With so many awesome things to do in Dumaguete, here’s our ultimate guide to the Negros Oriental region’s capital.
1. Manjuyod Sandbar & Dolphin Watching
Manjuyod Sandbar is technically up in Bais, but still one of the top things tourists do from Dumaguete.
If you can catch the tide when it is low, you’re in for a spot of paradise.
We visited at the lowest tide possible during our stay in Dauin in February, arriving at around 10am, but even then the water was at 0.4 metres deep. So unfortunately we didn’t get to see the sandbar peaking up from the water.
Although the location itself was still fascinating as it’s situated out in the middle of the ocean. The best way to visit is to book a Dolphin Watching & Manjuyod Sandbar Private Tour.
It’s an amazing place to hang out with the locals as they float around selling coconuts. Plus the stilt houses make for a great photo backdrop.
There are also banana boats that you can take a ride on around the outside of Manjuyod Sandbar.
2. Apo Island Tour
Apo Island is literally turtle heaven and definitely one of the best things to do in Dumaguete.
You are pretty much guaranteed to see turtles when you venture out on an Apo Island tour and the guides are just as excited as the tourists.
With turtles being Lauren’s absolute favourite animal, we couldn’t wait to get underwater and have a swim with the local habitants.
Sure enough as soon as we pulled into the Apo Island shores, we could see them from the boat bobbing their heads in and out of the water.
We dived straight in and although there were quite a few tourists, it wasn’t too crazy. Fortunately we had our boat all to ourselves, so the local guide was fully focused on showing us around.
We snorkelled in a huge loop of the area following his fins and exploring the underwater world of an Apo Island tour.
Having swam with turtles in Gili Trawangan and Moalboal we both agreed this was the best experience we’d had!
3. Tierra Alta – The Santorini Of The Philippines
Just a short drive from Dumaguete city, Tierra Alta is a stunning spot, located high up in the mountains of Valencia.
It’s known as the Santorini of the Philippines, and it’s not hard to see why, mimicking the fresh clean whites and royal blues of the Greek island.
With a lighthouse as its centre piece, the grounds are also home to a restaurant, a swimming pool and they’re currently building out into a high end sub division.
There’s not much to do apart from relax at the mini Santorini, so whether you’re looking for a day by the pool, or to hire out the space for a private event, it makes for a very special location.
There are sun beds available and a small bar and restaurant underneath the shade, by the pool. So if you can plan around the weather and get lucky with a sunny day, you’re in for a beautiful day up in the hills.
Due to it’s sheer beauty, Tierra Alta is also a place where many choose to speak their very important vows to each other.
A dream wedding venue for any bride and groom. With its stunning location high in mountains and the ocean as a backdrop, it definitely wins the award for the most picturesque location around Dumaguete.
Also, if you’re the photography loving type, the beautiful lighthouse gives you lots of great photo opportunities.
4. Forest Camp
Forest Camp Dumaguete is an awesome day out for friends and families in the Valencia region.
We were unsure what to expect before heading to Forest Camp Dumaguete for the day with our Filipino friends, but the outcome was awesome!
Full of hammock houses, natural pools and insane outdoor activities, you can have a jam-packed day full of fun here.
We spent the afternoon jumping in pools, taking photos, and jumping in more pools.
There are slides and plenty of private areas to chill in, so you don’t have to worry about it becoming overcrowded.
We took a picnic and enjoyed the sound of the falls in the background whilst eating and chatting away.
The tables and chairs inside the grounds are free to use, so you can grab your spot and set up camp for the day.
If you don’t want to take your own food, you can order from the restaurant on site which has a wide selection of food. From pizzas to local Filipino dishes and of course amazing mango shakes.
5. Casaroro Falls
Casaroro Falls is a stunning waterfall that flows from a sheer drop of 30 metres.
The waterfall itself is not very touristy, so on your way down, you may only pass one or two people. There is no marked route to the falls but it is easy enough to find.
Although you’ll be able to hear the power of Casaroro Falls from all around you, the beauty of it will pop up out of nowhere.
We peaked around the corner and suddenly there it was.
We had no expectations whatsoever when visiting Casaroro Falls as we hadn’t heard any reviews.
So, as you can imagine, we were pleasantly surprised at the outcome and had an awesome time admiring this insane piece of mother nature.
If you’re staying in the area and have a spare afternoon, we highly recommend this incredible hidden spot as one of the best things to do in Dumaguete.
6. Pulangbato Falls
Pulangbato Falls is an easy to reach, family friendly day out in Valencia. With multiple falls and swimming holes.
When you arrive, you park up and walk in. There is no hike involved, just a whole lot of beauty to take in.
There are other smaller falls at this cute tourist destination, but the big Pulangbato Falls is hard to miss.
To get down to the base of falls you get to walk across a beautiful photogenic bridge.
You will find two small cafes, one offering really local food and the other being a little more bistro.
There is overnight accommodation available to rent, consisting of cute little cottages with balconies overlooking the falls.
Also available to rent, are small huts and tables and chairs – great for if you are just there for the day.
Pulangbato Falls is really perfect if you’re traveling alone, for family days out or even for couples. It’s completely safe and suitable for children or any tourist.
7. Red Rock Hot Spring
Red Rock Hot Spring is a fascinating piece of nature and the ultimate place to relax and unwind in the Valencia region.
It started as a private sanctuary, owned by a local family from Valencia, used by family and friends to relieve stress.
They decided to build a pool around the stream to accommodate more members of the public.
As the word got around, the public started to make more use of the pools and enjoy the waters, which prompted the owners to open it officially for the people and name it Red Rock Hot Spring.
Around 5 minutes before you hit the springs, you’ll cross a bridge with steam rising from underneath the rocks. You will be hit by a strong ‘eggy’ smell and that’s when you know you are in the right place!
Inside Red Rock Hot Springs though, there are no bad smells, just smiling faces. The owners are super friendly and welcomed us with open arms to their popular spot.
It’s an ideal way to spend the afternoon after exploring the surrounding Valencia area. Great to just to take some down time and relieve the body of any aches and pains.
The newest and most sought out place for leisure and nature-tripping.
8. St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral
St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral Church is said to be the oldest stone church in Negros. The church was originally built in 1754 to 1776. It was reconstructed in 1885 and the present facade was extended in 1936.
This is the main Roman Catholic Church in the region and is known for its exquisite architecture.
Known by the locals as the ‘Dumaguete Cathedral’, this beautiful church has been here for hundreds of years and is still one of the top Dumaguete tourist spots.
Statues of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John can be found above the four pillars which hold the entrance gate of the Cathedral Church, and on the facade are the statues of Saints Peter and Paul.
Many of the locals believe that their patroness, St Catherine of Alexandria, is miraculous and this gives them a reason to be happy and celebrate life. If you like fascinating history and stunning architecture then this is definitely worth a visit.
9. Rizal Boulevard
Rizal Boulevard is the main stretch of street riding the coast of Dumaguete city.
The Boulevard is named after Dr. Jose Rizal, a Filipino national hero, renowned for the part he played in the Filipino revolution against the Spanish during their colonial period.
Nowadays Rizal Boulevard is one of the top Dumaguete tourist spots with lots to see and do including its famous street food market.
Starting at 5pm and finishing around 1am you can try many types of local foods. Including plenty of tempura and even the famous ‘balut’, a developing bird embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell.
Rizal Boulevard is very family friendly and during the day you will see people coming to meet up, have picnics, chat, play guitars and visit the shops and restaurants that run down one side of the Boulevard.
There are plenty of benches to sit and relax whilst watching boats come in and out of the nearby port or just enjoy some people watching.
During certain festivals and holidays, there are also parades, barbecues, and live music to enjoy along the Rizal Boulevard. If you are entering Dumaguete via ferry, then Rizal Boulevard is where you will arrive.
10. Sans Rival
Sans Rival Dumaguete is possibly the most famous dessert shop in the Philippines.
In fact most locals would say this is number 1 on the Dumaguete tourist spots list!
With the title of the shop translating to ‘Without Rival’, it’s fair to say we can firmly back up the name choice of this unique cake and pastry store.
Sans rival is a Filipino dessert cake made of layers of buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews. The cake can be decorated, left plain or garnished with pistachios.
Widely known for its Sans Rival cakes and Silvannas, a frozen cookie version of the Sans Rival, it’s a haven for any sweet toothed dessert lover.
A good tick on the bucket list of your Philippines itinerary!
11. Silliman University
Siliman University may not be top of everyones things to do in Dumaguete list but just the campus grounds and beautiful buildings are worth a visit.
It was the first American university in the Philippines and in fact the first in the entire continent of Asia.
Founded in 1901 it was originally an elementary school for boys. Now open to both sexes it’s ranked as the 4th best University in the Philippines.
The university contains ten colleges, five schools, and three institutes. Enrolling over 10,000 students from the Philippines and at least 56 other countries.
It maintains ties with the Central Philippine University as its sister school. This is an institution of higher learning founded by the Protestant Baptist Americans in 1905 in Iloilo City.
Siliman University now prides itself on its vision as ‘A leading Christian institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment.’
Definitely worth a walk around the tree lined sidewalks and the beautiful buildings – both old and new. If you have time, tours of the campus are also available.
Where To Stay In Dumaguete
Luxury – C Bubble Diving Resort
C Bubble Diving Resort features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and garden in Dumaguete.
Featuring room service, this property also provides guests with a terrace.
The air-conditioned rooms provide a sea view and come with a wardrobe and free WiFi.
Guest rooms in the resort come with a kettle. The units will provide guests with a fridge. Buffet and à la carte breakfast options are available daily at C Bubble Diving Resort.
Mid-budget – The Bricks Hotel
Featuring a bar, The Bricks Hotel is located in Dumaguete in the Visayas region, 1.3 miles from Robinsons Place Dumaguete and less than 0.6 miles from Dumaguete Belfry.
Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
The property is close to popular attractions like Quezon Park, Dumaguete Cathedral and Dumaguete Public Market.
Guests at the hotel can enjoy a à la carte breakfast.
Budget – ZEN Rooms Basic White Knights
Situated 1.1 miles from Robinsons Place Dumaguete, ZEN Rooms Basic White Knights Dumaguete features accommodation with a restaurant, a shared lounge and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience.
Both WiFi and private parking are accessible at the apartment free of charge.
Popular points of interest near ZEN Rooms Basic White Knights Dumaguete include Dumaguete Belfry, Dumaguete Public Market and Quezon Park.
Article by Charlie Pauly via Wanderers and Warriors