Time to chill on Siquijor, Island of Witchcraft
Siquijor is a small island in the Philippines known for it’s mystical mountain healers, witchcraft and superstition. It’s also got some amazing little beaches and forest interior.
I was travelling there from Dumaguete on the ferry, which took around 2 hours and cost less than £2. We also saw dolphins on the relaxing boat journey! A real bonus.
Like most places in SE Asia a huge group of tuktuks, taxis and taxibikes awaited us, so I showed one guy my hotel, popped a helmet on and off we went. There’s basically one road around the island, with a few smaller ones leading Inland, so it’s hard to get lost!
Arriving at the hotel it was around lunchtime, so I checked in and realised I was actually staying in a small shack in someone’s back garden. It was very basic but super cheap and I thought at least it’ll be an adventure. If it sounds up your street the hotel is Lagkaw sa Sawang.
I dropped my stuff off and decided to try out a jeepney, the bus like transports found all over the Philippines. It worked a treat as I jumped up into the back and, once at my destination paid and jumped off!
My destination was Paliton beach, a small expanse of white sand, turquoise waters and not much else. It was another little paradise and I lay here for the whole afternoon, swimming and reading.
I got chatting to some guys who were opening resorts on the island who were a little bit cringe, but it led me to chat with two German girls and we sat enjoying the spectacular sunset and agreed to meet for dinner later.
The sun had set and it was pretty dark along the small track to the main road but wasn’t sure if I jeepney would be coming, so I started to walk to the next barangay which is like a village. From here I took a taxibike back to the hotel, got changed and went for dinner at a lovely restaurant called Baha bar. They did great vegetarian food and the beers were ice cold.
The next day I rented a motorcycle from the owners of my little hut for 300 peso a day, I was nervous but I had been on the back of bikes a few times now and got used to it.
So off I sped! My first stop on a island wide tour was the enchanted Balete tree. Around 400 years old it is said to have magical properties. It’s literally on the main road and after paying a 10 peso entrance fee you can sit under it, dangle your feet in a small stream and let fish nibble away.
It was starting to get super hot now, so I decided to head up to Cambugahay falls. There are a few waterfalls dotted around the interior but this one is supposedly the best. You park up then walk down quite a few steps to be rewarded with this beautiful blue pool of water and cascading waterfalls.
I was in heaven and enjoyed cooling down in the second pool, watching people swinging into the first pool from little treehouse. I lay back under the waterfalls and watched the sunlight through the trees.
I had to have a go on the swings, it cost just 10 peso for a go, so I had a few and it was so fun! Swinging out and dropping into the beautiful water. I spent a couple of hours here just relaxing and enjoying the natural theme park.
So I carried on around the interior of the island, enjoying the views over the hills, when I noticed signs for a cave. So obviously I took the small dirt track to a dead end, where a guy took me down into the forest.
We ended up at a small cave entrance, and with a head torch we went in to explore. There was a bit of clambering and some cool formations in there along with bats, but it was probably only a 10 minute journey to the end and back. It was only £1.50 though.
I was pretty sweaty and grimy by the time I got back to the bike. I met the girls again for dinner and drinks and then gave one a lift back to their hotel.
Today I was my last day here, so I was going to hit up another beach, and explore the interior more. So off I went on my little bumblebee bike to the opposite side of the island. Riding around is definitely the best way to get about, and the views from the bike were lovely.
Salagdoong beach wasn’t that great though. Compared to Paliton it’s busier with a restaurant pumping out music, what looked like a very rundown water park and two beaches that were really busy. I lay down and went for a swim, got an ice cream and did enjoy it, but I kept thinking of how great little Paliton was.
There are also meant to be some concrete boards you can jump into the sea from but I couldn’t find them. As we got into the afternoon I decided to get up into the mountains. Driving up I found a cute little hill to walk up and view the whole island from, it was epic.
I got back down and as I drove off noticed a snake in the grass! I tried to swerve but didn’t have time so I either ran over it or just missed it, but I wasn’t going back to check! I drove on and went down past some gorgeous colonial buildings. I didn’t know what else to see and couldn’t make my mind up.
So I took a leisurely pace back to the hotel, when I went into my hut, there was a huge huntsman’s spider crawling along my stuff! I absolutely shit it. I couldn’t get past the spider to get a shower or fresh clothes. So I did what any sane person would do. Closed the door and left.
I went to the main town by the port and treated myself to pizza, chips and a banana shake, and tried to decide what to do. After a couple of beers I went back with determination. When I got there I couldn’t see the Huntsman anymore, but that wasn’t really a help. So I spent the night with all the lights on, attracting all kinds of insects. It’s fair to say I didn’t sleep much!
I had to laugh at myself, because I know that the huntsman aren’t dangerous, but I did not want to wake up with one on my face! I decided as I carefully packed my stuff up the next day that it’s all part and parcel of staying on such a mystical island.