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Siquijor Diving - Traveller's Guide

Shrouded in mysticism and renowned for magic, Siquijor is a small island in the Philippines’s Visayas region, located south of Cebu and Bohol.

With a reputation for spiritual healers and pristine nature; Siquijor is one of the more off-the-beaten-track Philippines dive destinations; it is a peaceful island, devoid of partying.

At the same time, there are many adventure activities here: waterfalls, caving, mystical healing, cliff jumping, epic viewpoints and even skydiving. 

But best of all, Siquijor is an incredible place to scuba dive; it has some of the best coral reef in all of the the Philippines.

There are many macro critters with a superb variety of nudibranch and crustaceans as well as larger creatures like turtles, frogfish, schooling milk fish and colourful reef fish. 

However; in order to get the most out of your time diving there; you need to bare some important things in mind such as the best dive sites, where to stay and when to go!

Luckily you’re now armed with this epic guide telling you all you need to know to have the best possible dive trip at Siquijor!

(Pssst! We have a separate article reviewing the 10 Best Places to Stay at Siquijor for Divers. The page you’re on now is more of an informational piece about the diving itself).  

Beautiful coral reef at a dive site of Siquijor
Mountains of Siquijor island as seen from tower viewpoint.

Cool Sh*t you can See Scuba Diving Siquijor

#1 Superb Coral Reef 

In 2021, the Philippines was bombarded by a series of severe typhoons which sadly took out much of the hard coral around a number of islands – however due to Siquijor’s sheltered location, most of the reefs there were unaffected. 

As of today, Siquijor has some of the best coral reef in all of the Philippines with vast, sprawling hard and soft coral reefs in both shallow and deep waters. These healthy corals present a vibrant living rainbow of colour to divers; like something out of an LSD-induced dream after watching Avatar and are home to many colourful reef fish, critters and turtles. NOICE!

Colourful coral reef at Siquijor dive site with scuba diver in the background.

#2 Macro Critters

Siquijor is an especially great place in the Philippines to see macro (tiny) critters. There is a huge variety of small hairy crabs and shrimp as well as tiny nudibranch and frogfish that can be found hiding among the coral, crawling along the sand or even living on larger creatures such as sea cucumbers. 

The dive guides at Sea Pearl were very talented at spotting macro creatures and pointing them out to us. When looking for macro critters yourself, some good places to keep an eye out for them: whip coral for tiny white shrimp, the sand for pygmy frogfish and tiny nudibranch among the nooks and crevices of coral for tiny crabs and bigger nudis. 

Pygmy Frogfish against red coral.
Photo Credit: Adelaar

#3 Huge Variety of Nudibranch

I dived Siquijor just 7 times but I’ve never seen so many different types of nudibranch as I did there – they came in all shapes, sizes and colours from tiny to large, flat to round and everything in between. (Ok, so there weren’t any cube shaped nudibranch but that’s because they don’t exist.). All the same, I recall seeing at least 11 different species of nudibranch there! 

Flat white nudibranch against coral reef at Siquijor wall dive.

#4 Turtles

“Grab a shell dude”! Even before that immortal line from the otherwise highly overrated Finding Nemo came out, turtles have inspired people around the world for the beautiful appearance and calm, stoner-like mannerisms.

Like much of the Philippines, Siquijor is a great place to see turtles – especially green sea turtles but also sometimes the rarer hawksbill turtle species. You’re pretty likely to see at least one on every dive!

Two scuba divers coming face to face with a green sea turtle at one of the shallow coral reef dive sites of Siquijor.

#5 Schooling Milkfish

Known locally as Bangas aka Milkfish (the Philippine’s national fish no-less) are the sole living species of the family Chanidae. Other species of this ancient lineage died out around the late Cretaceous period so milkfish are true survivors! 

Growing up to 5ft 11inches (1.8 m) long, they can be found in large schools around the dive site “Sunken Island”, an exciting drift dive for more experienced divers. 

These are very cool looking fish; they’re a delicacy around the Philippines but are very rarely seen on dives. Of all the many places I’ve dived the Philippines, Siquijor was the only place I saw them underwater. 

A school of milkfish around the dive site known as sunken island.

#6 And More!

There’s a great many other marine species that divers can see around Siquijor including sea snakes (banded sea krait) barracudas and sometimes even whitetip reef sharks around the dive sites known as “The Cave”. Check out the movie I made below if my time diving and exploring Siquijor in March 2023!

Best Siquijor Dive Sites

There’s around 20 dive sites at Siquijor but there are some especially popular exceptions:

  • “The Wall” is an all-time favourite; it is a long stretch of reef that reaches down to over thirty meters and is a great place for spotting large frogfish and many reef fish.

  • “The Cave” lies a little further onwards from the wall and is a seldom dived cavern filled with colourful soft corals and sponges. In the early morning, lucky divers can sometimes see whitetip reef sharks here.

  • “Sunken Island” lies 2km out to sea and is a rising plateau of extensive hard coral which is not sinking but actually slowly rising upwards; it will be visible above the sea by around the year 2120! Unlike other Siquijor dive sites; this is a pretty strong drift dive so best suited for experienced divers. As well as colourful fish and turtles, you can see schooling milkfish!

  • “Coral Gardens” are a series of shallow soft corals where you can find many macro critters including all manner of nudibranch and crustaceans. There’s often a lot of turtles around these shallower dive sites to.

Virtually all Siquijor dive sites take just five to ten minutes to reach by boat. Nighttime shore dives are also available when at least two divers want to go. 

Siquijor island as viewed from a dive boat.

Where to Stay in Siquijor

Siquijor may be described as a “small island” but it’s still pretty big, taking 3 hours to drive around. 

With this in mind, it’s extremely important to note that virtually all of the dive resorts and centres (as well as hostels and restaurants) are actually located within one small area; close to Paliton beach in San Juan on the west side of the island; which is also near to all of the major dive sites. 

Therefore it’s essential you stay nearby! I actually made the mistake of residing 15km away and it was a real ball-ache getting back and forth between the dive centre and restaurants every day!

We wrote an entire separate article reviewing the 10 Best Places to Stay in Siquijor for Divers which you can Read Here. 

That said, here’s the Top 3 Places to Stay in Siquijor for Divers:

Choosing a Siquijor Dive Centre

Most of the luxury resorts in Siquijor (and a few of the cheaper hostels) have their own in-house dive centre. However, if you stay somewhere without it’s own dive centre; there are many nearby public dive centres to choose from.

Whilst I was at Siquijor, I went with Sea Pearl Divers (located in San Juan) who offer low prices, experienced dive guides and excellent customer service.

I’d strongly recommend these guys; the dive guides were very attentive to guests and exceptional at spotting even the tiniest of critters. Rental gear was in great condition and the staff were a really friendly and hilarious bunch! I even got  invited to a party at one of the dive guides houses at the end of the week – it was bloody great fun!

Dive boat of Sea Pearl dive centre on the water.

Siquijor Diving Season

Awesome news! Siquijor can be dived year round! Even during rainy season, it experiences less rainfall compared to other parts of the Philippines. That said, here’s what you can generally expect the weather to be doing over the course of a year:

  • December – April: This is dry season; during which time, rain is virtually non-existent and water visibility is at its all time greatest.

  • May is a transition month from dry to rainy season and so tends to be a little unpredictable. Some years it’s dry, others it’s kinda wet!

  • June – November: This is rainy season; however Siquijor doesn’t get as much rain as other parts of the Philippines, plus most dive sites are close to the shore meaning the water is virtually always calm (with the exception of the drift dive known as “Sunken Island”).

    So, if you find yourself in the Philippines during rainy season, Siquijor is one of your all time best bets for calm diving conditions. 
One of the many white sand beaches of Siquijor.

Other Things to Do in Siquijor

Despite Siquijor being a small, laid-back island there’s actually a helluva lot of extra activities to be had here, especially for adventurers and nature lovers! Let’s take a look at some of the most epic things you can do in Siquijor besides dive: 

#1 Mt. Bandilaan National Park Tower

Located on the highest and most central part of Siquijor Island is Mt. Bandilaan Viewpoint Tower. It’s a scenic uphill scooter ride that takes some 45 minutes from most parts of the coast. This is followed by a 300 meter climb up the tower steps to be rewarded with the most kickass of views – a 360 degree panoramic of the entirety of Siquijor.

It was only after getting up here that I realised that the vast majority of Siquijor is untouched jungle – it was a truly incredible sight to behold and I’m so glad I went!

A ten minute scooter ride away, there’s also the butterfly sanctuary which is a relaxing way to pass an extra five or ten minutes. Several of the local healers also live very close by…

National Park Tower of Mount Bandilaan.

#2 Mystical Healing

A number of shaman and healers reside on Siquijor. To get hooked up with one ask around and the locals can give you a number – I strongly suggest asking the staff at wherever you’re staying for this.

Alternatively, there is a sign to what I believe is one of the shamans houses close to the butterfly sanctuary (which is near Bandilaan Park Tower). I forget exactly what it says, I think it’s along the lines of “something healing something garden”….maybe. 

By paying a small donation amount of your choice you can experience a variety of traditional healing ceremonies. 

#3 Cantabon Cave

This is a lot of fun! It’s also located towards the upper, central zone of Siquijor. You have to pay for a guide, helmet and torch and then you can explore Cantabon Cave which goes 1km back. It takes about 90 minutes in total to explore. Bring clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet! 

There’s a lot of interesting rock formations as well as a small pool you can swim in. The going gets pretty tough in places – you want to have a decent level of fitness and stability to do it. That said, provided you do, it’s not too challenging! Definitely a worthy experience for those more adventurous of you souls!

Alex, founder of Diving Squad with two guides in Cantabon Cave.

#4 Waterfalls 

Siqiuijor is absolutely rammed with epic waterfalls. The best ones are: 

  • Cambugahay: The most popular (and busy) series of falls. There’s a couple of swing ropes you can go on as well as a floating wooden raft. Lots of people here, unless you go super early in the morning…

  • Kinamandagan: More off the beaten track and with a much steeper descent / ascent. There’s another swing rope you can opt for as well as a small cave under the falls you can go into. Less people come here.  Pretty close to Cambugahay.

  • Lugnason: Another highly popular fall, some say one of the most beautiful in Siquijor. Located some distance away from Cambugahay and Kinamandagan, close to San Juan. 
Kinamandagan waterfall with rope swing.

#5 Salagdoong Cliff Jump

Salagdoong beach is one of the most popular beaches on Siquijor (albeit on the other side to San Juan meaning it’s a bit of a mission to get there). There are two jumping platforms that let you jump straight into the sea – one is 16 feet (5 meters) and the other is 32 feet (10 meters). You can only jump during high tide so make sure you go at the right time!

#6 Sky-Diving

Yes, you can go sky-diving over Siquijor for truly mind-blowing views of awesomeness and epic proportions. It is pretty expensive though. Check out the Siquijor Sky-Diving facebook page for more info!

How to Get to Siquijor

Siquijor is easy to reach and only takes a few hours via ferry from nearby locations such as Bohol and Dumaguete

You can Check Ferry Schedules to Siquijor via 12goasia.

It is also possible to fly into Siquijor airport from Cebu Mactan but this is a lot more expensive than catching the ferry!

A dive guide from Sea Pearl dive centre observing a colourful coral reef.

Stay Fit - GYMS

Staying strong on the road is important! 

You never know when artificial intelligence might exceed that of it’s human creators and rise up against us…transforming this entire world into a hellish battlefield, in which man is pitted against machine…and then the machines start sending themselves back in time to terminate humanities leaders before they can form the future-resistance!!!

If you’ve spent all of your trip lazing around on the beach, drinking beer and stuffing your face with fried food whilst never once breaking a sweat, you’ll be the first to go, most likely converted into liquid fuel to charge the hellish machines crusade against the remnants of humanity. But take heart…it doesn’t have to be this way…there’s a couple of gyms at Siquijor. 

I went to Jorlwen fitness gym – downstairs is a little bit crowded, I can’t see how more than five or six people could workout there at a time but at least when I went it was quiet. Take some 1 peso coins as these are what you have to pay with per cup of water for the water machine (of water).  

There’s also a much more spacious upstairs area, although it doesn’t have as much weights, equipment or machines. It’s more of a cardio zone. That said, there’s still enough kettlebells and matts to make do for some weights training if you get creative. 

Where to eat

There’s a whole bunch of places to eat in Siquijor. Whilst most are situated around San Juan, a few are a little more out of the way and these offer the most kickass views. Here’s 3 of my favourites:

  • Marco Polo: Situated on the main strip of San Juan, close to the dive centres they serve excellent pasta and pizza with an awesome ocean view. I kept coming back here again and again. 

  • Overlook Restaurant and Bar: Some 15km away from San Juan, this is an awesome place to catch an ocean sunset with plenty of tasty and reasonably priced filipino food.

  • MYN Sunset View Bar and Grill: Also a bit of a mission from San Juan but worth it for the incredible views of not just the sunset but much of the island and its mountains. Really spectacular and loads of western and filipino food to choose from.

Siquijor Nightlife

Siquijor isn’t really a party-party place, in fact less its much less so than most of the rest of the Philippines. People really go here to get away from all that and be immersed in nature. Also the locals are more conservative than other parts of the Philippines… However, there’s still a few cool bars you can go to.

  • Baha Bar for decent live music, tasty food and lethal cocktails. Still not quite a party place though. 

  • Prime Bar and Nightclub: One of Siquijors few nightclubs, it stays open till, like, 4am, brah. 

  • Why Not: Another one of the few nightclubs , stays open until 3am brahhh. 

Siquijor FAQ

Absa-freaking-loutley. Many people get scuba certified at Siquijor. Virtually all of the dive sites are beginner friendly with no currents and shallow waters. 

Cheap! With Sea Pearl divers, it cost me just under 10,000 PHP for 7 dives (I had my own gear). Siquijor is actually one of the cheapest places to dive in the Philippines. 

Some of the most popular dive sites include: “The Wall” which offers a spectacular stretch of reef, “The Cave” for the chance to see whitetip reef sharks, “Coral Gardens” for superb reef and plenty of macro critters and “Sunken Island” for an exciting drift dive with schooling milk fish, 

So much awesome stuff! An endless variety of macro critters including many types of nudibranch and crustaceans as well as slightly larger animals like frogfish, mantis shrimp and reef fish… and still bigger creatures like turtles and schooling milk fish as well as the occasional whitetip reef shark. On very rare occasions hammerhead sharks and whale sharks have been sighted. 

Totally little dude! You can easily get there via a ferry from nearby islands or even fly into Siquijor airport from Cebu. No fuss, no worries! Use This Link to check out Ferry Schedules to Siquijor!

There’s many waterfalls with swing jumps, a 1km deep cave, a 10m ocean cliff jump, mystical healing, an epic panoramic viewpoint from the top of the island and even skydiving. Far out!

Siquijor. Diving Squad DEBRIEFING:

Dudddde – you like – totally just finished the Diving Squad dive guide on diving Siquijor for divers! Bloody good job!!

We’ve covered an absolute ton. Let’s quickly recap: First we went over What you can See Diving Siquijor, accompanied by original photos and videos from my time there in March 2013. Then we went over the Best Siquijor Dive Sites, followed by Where to Stay for Divers and Choosing a Dive Centre if the place you’re at doesn’t have one. 

After that we covered Diving Season, preceded by Other Things To Do, and then Getting There.

Following that big ol’ mouthful I talked about Local Gyms and then discussed some of the coolest Places to Eat, the sparse Nightlife and finally rounded it all off with a tasty FAQ Section (classic!). 

Finally we’ve finished the article and you’re in real time, reading this here conclusion. All that remains now is for you to go ahead and book your dream trip to Siquijor!

Now, when you do book your accommodation or ferry ride through one of the affiliate links on this site, we’ll get a small, yet deliciously nutritious affiliate commission at no extra cost to yourself.

Awesome! It’s stuff like that which helps us keep Diving Squad as the best damn scuba blog in the multi-verse whilst continuing to fling our members out into far-flung corners of the world to gather fresh new content for you. Thanks!!

Plus, it’s always cheaper to book in advance than it is to pay when you get there – so just like at kindergarten everybody’s a winner – hooray!!! For now – peace out.

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Calm blue ocean alongside beach of Siquijor island with kayakers in the distance.

Written by:



Scuba fanatic, travel ecstatic and loveable rogue. A rootless divemaster and perpetual adrenaline-junky, Alex holds the esteemed rank of Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad; a title he most nobly awarded to himself. A scuba-junky since 2014, he's dived much of the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Red Sea, Ireland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It's hard to say where he'll pop up next for he never settles; forever a leaf on the wind... or perhaps a lone bubble blasted along on the current.