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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The hidden gem of The Philippines

The mystical Siquijor is the southernmost island in the Visayan Island Group. It is the third smallest province in the Philippines after Batanes and Camiguin, respectively.

Since its discovery in 1565 by the Spaniards, or perhaps even before that, Siquijor has been associated with mystic traditions and magic. When they first sighted the place, the Spaniards called it ‘Isla del Fuego’ (which literally means the ‘Island of Fire’) because of the glow coming from the great swarms of fireflies that gathered on the trees on the island.

Famous for its beautiful coastline, waterfalls, beautiful corals, caves,  big trees, white sand beaches and breath-taking panoramic views, here are all the reasons you need to make sure you include Siquijor in your Philippines itinerary.

Watch magnificent sunset on Paliton Beach

Paliton Beach

Flanked by a line of coconut palms which is also its most striking feature, the first activity on your list while you are on this island is to get to the Paliton beach. While you are here, enjoy some snorkelling and its lovely pristine white sand. The best thing about the beach is even during the high season, it isn’t very crowded.

Watch the boatmen fish while you bask in the sunset. Make sure you have your camera ready as this beach is one of the most ‘Instagrammable’ spots of the island.

Visit the century-old balete tree and indulge in a fish spa

This ‘century-old’ tree is actually closer to 400 years old and has so much more to offer than meets the eye. There is a pool at its base where tourists come and sit to admire the beauty of this tree. These natural spring waters are channelled for tourists to sit and soak their feet in, and exposure to the water is supposed to be an elixir for whatever ails you. So, indulge in a free fish spa while you are here and soak in some more beauty after a long walk.

Take a dip in Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls

Tucked into the countryside just outside of Lazi, you cannot miss this majestic sight. The three-tiered waterfall with three large lagoons has the perfect aquamarine colour and refreshing water temperature for a hot day. The way it gently cascades over caves and light brown rocks make it one of the favourite spots on the island. If you fancy a swim or want to sit on swings to let out that inner child, this is the place to be.

Cliff jumping at Salagdoong beach

Located on the eastern side of Siquijor, around a 30-minute drive from Cambugahay Falls and an hour from Paliton Beach is the Salagdoong Beach. A thrill-seekers paradise, it is known for cliff jumping platforms. For people looking for adventure, there are two available platforms to choose from, with one being eight metres and the other nine metres.

So, conquer your fears and take the jump! There is also a giant slide that goes straight into the ocean. The beach is full of perfect white sand with clear water, kayaking and snorkelling options. If you’re not into adventure and just looking to relax, bamboo rafts set up with hammocks and swings will make this the perfect spot.

Hike Mount Bandilaan

Mount Bandilaan

The resplendent Mount Bandilaan, the highest peak in the province can be found in the centre of Siquijor. Rising up to 170 metres above sea level totalling 425 metres high, Mount Bandilaan provides many opportunities for exploration such as cave spelunking, nature trekking and mountain climbing. The mountain springs and rivers found in the base and nearby terrain of Mount Bandilaan are also among its main attractions. There is a viewing tower at an elevated portion of the park which gives you a good vantage point of all the surrounding barangays and towns – a wonderful view of Siquijor. Wear your hiking shoes and trek your way up.

In a bid to resume the travel and tourism sector, the Philippines Department of Tourism is currently promoting domestic travel aggressively with health and safety protocols in place.

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