Welcome to one of the most off-the-beaten path islands of the Philippines – Siquijor Island.
A small, remote island that many travelers neglect when touring the country, Siquijor has a mystical feel to it. It’s the perfect fusion of natural beauty, culture, and mystery.
Siquijor is a magical island, plagued by tales of sorcery and black magic. Yes, witchcraft is what Siquijor is known for. However, today witchcraft and black magic are a lot less prevalent than in the past, even though rumor has it there are still “healers” on the island. While I didn’t go hunting for spells, I still experienced all kinds of magic during my time in Siquijor. Between the landscape, food, culture, folklore and stunning views, I became completely bewitched by the island.
Siquijor is a truly beautiful destination and I would highly recommend adding it to your Philippines itinerary.
Here are the 6 things you should know before visiting Siquijor island.
1. San Juan Is The Best Area To Stay In
San Juan is the most popular tourist area to stay in. This is where the best beaches in Siquijor can be found, and it’s also where you will find most of the resorts, guesthouses, restaurants, bars, and dive shops. Yes, San Juan is the “hot-spot,” a.k.a. the place to be.
There is a great selection of resorts and Airbnb options to choose from, ranging from low-budget backpackers to high-end accommodation. We stayed in a treehouse at Aventura Bed & Breakfast – which is more of a budget option. It was very basic, featuring a small room with a bed and an ensuite bathroom, but it was perfect.
2. Get Around The Island on a Motorbike
The island is really small – the coastal circumference is only 102 km – making it the third smallest province in the Philippines. There’s one ring road that goes all the way around the island, so navigating your way around is relatively easy.
Renting a motorbike or scooter is definitely the best way to get around Siquijor and here’s why:
Public transport in Siquijor isn’t very prevalent or reliable, which is why most visitors will either
A) rent a motorbike/scooter -or- B) hire a tricycle driver.
Personally, I would suggest renting a motorbike rather than relying on the tricycles. A motorbike is more cost effective and gives you more freedom to get around the island.
Most of the waterfalls are located in Lazi, which is about a 25 minute drive from San Juan. If you were to hire a tricycle, they would probably charge you a minimum of 1,500 PHP just to get there. However, if you were to rent a motorbike, the fee would only be around 350 and 600 PHP for the entire day.
The great thing about renting a motorbike in Siquijor is that the island is a lot quieter than other tourist destinations in the Philippines, and the roads are not nearly as hectic. I think it’s one of the best places to rent a motorbike, even for those who are beginners and usually not confident or comfortable enough to drive in other places.
3. November-May is the Best Time to Visit
It should come as no surprise that Siquijor has a tropical monsoon climate. While you are likely accustomed to four annual seasons, the Philippines only has two – wet and dry. The wet season is between June and October, and the dry season is from November to May.
Thus, the best weather on the island is said to be between November to May – during the dry season. The best time for tourists to visit is between December to March. However, if you do visit during the wet season, you can expect the occasional downpour, but it typically rains and then clears up. Also, the waterfalls will be more spectacular during the wet season.
We visited during June, and while it didn’t rain much, the weather was OK. It was overcast a lot of the time and quite windy (which may also explain why the beaches weren’t as pristine as I was expecting). But we still had a wonderful time here – the weather didn’t have much impact on activities, and the temperature was still very warm
4. Visit the Beaches During High Tide
Before coming across to Siquijor we had spent some time in Bohol, and the Panglao beaches were some of the most beautiful that I’ve seen. As a result, my expectations for Siquijor were high and I was left feeling a little disappointed at first. The sand wasn’t quite as white and the ocean wasn’t quite as clear and crystal blue as I was hoping. Also, the beach was covered in debris that had washed up onto the shore. It didn’t help that the weather wasn’t particularly good.
We spent a week on Siquijor island and eventually I got the vision of the beach that I had been longing for. The trick is to visit during high-tide. I’m not saying not to go to the beach during low-tide, but if you want to get the best views and take some pretty photos, high-tide is best. At high-tide there is little debris on the beach itself and the sand is a little smoother. However, the water is full of the debris so it may not be perfect for swimming.
While not the typical white-sand beaches that you would expect to see in the Philippines, Siquijor has a magic of its own. The beaches here are known for showing off some of the most beautiful sunsets in the region
5. There’s No Airport on Siquijor Island
It’s true – there is no airport in Siquijor, but the island is not hard at all to reach, thanks to its close proximity to both Cebu and Bohol.
While there are no flights to the island, Siquijor is easily accessible via ferry. The main gateways are Dumaguete City, the capital of nearby Negros, as well as Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol. You can get a direct ferry to and from both of these, and making them the easiest way to get to Siquijor.
We spent time in Bohol prior to visiting Siquijor so we took a ferry from Tagbilaran. If you don’t plan to spend any time in either Bohol or Cebu before making your way to Siquijor, your best bet would be to get a flight to either Dumaguete or Tagbilaran and then take a ferry from there. You can buy tickets directly at the kiosk on the day of travel. In fact, it’s probably better than trying to buy tickets online before the time.
Once you reach the port in Siquijor, there are plenty of tricycles waiting to take you to your accommodation. If you have a lot of luggage, no need to worry, the drivers are very resourceful. Ours was tied to the roof of the tricycle! The trip from the main port in Siquijor to San Juan is only about 20 minutes long and should cost you no more than about 400 PHP on a tricycle.
Not having an airport has actually been a GOOD thing for the island. One of the most appealing things about Siquijor is that it’s not overcrowded with tourists. Its natural beauty has remained intact and it hasn’t given into the demands of modernization. Rather, Siquijor has maintained its element of mystery and magic while showing-off its beauty, satisfying travelers that are looking for something a little different.
6. Make Sure You Bring Enough Cash
ATMs on Siquijor Island are few and far between.
In fact, there are only two ATMs on the whole island and they’re located at the two ports. One is at the Allied Bank in Larena and the other is located at the Metrobank in Poblacion Siquijor.
Paying electronically is not really an option on the island – most establishments require payment in cash. So make sure you have enough cash before you leave the port.
About The Author – Hayley from Miss Blissness
I’m Hayley – a South African beach girl at heart, happiest when my toes are in the sand and there’s a salty breeze blowing through my hair. I love travelling and health and wellness are also a big part of my life. I’m an avid yogi and my idea of a perfect morning is yoga on the beach in an exotic location. I’m the face behind Ms Blissness – a travel blog focused on spreading love and light in the world and encourage others to follow their bliss.
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