For most Filipinos, Siquijor is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft and the unknown. True, this tiny island province is famous for its mountain-dwelling mangkukulam (healers) who brew traditional ointments for modern ailments, but these days Siquijor’s most popular healing practice involves a cocktail and a deckchair at any number of its laid-back beach resorts. A sealed 72km coastal road circumnavigates the island, affording unobstructed ocean vistas and an opportunity to take in truly low-key village life.
Once a part of Bohol and then Negros Oriental, Siquijor didn’t become an independent province until 1971, although economically and politically it still seems like a little sister to its larger neighbours. This appears unlikely to change as long as Siquijodnons continue to head to Cebu, Manila or abroad seeking work.
While it is less renowned than other Visayas locations, there are good dive sites, including Paliton Beach (with three submarine caves), Tubod, Salagdoong Beach (with plenty of coral and the odd mako shark), Sandugan and Tongo Point (with colourful reefs). Nearby Apo Island has a range of excellent dive sites, and there’s a 30m wreck, a Japanese hospital boat, near the Larena pier. Just about everywhere on Siquijor is great for snorkelling – find the nearest beach and dive in. Like many beaches in the Visayas, swimming is only possible during high tide, and wearing flip-flops is recommended as protection against sea urchins.