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5 Days in Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Apo Island

by Maia Marquez
March 20, 2019

With so much to explore in the country, where do you even begin?

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With so much pressure to make the most out of a vacation, there’s always the worry of going to so many places, but not experiencing them enough. Plus, with an overwhelming list of gorgeous destinations all over the country, we tend to fall back on what’s familiar, forgetting that discovering new and uncharted places can also be extremely fulfilling.

Not quite your top-of-mind destinations, Dumaguete, Siquijor, and the famed Apo Island unassumingly show off and preserve their natural beauty, gaining traction in the tourism industry. Since these Visayan gems are located near each other, it only makes sense to see them all in a span of a few days. Take a cue from this 5-day itinerary, and find yourself immersed in their unspoiled beauty.

Day 1

Fly to Dumaguete and feast on Casablanca’s fine dining.

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Catch your flight to the university city also known as “The City of Gentle People,” and prepare yourself for the adventure that awaits!

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have daily flights from Manila to Dumaguete and back.

If you’re raring to be out and about, we suggest feasting on expertly prepared dishes from Casablanca. Dubbed as “the best restaurant in Dumaguete,” this delicatessen and fine dining eatery uses the freshest and most premium ingredients to serve you meals that kids, seafood lovers, vegetarians, and even the pickiest eaters will love.

Casablanca Delicatessen & Fine Dining
Rizal Boulevard, corner Noblefranca Street
Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
(035) 422 4080
(0917) 300 9708

Day 2

Rent a boat and make your way to the famed Manjuyod Sandbar.

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Trust us, you’re going to want to get an early start (hint: 5:30 AM) on this one, because even on the way to the sandbar, you’re already in for a treat! Enjoy the morning’s ocean breeze as you cruise the cool, turquoise sea alongside pods of dolphins. Watch these friendly sea creatures as they gracefully glide through the water, and before you know it, you’ll be docking at the shore.

(TIP: Since you’re renting your own boat, we highly recommend bringing your favorite ice-cold drinks—and some ice, too—so you can stay hydrated and refreshed throughout the day.)

Seemingly situated in the middle of nowhere, your destination offers a unique sense of tranquility and untouched beauty. Whether you just want to lie down with a good book in hand and get your dose of Vitamin D or you’re one to cool off with a refreshing dip, the sandbar is yours to explore!

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No vacation is complete without good eats. Enjoy a boodle-style meal of grilled seafood and meat paired with steaming hot rice that’s typically included in your tour. Since you’re out at sea, indulge in the ocean’s fresh and fine treats like oysters, uni, and squid that you can buy and have cooked for cheap. Wash it all down with an ultra-refreshing serving of buko juice, and you’re pretty much set for whatever else you have in store for the day.

While taking a siesta after a hearty meal might just be the best idea, we recommend you make the most of your time there, as the sandbar disappears during high tide. Or, if you’re a thrill seeker, watersports and activities like banana boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving are available for your fill of adventure. Alternatively, you can also call it a day and head back for some R&R before heading out again.

(TIP: Prior to your Negros adventure, it would be best to pre-book your boat in advance. The boat takes you to the sandbar, where you can stay for as long as you want, before it brings you back to Dumaguete proper.)

For Inquiries and Boat Rentals:
Arwin Almedilla
(0916) 857 8515

Cap off the day with dinner at Allegre.

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After enjoying the perfect mix of action and relaxation, it’s only fitting to end the day with yet another sumptuous meal. Savor the party of flavors in Allegre’s authentic Spanish tapas and delectable brick oven pizzas. While you’re at it, a cocktail or two will make your delicious meal even better!

Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City
(0917) 709 1752

Day 3

Take in the feeling of enchantment as you explore Siquijor.

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Just a ferry ride away from Dumaguete is Siquijor or “Isla del Fuego.” The enchanting place was given its nickname back in the day by the Spaniards who noticed the island was surrounded by an eerie glow, which turned out to be swarms of fireflies. To this day, legend has it that the mystical Siquijor is filled with magic potions, shamans, sorcerers, and witches, making it unsafe to wander at night.

Ocean Jet: Approx. 50 minutes travel time
Open Air/Tourist Class: PhP 250
Business Class: PhP 380

Aleson Shipping Lines: Approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes travel time
Regular Fare: PhP 120

(TIP: Remember to check ferry schedules to see which time would suit your schedule of activities best).

Swing around Cambugahay Falls.

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Start getting to know this magical destination by (literally) hanging around Cambugahay Falls. A short and beginner-friendly trek is all it takes to get to the three-tiered waterfall and its clear waters. Once there, pick a rope you want to swing from (whether once or again and again!) and make a grand entrance into the cool crystal water. Remember, screaming ala Tarzan is optional!

Visit the centuries-old Balete Tree that has stood the test of time, and relieve your tired soles at the Fish Spa.

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This 400-year-old Balete tree is believed to be enchanted, so much so that sorcery rituals are still performed here. Apart from being the oldest and biggest Balete tree in the province, another mystical thing about it is the spring that originates from its base and flows into the manmade pool. While some visitors enjoy a cool dip here, others just like to sit back, relax, and let little fish nibble at their feet for what might be the most natural foot spa experience.

Recharge and have lunch at Fuego Cantina & Grill.

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Take a breather from the busy morning and refuel yourself with Fil-American comfort food from Fuego Cantina & Grill. Tourists and locals love its quirky and playful ambiance, great food and drinks, and exceptional staff—and we’re sure you will, too!

Fuego Cantina & Grill Restobar
Tubod, San Juan, Siquijor
(0997) 382 3452

Get your dose of adventure and excitement at Salagdoong Beach.

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Adrenaline junkies are going to love this one—walk down the 7- or 10-meter plank, take a leap of faith, and plunge into the deep at this cliff diving spot! If you want to test the waters first, ride down the water slides built into rocks that take you on a winding adventure into the ocean. While the jumps and slides might have you climbing back up for more, don’t forget to admire the marvelous views from the top.

Lounge around a hidden gem and take in Paliton Beach’s surreal sunset.

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There’s one more stop worth seeing before you leave this mystical island. A hidden spot hailed as Siquijor’s most beautiful beach, Paliton is the epitome of untouched beauty. While the image of a wide shore, sky-high palm trees, and crystal clear waters might already spell perfection, this beach is also home to what might just be the most gorgeous sunsets—you’ll definitely have to see it for yourself!

Get your seafood fix with dinner at Baha Ba’r.

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Just before you head back to Dumaguete, don’t miss out on dinner at Baha Ba’r. A reflection of the island’s traditions and design, it exudes a chill, lounge-style vibe that’s perfect for relaxing after a long day of adventure. While they pride themselves in having an extensive menu of tapas that showcase Philippine flavors, devouring their seafood platter is a must as well.

Baha Ba’r
San Juan, Maite, Siquijor
(0998) 548 8784

Day 4

Discover a whole new world underwater with an Apo Island Tour.

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Slowly gaining popularity not only in the diving scene is Apo Island, a volcanic island that houses a rich and diverse marine reserve. While allotting pretty much the whole day to enjoy the underwater world might seem a little too much, you might actually find yourself never wanting to leave!

You don’t even need to be a licensed diver to enjoy the vibrant and colorful marine life—swim and snorkel not too deep in the waters, and you’ll already see the purples, greens, blues, yellows, and reds of corals, as well as schools of fish, slugs, sea snakes and anemones.

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Of course, the true highlights of an Apo Island trip are the sightings of majestic sea turtles, both big and small. While you might get so excited to see such great beauty up close, it’s always important to remember to keep a safe distance from them and simply take photos, videos, and nothing else.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about Apo Island is that despite it being a tourist destination, it still manages to conserve its environment. While aqua shoes are highly recommended, wearing them doesn’t give you an excuse to be careless—strict policies include expensive fines and community service for those who step on corals.

(TIP: It’s cheaper to go to Apo Island from Dumaguete than from Siquijor. All you have to do is ride a tricycle to Siaton, hop on a jeepney to Malapatay, Zamboanguita, walk towards the port, and rent a boat to Apo Island.)

For Inquiries and Tour Reservations:
Harold’s Mansion
(0917) 783 5172

End the day with dinner at Why Not?

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Because… Why Not? If you’re still up for a little partying, no one’s going to stop you from dancing the night away at the ultimate party destination in town, which also boasts an array of entertainment hubs and restaurants like Chicco’s Deli and Resto, a local and tourist favorite that serves Swiss, German, Thai, and Filipino staples.

Why Not? Disco
70 Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete
(035) 522 1864
(0919) 840 2069

Day 5

Make a pasalubong stop at Sans Rival Café and Bistro.

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After a short yet action-packed vacation, it’s time to head back home. But what’s a trip without shopping for some pasalubong to bring home to those you love? Whether you can still squeeze in a meal or you have just enough time to buy some treats, make one last quick stop at Sans Rival Café and Bistro. Beautifully situated with an ocean view, it lets you cherish quality time with your companions, while enjoying local food and Spanish-inspired fare. Of course, you’re not going to want to leave without buying boxes of their famed dessert, Silvanas.

Sans Rival Café and Bistro
San Jose St., Dumaguete
(035) 421 0338

Once you’ve gotten as much as you like, it really is time to catch your flight and head back home, ready to plan your next adventure.

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About Maia
Maia’s passions in life are to travel and tell stories. Born in the States and raised in Manila while having studied in France, her ultimate goal is to travel all countries of the world. While she’s not abroad, she spends time tanning at the beach, exploring the underwater world or chilling with her 14 dogs. Follow her adventures on her Instagram @maiawillseetheworld.

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