Siquijor’s charm can be attributed not only to its pristine beaches but also to its laidback way of life and small-town feel. According to some of the locals I met during my visit, there are times during the year when the number of tourists in the island even exceeds the number of locals who actually reside here. There are several resorts and inns in the area catering to different types of travelers. As for things to do, there are actually a lot more than just beaches here.
Where to Stay in Siquijor: JJ’s Backpacker Inn
I only stayed overnight in the island. And since I’d read good online reviews about JJ’s, I decided to try its dorm accommodation.
JJ’s Backpacker Inn is located along a strip of resorts in San Juan, Siquijor. It’s a beachfront resort with dorm rooms and individual rooms. The dorm room I was in has a couple of bunk beds and a couple of single beds, a bathroom, and small cabinets with locks for our stuff. The room was made of wood and local materials, high-ceilinged, and is equipped with a ceiling fan. It had a pleasant ‘local’ feel.
The dorm was already packed when I arrived, and my bed was the only one unoccupied. We were four ‘groups’ in the room—a group of three students from Cebu who were enjoying their summer break, a solo female German backpacker, and a duo of girl friends who looked Korean.
Aside from the dorm, JJ’s also has individual rooms at a slightly higher rates. Those who want to stay on the beach can also camp near the shore.
I noticed that most of the travelers staying at JJ’s were foreigners. The owner was a foreigner, too. He’s the one managing the restaurant/bar, and he’s also the one who cleans the beach every morning to remove washed up seaweeds.
The restaurant also serves complete meals. I had my breakfast there the following day—typical Filipino breakfast with 3-in-1 coffee and fruit. Nothing fancy. I think they also offer American breakfast and sandwiches. However, if you’re an early riser, you’d find that the place doesn’t open until 8 AM.
Overall, JJ’s is a good place to stay for those who want affordable accommodation, although it looks a bit old. The signage was worn, and the bathroom could use some improvement. The basic amenities were okay, though, and I love that they have a small library in the dining area. Guests can borrow books to read anytime.
JJ’s is also an ideal place for travelers who want to meet other travelers in the island—just hang out in the bar or even outside your door, and you’ll most likely end up talking to someone. Or if you don’t mind rooming with strangers, stay in the dorm—instant roommates!
Places to See and Things to Do in Siquijor
Unlike other provinces in the country, there are no jeepneys in Siquijor. The main means of transportation are tricycle and multicab. If you’re planning to go around the island for one whole day, you can rent a tricycle at around Php1000-1500. There are also motorbikes for rent if you know how to drive one. There are stalls near the port where you can rent a bike, and all you will need to present is an identification card.
During my stay, I didn’t have to rent a tricycle to tour the island. My friend’s family was able to borrow a multicab from a neighbor (they’re that nice in Siquijor!), and they toured me around the area.
San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent.
This was our first stop during the tour. Located in Lazi, Siquijor, the San Isidro church dates back to 1887 and is now one of the few churches in the Philippines with a Baroque architecture. The convent is located just across the church and is one of the oldest convents in the country.
This is a public destination that features waterfalls with several layers–you can choose which layer you want to stay and swim in. One of the main features is a hanging vine from a tree that visitors can use to jump into the water, tarzan style.
Since it’s a public spot, there are limited cottages and they come on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are several vendors selling fish balls and other snacks, but you won’t find a store selling complete meals.
Note: To reach the waterfalls, you will need to go down via concrete steps, about a hundred steps, and then climb back up later on. Prepare to get some serious exercise.
Capilay Spring Park.
This is a public park with a huge flowing swimming pool. The water comes from a spring on one end of the pool and flows towards the sea on the other end. The park is located in the middle of the city, so you can’t expect complete privacy as the road is just a stone’s throw away.
I was told that there’s a sort of public afternoon party at the park every weekend. During our visit, there was a large sound system blasting loud party music, and there were vendors offering beer to the visitors inside the park.
Balete Fish Spa.
This is perhaps one of my favorites among the places we visited. It’s a simple balete tree with an adjacent pool of water (not for swimming). There are fishes in the water, and you can just soak in your feet and the fishes will come swimming to give you a tickling fish spa experience. Very relaxing.
There are tables and chairs in the area for eating, and there are also souvenir stalls. There’s an entrance fee (around Php5). However, since I was with locals and they were friends with the lady manning the place, we were able to try this for free.
This is a public beach where fishermen dock their fishing boats. The sand is white and fine, although there are no cottages–it doesn’t appear to be frequented by swimmers.
We watched the sunset and had dinner here, with only the starry night and flashlights giving us some lighting (no electric lamps around). This is a great spot for those who are looking for a quiet place as there are almost no one here. During our entire stay, we only met three or four people, some of them fishermen checking on their boats.
Of all the places we visited, this was the only destination where we had to pay–entrance fee was Php15 per pax + Php100 for cottage + Php50 for parking (day swimming).
The resort is government operated. Aside from cottages, there are also shower rooms and outdoor showers. The resort was packed during our visit, and it wasn’t easy to find a vacant cottage–we had to settle on one located halfway to the far end of the beach. Apparently, it can get crowded on weekends, so better get in the place early if you’re going on a Saturday or Sunday.
Although you can tour Siquijor by going around the perimeter of the island, there are also roads that cut across the mountain for faster travel to another side of the island. The view is wonderful as there are long strips where there are no houses and you’ll see only trees and plants. Riding the multicab was a great experience because part of the rear section had no roof—we were able to stand for a better view. There was also a time when it rained while we were traveling, and we enjoyed bathing in the rain–a rare thing these days, and a welcome experience for me!
I left Siquijor refreshed and recharged, ready to face city life again. Before going back to Manila, however, I stayed overnight in Dumaguete for a short trip.