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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Maldives Water Villa (Adaaran Prestige Vadoo )

Teak wooden floorboards with piles of feathery linen on a four poster king size bed, in a serene and tranquil Water Villa await you. The lounge area of the bathroom comes with a glass panel to watch the colourful fauna that swims beneath you. Perched atop the crystal clear waters surrounding the atoll, guests residing at Water Villas will enjoy a private gateway to the vast, beckoning ocean that encompasses them.

Manta rays, stingrays, Napoleon wrasse, parrot fish and turtles swim the turquoise waters of the surrounding sea. The spacious outdoor deck of water bungalow allows you to jump straight into the glistening clear waters of the ocean, any time of the day.

It was indeed a lovely room, got private outdoor pool with a stunning view of the beach. Got nice Jacuzzi, with complimentary white wine and fruits, so spacious and they cleaned it everyday and they even do maintenance especially the outdoor stairs going to the beach to avoid slippery, the room is always organized.

Check out the video below and enjoy! 🙂

 

 

Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay is a small island in the Philippines. Philippines truly paradise island. Apart from its white sand beaches, Boracay is also famous for being one of the world’s top destinations for relaxation. I have been to Boracay for few times and I will not  get tired of coming back. My journey started from small and inconvenience airport in Kalibo. The nearest airport in Boracay is at Caticlan but it has no international flights. From Singapore you could fly to Kalibo via Tigerair (3hrs and 15mins) or fly to Iloilo via Cebupacific (3hrs and 15mins), from Kalibo I need to get the small chartered van to the jetty terminal (2hrs), if via Iloilo (6hrs). And then I took boat from Caticlan Jetty Port, where there is a 10-20 minute boat ride to Boracay.

Like many other international tourist destinations, Boracay now charges an environmental fee of P75.00 per visit to the island. There is also a P100 terminal fee when arriving at the Jetty Port as well as a P200airport terminal upon departure from Caticlan airport.

Stayed two nights at Nami and had to say it was just amazing. Our personal butler took care of us really well – offered us beach towels when we told them that we’re going for island hopping. The amenities is great, comfy beds, big space, nice bath tub and not forgetting the view which overlooks the Diniwid Beach. Suggestion – request for rooms situated in the middle. We got room which was slightly off to the left, there are some antennas blocking our view. Nonetheless the view is STILL amazing. Breakfast is great too they have a few varieties. Try their nami breakfast!! Only downside is the location. Nami is situated in which is quite isolated and far off other touristy areas. lt is a tad inconvenient if you want to go out to have dinner/shopping as all the buzz is in station 2 and 3. That being said, if you prefer to have quiet time, stay in room and relax and away from the noise and party, nami would be perfect. Transportation (tricycles) are cheap anyway.

Here are the few things you must prepare yourself for this heavenly paradise!

  1. Island Hopping- One of the most popular activities in Boracay. Hire a boat for a half-day tour around the island’s many beaches including Puka Beach, Crocodile Beach, and Tambisaan Beach.
  2. Ariel’s Point- A favourite among the adventurous. Leap off a cliff and make a big splash in the cerulean waters below! Ariel’s Point has five cliff diving platforms, with the highest at 13 meters. “The lower ones at 7 meters, 6 meters, 5 meters, and 3 meters,”. Guests who prefer not to jump from any of the platforms can use floating dock to enter the water.
  3. Parasailing- Zoom on a speedboat off and then soar high above the island! Get a fantastic view while you’re at it. Don’t forget to bring a camera!!
  4. Beach Sports- Get your balls ready and bring them to Boracay! There are shops that can rent you some but I suggest that you just bring your own volleyball, frisbee, or soccer ball to play with your friends.Whether you’re into beach volleyball or soccer, you’ll find the wide bed of sand in Boracay the perfect playground.
  5. Snorkeling- View the underwater flora & fauna of the Marine sanctuary of Crocodile Island or Angol Point while snorkeling around the boat.
  6. Beach Massage- The stretch of White Beach is full of massage shops that are relatively cheap and it’s the perfect day-ender for you after all the arduous activities that you have been through.
  7. Tattoos- If you’re not into the real permanent tattoos but still into the idea of marking your body with some temporary ink, then a henna tattoo is the option for you! You will see a lot of beach-goers who have these marks on their body and if you find it cool enough, join the craze and display that art on your body. The beach is speckled with small stands of these henna artists so just take your pick, choose a design, and then flaunt it all for the rest of your stay.
  8. ATV Riding- Drive to the island’s highest peak, Mt. Luho!
  9. Crystal Cove Caves- Experience breath taking views while trekking to the coves and caves, and get a chance to explore the natural beauty of rock formations and crystalline sea waters. A must do adventure when visiting Boracay!
  10. Sunset- Ask anyone who has been to this island and they will surely tell you about Boracay’s breathtaking and extraordinary sunsets! It’s a view that will really mark its spot in your heart and mind, it’s wonderful. And it’s FREE!
  11. Boating and Sailing- A paraw is an outrigger boat with two sails. Get onboard, control it like you control some of your friends, and let the wind take you to the best sites and sights around the island. Best done during sunset.
  12. Swimming- Do you want to have the sea all to yourself? Then why not a night swim, right? Try it at least once!
  13. Puka Beach- Named after ‘Puka‘ shells (shells of cone snails that are bead-like objects that is normally used in making beach anklets, bracelets, and necklaces) this beach is the next crowd favorite in Boracay.
  14. Willy’s Rock- Probably one of the most recognizable attractions in the island of Boracay, the Willy’s Rock is an oddly shaped volcanic formation with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on one corner.
  15. Hair Braiding- Hair braiding is one of the things that every woman or man has to experience when they visit Boracay.
  16. Beach- White Beach is by far the biggest and most popular beach in Boracay.
  17. Diving-There are over 15 dive sites around Boracay waters, all waiting for your curious presence. Be blown away by a trove of corals, underwater tunnels, caves, and other interesting spots!
  18. Fishing- Guaranteed fresh catch all the time!
  19. Windsurfing/Kiteboarding- Try and enjoy the wind and waves in the sea. The lagoon at Bulabog Beach is one of the most outstanding spots in the world for windsurfing and kiteboarding
  20. Glass Bottom Boat-  A nice way to see the island from the sea.
  21. Bar, Club and Pub- It’s that one thing Boracay has that most other local beach destinations don’t — the party vibe! Wait until the dark takes over and the island transforms into a giant outdoor club — loud, vibrant, and intoxicating. Get a drink, make new friends, and dance the night away.I personally think that if you were to ever ask Filipinos as to why they visit Boracay, their answer would be because of two things: (1) the beach and (2) the nightlife                                                                            NOTE: The country in general has cheap alcohol so if you’re a foreigner (who holds a stronger currency) take advantage of this! In fact, there are ‘happy hours’ in each and every bar in Boracay wherein during off-peak times, most drinks will be at a half price.Or if that’s not your thing, you can always watch the firedancers entertain the crowd in many spots along the beach.
  22. Mermaid Swimming- The Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy offers monofin swimming lessons with a unique twist—students get to wear not just monofins, but also mermaid tails.
  23. Standup Paddling- White Beach’s placid and shallow waters on a fine day make this activity perfect for beginners.
  24. Fly Fish- An exhilarating ride that is not for the faint-hearted! Ride a giant inflatable fish and get pulled along by a speedboat! It’s one hell of a bumpy (sometimes bouncy) ride that is perfect for barkadas. Hang on to your soul tight, for you might leave it behind! Not recommended to 18yo and below.
  25. Zorb & Zipline- You know the drill! You get inside a giant bubble, it rolls down a hill with you in it, and you’re taken to a spin! Or, zipline from 80 feet above sea level down to the beach.
  26. Marvel at professionally-made sandcastles or make one of your own – there was a time when White Beach had lots of magnificent sand art displayed every day, however the local government decided to minimize this activity for some reason. Anyhow, this practice is still there so just explore the length of White Beach and you’re bound to see one; or better yet, make your own!
  27. Food Trip-We know you’re probably working our so hard to get that perfect beach body, but prepare to say goodbye to it immediately. Boracay is a perfect pigging out paradise! But if you really want to enjoy true Filipino fare and dishes, follow my advice and tips:
    • Go to D’Talipapa – because a beach trip is NOT complete without seafood! For sure there are a lot of seafood restaurants in White Beach as an example, but if you want the true-blue way of eating like a local, drop by Station 2 to find D’Talipapa — a wet market that sells fresh seafood ingredients! Once you are done shopping for the food that you would like to eat, simply go to one of the nearby restaurants and have them cook it for you.
    • Go to Filipino Restaurants – and try local dishes! Other than gaining the chance to experience our hearty food, these are typically priced cheap too so it’s quite a steal.
    • Try street food – To start, taste the local BBQ sticks, pork fat crackers (chicharon), balut (famous fertilized egg), and of course the Chorizo Burger!
    • Take advantage of the fresh local fruits – what else but mangoes?! I promise you, we might just have the best mangoes that you will ever taste in your whole life! Other than this, indulge yourself with coconut juice that is freshly picked. And while we’re in the topic of drinks, take your time in enjoying all the kinds of fresh juice mixes that every establishment serves. If you want to try another favorite, go to Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar at Station 1 because the drinks here are absolutely addictive! They are even served in such big quantities apart from being cheap; therefore, it’s going to be worth your money.

 

READY TO GO?

I hope this blog post convinced you to visit Boracay, at least once in your life!

Cheers to one of the most beautiful places on earth.