Siquijor Beaches, Waterfalls, Spring Parks and Marine Sanctuaries
I have enumerated in my previous post about the various ways to get to Siquijor. Searching for the beautiful attractions to visit in Siquijor, the beaches best for swimming, the natural sights to see, the waterfalls to check, spring parks to spend some quiet time, and marine sanctuary to visit may need the help of a local. Good thing we hired Nonoc, whom I mentioned in my introductory post, for the whole day.
Even when we arrived at Siquijor Island, as we got off our ferry and walked the length of the port, the beauty before me had me hypnotized. Every view of a beach, a blue-green body of water, a tree-lined road, a green hill or mountain, or a kid smiling makes me drawn more to the island like a potion sliding down my throat.
We toured the entire fringe of the Siquijor Island by tricycle during our second day there. Whenever we came to a point where a beach was in view, I would immediately take my camera for a quick snapshot. There was a time wherein the view was just extremely breathtaking that we had to ask the driver to stop so we could get down and get our feet to the edge of the waters.
We thought the beach was deserted but, as it turned out, there was a team there doing a photo shoot. How fortunate that there were no other people along the beach and they could enjoy every angle they can do with such beautiful backdrop.
A few steps from our accommodations was a beach that provided us with a view of Apo Island and the glorious sunset.
But during early mornings and late afternoons, the sea moves away from the beach, revealing a wide shoreline where one can stroll and enjoy the sand.
Here are some of the highlights of our trip that revealed the exotic, natural beauty of Siquijor.
Capilay Spring Park
This one is just a stone’s throw away from the San Juan Community Development Cooperative (SJCDC) where we were staying. It is located at the very heart of the town of San Juan, across its municipal hall and other government structures, including the gym.
The park is always filled with people in the afternoon. Morning seems to be the best time to enjoy the pool of water coming from the large trees. The banks of the natural lagoon has been concretized to make it like a swimming pool. Cottages, kiosks and tables are scattered all throughout the park, which is open to the public.
At night the park comes alive as locals and guests come here to sing at the videoke bar over some bottle of drinks. The park also has religious sites and has direct steps towards the San Agustin church located on the hill overlooking the park.
The spring is divided into three areas. Right at the foot of the hill is the natural spring. A small pedestrian bridge divides the upper portion to the lower portion, which is the swimming pool.
The spring flows underneath the main highway towards a small stream near SJCDC, which is the laundry area. The rest of the water flows towards the sea.
Enchanted Balete Tree
The century-old balete tree (from the fig tree family in the Ficus genus) is believed to be an enchanted site. Philippine folklore has it that supernatural beings reside in this weird looking tree, which is covered by roots from branches that crawl towards the ground.
Located in Brgy. Campalanas in Lazi town, this tree is right near the highway and has attracted tourists to its shade. At its base is a natural spring coming from the roots towards a small stream which has also been made it into a pool where fishes abound.
Now, tourists come to this tree for the fish spa. For only P5.00 (about USD 0.11) they can dip their feet into the pool and let fishes nibble on the dead skin cells of their toes and feet.
Also in the town of Lazi is the Cambugahay Falls. There are about 135 steps to descend to the swimming area. You have to be careful though because there are no railings to hold on to in case you slip your feet. But there is a guide you can hire which can also double as your lifeguard.
There were many people when we got there, so swimming there at that time seemed like a not-so-attractive notion. The first falls was a bit larger and there were those who hang by a rope, swing by it ala Tarzan, and drop to the pool of water for a splash.
I just took photos but people were getting in the way and I couldn’t get a clear shot of the waterfalls. I told the guide I had enough but he pointed me to climb to the next falls. It was a short walk and the second falls was smaller than the previous one. The water here was shallower so I took dip in the light green waters.
Then he took us to the third waterfalls, which was a bit wider. Trees filled both banks of the water falls . There were huge rocks were we sat down to take some rest before we proceeded climbing the 135 steps towards the road.
They said that the guide costs P135 per person but I asked him and he told me, whatever I can pay. Since he had a hard time assisting us on our way up and was extra patient with us, I gave him P200 for me and my sister.
Nonoc, our tricycle driver, highly recommended that we drop by Salagdoong Beach after lunch. Though we were more on the “explore” mode and not yet on the “swimming” mode, I instantly agreed because Salagdoong is a bit far from San Juan, the western portion of the island, where we were staying, and it would be nice to see the beach in the eastern side, in the town of Maria.
From the highway, we turned right and rode through a narrow path filled with tall slender trees. It created like a canopy on our way towards the beach. It was the Saladoong Forest, which was a prelude to the beach.
At the gate, there was an entrance fee of P75 for the tricycle. The beach resort was filled with people, especially the restaurant. There were two coves in the resort. The longer beach one had concrete steps with cottages where people could sit under the shade of the trees.
The other side has a more curved beach with some stone formations that had been eroded by the sea. There were tents erected in that part of the beach. In between this coves was a high rock where swimmers climb to take a dive to the deeper part of the sea.
We decided to stay on this high rock, overlooking both coves. It was a good vantage point, plus, it was fun watching divers braving the height as they jump to the crystal blue and green waters. We lingered there, entertained by the drama of first-time divers trying to beat their fear of heights.
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary
After spending an hour in Salagdoong, we decided to proceed to the next stop, the Tulapos Marine Sanctuary. It was located in the Enrique Villanueva town, the northeastern part of the island. From the main town, we got off the highway and entered a narrow rocky path towards the sanctuary. We passed by a large mangrove forest before we arrived to a clearing.
But as we got there, the place was almost deserted, save for some men who were building net-like structures and coral beds. They are to be used to continually rehabilitate the marine life in the area.
A man asked us if we would be swimming and we replied that we just wanted to look around. He and his companions didn’t offer for any tour as they were finishing the tasks they were doing so we decided to move on to our next stop.
Guiwanon Spring Park
From the highway, we stopped at the Guiwanon Spring Park in Siquijor town, just after the boundary of the town of Larena. A small hut was located at the side of the road, which we entered to pay for the P10 per person admission fee. I asked the lady if there would be any tour guide but she said that we just follow the wooden planks.
We walked the length of the wooden foot bridge and were taken deeper into the mangrove forest. There were three tree houses at the coastal part of the foot bridge. My sister climbed one and said there were beds inside. I decided not to take a peak as I would have to climb a series of wooden steps. These tree houses, or cottages, could be rented for a day or night.
The foot bridge leads to another cottage, where the signage Conference Room could be seen. At the end is a large area, must be a dining place, but there were men having a videoke session there. We bumped into a family, who were also from Bacolod, exploring the area. We waited if they would go to the dining area but they refused as well, not wanting to break the small party that was going on there.
One of the women in the family asked us if we found the spring, but we shrugged our shoulders as we were also clueless where it was. On our way back to the entrance hut, we asked the receptionist about it and she said that it comes from one of the large trees. Water from the sea was also entering the mangrove forest so it was difficult to determine where the spring water comes from.
We had our fill of our Siquijor exploration and told our driver to take us back to San Juan where we had a quiet snack by the beach watching the sun setting at the horizon.
If our second day in Siquijor Island was spent exploring it, we allotted the third day just for swimming. We planned to just swim near SJCDC but the sea has moved away from the shore and there was just a huge sand area for the entire stretch of the San Juan coast. It was low tide, which was usually in the morning and during sunset. We hailed a tricycle near the town hall and asked the driver where the nearest beach would be. He immediately uttered Paliton, so we followed his lead.
He drove northwest. A few meters after a bridge, he turned left and entered a small road. The road led us to the beach, locals buying fishes from boats that have just arrived. There were no cottages and only a few people were there. We told the tricycle driver to come back to us by noon since the place was a bit secluded.
There were no cottages in sight. Only the towering coconut trees provided shade. Part of the beach was private property, but I told my sister that we just walk along the shoreline to find a good spot for swimming. A tiny cove came in sight and we decided to take our place near that cove.
The water was clear and still. There were no waves. Fishes and tiny white jelly fishes were our company at that time. We took a dip in the cool waters. The powdery white sand was a delight to our feet.
As the sun shone higher, some people arrived, but not too many as to crowd the beach. The water was also moving towards the beach and was getting higher, but not high enough to pose any danger.
It was a relaxing moment. This is the magic of Siquijor – the peace and quiet, as well as its enchanting rustic beauty that could make you forget of the hustle and bustle of city life.