Isla del Fuego: Siquijor Island

Siquijor is an island of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas between Cebu, Negros, Bohol, and Mindanao. The Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego or “Island of Fire,” because the island gave off an eerie glow. This glow came from the great swarms of fireflies that harbored in the numerous molave trees on the island. which forested most of the island.

The serene Siquijor is blessed with scenic beauty, archaic churches, and natural attractions. For most Filipinos, Siquijor is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft, sorcery, magic and the unknown. So much that older people from other islands are afraid to visit! However, Siquijor now offers a different kind of healing in modern times; the one that heals your soul. These days Siquijor’s most popular healing practice involves a cocktail and a deckchair at any number of its laid-back and wonderfully affordable beach resorts.

How to get there:

To get the Island the most common and used option is the ferry. There are connections from Cebu City (Cebu Island), Dumaguete (Negros Island) or Tagbilaran (Bohol Island) among others cities. There are two ferry terminals on the westward side of the island: Siquijor town and Larena. At the end of the pier of each, you’ll find some touts tricycles to bring you to your hotel or resorts.

There are several passenger boats daily from Dumaguete to Siquijor Island town and some larger RoRo boats. There are also several boats a week between Tagbilaran on Bohol and Larena. I advise you get hold of the RoRo because it’s more stable on rough seas.

Siquijor is not the party island. If you come here looking for a “full-moon” this is the wrong place but if you want to relax and unwind, swim into lovely water waterfalls and crystal clear aquamarine stunning beaches, diving or snorkelling, unforgettable sunsets, discover each nook by yourself, taste the best filipino food or just talk and share experiences with the local people, Siquijor is waiting for you.

The minute I landed at the port of Siquijor, I already fell in love with its unspoiled environment and the warm hospitality of its people. You can experience a coastal tour of the island in just one daytime. Here are few of the recommended place to visit:

Cambugahay Falls

One of the most exciting places to visit when in Siquior is the Cambugahay Falls. The waterfall consists of three tiered cascading falls with crisp and clean warm water originating from natural springs, rainwater, and watershed.

The Cambugahay Falls is situated just two kilometers outside the town of Lazi. Above the falls, there’s a paid parking bay on your left for your motorbike (P25). Steps just across the road will take you down a steep stairway to this series of popular swimming spots.

When visiting the place, one must try their Tarzan swing by hanging in a vine and drop yourself into the water.

Note: Bring a sarong or throw-over clothing as there is no change room at the falls. Never leave valuables unattended, as theft isn’t uncommon.

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St. Isidore Church and Convent

Built by Spanish priest in 1884 in Lazi, it is the biggest and among the oldest convents in Asia and recognized as a National Historical Landmark. The church was built of sea stones and wood.

Right in from the San Isidro Labrador Church is the U-shaped bahay na bato convent. This convent is said to be one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era.  It now houses the Siquijor Heritage Museum which has collections of important church relics and paraphernalia.

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Lazi Church/San Isidro Labrador Parish Church
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Lazi Church/San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

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Convent

Salagdoong Beach

One of the best places to visit especially for the beach lovers when in Siquijor is the Salagdoong Beach. A few kilometres past the town of Maria, Salagdoong Beach is popular with rowdy day trippers. The place also has nice rock formations and a nice white sand. However, because the place has a very cheap entrance of PHP 25.00, the beach is usually flooded by locals during holidays. There’s a half-open water park that has seen much better days, and you can jump into the ocean from 6m to 12m concrete platforms built into the rocks. There’s a restaurant wherein you can have your lunch while doing the coastal tour. Nothing great about the food that they serve, though.

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Aerial Shot

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Balete Tree

Just west of the village of Campalanas is a tremendous Balete Tree (Banyan Tree), estimated to be 400 years old and has become tourist spot for curious tourists who are visiting Siquijor. The tree provides water to supply the village but locals believe that this tree is inhabited by other spirits.

In front of the tree is a spring fed pool filled with flesh nibbling fish. While at the site you can dip your tired feet into the water and enjoy the little fishes tickling  your toes.

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Balete Tree

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A nearby souvenir shop sells coconut water, coffee and bottled ‘love potion’ made from a mix of herbs.

Note: Visiting the enchanted tree is for free.The place has caretakers which maintain the cleanliness of the place and they have a Tip Box where you can give donations if you want.

Francis of Assisi Church

The moment you arrive the Island of Siquijor you will immediately see the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The church was built with stone and has the usual crucible form of the old Spanish churches.

End your day with Siquijor Sunset

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Allow yourself some days in Siquijor and it will give you a fresh and authentic perspective of the country. And probably the most memorable sunsets of your life!

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Have you been to Siquijor? It’s awesome right? Share your experiences in the comment section! 🙂

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