Saturday, April 28, 2018

Small Islands and Scooters

The boat was leaving in 15 minutes and I am at the wrong port. I arrived to Cebu a little less than 12 hours before with my eyes set on Siquijor Island. I was told to take the bus/ferry from Cebu City to Dumaguete and from there a ferry to Siquijor. That is two ferries and one bus and over 7 hours. I thought to myself there has got to be an easier way. I boarded the bus before the sun rose in Cebu, loading up with snacks and water to stay hydrated in the humid heat of the Philippines.

The bus ride was relaxing. When we finally reached the port of Bato where I eyed a huge poster reporting that a ferry left directly from a nearby port to Siquijor in 15 minutes. I grabbed my backpack, determined to make the ferry, and flagged down a motorcycle taxi. The driver promised to get me to the boat on time, he flew down the windy road abutting the beach towards Liloan Port, which on google maps is 12 mins away.

I made the boat. and saved myself 3 hours. This story is a common occurrence on my wild worldly vacations. Two and a half hours later I was standing at the port of Larena in Siquijor looking for a scooter to rent. Of course the selection is much better in Siquijor city, so I found a taxi to take me. I found the perfect scooter for 350 pesos ($6.50) for a little over 24 hours. After a quick tutorial on the scooter controls, I donned my orange helmet and speed off into the humid air to my first destination.

The scooter was easy to control and the breeze felt nice on my skin as I followed the main windy road that circumnavigates the small island along the coast. I made frequent stops to take pictures of the rice fields and beaches, checking google maps for the turn-off to Salagdoong Beach. On the way I stopped in for some food at Hard Rock Cottages.

Salagdoong Beach and resort is known for cliff jumping. If you dare jump from a 15 meter cliff into crystal clear waters it's the place to be. Tucked into a forest this resort has many different water activities. I found a small private room at ocean level with views of the small cove for $20 a night with free scooter parking outside my door.

After a few rounds of cliff jumping, I laid in a reclining chair to watch the sunset and read over a plate of adobo squid. It was quiet without too many people. I was exhausted after a long day and with hopes of waking up early I went to bed.

I rose as the sun rose. I ate a small breakfast provided by my hosts and set off again on my small white scooter. My first destination was Cambugahay Falls. After a instagram feed full of pictures of these aqua blue cascades, I had to see them for my own eyes. I arrived early, parked my scooter and hiked down the stone stairs. A bunch of men asked if I need a guide.  After a handful of "No Thank you's" I made it to the first of the three cascades. It was around 8am and there was only one other person.

It was beautiful, the water was truly an aqua green color and warm. For $1 you can have unlimited swings on the trapezes set up around the falls. I floated on a tire enjoying the sun and the sound of the water crashing down.

It was time for the next destination. I hiked back up the stairs and mounted my scooter. As I was heading back to Lazi I saw a sign of another waterfall called Kawasan. I followed the sign to find a small shack with a couple women waiting to guide tourists to the falls. Another group arrived and we headed through the jungle to a small waterfall with a cave and a trapezes. We lazily floated in the warm water before our hike back up out of the jungle.

With all this exercising my stomach started rumbling and it was time to search for lunch. I wanted a restaurant right on the beach. This wasn't hard to find since the island was small and most of the towns were built next to the ocean.

I found Coral Cay Resort Restaurant and it was exactly what I was looking for.  I had fresh fish and a mango shake as I admired the clear blue water. In addition they had free wifi. I strolled along the white sand beach before I headed back to the restaurant for an iced coffee.

I had an hour before I was to turn in my bike and catch the ferry back to Cebu. I stocked up on souvenirs and drove one of the scooter shop owners to the ferry port. Siquijor was hands down one of my favorite places in Philippines. Still not well known and rugged, yet easy to navigate and plenty of options for sleeping and eating. All of the people I met on the island were very nice and laid back. I would definitely recommend a trip to Siquijor.


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