This tiny province located in the Visayas has been unfairly labeled as the land of sorcery and witchcraft. But of course those are just classic Filipino myths; Some say that the hearsay were created long ago to protect the island from the influx of outsiders.
Today though, the beauty of Siquijor is no longer a secret. In fact, it is a favorite island vacation of foreign tourists. Upon arriving at the port, you'll surely be wowed by its clear turquoise waters! This province is endowed with serene beaches, unexplored caves, and picturesque sunset.
Here are some recommended tourist attractions to visit in Siquijor. You can hire a tricycle or rent a motorcycle that take you to the major tourist attractions.
1. Visit St. Francis de Assisi Church
Walking distance from the port, this old colonial stone church dominates the town plaza. Standing across it is the belfry tower that has served as a watch tower for the sea raiders during the Spanish colonial period.
2. Picnic at Capilay Spring Park
At the center of San Juan town, there is a humble Spring Lake developed into a spring pool. Visitors can have a picnic, dine and swim here. Yes, fish thrives in this public pool.
3. Get a fish foot spa at the massive Balete tree
The spooky look of the oldest tree in the province with its huge roots sprouting all over is often associated with the so-called mysticism of Siquijor. The place has been developed and has a clear spring where locals bath, do their laundry and fetch their water for everyday use. Schools of small fish thrive in the spring: so soak your feet and let them nibble on your dead skin.
4. Do a Tarzan rope swing jump at Cambugahay Falls
You need to take a couple of steps down the stairs to reach the waterfalls. The place is serene and surrounded by lush vegetation. Cambugahay Falls has clear turquoise waters (except if it rained the previous day, making the water turn moss-green) and multi-level cascades. Look for the swing rope hanging on the tree and do a Tarzan jump. Make sure someone is watching your valuables while you’re swimming because this place has theft issues, though at times there are policemen guarding the area.
5. Trek Mt. Bandilaan National Park
A forest filled with towering trees and anahaw or fan palm (the Philippine national leaf) where visitors can climb the tower and get a panoramic view of the province.
6. Try the home-made ensaymada
Along the road to Brgy. Maria just before the mangrove forest, there is a family who sells delicious home-made ensaymada, a Filipino pastry topped with melted butter and a flurry of sugar. Interestingly, the ensaymada is baked in an improvised oven, making its taste distinct.
7. Visit the Lazi Convent and St. Isidore de Labrador Church
For history buffs, this place is a must-see. This massive convent built in 1884 was declared as one of the historical landmarks and the largest convent in the Philippines. You can get inside and take a peek at the artifacts on display in the museum. Across the convent you can find the unassuming St. Isidore de Labrador Church which is made of stone and wood flooring.
8. Explore the Mangrove Forest
Mangroves thrive in some shores of Siquijor, particularly the ones in Maria. But if you want to see tree houses and walk on bamboo bridge, head over to Guiwanon Spring Park where you can also dine at a restaurant located in a cottage on stilts.
9. Go Dive
Diving is a famous activity for foreign tourists who visit Siquijor. Famous dive sites include Tubod Sanctuary which is pretty close to San Juan, Maite Point, Sawang, Tagot Shoal and Paliton Wall.
10. Cliff Jump at Salagdoong Beach
Despite its development, Salagdoong beach has retained its natural charm due to the perfect blend of cobalt, turquoise and green waters. Cottages are available for rent and slides where built on the rock formations. There are cemented platforms made especially for adventure seekers who want to dive off the cliff.
11. See the the statue of Santa Rita de Cascia
The Sta. Maria Church of Siquijor houses the eerie-looking statue of the Italian lady saint touted as the miraculous Black Maria. Santa Rita de Cascia is a patroness of all hardship that is dressed in black garb and carrying a human skull on one hand and a cross on the other.
12. Visit a Faith Healer
The province actually encourages promoting faith healers for tourism through a Faith Healing Festival during Holy Week. The faith healers of Siquijor cook their concoctions made of tree barks, herbs and roots, every Good Friday. One popular ritual, the bolo-bolo, features an old lady chanting a prayer and blowing through a stick on a glass of water with a black stone. The water becomes murky but after repeating the process, the slowly becomes clear making a person healed of his or her ailments.
(Gael Hilotin is a female solo traveler who is currently traveling around the Philippines, follow her adventures here: The Pinay Solo Backpacker.)