First Timer's Guide to Dumaguete, Philippines
Located at the southern part of the Central Visayas region is the island of Dumaguete, which is quite possibly one of the country’s best kept secret. Although this humble island is slowly becoming a tourist destination for both Filipinos and foreigners, it continues to provide visitors with an authentic island life experience that can rival those of Palawan or Siargao.
Klook Activities in Dumaguete
1. Half Day Dumaguete Heritage City Tour
- Start: 9:00 am
- End: 12:00 pm
Places of Interest Covered:
- Silliman University
- Dumaguete Campanario
- Sta Catalina de Alexandria Church and Convent
- Public Market
- Rizal Boulevard
- Aquino Park - Provincial Capitol
- Sidlakang Negros Village
2. Twin Lakes Natural Park with Dumaguete City Tour
- Start: 8:30 am
- End: 3:00 pm
Places of Interest Covered:
- Twin Lakes
- Silliman University
- Handumanan Souvenir Shop
- Sansrival Cafe
- Dumaguete City Boulevard
1. Manjuyod Sandbar
If there is one activity in Dumaguete that tourists cannot miss out on, it’s a trip to Manjuyod Sandbar. However, tourists should make sure to check the tide chart for the best time to go as the white sands of Manjuyod will only appear during low tide. According to locals, 5am to 10am would is your best shot!
Although fondly nicknamed the “Maldives of the Philippines,” Manjuyod Island has yet to be recognized as one of the country’s top island destinations. But with its crystal clear waters, fine white sand, and dolphin watching excursion nearby, soon enough, Manjuyod’s stilted cottages will be fully booked for a very long time.
2. Siliman University
Apart from its strikingly unique architecture, Silliman University possesses a significant amount of the town’s history beneath its walls. In addition to touring the university grounds, it also houses an Anthropology Museum featuring weapons and memorabilia dating back to 200 B.C. So, if you’re looking to explore Dumaguete’s culture and history, there’s no better place to visit.
Silliman University has had its fair share of history. It was established under American management in the 1900s as an elementary school, but was later turned into a garrison during the Japanese occupation. By 1953, the university was restored and placed under Filipino management, as it is today.
3. Twin Lakes
As it is one of Dumaguete’s best kept secrets, arriving at this silent sanctuary can be quite the challenge. It’s takes a 20-minute car ride and a long trek through some winding paths to reach Twin Lakes. Located in the mountains west of Sibulan, Negros Oriental, this protected natural park is home to an amazing biodiversity and an expansive ecosystem.
With its calm waters and lush greenery, the Twin Lakes, or the Balinsasayao and Danao Lakes, offer tourists a laid-back and peaceful retreat from their buzzing city life. If you’re up for it, you’re welcome to swim, fish, boat, or kayak through the mystical waters of the lake; or go off trekking by the surrounding mountains.
4. Tanon Strait
Tanon Strait happens to be the largest marine protected seascape in the country. At 521,018 hectares, it boasts undeniably incredible biodiversity that tourists are fortunately given the chance to explore! It’s home to over 70 species of fish, 14 species of whales and dolphins, and as well as a handful rare species like the giant diamondback squid. If this interests you, tourists can join in on dolphin and whale watching tours departing from Bais Bay!
5. Rizal Boulevard
It’s said that prior to being exiled in Dapitan, national hero Dr. Jose Rizal spent a brief time at this plaza - hence the name Rizal Boulevard. This landmark is a popular location in Dumaguete for both locals and tourists alike. As it is situated by the coast, the scenic views and cool breeze is perfect for a nice stroll along the park, or even a picnic by the boardwalk. Alternatively, visitors can also check out the number of restaurants, bars and boutiques surrounding the park for a much livelier experience!
6. St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral and Belfry Tower
Located at the heart of the city is the humble St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, also known as the Dumaguete Cathedral to its locals. Apart from its red-brick facade, the cathedral is also easily recognized thanks to the four intricate statues of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John situated at the entrance.
The cathedral is usually filled with locals and tourists any day of the week. But apart from drawing in devotees, there are tourists who stop by the chapel for its fascinating architecture, too! Although it had gone through several reconstructions, it still is the oldest stone church in Negros, along with one of the original Belfry Towers at the far left side of the church. This tower was used to warn townsmen of invaders intending to attack, and today, serves a reminder of the city’s rich history.
7. Apo Island
Grab shell, dude! One unmissable island hopping destination in Dumaguete has to be Apo Island. Tourists are lured to this volcanic island in order to experience once-in-a-lifetime turtle interactions and scenic snorkeling activities through the coral reef gardens! As a famous diving and snorkeling destination, you’re sure to set your eyes on a diverse set of corals, along with a plethora of charming sea creatures of over 600 species!
Photo Credit: Patricia Vazquez
What to eat
1. Chicken Inato
Bacolod’s chicken has met its match - Dumaguete’s Chicken Inato. Originated in Jo’s Chicken Inato, this marinated chicken delivers a flavour that will have you craving for it in a matter of hours. Luckily for you, there are a couple Jo’s Chicken Inato spread throughout the city of Dumaguete.
Jo’s Chicken Inato Address: Silliman Avenue, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
2. Sans Rival
You can’t say you’ve been to Dumaguete if you haven’t tried Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries. Their buttery and nutty specialty has become a national favorite and is available in major supermarkets around the country! However, this one is pretty difficult to bring home as pasalubong (gifts), so make sure to devour it quickly before it melts!
* Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries * Address: San Jose St, Dumaguete, 6200 Negros Oriental
In general, Dumaguete serves some of the best seafood in the country! With an incredible biodiversity to boast, it’s no surprise that the fresh seafood served in tour boats and as well as in restaurants are beyond exemplary. If you’re joining a tour, we highly recommend availing of their lunch or snack services. However, if you’re staying in the city, Lab-as Seafood Restaurant is a must - their Baked Talaba and Dumaguete Express are to die for!
Lab-as Seafood Restaurant Address: Negros Oriental Flores Avenue, Dumaguete City