An island of witchcraft, healing, spiritual rituals, and…. beaches. Siquijor is truly a one of a kind island. For centuries, the indigenous people on this tiny island off the coast of Bohol have been living in the mountains where they brew and concoct special potions to cure physical ailments, treat emotional scars, and to dispel evil spirits.
Unless you need an exorcism, however, you might be more interested to know what kind of adventures this island has in store for you. As with most islands in the Visayas, Siquijor is a vacationer’s paradise with white sand beaches, turquoise water, mysterious caves, incredible reefs, sublime snorkel spots, and gorgeous guesthouses. With one of the highest literacy rates in the country, you can expect lots of friendly locals who are eager to speak English with you.
To get there, catch a ferryboat from Dumaguete or Tagbilaran that will take you to the Siquijor port where you’ll be able to catch a tricycle into town.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Siquijor Island:
1. Old Enchanted Balete Tree
As with many sites on Siquijor, the Balete Tree has a mystical and spiritual background. This 400-year old tree is often used for sacred rituals by the local shamen. It’s unlikely that you will stumble upon any witchcraft during your visit, however.
Instead, you’ll be dipping your toes into the fishpond at the base of the tree. Have a seat and let the fish eat the dead skin off you’re the soles of your feet. While you sit, you can gawk at the size of this majestic Balete Tree with hundreds of thick vines hanging all around. Come to think of it, this tree does look like the best place for witchcraft.
2. Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary
In Cabilao village in Larena town, you’ll find this stunning butterfly sanctuary that is worth a quick visit. With a 200 square meter habitat, you can interact with and observe over 20 species of butterflies. You will see them in every stage of life from caterpillar to pupa and beyond.
Not only will this adventure add to your experience on the island of Siquijor, but it will also contribute to the education of youth. Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary serves as an educational conservation center that teaches school children about biodiversity and how to preserve it. Your entrance fee is going towards a great cause.
3. Salagdoong Beach
Ask the locals which beach is the best and they will likely say it Saladoong Beach. This is a local favorite not only because of its pristine sandy beaches and warm water, but also for the seaside activities!
For you dare devils, there is cliff diving where you can jump off 7-meter and 10-meter planks straight into the water. There are also water slides built into the rocks that wind around and send you sailing into the sea. Just make sure you take a moment at the top of both activities to look around and appreciate the spectacular views.
4. Lugnason Falls
No visit to a Philippine island would be complete without a trip to a magnificent waterfall. Lugnason Falls is idyllic with clear rushing water that spills out into a turquoise basin below. The depth of the pool is perfect for swimming and the pressure from the falls is usually ideal for getting an aqua back massage.
The fall’s water comes from a steam up above that is fed by a natural spring. For a few years, the spring was totally dried up and there were no falls. Then, it is said that local shaman blessed the springs and water came back to life.
5. Tubod Marine Sanctuary
There are three rules to follow when you visit this protected marine sanctuary in Siquijor: don’t collect any shells, do not damage the corals by stepping on them, and no fishing. Because the rules have been so respectfully followed, this marine sanctuary has absolutely thrived!
Located right in front of Coco Grove Beach Resort, there is so much to explore in this a 7-hectare enclave. Above ground you have the choice to lounge on the floating raft with sun chairs or take the kayak out and about. Underwater, you can grab a snorkel and get acquainted with the massive amount of sea life just hanging out.
6. Paliton Beach
Located near the town of San Juan is Paliton Beach. This beach has no major public access and you might even miss it if you were looking for it on your own- it’s that hidden.
Hire a tricycle to take you and he will point out the small, indiscreet path through an undeveloped plot of land. As you make your way through, the beach will be waiting to greet you!
You’ll find bright white sand beaches that seem to reflect the sun with large coral boulders on either side. Part of the beach has turquoise waters and other patches are full of reefs perfect for exploring. Bring your snorkel!
7. Kanheron Ranch
Owned by a Filipino-American couple who have a deep love of the wild wild west days, Kanheron Ranch transports you to the old frontier with buck heads on the walls, cow hide couches, log cabin vaulted ceilings and just about everything else you’d expect to see in an old western movie.
You can pop in on your own and enjoy the sights of cowboy hats, boots, and belt buckles all around. Or if you’d like a tour of the museum featuring western artifacts, take the hour-long expedition where a guide will usher you from case to case. It’s an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
8. Al Capone’s Pizzeria
When you need a little comfort food, there is only one place on Siquijor that will hit the spot and that is Al Capone’s Pizzeria. Using the finest imported cheeses and meats then artfully cooked in a wood fire pizza oven, you can expect the best pie you’ve had in weeks. This gem of a restaurant also serves sandwiches, wings, and salads that pair perfectly.
They’ve got some great beers on tap and WIFI if you want to get cozy for a couple of hours. Or, on the likely chance that it is either raining or too hot for you to venture outside, just call them up for delivery.
9. Kagusuan Beach
For unspoiled views and some serious privacy, you can spend the day relaxing on this hidden beach. Seriously, odds are that no one else will be disturbing you as this beach isn’t even widely known by the locals. That being said, you’re going to want to triple check with your tricycle driver that he knows where to go.
Once you arrive, it’s pure paradise. There are interesting rock formations that have been eroded into the reef cliffs that not only make for fun climbing spots, but some jet out offering a sandy, shady spot to lie underneath.
Enjoy splashing in the water all on your own .
10. Restaurant Saki
For stunning views of the ocean atop an overlooking cliff, visit Restaurant Saki.
This Asian sushi spot on Siquijor is the perfect place to grab an ice-cold beer or to enjoy a cocktail made by bartenders who really know what they’re doing. Your sushi will be made by Yoshimi, a food artist who is passionate about what she does. Order the sushi platter and expect generous portions that are perfect to share.
Stay til the evening and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever witnessed. There are comfy chairs pointed right in that direction so feel free to melt into the atmosphere and enjoy life’s precious moments.
11. Cantabon Cave
Cave spelunking is not for the faint of heart! If you like fear-defying, heart-pounding extreme activities, then pencil in a visit to Cantabon Cave.
Situated 800-meters into the ground, the only way is down. You’ll be harnessed in and ascend for a solid 20 minutes deep into the earth. You’ll have headlamps on to light up the slippery, alien-like walls of Catabon Cave with rock sickles hanging down from every direction. Your guide will be right by your side to explain everything!
It’s going to be cold down there so bring a sweater.
12. Marelle’s Underwater World Museum
A comprehensive collection of sea shells, corals, and crabs of every shape, size 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 that speak to the fishing culture here in Siquijor like catamaran fishing boats, fishing nets, graphs, charts, and maps.
This is also one of the best spots to buy creative and unique souvenirs. They’ve got lots of “Siquijor” themed shells that have been turned into magnets, key chains, and trinkets.
13. Siquijor Mountain Bike Tour
If you thought the beaches and waterfalls of Siquijor were beautiful, just wait until you explore inland.
With rolling green hills for miles and miles, once you get going on your mountain bike tour it feels like you and your group are the only humans on earth.
There are ‘Red, Blue and Green’ level tracks to fit a range of mountain biking skills and experience. You’ll explore with a guide who knows each route like the back of his hand and will make sure that you have a fun and safe adventure.
14. Snorkel on San Juan Beach
If you’re a decent swimmer, than there is a surprise waiting for you just off the shore from San Juan Beach.
Grab your snorkel and maybe even rent some slippers, then swim about 50-meters off the coast where you’ll find a snorkeling paradise. There are colorful reefs as far as you can see with an abundance of wild life waiting to be discovered. You’ll see all of the likely characters such as clown fish darting in and out of anemones and big schools of fish swimming around in unison.
15. Scooter around the Island
Rent a motorbike and take your own tour of the circular island. As you ride, you’ll pass signs for popular tourists spots such as the butterfly sanctuary, waterfalls, caves, and beaches. Take you time exploring as you wish.
This is an extremely safe island in terms of crime, so don’t be afraid to follow dirt paths or side streets and see where they lead. This is often the best way to find great restaurants, contribute to neighborhood convenience stores, and find unspoiled beauty.
Plus, the locals and their children are super friendly and will greet you with a smile or an invitation to play some games.