Mike and Katie laying on the sandbar in Manjuyod
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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2020)Dumaguete has always been at the top of my travel bucket list in the Philippines but I have never been there until 2020.
Mike and Katie laying on the sandbar in Manjuyod
Laying on the sandbar

Why did I never go to Dumaguete before?

The airfare going to Dumaguete is expensive compared to other destinations. The airfare cost to Dumaguete at a glance Or maybe I was not really that much into travelling to Dumaguete in the past. But if your problem is the airfare to Dumaguete, check this post to help you find the cheapest flight to Dumaguete.

Why am I able to go to Dumaguete in 2020?

We initially planned to go to Siargao.  It is another destination where the airfare is expensive. However, it’s easier to find cheap flights from Manila to Cebu any time of the year and we found out that flights from Cebu to Siargao in January are cheaper. So Mike and I decided to do a Moalboal Cebu and Siargao trip. Eventually, we did not pursue Siargao as we wanted to spend most of our travels freediving.  January is not a good time to freedive Siargao as per my research.  Also, Moalboal is 3 to 4 hours away from the Cebu airport. For sure, we don’t want to arrive in Cebu, commute to Moalboal for 3 to 4 hours, stay there for 4 days then commute back to Cebu City for our flight to Siargao. The idea is exhausting to me. Luckily, nearby islands to Moalboal like Dumaguete and Siquijor are also good places for freediving in January and accessible by ferry so we save more money.  
Stilt hut in Manjuyod
Stilt hut in Manjuyod

Are you planning a trip to Dumaguete?

In this post, I will share our unique experience in the City of the Gentle People, how you can go around Dumaguete by DIY, and how #DumaGETme.

Pin to your travel board!

Dumaguete Pin - The Hollapinos
Mike at Manjuyod Sandbar
Manjuyod Sandbar

How To Go To Dumaguete

Dumaguete was our last destination after travelling to Cebu and Siquijor in the Philippines last January 2020. After we checked out from Lazy Lizard hostel, our hosts helped us book a tricycle ride to Siquijor Port. We bought our tickets for the 1:30 PM schedule with Ocean Jet upon arrival at the port. Tickets from Siquijor to Dumaguete are at ₱250 per person. Siquijor to Dumaguete travel time via fast craft is about 40 minutes.

Book ferry from Manila, Cebu City, Siquijor or Bohol to Dumaguete in advance below.

Note that the ferry from Manila to Dumaguete is available on Sundays only.
Mike at the Dumaguete Boardwalk
Mike at the Dumaguete Boardwalk
Mike and I were thrilled about our travels to Dumaguete. We were so excited to visit the Manjuyod Sandbar, to watch the dolphins in Bais and to swim with the turtles in Apo Island. Surprisingly, when we arrived in Dumaguete, we wanted to go back to Siquijor. Traffic and air pollution were our welcome party. Streets are busy with a lot of people. Mike was hesitant about renting a motorcycle as our transportation around Dumaguete as we felt we might get into an accident.  It was not a good feeling upon arriving in one of the top destinations in the Philippines.  Siquijor, you really got us hooked!  On the contrary, we gave this place a try since we are already in Dumaguete. We will never know unless we stay.
Siliman University at the background
Siliman University at the background

Affordable Stay in Dumaguete

Kingswick Residences and Lodge

Mike and I booked our stay in Kingswick Residences and Lodge at ₱801 per night plus 12% VAT.  This is the rate for a private room for 2 people with a shared bathroom and no breakfast. They have available rooms with private bathrooms but we wanted to lessen our accommodation costs.  Their shared bathrooms were clean so we’re cool with it plus their wifi is superb! We asked for help from the hostel staff to rent a motorcycle.  They were more than glad to help us but we were not satisfied with what we got. The motorcycle was privately owned and not properly maintained. Its owner already asked for the complete payment upon delivery to our hotel and Mike only noticed that its performance was not good during our ride to Bais. It was more expensive too! The rate was ₱500 per day compared to the ₱350 rate in Moalboal and Siquijor. Another thing, the motorcycle was delivered to us almost at empty tank! You may want to look for other options below.
Kingswick Dumaguete
Our room in Kingswick

Flying Fish Hostel

Mike and I could have stayed here if they have available double rooms on our dates.  The place looks amazing. A bed in the dormitory is as low as ₱490 plus taxes while a double room is as low as ₱1,428 plus taxes. Make sure to book your stay in advance!

Casa Arrieta Hostel

A hostel with a shared lounge and terrace that is 3km away from Robinsons Place Dumaguete. The rate is ₱550 for a bed in the dorm and ₱1,185 for a budget double room.

Seis Hostel

Another hostel that is near Robinsons Place Dumaguete with a cool hangout place at the rooftop. The rate is ₱475 for a bed in the dorm.

Amazi Homestay

Accommodation near Robinsons Place Dumaguete with private rooms and parking. The room rate starts at ₱1,069.

The Bricks Hotel

A brick styled hotel with a restaurant. The room rate starts at ₱2,323 per night.

Food Trips in Dumaguete

Casa Blanca

Upon arrival to Dumaguete, we agreed to have dinner at Casablanca then chillax in our hostel room for the rest of the night.   The burgers at Casablanca got us! Mike got the spicy Lady Gaga while I got myself a cheeseburger. Prices are from ₱275 to ₱295. It satisfied our burger cravings. The patty was mouth-watering. It is definitely a must-try in Dumaguete! We sat outside for a good view of the busy boardwalk.  Going to the toilet was the only time we realized no one sits inside the restaurant! The only downside of dining outside the restaurant is the pollution from the traffic and the easy access for locals to sell or ask money from the customers.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed our early dinner here.
Mike with our burgers in Casablanca
Mike with our burgers in Casablanca

Sans Rival Bistro

Not sure if the food here was just okay or we were too excited for dessert? 
Mike's meal at the bistro
Mike’s meal at the bistro
Average price for a meal ranges between ₱170 to ₱250.
Katie's meal at the bistro
Katie’s meal at the bistro
You should not go to Dumaguete and miss the Silvanas! We had a slice of Sans Rival plus Silvanas with coffee on the side for our dessert.  A piece of Silvanas is at ₱17 to ₱20 depending on if you are getting the butter or the chocolate flavor.
Sylvanas in Dumaguete Philippines
Never miss the Sylvanas in Dumaguete
We wanted to buy more to take back to Manila but it can only be outside the fridge at 6 hours maximum before it melts. Our fast craft ride going back to Cebu City is at 5 hours then we still have to fly back to Manila after that so we did not risk it anymore. If you are flying in and out of Dumaguete, it will be more convenient for you to buy the Silvanas and take it with you.

DIY Trips in Dumaguete

Still asking yourself why should you visit Dumaguete if you are in the Philippines? What are some must-see places in Dumaguete, Philippines? Read on.

Manjuyod Sandbar and Bais Dolphin Watching

Contact Kuya Teofanes Jaluag at 09971367882 for Manjuyod Island joiner tour at ₱850 per person with lunch. Mike and I left Dumaguete to Manjuyod Sandbar at 5 in the morning.  We had to leave early to make sure that the tide was low when we arrived at the sandbar. The motorcycle ride from Dumaguete to Canibol Wharf in Bais City is approximately one hour and a half. The sunrise was absolutely breathtaking during our ride!
READ  Batanes: Our Trip Itinerary
Mike and his coconuts
Mike and his coconuts

Arriving in Canibol Wharf

Kuya Teofanes greeted us at the Canibol Wharf and told us that the other two people who were supposed to join the tour cancelled but the rate for us is still the same. That was cool! We had the boat to ourselves! The Manjuyod Sandbar is tagged as the Maldives of the Philippines. It was so relaxing to lay on this white sand.  There are not many people during that time so there were parts of the sandbar where we felt like we had our own island. It was the perfect time to fly our drone!
Manjuyod Sandbar in Dumaguete
Relaxing while it’s low tide
After we had enough of the sandbar, our boatmen took us to a location to watch the dolphins but the water was rough so there was no show. Swimming near the stilt houses was next then we had our lunch in the boat in between swimming. Newly caught seafood is on sale and the locals will cook it for you. Some local boats will arrive to sell refreshments and other snacks. Note that a ₱100 municipal fee will be collected per boat.
Swimming near the stilt huts in Dumaguete
Swimming near the stilt huts

Freedive in Manjuyod

Our boatmen took us to the coral garden near the sandbar so we can freedive but just be careful as there were several sea urchins. As per our boatmen, the length of our tour was up to us. They said we can go back at any time that we wanted. After freediving for a while, we advised our boatmen that we’re good. If you want to clean up after the tour, you may shower with fresh water for a fee at a nearby house in the wharf.
Freediving in Dumaguete Philiippines
Exploring the underwater before capping the tour

Not interested to DIY? Click below to book a tour with Get Your Guide.

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

Before going back to Dumaguete from Bais, we visited the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park. The entrance is at ₱50 for Filipinos like me and ₱100 for foreigners like Mike. Our total due is at ₱162 for entrance and other fees. Note that the park is open until 5 in the afternoon and flying drones are not allowed in the park. From the tourist center, we rode our motorcycle going up to the gate of the park.  This is where we parked our motorcycle and walked down the steep road until we could see the first lake.
Boat ride rental at the lake park
Boat ride rental

Know the rules

Available activities in the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park are boat riding, hiking to the view deck, or just relax at the side of the lake and appreciate the view. Mike and I sat for a while and enjoyed the view then we started our hike to the view deck.  At the view deck, you will be able to view Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao.  Swimming is not allowed but I heard splashes of water and laughter of people having fun.  I went to look from the view deck to check what’s going on and I saw some people skinny dipping! Not cool! On the way back to the park entrance, just take your time going up the steep road.  We had snacks at the park restaurant before calling it a day and going back to Dumaguete.
Lake Danao
Lake Danao

Apo Island in Dauin

What comes to your mind when you hear Apo Island? TURTLES!!! Yes, we wanted to swim with the turtles!
Spotted a turtle while freediving in Apo Island
Freediving in Apo Island
The start of this tour depends if you want to go early or to sleep in.  We did not have to go as early as the tour in Manjuyod because Dauin is just about 30 minutes from Dumaguete by motorcycle ride. As soon as we arrived in Malatapay Port in Zamboanguita, we looked for Ate Mila.  She helped us find people to share the boat with. You can ask for her assistance to minimize your boat rental cost when you are doing a DIY tour. Ate Mila was able to join us with four other people.  The pump boat rental for 1 to 4 pax is already at ₱3,000 while for 6 pax is at ₱3,500.  Mike and I shared ₱1,168 for the boat then paid ₱5 terminal fee each. We saved more than half of the pump boat rental price!
Diving with a turtle in Apo Island
Diving with a turtle

Don’t miss seeing the turtles

The water was rough on our way to Apo Island and travel time is about 30 minutes. We paid the entrance fee of ₱100 each upon arrival then looked for a guide.  The guide fee to snorkel or freedive is at ₱300 only and is already good for the 6 of us but our companions refused to get a guide. We were told that we will not be allowed to freedive if we have no guide. ₱300 sounds like a fair price so we still went for it. Besides, who will go to Apo Island in the Philippines and not snorkel or freedive with the turtles right?
A big turtle near the shore in Apo Island - The Hollapinos
A big turtle near the shore
Actually, just go near the shore and you can see some turtles but we wanted to explore more. When we were not that far from the shore yet, we always get companions every time we spot a turtle but not for too long.  The snorkelers did not follow the turtle when it swam to deeper water which is our own time with this beautiful gentle creature. Our freediving skills gave us an advantage!
Apo Island aerial view
Apo Island aerial view
I also make sure to request for a guide who takes good pictures because we wanted these special moments captured perfectly.  A good underwater camera is a plus too! We had lunch at a local restaurant after freediving before we went to the Apo Island View Deck.  The deck is 600 meters away from the sign off the road and will lead you to the view of a lake and the sea.
Apo Island View Deck - The Hollapinos
Going up the view deck

More collections

One thing I did not like on this trip is that despite we paid all fees (entrance, environmental, guide) and gave a tip to our guide, other locals still ask for more money. They asked me for another ₱100 and I asked for which fee? One guy said for the table. I said we ordered food to that restaurant and the owner even said that we are cleared but he still insisted. It is just frustrating when people try to get more money from us when we had been fair to the locals.
Apo Island View Deck
Apo Island View Deck
Just not to be bothered and be stressed in our vacation, I handed some twenty peso bills to the guy. Mike and I then returned to where our rented boat was parked at 2:30 in the afternoon because the last trip going back to Malatapay Port was at 3 PM. Our boat was not there when we returned so we took a quick tour on the other side of the island.
Other side of Apo Island
Other side of Apo Island
A bucket of french fries and fruit shakes at a restaurant in Malatapay Port capped our day of touring.  We had an amazing Apo Island trip! We bought our fast craft tickets for our return to Cebu City the following day when we returned to Dumaguete then relaxed for the rest of the night. I’ve been told that Dauin is boring which I did not feel during our trip. For me, being laidback is not less but more.

From Dumaguete, you may visit Siquijor for a day. Click below to book your day tour with Get Your Guide.

Or check our Siquijor Travel Guide for DIY.

Conclusion

Dumaguete may have shocked us after the serenity we have experienced in Siquijor.  Despite the traffic and the air pollution, our hearts were captivated by the beauty of the places we visited here. Mike and I will absolutely be missing out a lot if we did not visit Dumaguete. It definitely #DumaGETme!
Enjoying our coconuts in Manjuyod
DumaGETme!
Are you planning a trip to Dumaguete? Was this post helpful to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below. It will make my day!

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The Author

Katie is a Software Quality Assurance Analyst by profession. She is also a dragon boat paddler, a Crossfit athlete, and a weightlifter by passion. She has travelled within Asia, Europe, and Micronesia before meeting Mike.

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