Our third and last day on Siquijor Island was our most adventurous, we almost ended up in a shipwreck, but let’s start at the beginning.
This beautiful island is full of white beaches, huge waterfalls, massive jumping cliffs, breathtaking sunsets and lovely people. It was our favourite island in the Philippines, I can’t wait to go back.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND:
We arrived after a rough ferry trip just before a typhoon hit! It was 10pm and we walked off the port to be greeted by 10 or so Filipino drivers with tricycles – motorbikes with side carts attached – and jeepneys – old jeeps used in wars that have been done up for public transport and are everywhere! The five of us who had journeyed from Bohol, Neil, Leiali, Mario, Johannes and I, were all getting fed up because they kept giving us different prices, one minute it would be low and then it would go up, so we decided to just walk into town for some pizza – when in doubt, pizza. The drivers followed us the whole way demanding we go with them – of course I had the cheek to point out they were wasting their petrol by driving along beside us and they may as well have given us a free ride – I don’t think they liked that.
Eventually we found a man with three scooters for hire – we took them for a good deal, 280Peso a day ($8NZ for each scooter per day), for the next two days and man those two days were amazing.
A PLACE TO SLEEP:
We slept in a tent on the first night because all the accommodation was full, it was dark when we arrived but, opening the tent in the morning was amazing.
We were right on the beach and the day was beautiful. It was nice to be inside for the last two nights though. The place we stayed was JJ’s Backpackers – wicked location and very cheap at only $9NZ a night for a bed in a funky little bamboo dorm.
Unfortunately the staff there were the least friendly Filipinos we came across – but we weren’t there much so it was no big deal.
BEACHES AND WATERFALLS:
The first day on our DIY scooter tour, we went to two stunning waterfalls, a secret beach and finished the night with a party.
The first waterfall we went to was Lugnason falls. Absolutely amazing. At the top there were a few locals around, but only one or two other tourists.
One of the local boys showed us all the jumps, including a rather dangerous one that needed a run up on slippery mud. I had to do it, I only just cleared the rocks, but it was awesome.
The second falls, Cambugahay Waterfall, we went to were more popular as were marked on the tourist map.
This made them a bit overcrowded and not as special as the last spot. However, it was lovely standing under the falls for a cheeky massage.
The next stop was Kagusan Beach, this took ages to find as wasn’t marked on a map and is down the side of a cliff. We had to ask locals several times and got lost more than once along the way, but it was well worth it!
We were pretty much the only ones there. Three of Mario’s friends joined us and we had a great swim in the really private and beautiful bay.
A disaster was averted when Johannes realised he had left his scooter key in his pocket. After half an hour in the waves, it was gone. Everyone started looking frantically and thanks to the crystal clear waters, we managed to find it!
Later we watched the sunset at a bar near the hostel and had some dinner before heading out to a party at Johannes and Mario’s hostel where we meet an Aussie chick, Nikki, who joined us in our next adventures.
The next day we started a little slow – thanks to the night before – but we had a mission! There is a little island just off Siquijor called Apo Island. Apo has a big sea turtle sanctuary that we were dying to see. The only ferry from the island (Coco Grove Resort ferry) that went there was 1850Peso each ($53NZ), we thought we could get it cheaper so at the party the night before the locals told us to find a Polish guy named Peter at a restaurant called Marco Polo. That was our first stop, unfortunately his boat was broken, but he told us the go and find this Austrian guy named Chris at a guest house called Good Vibes. We found him and he made a deal to take us across the next day for 1100Peso each ($31NZ) on his bamboo boat. I’ll finish that story soon.
After all the organising the scooter gang set off to Salagdoong beach.
This was a more popular spot, costing 70Peso ($2NZ) to get in. The beach was full of tourists, so we were feeling a little disappointed in our choice until we ran into some locals we met at last nights party, Cliff and his whole family.
They were having a traditional family get together like they do every Sunday. They had a whole pig, some veggies, fish and beer, which they generously shared with us. Cliff showed us to a 10 metre cliff we could jump off while they looked after our stuff.
Filipinos really are the friendliest race I’ve ever meet. It was heaps of fun jumping into the sea, it took a few members of the gang a while to build up the courage, but we all did it!
Here, we definitely discovered it’s better not to go to the popular tourist beaches marked on the map.
After our swim we drove up to the top of a hill lookout to watch the sunset but, it was over grown with trees and the lookout was under construction!
We had to laugh. Sleep called soon after.
We got up just after sunrise to met at Austrian Chris’s boat. It was just big enough for the six of us with Chris, but it only had four life jackets.
Chris said the weather was okay for us to try so we all jumped on the floating bamboo and set sail.
The first ¾ of the journey was smooth sailing, so we all managed a nap, sharing the life jackets as pillows.
Suddenly, the waves picked up with the wind and water started splashing in from every angle. The boat was falling to pieces, Neil was holding a pole in place and Chris was trying to steer while the rest of us were in a big huddle with the life jackets towards the back of the boat. Chris shouted, “we might have to turn back,” as he started to turn the boat into the waves. I was thinking he must be crazy, we had almost made it and it would be dangerous to go back into the middle with the wind changing so dramatically. Neil looked at me as though he read my mind and yelled back, “it’s safer to capsize closer to shore than in the middle of the ocean,” to which Chris nodded and began turning back to Apo. Half an hour later we made it to shore and everyone was relieved, to say the least.
Chris told us to go snorkelling while he fixed the boat, the sail was only holding on by a few ropes by now.
But, man, those turtles! When we got in we immediately saw one followed by about 10, just minding their own business. These dudes were huge, we didn’t expect them to be so big, what a treat! Risking our lives was worth it.
Hungry as hippos, we walked into the little village after snorkelling to find some food.
The way back, however, was a struggle. We set off and the wind was still very strong, we got about 50 metres in 20 minutes before we turned back. Unfortunately, Neil and I had to catch a ferry to get to our next destination at 6am the next day so we couldn’t stay on Apo, like the rest of the crew. We ended up paying 500Peso each for the Coco Grove Ferry to take us back.
When we got back we were thankful to be safe and knocked back a few rums before falling into a peaceful slumber.
TAKE ME BACK:
Overall Siquijor was absolutely stunning and so much fun, it was also a lot cheaper than some of the other islands as it’s not a well known tourist destination yet, but I’d only give that a few years. As for getting to Apo, next time I think I’ll go with the Coco Grove Ferry.