A man backflips on the rope swing at Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor, Philippines Philippines

WIT: Siquijor Island – 8 of the Best Things…

Though Filipinos will swerve Siquijor Island for fear of witches, spells and sorcery, the only magic you’ll need to worry about are the white-sand bays and gorgeous scenery. In fact, the island’s history of mysticism has become a tourist attraction in itself – it’s possible to meet healers and shamans here, and visit the locations where rituals have supposedly been performed.

If, like us, your interest in magic starts and ends with a Harry Potter novel then fear not: Siquijor Island has more than enough to keep you charmed for a few days at least. In our Guide to Siquijor Island we spell out the best things to see, where to stay and witch places left us enchanted.

A girl relaxes on a hammock at the beach in Siquijor, Philippines
A perfect spot for your SML

Getting There

BOAT

There is no airport in Siquijor, so unless you’re going to grab your broom and fly you’ll need to get a ferry. The most popular way to get to Siquijor is to take a ferry from Dumaguete (link coming soon) with either OceanJet or Montenegro.

Another option is to take the ferry from Tagbilaran Port on Bohol Island. Check out our favourite things to do on Bohol! These ferries leave regularly with OceanJet and Montenegro. We would recommend taking your motion sickness pills before getting on this one.

WEE TIP: all your luggage comes on the ferry with you, and might be piled up at the front of the boat. If it isn’t, it needs to sit on your lap as luggage isn’t allowed in the corridors. Travel light.

A less conventional but equally practical route is to take the ferry from Lilo-an on the southern tip of Cebu Island. This makes sense if you’ve been visiting Moalboal or Kawasan Falls and don’t want to head all the way back to Cebu City (and we wouldn’t blame you).

Things to Do on Siquijor Island

Rent a Scooter

Like many Filipino islands, this is by far the most practical and enjoyable way to get around. We paid P300 a day for a brand new automatic, and it cost only P120 to fill the tank. We rented from the place almost directly opposite JJ’s, but you won’t struggle to find somewhere to rent your scooter in San Juan.

Another option is to rent your scooter from the port town in Larena when you arrive. This didn’t work out for us because we were sharing a scooter and had our luggage. We were also leaving from Siquijor Port (for Dumaguete). If you’re arriving to/from Larena, then this could work out pretty nicely for you.

Lugnason Falls

Lugnason Falls are the waterfalls nearest to San Juan and only a 15-minute or so drive from Monkey Business. These falls are combined with Zodiac Falls, a series of 12 (get it?) varying waterfalls resembling different shapes, sizes and sexual organs (as your guide will giggle pointing out). The walk through them all takes around 20-25 minutes and really isn’t worth going out of your way for.

Beside the Zodiac Falls is the biggest and best waterfall: Lugnason Falls. We would highly recommend using the guides available at the entry. Our guide, Rennes, showed us the best jumps, climbs and rope swing entry, but more importantly he showed us the safest way to do them all. The rope swing at 9m is not for the faint-hearted and the waterfall jumps themselves are on pretty slippy terrain. Flinging yourself in to the brilliant blue water here is exhilarating but it did not surprise us at all to later discover that there have been some pretty serious injuries here.

A man rope-swings from a 9m platform above turquoise waters at Lugnason Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Daniel got in to the ‘swing’ of things a little quicker

Entry: donation

Parking: free

Guide: P50pp

Century Old Balete Tree
A century old balete tree looms over visitors with their feet in the pool
Let the fish do their thing with the wise old tree watching over you

This famous tree is in fact ‘only’ 400 years old and is supposedly one of the key sites for many shaman rituals and ceremonies. The tree itself is glorious and all-encompassing, towering over the small fish-pond below. There isn’t a whole lot of information or history at the site, but feel free to dip your feet in the pond and relax under the shade of the impressive Balete.

Entry: P10

Parking: 5P

Cambugahay Falls
An open view of the turquoise waters of Cambugahay Falls, with some people in the water. Siquijor, Philippines
There are worse ways to spend the day aren’t there?

These are the photos you’ve seen on Instagram: thrill-seekers clinging on to a rope swing, smiles beaming back to the camera and outrageously aqua water awaiting them. Yes, the falls are no secret and can get busy (arrive before lunchtime), but they’re popular for a reason.

A couple rope swing at Cambugahay Falls, the girl lets go early. Siquijor, Philippines
Emma not quite getting it right

Upon arrival the guides will insist on showing you around, but be firm and politely decline: there are only 100 or so steps to the falls and you really can’t get lost. The steps will lead you to the biggest and most popular falls, but if you continue to walk further behind them you’ll find various streams connecting two other quieter falls, completely safe to swim and swing in.

A man rope swings with a GoPro in his hand at Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Daniel in his happy place

There are two rope swings at the main falls which each cost P50 for unlimited swings (until closing time at 4pm). The swings are worth the money, but even if they’re not for you the blue water makes for brilliant photos and sitting on top of the falls in the sunshine is a damn nice way to spend a few hours on Siquijor Island.

A girl falls from the rope swings at Cabugahay Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Try not to, uhm, let go too early

Entry: free

Parking: P10

Rope Swing: P50

WEE TIP: medical reasons took us on a rushed drive to Larena, but the drive from Cambugahay to Larena through the centre of Siquijor Island really is spectacular. Winding roads lead you through villages so small you can’t believe people actually live there. You’ll also have breathtaking views out to Apo Island, Cebu and Negros. If you have time to kill, this makes a nice alternative for your drive back to San Juan.

Lagaan Falls

Lagaan Falls are nowhere near as popular as Siquijor Island’s Cambugahay Falls and all the better for it. The road here is bumpy and potholed, and the falls aren’t the easiest to find. That being said, the locals outnumber the tourists, the rope swing jumps are more varied and the pretty falls even include a water slide and cave-climb. A short 5-minute walk from the parking area leads you to the pools, complete with benches and a changing ‘room’. We’d highly recommend these falls, especially if you’re looking for ‘off the beaten path’ Siquijor Island.

A couple fall from the rope swing at Laagan Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Emma still not quite getting it right

We didn’t visit nearby Kawasan Falls but were told they were cool, if a little smaller and without too much to do there. Most of the locations on Google Maps are wrong too. Speak to locals nearby and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Entry: P50

Parking: P10

Tour Guide: P70

WEE TIP: nearby Cabugsayan Falls are closed to the public for the time being. At the end of 2018 some tourists died attempting some of the jumps here.

Salagdoong Beach

Again, we were told that this beach is under construction and is being developed as part of a private resort. For now at least, there are still 5m, 9m and 11m platforms you can jump from in to the sea, and the beach is one of the nicest ones on the island.

Tubod Marine Sanctuary

We ran out of time to visit Tubod Marine Sanctuary, but if the snorkelling at nearby JJ’s was anything to go by then this place is definitely worth the P50 entry fee. You can rent your snorkel from Coco Grove Beach Resort (P100 for the day).

WEE TIP: it will cost you P1000 to take the private Coco Grove Resort to Apo Island transfer one-way. They offer snorkelling day-trips starting at P1,950 and diving day-trips starting at P3,000. Honestly, Apo Island is beautiful and worth more than a day. Your transfer there is 90mins (on a good day, when the tour actually happens) one-way. It also requires a minimum of 12 passengers. Just visit Apo properly, like we did here.

Paliton Beach

This hidden gem isn’t at all obvious from the main road the but beach is normally quiet. It also boasts one of the best sunsets we saw in our whole time in the Philippines. The neighbouring marine sanctuary asks for a donation if you plan on snorkelling.

Girls sit on Paliton Beach, waiting for sunset. Siquijor, Philippines
Getting ready for a cloudy sunset
Kagusuan Beach

We were looking forward to visiting this too-good-to-be-true beach after a day at the waterfalls, but it turns out this place is now closed to the public. The site has been purchased and is under construction, currently being developed in to a private resort. Sadly, this seems to be happening to a lot of the smaller, idyllic islands of the Philippines.

And that’s 8 of the Best Things to do on magical Siquijor Island! Even since we visited it has gained in popularity, so now is the time to go. With waterfall swings, fun nightlife and glorious beaches, it’s little surprise Siquijor Island is becoming popular.

The sunset from Paliton Beach with Apo Island in the distance, Siquijor, Philippines
A surprisingly good sunset from Paliton Beach, with views to Apo Island

Get in touch in our Comments section below if you visit any of the waterfalls, or enjoy some of the things we’ve recommended. If you’re heading to Bohol for some sun next, check out our WIT: Guide to Bohol here.

Where to Stay (San Juan)

On the west coast of Siquijor Island, San Juan is the place where most tourists will find themselves sleeping each night. The centre of San Juan is a small, spread-out town with plenty of accommodation and local dining options, but most backpackers spend their time on the outskirts where the better beaches tend to be found.

JJ’s Backpackers

We ended up staying here because of its great review in the Lonely Planet and rave reviews from other backpackers. Honestly, our time here was a little underwhelming and we probably wouldn’t recommend it.

We’d read that it was possible to camp on the beach here, but apparently recent changes to local regulations have now prohibited this. We were shown a sad little spot next to the bar as an alternative and thought it was a joke. Anyway, if you really want to camp here it’ll cost P200 per person (with your own tent).

JJ’s boasts a great white sand beach with pretty decent snorkelling around 20 metres offshore. It also offers private cottages and bunks in a 6-bed dorm. The food is average, the wifi is pretty poor, it takes forever to get an overpriced cocktail and they charge you for refilling your water which we really didn’t like. There are better value-for-money options.

Dorm from P400pp

GLAMPING Siquijor

GLAMPING Siquijor, contrarily, is an absolute steal. With tents starting at roughly P2,000 a night (for x2) this place is the definition of value for money. Staff are attentive, the tents are luxurious and spacious and your porch opens up right on to another beautiful white sand beach. You even have your own barbecue if you want to cook up your own foods. Our friends that stayed here could not speak highly enough about their experience.

Privates from P2000

Tori’s Backpackers Paradise our choice

Another friend of ours stayed here and honestly, it’s where we wished we’d stayed. Perfectly suited for backpackers, flashpackers and couples, there’s a great social vibe, comfortable rooms and yep – you guessed it – another cracking beach you can sip your shakes on.

Dorms from P450, Privates from P700

Residencia Diosa

We hadn’t heard of this place until we met somebody that stayed here and he highly recommended it. Comfortable dorm beds and a very hospitable owner make this a great back-up if next-door Tori’s is sold out.

Dorms from P450

Where to Eat & Drink

Luca Loko

Smoothie bowls, buddha bowls and other backpacker favourites combine with Filipino classics to make this place a must-visit in San Juan. We recommend the butternut squash gnocchi and the pork Milanese, with a delicious iced coffee to finish. 

Mains from P180

Monkey Business

Monkey Business is relatively new on the island but hasn’t struggled to entice backpackers to sample its fresh juices, noodles and pizzas. The Detox juice is a particular delight. Listen to the live reggae band and swing on the Instagrammable swings.

Mains from P200

Pirate Island

Pirate Island offers simple Filipino meals done right. The staff are attentive, and it’s busy most nights because of its great value for money. Rooms are also available.

Mains from P120

Dagsa

We ate here and drank here, and thought it was a more reasonable and quieter option than Monkey Business. The vegetable curry is delicious and can definitely be shared between two.

C Zar

C Zar is famous on Siquijor Island. The Friday night here really has to be seen to be believed, and it seems like the whole island is here. Bottles of rum are available dirt cheap and SML is a reasonable P70.

Friday is their big night: there’s a live band on the stage, hammered people of every age (too old and too young), and a great mix of locals and foreigners interacting. The ‘anything goes’ atmosphere is infectious, trashy fun until it gets taken a little too far, as we discovered here.

If you have no plans for the Saturday then you’re almost certain to end up at a beach party (C Zar closes at 00:30) with the locals, the ever-present rum and bonfires. A word of warning: the local guys here were the definition of creepy and were sometimes pushy. Take care and stick with your friends and you’ll be fine.

Siquijor Island Summary

Example Plan:

Day 1

  • Get your ferry and check in to your accommodation
  • Organise renting your scooter from tomorrow
  • Relax by the beach, and enjoy food and live music at Monkey Business

Day 2

  • Start your day with Lugnason Falls
  • Head to Cambugahay Falls via the Century Old Balete Tree
  • After a wild morning, relax at Paliton Beach for sunset
  • Hopefully it’s a Friday night! Head to C Zars for a night to remember

Day 3

  • Have a hungover brunch from fantastic Luca Loka
  • Head to Laagan Falls and splash away the sore head
  • Not enough for today? Then enjoy the platform jumps at Salagdoong Beach
  • If snorkelling’s your thing, then check out the marine life at Tubod Marine Sanctuary
  • Enjoy your last night in Siquijor before moving on tomorrow
Accommodation:
  • JJ’s Backpacker’s
  • GLAMPING Siquijor
  • Tori’s Backpackers Paradise
  • Residencia Diosa
Restaurants:
  • Luca Loko
  • Monkey Business
  • Pirate Island
  • Dagsa
Bars:
  • C Zar

Siquijor Island Budget Breakdown

Getting There:
  • Tagbilaran – Larena (Siquijor)
  • OceanJet
  • 10:20 – 11:50
  • P800 pp

Total: P1600 ($30)

JJ’s Backpackers

  • 6-bed dorm
  • P400 pp price per night (x3 nights)

Total: P2,400 ($46)

Attractions:
  • Lugnason Falls P50pp
  • Century Old Balete Tree P10pp
  • Century Old Balete Tree parking P5
  • Cambugahay Falls parking P10
  • Cambugahay Falls Rope Swing P50pp
  • Entry to Lagaan Falls P50pp
  • Parking for Lagaan Falls P10
  • Lagaan Falls guide P70 total
  • Tubod Marine Sanctuary P50pp
  • Snorkel rental P100pp

Total: P715 ($14)

Local Transport
  • Jeepney Larena – San Juan P100 pp
  • Scooter rental (P300 x 2 days) P600
  • Scooter petrol P120

Total: P920 ($17)

Moving On:
  • San Jose – Siquijor Town jeepney P30pp
  • Siquijor Town terminal fee P15pp
  • Siquijor Town Port – Dumaguete Port P130pp
  • Montenegro Ferries

Total: P350 ($7)

Total for 3D/3N: P5985/$114

The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink is not included.

This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.

*all currencies accurate at the time of writing (Jan ’19)

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Planning a trip to the magical island of Siquijor? Our guide provides information on where to stay, what to do and where to eat.

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