New Normal Guide: Siquijor

New Normal Guide: Siquijor

How travel looks like in the mystical Philippine islands of Siquijor

* Editor’s note: This story was last updated on 22 December, 2020. See here for the latest travel guidelines in Siquijor.

Now under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), Siquijor - this little paradise island — the third smallest province in the Philippines, is anticipating a return of visitors back to this beautiful island, known to the locals of "The Island of Healing". This tiny island province is famous for its witchcraft and other mysterious unknown black magic, the shamans, sorcerers and magic potions. It's believed that if you need some love in your life, then you should definitely add Siquijor to your bucket list!

But first, some of the island's COVID-19 safety measures to take note:

Now that you're all set, let's start!

Where to Eat 

1. See-Kee-Hor Cafe and Hostel 

The See-Kee-Hor Cafe is just a four minute walk to Paliton Beach you will find this noteworthy and prominent cafe with a wide variety of colorful and flavorful foods on the menu. Jerry — the owner of the cafe and hostel — grows his own ingredients in an adjoining garden. Jerry gave us some recommendations of his favorite dishes and we got to try some of these luscious dishes, such as chicken tacos, a mouthwatering molten lava cake, and a delicious traditional served shakshuka with fresh vegetables from his garden. Excellent food that come at a good price.

Before you enter the restaurant, the usual health and safety measures apply, with temperature checks and hand sanitizer use applicable to all. Staff there are also masked, with signs that remind patrons to observe physical distancing. 
  • For information, visit here

2. Brew Box at Kandalai Shore 

Feel the sun and sand in your toes and enjoy a cup of coffee under the coconut trees by the beach. Brew Box at Kandanai Shore is newly open and already loved by coffee enthusiasts. I absolutely love a good aromatic coffee with a complex and robust flavor, and here there are a wide variety of coffee brews. For a fuller breakfast, I also go for a basket of morning bread rolls and pastries that are made fresh, fluffy and are excellent to have with a pot of jam, butter, or just by itself. If you're having lunch here, the burgers include the favorite Filipino sweet pork jerky, or tocino, crisp and juicy chicken wings, as well as great sharing pizza pies.

Photos: Cindy Bonachita/Brew Box

Before entering the restaurant, your temperature will be taken, and you'll be asked to sanitize. Seating arrangements have also been adjusted for safe distancing, so you can enjoy your conversations, meals and the stunning natural beach view without a worry. Prior to the pandemic, the beachside eatery was a hit for alcoholic drinks, but under Siquijor's new normal, all drinking of alcohol in public spaces are prohibited. 

  • For more information, go here

3. Coral Cay Resort and Dive Shop

Coral Cay Resort and Dive Shop was opened in 1997 and remains one of the well-known resorts in Siquijor. We had a brief visit and ordered their organic French fries and nachos with spicy dip. Basically, if you're looking for yummy snacks or a quick bite, this is the spot to go. They're best for international cuisine and cocktails - served with a smile. Now though, as no alcoholic drinks are allowed to be served, that's suspended for the moment. 

As part of COVID-19 safe measures, all staff don masks, face shields, and you'll need to fill in a contact tracing form, sit safely apart and use hand sanitizers as required. Hand-washing stations are also set-up for extra cleanliness. Under Siquijor's new normal, all dine-in establishments must close by 9pm. 

  • For more information, go here

What to Do 

4. Rope swing at Cambugahay Falls 

Photos: Getty/Cindy Bonachita

One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines is this three-leveled falls right in the heart of Lazi. You'll love to splash in the clean and refreshing blue waterfalls if you're looking for a cool dip in the sweltering heat. But if you're up for a swinging good dive into the waters, climb atop a sturdy rope that allows you to swing into the middle of the waters for a great big splash. I'd get someone to take a picture if I were you, it makes for a great shot, or even better - a fantastic instastory! The Cambugahay Falls opens daily at 7am and closes at 5pm.

5. Go cliff jumping at Salagdoong Beach

Photos: Getty/Cindy Bonachita

The best time to visit the Salagdoong Beach is early morning, when the crowd has yet to arrive. This is one of the most popular beaches in Siquijor, because of the many visitors that come for epic cliff jumping. It's also a frequented spot for snorkeling and just swimming around in its calm and crystal clear waters.

6. Marvel at stained glass displays at Lazi Church and Convent

Photos: Getty 

With its existence of a hundred years, is said to be the oldest and biggest convent in Asia. The convent also has a museum inside, that houses old religious artifacts and 19th century antiques. The Lazi Church and Convent opens daily at 8am and closes at 5pm.

  • Find out more here

7. Be with butterflies at Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary 

Be among the flitting butterflies and colourful flowers near the highest point of Siquijor in the cosy Butterfly Sanctuary. Remember to get your cameras out and be as silent as you can as you wander through a natural environment of caterpillars, pupa and butterflies in this impressive destination that's close to Cang-apa Village. If you're an insect enthusiast, you'll be delighted by the sheer number of rare species that has been collected from all over the country. With an entrance fee of only 100 PHP (or slightly under USD 5), it is well worth a stop.

  • Find out more here

Where to Stay

8. Coral Cay Resort 

The Coral Cay Resort is truly an oasis of tranquility with spacious beach front cottages and amenities such as a swimming pool, gym, billiard table, mini library, and spas. It's wildly popular with families too, and you'll want to book the beachfront cottages with its quaint native huts that are just steps away from a quiet powdery white sand beach. In the morning, rise and shine to a glorious sunrise, and in the evenings, lay on your hammock with a drink in hand, and be still while the sun sets. 

  • To get more information, visit the website

In Pictures: New Normal Siquijor

Siquijor is an enchanted land of natural beauty, quiet waterfalls and amazing dive sites. It's been in lockdown since March, and continues to be under the country's most relaxed form of quarantine, the MGCQ - a result of its COVID-19 free status. And that's because of sustained efforts by Siquijor's authorities and hospitality industry. Now, the provincial island has reopened tourism establishments and activities to tourists within the province to eat, play and enjoy the many great beaches. To end, here's a snapshot of the major health and safety protocols:

  1. All persons are required to wear face masks at all times in public places within the province of Siquijor.
  2. Guests must complete a Health Declaration Form upon check in. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) may be carried out accordingly. 
  3. All people must practice social distancing. All venues and vehicles will be decreased or reduced by 50% or one (1) seat apart. 
  4. Guests must be reminded to disinfect their hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or 70% solution alcohol located at the reception counter upon entering and leaving the vicinity. Sanitizing mats must be available at all entry points.
  5. All dine-in establishments are to operate only until 9pm daily, and no alcoholic drinks may be served. 

Till we meet soon in Siquijor!

Disclaimer: Siquijor is currently open to domestic travelers ONLY

Angelo A. Villanueva has been a tour coordinator for Dumaguete Outdoors and a staunch promoter of Negros Oriental. He specializes in eco-adventure tours that get you up close and personal with the natural beauty of the Philippines.

After building a successful online webshop, Suna Yildirim started her journey of traveling and consulting for companies all over the world. She is now living in the Philippines and enjoying its beauty. 

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