Occupying a central location in the Visayas, Negros is one of the largest land masses in the Philippines and an important agricultural centre, dominated by the sugar industry. This has left an interesting legacy of old plantations and helped Dumaguete develop into one of the nation’s most important centres, with a student culture and sense of history that is seen in its ancient universities. Travel Authentic Philippines offers several interesting Negros trips.

Negros Oriental enjoys some of the island’s best natural scenery and places of adventure, with plenty of waterfalls and volcanic lakes to trek to. Mount Talinis and Canlaon Mountain both offer trips to hidden calderas, through outstanding tropical forest, with rewarding views. Then there are the waterfalls that are just east from Dumaguete. La Libertad is a good base for nature-based tourism also.

Those seeking the historical character of the island will be surprised at the heritage on display in Dumaguete, both at Siliman and St Paul’s Universities. Transport links to this city are good and though it’s located in the far south of the province, it’s close to many of the main attractions of the island, including some outstanding beaches.

Apo Island is perhaps the most famous destination for tourists, known the world over for its outstanding coral diving. The infrastructure for visitors is at its best here.

Throughout the year there are nearly two dozen festivals and events in various towns on Negros, so its easy and practical to time your visit for one of the colourful religious displays that are part of local culture.

What to see
Dumaguete is the principal city of the province, and several days exploring this city reveals a number of historically interesting buildings. The suitably weather-beaten Belfry dates from 1811, it was erected to warn of attacks, and is a city landmark today.

The city hall is a handsome turn-of-the-century building, fronted by Quezon park. The Church of St Augustine of Hippo also impresses, and is noted for its famous organ. Then there are also buildings of national heritage on the campuses of Silliman and St Paul’s Universities. Several shrines also dot the city. On Sagbang Hill outside of the city is a memorial to those who fell in a key WWII battle, from all nations, and the views are excellent.

Further up the coast is La Libertad, and undiscovered secret with an atmosphere of an authentic town. Here you can see the real Negros, both urban and rural, and there is some excellent hiking from here, along with whale watching. Regrettably the town itself was severely damaged in a recent earthquake.

There are two good reasons to go to Bais City: Lagit Beach, which is noted for its magnificent sands and clear waters, and White Sands Reef, which is similar and a perfect place for snorkeling straight from the beach. There’s remains of an old Spanish fort in Ayungon.

Other excellent beaches can be found at Basay, such as Camangyawon, White Sand Bar, there are also some atmospheric beaches of natural beauty but with white pebbles instead of sand, Tambobo and Antulang, at the southern tip of Negros. Diving is more suited to these and it offers a good anchorage for sail boats.

Finally, Apo island is the star of the tourist show for Negros, with its well developed infrastructure to cater mainly to divers who come to dive some of the best waters in the whole archipelago.

What to do
Diving is certainly a highlight of a visit to Negros, as it is across the archipelago, and Apo island is noted as one of the most memorable of the dive spots in the Philippines. Voted among the top 10 dive sites worldwide in some polls, it comprises an incredible 60% coral coverage in the waters of this nationally protected area. The five key beaches where the resorts are located are fantastic.

Hiking to waterfalls and lakes is highly recommended in Negros Oriental, there is an abundance of spectacular falls and some hidden volcanic lakes. From Dumaguete you can reach several waterfalls on an easy day trip; Casaroro Falls is the most impressive and practical to reach. Pulangbato is another, noted for its reddish waters.

Those who are really adventurous can hike up Mount Talinis, also nearby, to discover two gorgeous hidden lakes. The twin lakes of Balinsasayaw and Danao are also worth the trip from Dumaguete. Further south, near Siaton, is Lake Balanan, noted for its beauty.

Caving is another activity that’s popular. The Mabinay cave complex is a honeycomb of chambers, grottos, subterranean rivers, sink holes and more, waiting to be discovered.

Boating and cycling are two recommended means of getting around. Sail or motorboats to explore the coastline and its inlets is a good idea. Two wheels is a good means to explore Dumaguete or the countryside nearby. Hiking boots are also a must.

Local culture
Sugar is at the heart of history and land-culture on Negros, establishing the island’s economy in the early Nineteenth century, so that old estates had to the historic interest. Christianity was brought to the island relatively early on in with the arrival of the Spanish. Very dark native ethic tribes who were the island’s original dwellers and mostly forest-bound inspired early explorers to name the island Negros.

Dumaguete is a regional capital, a hub of student activity and the proud host of some well known cultural treasures in the Philippines. Silliman University dominates the city, and is one of the most respected and oldest places of study in the whole archipelago. Here you will find the Ethno-Anthro museum on campus, as well as the University library with a large repository of books and other important items of national interest. There are also regular displays and exhibitions at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce auditorium. At its rival local university, St Paul College, is the Fler-De-Lis Hall, noted for its theatrical productions.

Some two dozen festivals are celebrated throughout the year, usually colourfully and with much pomp and ceremony, dedicated mostly to patron saints for each local community. Across the entire island the Buglasan festival in early October is memorable as the main even on Negros annually. If in Dumaguete in May, look out for the Santa Cruzan festival, or the Sandurot festival in November. There is also the Pinas Khan festival in December which puts plenty of traditional culture on display. Join us on one of our Negros trips.

Overview

Easily the most charming little coastal town in the entire Philippine archipelago, Dumaguete is the capital of the province of Negros Oriental in the Central Visayas region. The small town is popular with both local and international tourists because Dumaguete has a youthful student character, laid-back charms that the Philippine islands has to offer.

One of the most noticeable features of Dumaguete is its young population. The city is a center of higher learning in the Visayas with four major universities based here, namely Silliman, Foundation, Negros Oriental State, and St. Paul. In contrast, Dumaguete also ranks high among the best Philippine towns to retire in due to its relatively good health facilities and low cost of living.

Dumaguete has good accommodation options, cafes, and great eating and drinking spots in town. Because of this and the city’s central location, Dumaguete makes for a good base to explore the beautiful outdoors of the Central Visayan region. Nearby are lush mountains, placid lakes, beautiful beaches and sandbars, and rich coral reefs.

Dumaguete is easily reached from either the Philippine capital Manila or the largest city in the southern half of the country, Cebu. Sibulan Airport is Dumaguete’s main entry point for many tourists with flights arriving daily from Manila and Cebu. Regular ferries connect Dumaguete to nearby islands such as Cebu City, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Siquijor, and Dapitan in Zamboanga. The port is located near the downtown area, at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard.

As with the rest of the country, Dumaguete has both wet and dry seasons. The wet season begins in June and ends around early December. An ideal visit would be from January to March. April and May is good, too, but this is high summer in the Philippines. Temperatures, which can reach 35C during the day, can be unbearable.

What to See

For a bit of history, visitors can see Dumaguete’s Bell Tower. The tower dates back to the mid-1700s, is made of coral stone, and is the oldest surviving structure in town. Also worth a visit is the Silliman University Anthropology Museum. Housed in an attractive building which combines American and Spanish colonial styles called the Silliman Hall, the museum features items from pre-colonial Philippines, including a precious Malay sword called the kris.

Silliman University itself is a great place to spend the day. The university was founded by the Americans in 1901 and is considered the first American university in the Philippines and in Asia. The campus is a peaceful part of downtown Dumaguete with a number of significant city landmarks such as Silliman Hall, the Silliman University Church, the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium, and the Metta J. Silliman Library.

Our signature Experiences

Climb Mount Talinis

This volcano is known as “Cuernos de Negros” for the horn-like peaks that highlight the mountain. It is the second highest mountain in Negros, after Mount Kanlaon.

Explore the Balinsayao Twin Lakes

Visit the twin lakes Balinsayao and Danao and visit communities along the way. Explore the lakes by kayak and hiking.

Dolphin spotting and whale-watching at Bais

Boats leave from Bais, north of the city center, head to the Manjuyod Sandbar, before heading to the spots where these marine creatures roam. Overnight here is possible as well.

Diving and snorkeling at Apo Island

South of Dumaguete is Apo Island. This tiny island is a community-based marine sanctuary and has become a popular spot for snorkeling and diving not only in Dumaguete but in the entire Visayas region. Sea turtles, sea snakes, the lion fish, the clown fish, and other marine creatures can be found here.

Visit a farming project

Visit farmers involved in the OURFood project.

Enjoy a local homestay

Travel Authentic Philippines has its own homestay at the foot of Mt.Talinis. Immerse yourself in local cultures.

Local Culture

Dumaguete is located right in the heart of the Visayan region. Locals speak Cebuano as with the rest of the region. However, Dumaguete is a youthful university town, so many locals use English. This is especially the case for those working in the city’s tourism industry.

The city is particularly known in the Philippines as the home of the Silliman National Writers Workshop. This literary worship was founded in 1962 and runs for three weeks every summer. Many successful contemporary writers from all over the Philippines have gone through the workshop, either as participants, panelists, or lecturers.

Dumaguete is also the venue for the Buglasan Festival, a province-wide festival which features street dancers representing each of their communities. Large production numbers where participants wear all sorts of colorful and elaborately-designed costumes are staged during the festival. The festival is a multi-day event taking place around early to mid-October.

Overview

Sitting along the coast the Tañon Strait in Negros Island, La Libertad is a popular place for those wanting to visit a completely unspoiled area of the Negros Oriental province. The city is home to some secluded stretches of beach and lovely countryside, and offers some great hiking.

La Libertad is not high on the tourist track, making it a great place to discover. Its Pandan weaving is quite remarkable, though it is also noted for its river and remote Mambulotan springs. The city’s countryside gives visitors a unique look to the traditional rural life in the area.

Though a sleepy city that has not yet been over-run by tourists, La Libertad has transportation links to both Bacolod and Silay City. Still, it is sometimes visited on a day trip from these more popular cities. It is also a 90-minute bus transfer from Dumaguete City.

Most visitors that come to La Libertad stay at La Limar Beach on the southern edge of the city. It is a lovely beach that is quite popular among families

With its tropical climate, La Libertad sees quite a lot of rainfall throughout the entire year. The weather is at its best in February, March, and April when it is at its driest. The rest of the year can be a bit miserable, particularly from July to November.

Signature Experiences

Homestay in the highlands

We offer a homestay experience in one of the pandan weaving communities in the highlands, a great way to get know the local people and learn about their lifestyle.

This two day/one program includes hiking to the Mambulotan springs.

Learn traditional weaving

Founded in 2004, La Libertad Weavers Association is a local weaving community that was funded by the government. It is one of the best places to experience pandan weaving first-hand. You will join the weavers for a day and create your own handbag.

Hike to scenic cold springs and visit communities

Those interested in nature can go on a guided hike to Mambulotan springs, which is an easy and picturesque walk through the countryside including and visits to local village.

Whale and dolphin watching

The Tañon Strait is known for its fantastic whale and dolphin watching and tour boats leave from the wharf in Bias City, which is less than one hour south along the coast from La Libertad.

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