Anyone who has explored the Philippines will tell you that it is filled with natural wonders. Littered with beautifully carved landscapes, pristine beaches, memorable outdoor activities, and exotic wildlife. It was quite lucky for our group that our trip to the islands of Negros and Siquijor offered us all of the above, plus more!
Dumaguete City is the capital of Negros Oriental, a province southwest of the Central Visayan island of Cebu. More often than not, Dumaguete City will be the entry point for travelers looking to explore the nearby Bais Bay, Apo Island, and Siquijor Island. Now, it’s really just a matter of planning your itinerary and deciding on where you would be mainly based for your trip – in Dumaguete or Siquijor?
Sunrise at Siquijor
As for us, we chose to try staying in both. 2 nights in Dumaguete City, and 1 night in Siquijor. Both had pros and cons of course. Staying in the city, though not as scenic, will provide easy access to the airport, as well as a lot of food and shopping options. Siquijor, though less accessible, will give you an unspoiled connection with nature, and a purely relaxed vibe disconnected from the busy city life.
Once you get settled in your resort, Siquijor has a lot to offer. If you have extra cash to spare, suggest to stay in Coco Grove Resort. The resort provides rides to and from Dumaguete, has complete amenities, while fully immersing you in an island paradise.
L: Coco Grove’s Boardwalk Deck; R: Ride in Class c/o Coco Grove
Siquijor is not known as the ‘Mystic Island’ for nothing. Aside from the stories of ‘aswangs’ and an ‘enchanted’ Balete tree that looks like it may house some nature spirits, there really is nothing terrifying about this place. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the beaches here, though we here they are quite nice. What really stood out during our day tour, however, was our visit to Cambugahay Falls.
Tree Swinging at Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls is amazing due to its interactivity. It’s not only a waterfall that offers a visual spectacle, you can literally swing from a tree branch into the cool, fresh waters by using a rope. There are expert local guides who will both teach you how to swing properly (and safely), as well as entertaining guests with circus level exhibitions. If you’ve had enough of swinging from trees, then you may opt to jump from the top of the falls down to the waters below. Truly an experience to remember.
After maximizing the Mystic Island, as well as your resort, more adventures are waiting in Bais Bay & Apo Island. Both of which you can access either from Siquijor or from Dumaguete.
The Seascape and Dolphin of Bais
Once you’ve arrange the necessary tours, it’s time to see some dolphins! Bais Bay is home to a pod of dolphins, with the locals guaranteeing that these friendly guys come out to play every day. After less than an hour of searching, these guys appeared. You can’t swim with them though. Believe me, we tried! This is open water, and they are wild animals after all, so its both for our safety and theirs. However, the dolphins make it up by coming close to the boats and playing near you. You’ll be surprised at the number as there are so many of them, probably 50 or more.
After we finished our productive morning with the dolphins, it was time to take a break and have lunch! This next place took our breath away, truly a must-visit – the Manjuyod Sandbar.
The Manjuyod Sandbar is where epic summer moments are made of. A giant sand bar which is covered up to your knees by seawater. It’s a perfect blend of sand & sea, and of sun & surf. Waves are calm, the wind cool. Permanent fixtures of huts on stilts add texture to the view. No better view for your in-the-boat lunch and no better place to spend a lazy, sunbathing, beach afternoon.
Swimming with Sea Turtles
And to complete this trip, we head on over to Apo Island to have some more beach time and to swim with the sea turtles that live here. To have a relaxed time, allot a day tour for Apo Island as well. Your boat will take you to a local beach village. I’ll be honest, the sight made us wonder if we’re really, already there. Unbeknownst to us, the sea turtles live and feed quite close to the shore, so we really are there already. Once fitted with your snorkeling gear, it’s time to spend some time bonding with these gentle creatures.
Once in the water, you’ll be able to watch the turtles swim, feed, and play. The turtles are quite big, and there are probably around 10 near the area. Have your Go Pros or underwater cameras ready for that perfect photo or video moment for your remembrance of this amazing experience.
When finished, schedule your lunch in Apo Island so that you can still have some time to enjoy the sun and the beach. It would be advisable to bring aqua shoes as the shore here is quite rocky, with the sand being more like pebbles. The water, however, is cool and clear. An ideal place to lounge by the shore to get that perfect tan.
Apo Island Beach
And basically, that is that! A wondrous, jam-packed adventure. If you have time, you can also take a tour of Dumaguete and it’s historic sites, go on food trips, and drink and be merry. Just don’t forget to try the city’s signature Sylvanas – a sansrival like dessert. When all is said and done, we all went home satisfied and fulfilled, being able to take in the wonders offered by Negros and Siquijor, a must visit for anyone seeking a good balance of nature, relaxation, and experience.