TheLoneRider
a seeker in search of Easter Eggs

Siquijor
Yoga classes in Siquijor


Country > Philippines > Siquijor Island
Date > 2010 > Apr
Activity > Freediving

Freediving
Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010

Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries

Location Google Map: Siquijor Island, Philippines

Skin Diving Paradise
Siquijor is a roughly under 643 sq. km island in the Visayas flanked by the areas of Apo Island, Negros, Cebu, Bohol and the Mindanao region. This general area is what I would call the diver's lair. World reknowned dive spots can be found here - Panglao, Apo Island, to name a few. Within the island's coastal perimeter are about 6 marine sanctuaries (P50 admission fee). My aim was to skin dive all of them.

Siquijor
chilling out for beer after some freediving

Getting Around Siquijor
Getting around Siquijor by public transport has some uncertainties specially after noon since people have taken to motor bikes which consequently diminished the demand for tricycles or jeeps. Although I'm against creating a carbon footprint, a motorbike is the most practical mode of transportation given the island's 72 kilometer coastal road that makes a perfect loop around the island.

Lowering Down the Cost
For shear economic considerations, I continued my stay at Bulisan Lodging in Siquijor (the capital). At P100/night as a bedspacer and within proximity to the motorbike rental, it wasn't necessary to rent for 24 hours. I could simply rent in the morning, go around the island, and return the bike at the end of the day and pay only for 12 hours rental. I can then walk back to my lodge....cool!

The Beach Resorts
Of course, with a little more money, I could rent a cottage by the beach as night falls, whatever beach resort I find myself at, at the end of the day. Even without renting a beach resort cottage, it's still ideal to hang out there over a beer or two specially after a day's dive. There's always good conversation with tourists and locals alike. Besides, some beach resorts have impeccable amenities. Beer prices are very reasonable (the best is Coco Grove's P35/Pale Pilsen) and some, like The Danish Lagoon, offers house specialties like homemade mahogany-smoked bacon. You enjoy the amenities of some high end resort without feeling like a pauper when you go back to your cottage.

Overheard in Siquijor

The Danish Lagoon
The resorts are varied with unique personalities (just like a mountain bike!). I personally like The Danish Lagoon. The cottages are immaculately clean with hepa filters on the air conditioners (great for asthma suffers). An interesting conversation piece are the suspended beds. I swear, Bang and Olufsen could not have designed it better. At P2,900/night (promo!), it's way out of my league. But you know what? If I get me a nice web contract, I'd shell the money out for that room...it's that nice! Besides, the owner, Johnny, is one animated character whose heart seems to be in the right place. You should meet him if you go to his resort (more about him on my story, A Tale of 2 Foreigners).

Tubod Marine Sanctuary
Having rented a motorbike and a map of Siquijor, I was off with my fins and mask. First stop was Tubod Marine Sanctuary between Coco Grove and Sea Explorers Dive Center in San Juan, Siquijor, on the south west part of the island. I didn't have to worry about current or waves during this dive. The coral reef was intense with its diversity, but the damage specially on the southern part, was unmistakable. Being a marine sanctuary, it gets the much needed recovery to get it back to its glorious heyday. Don't get the wrong impression. It's still a GREAT dive spot.

Chilling out at Coco Grove for a beer after the dive was such a wonderful treat. The staff were helpful, courteous and lovely. It's too bad I didn't get to check out the rooms. From what I've read, Coco Grove is one of the resorts in Siquijor with impeccable appointments.

Sandugan Marine Sanctuary
Next stop was Sandugan Marine Sanctuary. On the map, it was clearly there. But going there is another story. There was no sign whatsoever, no access, no resort, no development and no people. Although it was along the main road, it felt isolated. Normally, it's a good sign for an adventure, but I passed on this one. It just didn't feel right at that point.

Amihan vs. Habagat
At this time of the year, with the Amihan (wind blowing from the northeast), the east coast gets battered while the west coast remains calm. This happens early November to late March. But this is El Niño year, so Amihan continues until late April.

From early June to late September, the southwest wind (Habagat) beats up the coastal reef of San Juan (Coco Grove, JJ's, Coral Cay, etc.). It's good to know these things so you know where to lodge and dive.

Tulapos Marine Sanctuary
Next stop was Tulapos Marine Sanctuary on the northest coast. With Aminhan hitting the east coast, it was foreboding to proceed, but hey, only one way to find out. Again, going there was a challenge because there was no street sign. Upon reaching the spot, much like Sandugan Marine Sanctuary, it was undeveloped and empty with only a local store. The sanctuary was bordered by mangroves. From the shore, I could see the waves breaking further out. That's where the dive area is. It took some effort to swim there, but as soon as I got there, I was immediately pounded by the waves. I couldn't see clearly as the sand was violently churned by the relentless waves. That moment was reminiscent of my dive in Sabang, Palawan where I thought I'd die. It was time to bail out...fast! Swimming to shore was another hurdle. With the current, I was being swept towards the mangroves! Yikes! I finally got to shore in one piece.

Sandugan, Larena
Next stop was to head back towards Sandugan, Larena on the northern point of the island, and dive off the area with its rows of beach resorts - Casa de la Playa, Islander's Paradise and Kiwi Dive Resort. From the internet, I heard the reef was excellent for diving. I'm not sure if that was a marine sanctuary, but at that point, the label marine sanctuary increasingly meant that it was protected...not necessarily the only dive area. Besides, it's hard to go wrong on any spot in Siquijor - the entire province is a dive site!

Kiwi Dive Resort
I ordered some beer at Kiwi Dive Resort to warm up for the dive, and then lunch after. It's always a good idea to patronize the resort fronting your dive area. You get to use their facilities if you're technically a customer - gear rinsing, shower, benches, and you can leave the rest of your stuff there while you dive.

This part of the island is also sheltered from the Amihan wind so it was calm. The dive was wonderful. It was a long stretch of cordoned-off coral reef with superb seascape. It's one of those 'seacape' type reef where you don't see as many fishes but the corals and reef are fascinating. You could start off on the section where the mild current comes from, dive towards the end and head back to shore and loop back to where you started. That way, you conserve your energy...the current propels you.

A Day Hike Invite
That was all the time (and money) I had. I got a text message from Dudz inviting me for a day hike tomorrow to visit the Japanese Shrine atop the three converging ridges of Valencia where a vicious battle during World War II was fought between the Japanese Imperial Army and combined Allied Forces of the Philippines and the Americans. We would then traverse our way to the 30m drop Casaroro Falls. Didn't want to miss that one either.

Ending Thoughts
I haven't fully explored the skin diving possibilities and yet the island offers so much more...Bandila-an Nature Center, limestone caves, the witches of San Antonio (yes, I want to meet and interview the grand doyen of all the witches...not the witch-for-tourist type).

I cannot say I had such a great time without the warmth and hospitality of the friendly people of Siquijor. Siquijor takes my breath away. Thank you Kram, thank you Siquijor! In the famous words of Douglas MacArthur, "I shall return!"

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider



ps - no underwater shots? My Olympus 1030 SW, a digicam good for underwater photography up to 10m...took water inside! Read up on what it's like to claim warranty on Olympus digicams in the Philippines.

Leave a comment?


Reader Comments:

"Be careful in Siquejor..."
TheLoneRider
(May 2, 2010) Ha-ha...thank you for your concern. Be assured that the people of Siquijor are warm and friendly. They'd been very helpful. The food here is fantastic! The only aswangs I know of are in Manila...they wear nice expensive suits.



Concerned Friend
(Apr 22, 2010) Be careful in Siquejor. It is noted for aswang (sorcerers). I really read in one of the newspaper back there that on a Good Friday, there is a small place there where the inhabitants are mostly witches - they cook or brew some potion. Anyway, just watch out. Don't eat any food that they give you. Ok bye for now and take care.

Al Duncan
(May 1, 2010) Cool! Excellent map. Glad to see the GIS mapping is useful - good to see it!

I love Coco Grove resort... my favourite place. Something special about the feel of the place, and the people there are so friendly - or is it just the cheap beer?!

I'll certainly return to Dumaguete and Siquijor at some point soon. Have you been to Apo Island to snorkel yet? That's the best spot I found in Visayas for snorkelling, and the people who run Coco Grove also run a resort on Apo - you should check it out if you can: http://www.apoislandresort.com/ dorm rooms for 700.

Also, Twin Lakes park and whale / dolphin watching from Bais City... Nice part of the world! :)

I'm going to Africa soon! I'm going to Kenya to meet up with some other ex-VSO volunteers who I met in Manila... going to be great - hoping to see some of the big animals out on the plains of the Masai Mara and Serengeti!

Essentials in Siquijor:

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More on Siquijor Island:

Siquijor Island Local Info

Jeeps - there are only 2 routes for jeeps within Siquijor Island - and they are rare. Most people have their own motorcycle transport.

  1. Siquijor Port to Lazi - last trip leaves at 3pm from station near market
  2. Lazi to Siquijor Port - jeeps depart from the Lazi Port area. 5 jeeps, the last trip at 12:30 pm. Lazi to San Juan, P50.
  3. Larena Port to Lazi - jeeps are unpredictable. As of this writing, there is only 1 jeep plying the Larena-Lazi route. This jeep leaves Larena for Lazi at 9:50am. After that, no more jeep. You'll have to take a tricycle to Siquijor Pob for jeeps going to Lazi
  4. Lazi to Larena Port - 6am (daily) and 9 am (M-Th)
Siquijor Island Map
Siquijor
Siquijor - Dumaguete Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Montenegro Lines - at Siquijor Port, P234.00/pax, P169/bicycle, 7:30am/10:00am/2:00pm/4:30pm/7:30? or 9:00? pm
  2. Ocean Jet - 40 mins,at Siquijor Port, 0919.066.5964, www.oceanjet.net, marketing@ocenajet.net, 6:00am/6:00pm, P350/pax (tourist/open air), P580/pax (business class)

    Ocean Jet
  3. Atlantis Yohan Express - Siquijor Port or Larena Port?

    Atlantis Yohan Express

    Atlantis Yohan Express
  4. Aleson Shipping Lines - Siquijor Port, P200/reg, P250/a-c, 6:00 am daily, 1:30 pm & 6:30pm M-Sat

    Aleson Shipping Lines

    Aleson Shipping Lines

    Aleson Shipping Lines



Siquijor - Tagbilaran - Cebu City Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)

En route to Cebu City, the ferries usually make a stop-over to Tagbilaran (Bohol) to pick-up more passengers or unload.

  1. Ocean Jet - 2 hours, 8:20am, at Siquijor Port
    To Tagbilaran: P800/tourist & open air, P1200/business class
    To Cebu: ?
  2. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port,
    To Tagbilaran: T-Th-Sun, P475/standard, 7pm, 3 hours, PHP?
    To Cebu: T-Th-Sun, 7pm, 7 hours, PHP 650


Siquijor - Plaridel Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, T-Th-Sun, 2:00 am, 5 hours, PHP?


Siquijor - Cebu (Bato) - Cebu City BUS Trip (as of Jan 2023)

There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (no Sat). P420 for boat, P275 for ferry to Bato, Leaves Siquijor Poblacion at xxxx, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port for Bato, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City 10 pm.


Sugbo Urban

Suggested Destinations After Siquijor Island

These are the nearest popular destinations from Siquijor by boat

  1. Bohol - Bohol is an island northeast Siquijor. Tourist attractions are Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Monkey, Loboc River Cruise, Beaches of Panglao, whale sharks (recent offering), freediving (recent offering)
  2. Cebu - Cebu City is the usual gateway into the Visayas. But in Cebu Island itself, there are many offerings - Whale Sharks of Oslob, sardine run at Moalboal,Thresher Shark of Malapascua
  3. Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.
  4. Dumaguete - Dumaguete is a small charming progressive coastal town in Negros Oriental. Cafe and restaurants line the famous Boulevard Boardwalk. Tourist attractions include Japanese Shrine, Casaroro Falls, snorkeling along the southern coastline (Dauin, Masaplod Norte, etc), Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
  5. Plaridel (Misamis Occidental, Mindanao) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.

Blogs

Siquijor Blogs
Siquijor Island
  • A Case of Inguinal Hernia? Feb 4, 2023
  • In Search of Tubod Cold Spring Jan 27, 2023
  • 1:4:2:3 Nadi Shodana Jan 26, 2023
  • Lazi's Boulevard Jan 22, 2023
  • Lazi: A Monthly Stay Jan 21, 2023
  • 7 Days in Maria, Siquijor Jan 14-21, 2023
  • Siquijor: In Search of Resonance Jan 9-14, 2023
  • Riding Around Siquijor's 86km Coastal Road Apr 3, 2012
  • Exploring the Cantabon Cave of Siquijor Feb 23, 2012
  • Jovee and Missy's Excellent Adventure Nov 6-7, 2010
  • Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010
  • Island Tour of Siquijor Apr 22, 2010
  • Kram's Siquijor Wedding Apr 21, 2010

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