One thing that will instantly draw you to Dumaguete is its people. They are some of the nicest people in the country and deserve their name as "the land of Gentle People." From festivals to restaurants, the friendliness of the people oozes out. Add in top-notch waterfalls and a killer ocean front boulevard and you have a city that rivals most!
What to do
Dumaguete is one of the hidden gems of Filipino culture and celebrations. The city has become a growing destination for Western retirees thanks to its close proximity to Cebu City, beautiful surroundings, and great city culture. While the city may not have as many true attractions, wandering along the stunning waterfront promenade or relaxing in Quezon Square is an event of its own. The city is very proud of its history and has numerous celebrations throughout the year including the ever-growing Charter Festival. Few other places in the Philippines can offer this much but stay off the main tourist track.
No visit to Dumaguete can be complete without checking out either of the popular waterfalls just outside the city. Casaroro Falls and Pulangbato Falls are two of the best waterfalls in the area and are pretty easy to reach. At just 30 minutes from town, you can check them both out before heading back. Casaroro Falls is hidden in the hills above Dumaguete. From the parking lot, you have a 20-minute walk down a few hundred steps and then a stunning trail that follows the river up to the 100 ft falls. At the base of the falls is an amazing pool that allows you to swim right up to the cascade, but watch out, the current gets really strong and the water is likely pretty chilly! There is also a restaurant at the start of the trail which has a stunning view over towards the sea!
Pulangbato Falls is about the same distance from Dumaguete but along another road so it's best to have your tuk-tuk driver stay with you at Casaroro Falls and drive you over. This falls is much different and is much easier to access. It is ideal for families or larger groups as the main falls are right beside the car park. There are also numerous plunge pools, seating areas, and a cafe making for more of a "day out" then Casaroro Falls. This has also made it the much busier falls. There are many more waterfalls in the hills surrounding Dumaguete but it would be a big loss if you missed either of these ones in particular.
Running along the hundreds of metres of waterfront, Dumaguete Boulevard is the green lung of the city. It is perfect for evening runs, sunrise walks, or a simple game of chess. The well-designed waterfront park hosts an evening food market, a massive beach sports facility, and has tons of cafes along the opposite side of the road.
Quezon Park in the centre of the city is where much of the action takes place. From Thai Chi to children's play structures, and of course massages, the park is always bustling with people. It is also the main event centre for the yearly Charter Festival. This multiweek festival celebrating its founding is one of the best events of the year. Food, music, dancing, karaoke, and a top-notch parade celebrating every club in the city make it fantastic no matter what days you are there for!
Visit the Dumaguete Instagram Page and check out what events are happening all year round!
Covid Conscious Activities
With Covid-19 being such a huge factor in daily life, it is important to take steps towards a safer holiday like trying to limit your daily contact with others. Keep up to date with the latest local advisories and information.
Dumaguete is a tough city to explore while being mindful of Covid-19 especially if you are trying to keep to a budget. The lack of true attractions within the city forces you onto crowded jeepneys or private tuk-tuks if you want to explore the waterfalls that surround the city. While Tuk Tuks likely cost less than $30 for the day, the hills surrounding the city limit you to two people per tuk-tuk. If you are wanting to stay within the city, a walk down the Dumaguete Promenade is a good way to spend some time.
Where to Stay
The tourist area of Dumaguete is quite small and easily walkable. If you stay within a few minutes walk of Quezon Park or the waterfront, you will have everything at your fingertips. There are a few hotels in the hills closer to the waterfalls for those that are looking for a little bit more of a natural feeling. As they are only about 30 minutes from town they are not a bad option but make sure they have an onsite restaurant as there are likely few restaurants close by.
How to get there and around
As the biggest city in the region, Dumaguete is well equipped for the average traveller. A sizable airport, a well-established port and a highway/ferry system to nearby islands make it easy to access. The ferry port serves most major cities including Manila as well as nearby tourist islands like Siquijor and Bohol. While the airport does not serve international flights, it has many daily flights to Manila and Cebu. It is also connected to Moalboal and Oslob through the Santander Port just north of the city (Read here for the best ways to access Cebu Island from Dumaguete)
Once inside the city, a massive fleet of reasonably priced tricycles and jeepneys can move you around. Everything within the city is pretty close to Quezon Park so you likely won't need to use them if you have a central hotel and are not wanting to get outside the city. If you are using a shared one within the city, it costs 9 PHP per person and you can flag any of them that have people in them.
Where to go next
From Dumaguete, there are so many places you can go next. Siquijor is a must with Cambuguay Falls and its mystical vibe while the bus/ferry route to check out the whale sharks in Oslob or sardine run Moalboal is often overlooked. You also have direct ferries to Bohol allowing you to visit the Chocolate Hills.