Don’t miss Dumaguete and its natural wonders in the Philippines

Dumaguete is a university town located in the Philippines. It is the least touristy and the cheapest island on our itinerary in the Philippines. It is both peaceful and lively, exotic with very rich seabed. You have to explore the island of Apo where you can swim with turtles. You can also enjoy hot springs and explore lakes and waterfalls. Dumaguete is located on the eastern island of Negros which is the fourth largest island in the Philippines. 

We spent 3 days in Dumaguete. We tell you all about our trip to this island: how we organized our days, what was worth doing and / or being seen, our top 3, our favorite restaurants etc. The main places we visited are: the hot springs the Red Rocks, the Pulangbato waterfall, the island of Apo. Don’t forget the great massages at low prices!

Day 1 – Welcome to Dumaguete

We took a ferry from Bohol, Tagbilaran City to Dumaguete at 12.10 pm. There is just one ferry company doing this route – OceanJet. Therefore, there are only 2 departures per day. The price is 700 PHP/person. The travel time is about 2 hours.

We arrived in Dumaguete in the beginning of the afternoon. So we dropped our baggages at our hostel and enjoyed a good lunch. Then we took it easy for the rest of the afternoon, we walked along the seaside on Rizal Boulevard and went for a massage close to our hostel at Origin Natura Spa – see details of the spa in day 3.

After that we met Alexis’s friends for a great evening at a local restaurant at Lantaw Native Restaurant. It was so great to enjoy this diner with locals. They could advise us which food to try. We recommend one Philippines’ speciality – the Kinilaw. It is a kind of ceviche with raw fish in vinegar and spices. If you want to discover our recommandations where to eat in Dumaguete – read this post.

Day 2 – the Twin Lakes, Red Rocks, the Pulangbato falls

No it is not true in the Philippines it is not always sunny ☀️!!! On the opposite, we discovered the tropical rains ☔️!! We wanted to rent a boat to watch the dolphins in the early sunrise. However, we had to change our plans due to the rain. It seems that it would have been an amazing experience! So if it is not rainy definitely try it and let us know ;).

At the beginning of the day, we took the direction of the Twin Lakes. We stopped at Alimyon Kapehan for a morning coffee. The view is splendid – we couldn’t enjoy it fully due to the cloud but we could imagine how it is with the sun!

Alimyon Kapehan, Twin Lake, Dumaguete
Alimyon Kapehan

Unfortunately, we had to stop at the entrance of the Twin Lakes as the rain was so heavy. It was too dangerous to keep driving so we had to go back to Dumaguete.

Hot springs – the Red Rocks

That’s why we decided to head direction the hot springs called Red Rocks. In total, there are 2 ponds – the water is usually around 39 degrees. The water was cooler due to the rain but it was a perfect activity for a rainy day! The entrance was 70 PHP / person and we decided to rent a small hut which was 400 PHP for the time of our stay so we could leave our stuff and have lunch.

The Pulangbato falls

Then one kilometre up, there is a nice waterfall – the Pulangbato falls. There is a pond where it is possible to swim but we didn’t try it as it was too cold ;)! And the entrance was 100 PHP per person.

Further we stopped on our way back to fly our drone. The vegetation is really dense and green with lots of palm trees.

We also did a break on our way back at a nice venue that was hosting a wedding. We had a nice end of the afternoon with some sweets and coffe while playing pool.

Our 2 friends living at Dumaguete spent this day with us :). Hence, even if it was a raining day, they turned it into a funny day :). We did all the journey by car. The Twin Lakes and the Red Rocks are both at about 45 minutes from Dumaguete (even if they looked very closed on the map, you have to go back to Dumaguete to go from one to another as it is a different road). 

Day 3 – Apo island, snorkelling with the sea turtles 🙂

Apo Island

We booked a snorkelling tour with our hostel. So they came to pick us up with a van at the hostel and we drove for about 20 minutes to get to the diving / snorkelling centre – Acqua Dive.

Our boat left the island at 9.00 am. In total, we were 15 of us on the boat, a mix of divers and snorkellers. The staff was very nice and friendly. There are 2 options for this day tour at Apo island. You can choose to do one snorkelling spot and spend some free time on Apo island. Or you can stay on the boat the full day to visit 3 different snorkelling spots.

Apo island, turtle, departure
Departure for Apo Island

We choose the second option. From the very first spot, we were able to swim with turtles 🐢! It was just awesome. There are many fishes including clown fish (Nemo) ones everywhere! We don’t have a Gopro so we don’t have photo from the sea it but it was awesome :).

We had lunch on the boat. We flew our drone from the boat. However, the landing was a little difficult as Apo island is quite windy and the boat was moving.

The last spot was the most beautiful as we were the only boat there. Some of us were tired, so only a few us saw a gigantic turtle of more than 1 meter! It was so impressive. Some boat members swam with us, which was great because they are used to spot turtles :). In short, for my first snorkelling experience, it was magic. 

Note – our guide said that it is very common to have rough water and to have to swim in the middle of many waves.

Apo island, turbulent sea
Turbulent sea at Apo Island

Chilling in Dumaguete

After this experience we enjoyed a tasty afternoon tea at one of the best bakery of Dumaguete – Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries – they have such a large choice of pastries for a very good price! In short, you have to stop there if you go to Dumaguete and tell us about your experience there ;). 

pastries, Dumaguete, Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries, snack
Tasty afternoon tea

Then we treated ourselves with a hot stones massage at Origin Natura Spa – it was heaven! We did 2 different massages at this spa during our stay. The staff is super nice and the place is really quiet and relaxing. And the cherry on the cake – the price are really cheap. We paid 680 PHP/person for 90 minutes hot stones massage and 350 PHP/person for an essential massage (i.e. Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu) for 1 hour.

Finally we had diner with Alexis’s friends in a rooftop restaurant to close such an amazing day :)!! 

Top 3 at Dumaguete

  • Swimming with the turtles in Apo island. It was the first time, I discovered snorkelling. What an amazing sensation! It give the feeling you are swimming in a gigantic aquarium. 
  • Afternoon tea at Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries. Excellent pastries :))! They have a large choice. It is a mix of local and tourist customers. We shared a cinnamon chocolate cream bun and an apple walnut petit – it was delicious! 
  • Cheap and amazing massage. 

Our hotel – The Flying Fish

If you are on a budget, we recommend to stay at the Flying Fish – it is an hostel with a nice coffee / restaurant opened from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm. They have both dormitory and also private rooms, which are very basic but with your own bathroom for about 1500 PHP / night. 

flying fish, hostel, Dumaguete, breakfast, french toast
Breakfast at Flying Fish

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