An early summer treat to the beach is underrated. Everyday is an opportunity to enjoy the seas and see marine life. February, for example, is a good time to enjoy Dumaguete and Siquijor. Less crowd and fewer rush to get ahead a long line of thirsty tourists. For detailed expenses and itinerary, skip down at the end of this story.
Dumaguete City lies at Negros Oriental, in the Visayan part of the Philippines. It is only a couple of hours by plane from Manila. My friends and I got into the city by noon. By the time we arrived, we did not know how to get to our accommodation. Although with google maps help, we knew it was only a few minutes away.
Some van drivers insisted they take us to NFA Dumaguete (our place of stay) for 250 pesos. They also said that the tricycles cost more. Later that day, we found out that tricycles were actually cheaper. The sun was too hot that day, we agreed to stay for a little while before going out the city. We took two tricycles for only 10 pesos each and went to the famous Rizal Boulevard.
There were plenty of restaurants across Rizal Boulevard. Bethel Guest House was one of them. It was a hotel with a public canteen for outsiders. It’s got a cute blue facade that faced the park outside.
We spent an average of 150pesos per head at the restaurant. Even when the weather was still breathtakingly hot, we went out to the boulevard for a heat stroll. Some of us got some ice creams to counter the sun’s blazing glory.
Less than a hundred steps away is Silliman University, one of the most common universities in Dumaguete, tourists are allowed to go inside for a peek at the school’s facilities. They have museums, parks, and neat architecture. We took our time mostly at the archeological museum to chat and chill since the area was airconditioned (50php/head entrance fee). A huge school map is located at the center near the crossing. But if lost, just smile and wave and ask the students nicely.
After spending at most two hours at the university, we decided to go to Sta. Catalina Bell Tower. It’s accessible by feet but 3pm was still hot. We took a ride again for 10 pesos each. Beside the bell tower is a Christian store for those looking for rosaries, crosses, bibles, statues, etc. There is also a small place for prayer to the city’s patron and Virgin Mary.
Looking for some afternoon delight, we took our snack at Sans Rival Restaurant, also across the boulevard (Average price 200php), a short walk after the bell tower. There we had a taste of the famous Sansrival, a butter coated Meringue refrigerated cake. Luckily we also found a soft opening of a souvenir store where we hoarded cute Dumaguete and Apo Island ref magnets. I think it was called Thousand Island Store.
We spent a little more time at the city before going back. Stopping at a nearby grocery store, we packed up snacks to fill our breakfast for the next day. Then we hired a tricycle enough for the seven of us to go back. It was getting dark when we noticed our ride was not running fine. A few seconds later we heard a boom. One of the tires got flat. We then just walked to NFA Dumaguete. I remember buying a pint of ice cream on the way back.
The night were still young, before we went to sleep, we got ourselves to freshen up and enjoy several rounds of Uno and our own version of 1-2-3 pass. Little did we notice time passed quickly. We still had an early schedule for the Apo Island tour for the next day. Waking up around six in the morning, we got ready for the boat to Apo island which was scheduled to leave at 7:30. Roland’s Mansion was only one ride away and we were excited to swim with the turtles. The sea turtle experience cost 1200 per head. The fee included life vests, snorkeling gears, and fins. The port was a bit far, almost an hour away from the city proper. There were around 30 people in a single wharf.
Before jumping in the waters, the guide disclosed important reminders. Always stick to the guide, never touch the marine life, and don’t take anything from the seafloor, also, wearing life vests is a recommendation. After encountering a couple of sea turtles, we were taken to the spot where volcanic bubbles rush up from the coral reefs. We also had time to spend on the shore of the island, the heat was striking. Around midday, we got back to the wharf and ate our lunch. They served pancit. a hard boiled egg, and a banana. It was not entirely enough to replenish our tired bodies. Good thing we brought along our own snacks.
A tourist suddenly approached and tried to have a chat with us. We thought he was hitting with one of our friends. He was hilarious anyway, we had a laugh talking to him. The afternoon ride back to the city was boring and snoozy, we killed our time with a game called contact. It was a challenging word guessing game. Until we got our rented supplies back and reached home, we were still playing. It was quite fun.
Along the Rizal Boulevard once more, we took our fun dinner at Lantaw Restaurant (Average 250 per head). They had a variety of seafood dishes available for fresh picks. Their seafood platter was one of the bestsellers. I also met with my former high school classmate who transferred to Dumaguete. We were happy to see each other, she brought our class picture and we talked about the past, unforgettable memories back in high school and updated ourselves with some good news that transpired to our present lives. Meeting up with a friend after ten long years surely was nostalgic.
Filling up our tummies, we headed back to get our rest and prepare for our next day travel to Siquijor Island. We asked around the area to know the schedule for the boat trip to Siquijor. We arranged for an 8:30 morning trip. Having fewer worries on where to spend the night at Siquijor, we availed a room again to one of the branch offices of NFA at Siquijor, also 150 per head. *If you want to stay cheap and comfy, you can contact me to ask for a reservation at our staffhouses available in most parts of the country.
To lessen our worries and hassle on taking public transportation to tour around, we hired a private van and amazingly our driver was very kind and helpful. He was Kuya Dennis. You may contact him at 09776014670. He’s from Siquijor and he easily took us to the tourist spots safely, hastily, without any problems at all.
The early morning sky appeared dark and gloomy, a sign of approaching rain. It poured for several minutes but was gone before noon. Our first stop was at the Guiwanon Spring Park Resort. We thought it was closed at the time cause there was no people anywhere.
Kanheron Ranch offered an experience of a western or wild west atmosphere. Wooden stools, liquor bar with a lot of imported drinks, and intragrammable ambiances. Kanheron’s admission fee is only 50 pesos. Infinity Sands Resort, on the other hand has 150 entrance fee consumable. It could be spent on snacks and drinks. It’s a neat resort for small events and short time staycations.
It was quite a waiting time for our orders to arrive. But as always, we find things to do to avoid boredom. So we had a good time with a few rounds of charade, and we were still playing when the snacks arrived. It was already noon and we still have a few more places to visit before we can have lunch at Salagdoong Beach. After a tasteful pizza and fruit shake, next on our itinerary was Siquijor’s Little Boracay, Lazi Church, Enchanted Balete Tree, and Cambugahay Falls. Souvenir items may be bought at the balete tree shop – finally some ref magnets. One thing to like as well is the fish spa where small varities of fish feast on your feet, ticklish but it was enjoyable.
Beyond the rocky steps of Cambugahay is its series of waterfalls that looked astonishing. We absolutely enjoyed our turn at the raft and let the falls gush on us. There was also a swinging rope where anyone is welcome to brace and jump their way to the pool.
Finally our 3PM lunch at Salagdoong. A fun time at the beach came after. I know, it’s not advisable to swim after a meal. But nah, no time to be such a killjoy. We had an awesome time at the beach. *too bad I don’t have photos in this blog, I’m sorry!*
From the other side of Siquijor we went around to get back to our last two stops. Just as the night stepped in, we made a quick look at a native bakery. Their bread tasted awesome! Funny thing, my friends did not tell me I was still wearing my towel above my head when we got to the bread shop. I only realized it when we got back to the road. Bullies. Hilarious.
Kuya Dennis, our most kind of a driver, let us rent his van again for the next morning so we could visit Larena Triad at daylight because it was dark the day when we had our dinner on the previous day. The view deck overlooked Bohol, Cebu, and Dumaguete. After checking out at NFA Siquijor, we went straight for a quick breakfast and got on to our morning boat ride back to Dumaguete.
Getting ready for our afternoon flight, we went ahead at Jo’s Chicken Inato for a heavy lunch. They had this delicious halo halo served on a buko. Afterwards we gathered at Sansrival for our final destination – pasalubong.
It is possible to take home one whole roll of Sansrival even when you are a plane away. It takes up to five hours before the butter and cream melts. Once you arrive at home, place it in the fridge right away. Then just wait for ten to twenty minutes before tearing it down – eating it, rather. For those who does not want to take a risk, take home some boxes of Silvanas instead. They could stay for more than eight hours outside the cold.
Our trip to Dumaguete City, Apo Island, and Siquijor was definitely something we will never forget. Beside the places we visited around Dumaguete, there are a few more spots which can be enjoyed, but, as it turned out, four days is not enough. Anyway, those places are not going anywhere. We can still visit them when we want to – we just have to wait for another plane ticket seat sale!
|Dumaguete City + Apo Island + Siquijor (4d/3n)|
06:00 – 07:20 – Plane from Manila to Dumaguete
07:20 – 07:35 – Check in at NFA Dumaguete Staffhouse (Php 180/pax/night)
07:35 – 11:00 – Free time!
11:00 – 12:15 – Brunch at Bethel (Php 120+)
12:15 – 13:00 – Rizal Boulevard
13:00 – 15:00 – Silliman University (Php 50+)
15:00 – 15:30 – Sta. Catalina Bell Tower
15:30 – 16:30 – Snack at Sans Rival (Php 140+)
16:30 – 17:30 – Shop for Groceries and Ref Magnets
17:30 – 19:30 – Free time!
06:30 – 06:50 – Roland’s Mansion (Php 1200)
07:30 – 08:10 – Boat to Apo Island
08:10 – 15:00 – Apo Island
15:00 – 17:00 – Back to Mainland and rest
17:00 – 21:00 – Dinner at Lantaw (Php 250+)
21:00 – onwards – rest and stuff
08:30 – 09:20 – Boat to Siquijor (Php 130)
09:20 – 09:40 – Check in at NFA Siquijor Staffhouse (Php 150/pax/night)
09:40 – 10:00 – Guiwanon Spring Park Resort (Php 10)
10:00 – 11:00 – Kanheron Ranch (Php 50)
11:00 – 11:45 – Infinity Sands Resort (Php 150 consumable)
12:15 – 12:30- Siquijor’s Little Boracay
12:30 – 13:00 – Enchanted Balete Tree
13:00 – 13:35 – Lazi Church
13:35 – 14:45 – Cambugahay Falls (Php 50+)
14:45 – 17:30 – Salagdoong Beach (Php 400+ with meals)
17:30 – 18:10 – Lilibeth Pan Bisaya Bakery (Php 10+)
18:10 – 21:00 – Larena Triad (Php 150+)
20:00 – onwards – back at NFA Siquijor
08:00 – 09:00 – Larena Triad
09:00 – 10:30 – Siquijor Port (Php 130)
10:30 – 14:00 – Rest at NFA Dumaguete
14:00 – 15:00 – Jo’s Chicken Inato (Php 120+)
15:00 – 15:30 – Sans Rival
15:30 – 16:30 – Lee Plaza
16:30 – 17:00 – Check out from NFA Dumaguete
17:00 – 19:00 – free time/boarding plane
19:00 – 20:20 – Back to Manila
Plane Fare – Php2100
Van Rental for Siquijor – Php2500
Meals+Souvenirs+Fees – Php3000+
Total of Php5000+/pax