops, and swim about 50 meters off the coast, where you’ll find a snorkeling paradise. Colourful coral reefs are everywhere and there is plenty of wildlife waiting to be discovered. You’ll see every possible character, such as clownfish moving in and out of the anemones, and large schools of fish swimming in unison.
15. Round the Island Scooter
Rent a motorbike and explore the circular island on your own. As you ride, you’ll pass signs for popular tourist attractions such as butterfly sanctuaries, waterfalls, caves and beaches. Take the time to explore as much as you want.
It’s a very safe island as far as crime goes, so don’t be afraid to walk down muddy paths or side streets to see where they lead. This is often the best way to find great restaurants, contribute to a neighborhood convenience store, and discover unspoiled beauty.
Also, the locals and their kids are very friendly and they will greet you with a smile or invite you to play some games.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Siquijor Island, Philippines
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