When looking for things to do in Dumaguete, always make sure to ask the locals for their secret tips!
My backpacking adventures around the Philippines took me through several towns and cities that were supposed to be just a one night stopover on my way to other more famous destinations.
Dumaguete was one of those, and it ended being one of the places I stayed the longest.
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A huge part of this was because I found a fantastic atmosphere at the Antwet Backpackers Hostel. It’s one of the cheapest places in town and I can’t fault it on anything, it has a really cool rooftop bar, the rooms and beds are pretty new.
Tweety, the owner, is a lovely woman that will spend a lot of time giving you her insider tips on what to do, where to go and eat! if you stay there, try the Lumpias (spring rolls) at the rooftop bar, the best ones I ever had!
I used this town as a base to visit around for quite a few days and these are some of the best things to do in Dumaguete:
Go Scuba Diving to Apo Island
Apo Island is one of the best places in the Philippines for scuba diving. This marine sanctuary is a success story in terms of changing harmful fishing techniques for a conservation approach.
Booking a diving tour from Dumaguete, instead of for example the island of Siquijor will also cost you a fraction of the price!
This is definitely the best thing to do in Dumaguete!
Visit the Casaroro Waterfall
This beautiful place is about 20 min away by motorbike from downtown.
After parking your scooter and going down the mountain on quite a few steps, the little adventure begins!
There’s no proper trail marked so you kind of follow your instinct. A couple of times you also need to cross the river so make sure to take some shoes you’re happy to get wet.
After about 15-20 minutes of the river/jungle trek you will find the serene waterfall. I went late in the day and there was no one at all!
Visit the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park
About a half an hour scooter ride away and after passing some stunning roads by the beach and climbing up a mountain with some more gorgeous views.
The Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park is a good option for a half day activity. There’s a small hike on the side of the first lake towards an observation tower or you can take a small paddle boat.
Even that I went on a rainy day (actually pretty heavy rain) it was still beautiful!
Climb the Mount Talinis Volcano (aka Cuernos de Negros)
This is one that I regret not doing! the active Talinis Volcano looks impressive in the background of the city and you can climb it solo!
I didn’t do it simply because the weather was not great and was constantly covered in clouds during my visit so I didn’t want to risk a long climb for a high chance of not having any views at all.
Visit the nearby islands
Dumaguete has pretty good connections by boat with several islands and Cebu. The famous Bohol island and Siquijor are easily reachable with quite a few boats departing every day.
Eat, eat, eat!
Dumaguete has quite a few really good places to eat.
From the famous Liempo (bbq pork belly) to the cheap street food restaurants (called Foodnet). A really good bakery for breakfast is “the rolling pin” and if you want to indulge in an awesome dessert go to GraviTea and order the “mango madness”.
Ask around as there are also incredibly cheap and surprisingly good all-you-can-eat places
Have breakfast at the local market
In the middle of downtown find the local market and head towards the “restaurants” area, try the local specialities such as the sticky rice poured with hot chocolate. We got a lot of food for a ridiculously cheap price!
In the afternoons try to find Turon which is a sort of sweet spring roll made with sweet potato or banana, it’s sickly sweet but delicious and a proper sugar boost!
Feel free to drop any questions or comments if you’re heading towards Dumaguete!
Check out the rest of my adventures backpacking in the Philippines for more ideas on your next trip!