Shore side of Roxas boulevard in Dumaguete

Top Dumaguete Tourist Spots: Silliman University, Apo Island & Hot Springs

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Woman diver spotting a turtle in Apo Island, Negros

Discover the beauty of Dumaguete. Read on and start organizing that adventure to the City of Gentle People.

One of the cities in the Philippines that offers unique experiences for travelers is Dumaguete City. From landmarks that stood the test of time after hundreds of years, to waterfalls and hot springs and exciting underwater adventures, the city has all those and more.



Nicknamed “The City of Gentle People” because of its kind-hearted locals, Dumaguete is a peaceful coastal community listed as one of the "7 Best Places to Retire Around the World" by Forbes Magazine. 

Also known as a University town because it houses four universities and several colleges in the city, Dumaguete is a center for education not just for Visayas but students from Mindanao too. 

In fact, a big part of the 130,000 population of the city are students.

Silliman University is the city's foremost educational institution and the oldest American private university in the country. It has made significant contributions to Philippine history earning it a National Landmark distinction in 2002.

Aside from visiting the university, there are a multitude of activities to do in Dumaguete especially if you want to immerse in nature, such as dolphin-watching in Bais and diving in Apo Island. 

Dumaguete is likewise the cultural hub of Negros where many artists, writers, and performers converge, giving the city a unique cosmopolitan lifestyle with a small-town charm.

 

Planning a trip to Dumaguete? Take note of these Dumaguete tourist spots and unique things to do to add to your itinerary:

Top Dumaguete Tourist Spots: Silliman University, Apo Island & Hot Springs

1. Stroll along Rizal Boulevard

Cocounut Trees of Rizal Boulevard in DumagueteRizal Boulevard is a place where you can relax, stroll around, and catch the afternoon breeze. It was named after Jose Rizal, the Philippines' national hero, as he used to spend his time at the boulevard whenever he was in Dumaguete. 

Don't miss an opportunity to take a selfie at the #DumaGetMe Signage at the Rizal Boulevard Sea Deck. 

Launched in January 2018, the signage was part of a marketing campaign by the Dumaguete City Tourism office to attract more visitors to the city. Since then the sign has become a popular spot among tourists taking souvenir photos.

The locals believe that tourists fall in love with the city because its beauty takes their hearts away. So, #DumaGetMe was chosen because the name Dumaguete comes from the Cebuano word "dagit", meaning to take away or snatch. 

For sure, you'll find out exactly what they mean when you visit the city.

2. Visit Silliman University

Silliman University, a  private research university in Dumaguete, is the first American school in the Philippines. It was founded by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in 1901. It’s also a popular landmark and is usually included in a Dumaguete tour because of its different buildings that are worth-visiting.

Silliman Hall

It was built in the early 1900s, two years after Silliman University was established, as an addition to the original structure that has since been demolished. 

The building was constructed using the Stick type design. What’s more amazing is that it is the oldest standing American structure in the country. 

Silliman University Anthropology Museum

Marvel at the rare and priceless collections of archaeological artifacts that the Silliman Anthropology Museum has on display. 

Here, you will see pieces from excavations in Negros and parts of Mindanao as well as ethnological items from various indigenous groups all over the country.

Silliman University Zoo

If you're an animal lover, you'd be pleased to know that they also have a zoo. The Silliman Zoo, located near the Silliman Medical Center, is home to a varied collection of rare and endangered Philippine native animals. 

You will be able to see crocodiles, spotted deer, warty pigs, bleeding-heart doves, vampire bats, and more. The Zoo needs financial support to help maintain the facility. 

Silliman University Marine Laboratory

It’s where you can learn about their breeding programs for giant clams, crocodiles, and seaweed and also see the second largest whale bone collection in the world. 

First established in 1974 as a research facility, the building now has 4 laboratories: marine botany, invertebrate, vertebrae, and biochemistry and genetics.

Silliman University Church

If you're looking for a church that ministers "to all Sillimanians, regardless of their denomination and religious affiliations", then you need to go to the Silliman University Church.

First established by American Presbyterian missionaries as the Dumaguete Mission Station in 1901, it became the Student Church in 1916. Then it was eventually renamed the Silliman University Church.

3. Dive at Apo Island

Woman diver at Apo Island, Negros

Head to Apo Island in Dauin, located 30 kilometers south of Dumaguete. Apo Island is famous worldwide for its abundance of fish, turtles, and beautiful coral gardens.

The marine habitat surrounding the island is a marine reserve and is home to over 400 coral species and 650 documented species of fish. 

It’s no wonder then why it has become a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can likewise go hiking and trekking on the island all the way to the lighthouse.

You can get here by either joining an Apo Island excursion, or by taking a tricycle to Malatapay Port. Once there, take a 30-minute boat ride to the island.

4. Discover Pulangbato Falls

You don't need to travel far from Dumaguete City to experience the refreshing waters of the Pulangbato (Red Rock) Falls in Valencia. 

Natural red rocks of Pulangbato falls in DumagueteTrue to its name, the falls are surrounded by naturally reddish rocks and lush greenery, giving off a calming and relaxing ambiance.

The cool water basin beneath is deep enough for high dives, and visitors can often be seen diving off from a high rock.

The area is also not commercialized and makes you feel like you're far from civilization when you are, in fact, just minutes away from the city.

To get here, you can either join a guided tour in Dumaguete or rent a van.

5. Explore Casaroro Falls

Refreshing waters of Casaroro falls in DumagueteIf you’re in the mood for an adventure, head off to Casaroro Falls in Valencia. Your adventure begins as you take over 350 steps going down the terrain. 

Then, because there is no clear path to the falls, you will have to traverse a rugged terrain that is full of muddy, streaming water, and huge boulders.

This journey is definitely not for the fainthearted, but it will be all worth it when you finally see the glorious waterfall with refreshing waters striking 30 meters down to a basin.

A jeepney ride to Valencia plus a tricycle or habal-habal ride is all it takes to get here.

6. Relax at Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

Hut in Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural ParkIf relaxing for you means breathing in the fresh mountain air, admiring the views and swimming in clear blue lakes, then you need to go to the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park located in the Mount Talinis range. 

The twin lakes, Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao, are two small crater lakes that are separated by a narrow mountain ridge and surrounded by many types of wildlife and exotic flora and fauna.

If you’re in the mood for some activities, you can go trekking or hiking to catch a glimpse of the wildlife. You can enjoy the lake by renting a boat or a kayak.

Plus, you can even go on a picnic, try carp fishing or go overnight camping too. You can easily get here by riding a car, van, or bus, or by trying a Dumaguete excursion.

7. Hike to Puncak Tanawan

If hiking is your game then you will enjoy traveling to the highest peak in Sibulan where you can find Puncak Tanawan. Grab your hiking boots and prepare for approximately 2 hours of hiking from the starting point to the peak.

Located in Brgy. Balugo, its name is actually coined from the Indonesian word, "puncak", which means "peak" and a Filipino word, "tanawan", meaning "to view from afar". Indeed, the place is the perfect location to get a panoramic view not just of Dumaguete City but also of nearby Cebu, Apo, and Sumilon.

This private property was opened to the public not just to entice visitors but also to raise awareness and promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. You can even enjoy several outdoor activities there now including team buildings, sightseeing, camping, and trekking.

To go here, ride a Ceres bus to Sibulan. Then from the drop off point at Brgy. Balugo, there’s a long walk to the entrance where you will start hiking.

8. Visit Campanario de Dumaguete

Bell Tower of Dumaguete

Back in the 1760s, Moro pirates from Mindanao traversed the peaceful towns of Dumaguete in search of slaves. 

To warn the locals of this, the townspeople built a commanding coral-stone watchtower called the Campanario de Dumaguete, also known as the Dumaguete Belfry, the oldest one in Visayas.

Located right beside St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral at Perdices Street, it now has a garden and a grotto of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at its base. 

You can light candles and offer prayers here like what a lot of tourists do, as well as some rosaries and religious icons, at the new souvenir shop added just a few steps away.

9. Pray at St. Catherine Of Alexandria Cathedral

One of the oldest church in Dumaguete

Anyone with a fascination for old churches will enjoy visiting the St. Catherine Alexandria Cathedral. Also called the Dumaguete Cathedral, it is located at Perdices street and is the oldest stone church built in Negros.

It’s the seat of the Diocese of Dumaguete and it is here where you will also find the Companario de Dumaguete.

You can admire it simply by standing outside because much of its beauty is due to its architecture. The outside entrance features four stone pillars with statues of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

Status of Saints Peter and Paul are also at the facade. However, the inside is just as majestic with high ceilings, intricate chandeliers, and beautiful altarpieces.

10. Explore Talabong Mangrove Park

Mangroves and birds - these are the two things you will find in abundance at the Talabong Mangrove Park located 45 kilometers north of Dumaguete in Bais City. 

This 400-hectare wide park is not only a sanctuary for many different species of mangrove trees but also for native bird species and other wildlife.

Watching the birds fly above the canopy and hearing their whistles and chirps is an experience birdwatchers will never forget. 

But if that's not enough, you can also go swimming or snorkeling at the Talabong reef to enjoy a different perspective of the place.

Get here by taking a Ceres bus to Bais. Then you can take a boat trip to the park via the same boats that take tourists to go dolphin and whale watching in Bais.

11. Spend a Day at Freedom Park

Dumaguete Freedom Park

Also known as the Ninoy Aquino Memorial Freedom Park, this family-friendly park is the perfect place to go if you want your kids to play, walk your dog, jog or just relax amidst the tall trees, flowerbeds, and fountains spread out in the area.

You can even explore the provincial capitol building here. Sightseeing and trying out various adventures can be fun but sometimes you just need to relax and unwind.

If you happen to visit Dumaguete during the month of October though, you'd be able to witness the Buglasan Festival here. 

You can watch the dance competitions, listen to live music, and participate in the other activities that celebrate the origins of Negros Oriental.

12. Stroll along Quezon Park

Another place to relish a quiet afternoon is the "plaza", just a few minutes walk from Rizal Boulevard. 

Officially called the Manuel L. Quezon Park, named after the second President of the Philippines, this park is decorated with vintage cannons as well as a gazebo and a playground where kids love to play.

13. Visit Tierra Alta Lighthouse

The Tierra Alta Lighthouse at the Tierra Alta Residential Resort in Valencia offers majestic and breathtaking views you don't want to miss. 

The magnificent Greek-inspired architecture is something to be admired but you will also be enthralled with the beauty and serenity of the surrounding sea and mountainside.

You’ll also find the Tierra Cafe, the Aquatica Pool, and the Rush Zipline, the longest zipline in Negros Oriental. You can easily go on a 20-minute drive to Tierra Alta by renting a motorcycle or riding a tricycle.

14. Learn More about Dumaguete at Cata-al World War 2 Museum

If you're curious about how the World War II era affected Dumaguete, you wouldn’t want to miss a visit to the Cat-al World War II Museum in Valencia. 

Located within the personal property of the Cat-al family, the museum features a vast collection of artifacts from the war collected by a war veteran father, Porforio, and his son Felix.

Since the area played a significant role in the war, there is a wealth of war artifacts scattered throughout the region. 

You will be amazed at what they were able to collect including equipment, grenades, machine guns, field manuals, uniforms, and even bones and teeth, among others. 

15. Visit The Filipino-Japanese Amity Memorial Shrine

During World War II, a vicious battle took place high atop the hills of Valencia, Negros Oriental. 

Years after, in 1977, the war veterans, surviving families, and their descendants erected and unveiled the Filipino-Japanese Amity Memorial Shrine on the sacred battleground.

This historical obelisk, built on a solid concrete base with three angles, symbolizes peace and friendship among the three countries that took part in the war - Philippines, United States of America, and Japan.

The road to the shrine is steep and difficult to traverse. A 4x4 vehicle is usually required. So, it's best if you join a guided tour if you wish to visit the shrine.

16. Contemplate at Chinese Bell Church

Catholic churches and holy grounds are plentiful in Dumaguete but there is one other church that people rarely visit and that is the Chinese Bell Church. 

Situated on the Southern part of Rizal Boulevard, this church is pretty easy to miss but press on and you will find this old, traditional Taoist Temple inside a colorful Chinese compound by the sea.

You will marvel at the walls and the buildings that are adorned with Chinese writings, dragon figures, bells, and flags. The compound also has a pagoda amid lush, landscaped gardens. 

The serene environment is perfect for walking around, praying or simply for taking photos with your family and friends.

Explore What Dumaguete Has to Offer

Judging by this list alone, you can see that Dumaguete has plenty of activities and sightseeing to offer no matter what type of traveler you are. 

Shore side of Roxas boulevard in DumagueteIf you wish to take full advantage though, you need to time your visit properly. Take note that rainy season is from June to September so you might want to avoid those months if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities.

It's also advisable to mark Dumaguete's many festivals in your calendar so you can time your visit at the most lively and fun seasons. 

The Sandurot Festival is celebrated annually every mid-November, while the Buglasan Festival, on the other hand, happens mid-October.

Start planning your trip to Dumaguete. Take note of these suggested Dumaguete tours and activities that you can avail of for a hassle-free adventure.