Day 1: Tagbilaran (Bohol Island) to Siquijor (Siquijor Island) 15km 123m Ascent
So far we had not found good coffee in the Philippines so went back to Bohol Bees Cafe for morning tea, before heading down to the Tagbilaran port. Tagbilaran to Siquijor Island by ferry was straightforward. It was a ‘roll-on, roll-off’ ferry that we pushed our bikes onto, and left them tucked in a corner of the vehicle deck. You can read about our riding in Bohol Island and Panglao Island here.
We docked at Larena, and were 9 km into the ride to Siquijor town when the drizzle that had been hanging about all morning, turned to rain, forcing us to duck for cover. The downpour was short and we were soon at the town of Siquijor tucking into lunch of burgers and chips before riding a few more kilometres to our accommodation at EM’S Seaside Resort.
Day 2: 54.6km, 509m Ascent
One cycle blog we read indicated that a circuit of Siquijor Island was achievable in one day. Our attempt failed! We reckon it could be achieved if you did nothing but sit on your bike seat, but Siquijor had more to offer than a concrete road circumnavigating the island. We had made a late start and the morning heat was already fierce enough for us to consider a swim at our first detour to the pretty palm-fringed white-sand Paliton Beach, but this early into the ride we didn’t want to cause irritation for the rest of the day, of the prickly sensation of salt water drying on our skin.
We skirted back to the Siquijor Circumferential Road and rejoined it at the turn off by the little church at Paliton village. Next stop was for a mid morning caffeine fix at the small town of San Juan, that attracts most visitors to the island because of its proximity to beautiful beaches and dive spots. Late morning in January the beaches were very quiet.
At Tubod we turned inland for the sheer pleasure (said sarcastically) of undertaking a 4km climb so we could visit Lugnason Falls. A few young local men met us at the parking area and indicated they were keen to be our guide, but we knew already that a guide wasn’t really necessary, unless you wanted some instruction for jumping, or for someone to take photos of you performing jumps, with your own camera. The walk down was steep and slippery at the edge of the natural pool, but worth the effort to watch those brave enough to jump from the top of the waterfall, or swing out holding a rope from a higher place amongst the trees.
We swam in the pool along with some little fish that, disconcertingly, kept nibbling at our skin. There was an alternative track looping back to the car park, that featured views to many river pools that were named after signs of the Zodiac. We took that longer route but the trail was a bit overgrown in places and we arrived back at the bikes hot and sweat-sticky from clambering the jungle route.
Having ridden up from the coast, it was great to now have a downhill. We had seen signs, with paint still bright, guiding to ´Jungle Jacks´, so assuming by the freshness of their sign, that they might take care of their facility, we stopped for lunch. The patio restaurant gave great views over the jungle and out to sea, and the food was fresh. With full bellies we continued on down a steep descent to the main road, turned left, where a gradual ascending gradient took us to the Balete Tree at Campalanas. We sat, along with some other tourists, in the shade of the enormous 400 year old Banyan tree, with our feet dangling in the spring at its base, for a fish nibbling foot spa.
Back on the bikes we kept on climbing for a number of kilometres. The heat was wearing us down. We pulled to the side of the road at the top of the hill, and checked our map. We still had 6 km to Lazi, and from this point that was obviously going to be descending. It was also clear to us there was insufficient time for us to complete a circuit of the island today. We figured we would be best to turn at Lazi and double-back to our accommodation. When we thought more carefully about that decision, we realised this meant when we came back this way, the ride would start with a long climb back to this hilltop. Instead we ‘gave up,’ turned at the apex of the climb and enjoyed a five kilometres descent. A short stop back at Campalanas was to enjoy the coconut water and flesh of a green coconut; and then keeping to the coast this time, we had virtually a flat ride back to Siquijor town.
Day 3: ´Cheating´ Siquijor by motorcycle
What a good decision it was to hire a motorcycle. We headed through the centre of the island towards Lazi. Part of the journey was on a narrow road through jungle, with steep and constant climbing, until our first stop at Cantabon Cave. When we passed Canatabon village hall, someone poked their head out and asked if we were going to the caves. We had said ‘no’ because at that point we hadn´t intended going there. Later when we saw the sign to the cave we got curious so walked down to it, only to find we couldn’t enter because a locked gate prevented entry without a guide. Oh well, missed out on that experience! Next stop was climbing 148 steps, cut into the mountain path, followed by more steps up a metal tower at the top of Mt Bandila-an (557m) to get a view out to the coast.
Further along, the Bandila-an Mountain View Park gardens were a bit unkempt, but we dragged our weary legs to the top of the path and back down. Our central island route took us passed Cambugahay Falls and we stopped there to swim and to watch people swinging and dropping into each of the three pools.
At Lazi we picked up the coastal circuit route we had abandoned yesterday, Further along, Salagdoong Beach in the Salagdoong National Park, situated on a peninsula from the right of Provincial Road, was a relaxing place for an afternoon swim. It was a popular spot with the locals and as usual there was the opportunity, for those who loved to leap, to jump from the rocky escarpment that divided the beach into two sections.
We filled the tank with petrol; from coke bottles and then headed to a restaurant for our evening meal. Halo Halo, a Filipino dessert that translates as ´mix-mix´ was a tasty conclusion to a lovely day. Halo Halo is layers of boiled sweet beans, tapioca, jelly and fruits on top of a base of shaved ice and evaporated milk. If it melts it looks like a mixed up mess of sweet deliciousness.
Tomorrow we catch a ferry to Negros Island and Apo Island you can read that blog here.