Were you aware that Dumaguete City — dubbed as “City of Gentle People” and the University Town — was named one of the best places to retire in the world by Forbes Magazine.
The city also has an ample number of attainable public spaces for a lot of activities, many of which are handicap-friendly. One of the enthralling reasons why tourists, foreigners and expats have Dumaguete as their top choice over other Philippine cities, is due to its welcoming and friendly locals.
Besides its individuals around the city, foreigners says that the safety, cost of living, and the mixture of quality leisure and entertainment venues are what help the city take the top spot for the best retirement location in the country.
Also being known as the University Town, Dumaguete is home to numerous institutions of higher education that give life to the city. These institutions have produced world-class alumni who continue to excel in various fields and endeavors not only in the country but the world over.
Dumaguete has more than that. If you’re considering it for your retirement or perhaps for a visit, here are some of the top things to do in Dumaguete, as well as day trips from the city.
10 Fun things to do in Dumaguete
Dumaguete is a hotspot for expats, and for good reason. As far as Philippines cities goes, there is more than the average number of things to do in Dumaguete and to keep you busy, as well as countless nearby day-trips you can do. Here are our top things not to miss during your visit!
1. Take a trip to Apo Island
Once you are in the heart of Dumaguete City, you shouldn’t miss taking a trip to Apo Island, where you’ll surely enjoy the marine life and underwater views. The island itself has numerous species to mesmerize you while you’re diving or snorkeling. It is known globally for its alluring coral gardens and a different kinds of schools of fish.
Aside from that, turtles are everywhere around Apo Island, so it is good fun even if you are just snorkeling. You are practically guaranteed to get a close-up encounter with numerous green turtles!
To get to Apo island is about an hour boat ride from Dumaguete, and nearly all resorts will offer day trips.
2. Spend the weekend at a secluded beach spa
Sometimes a person just wants to get pampered in a relaxing environment, away from the noise and crowds and traffic. What better way to do just that than to find a secluded getaway on the coast, with spa treatment and massages and a luxurious atmosphere.
The best one we have found in the area, is located just down the coast in Dauin, and is aptly named Atmosphere Resorts & Spa. They are a super luxurious resort that won’t break the budget. Even their dive center is luxury oriented. They carry your tanks for you, provide drinks on the boat, and make sure all you worry about is counting all the turtles you find on your dives.
3. Witness the Buglasan Festival
This event is one of the most anticipated festivals in Negros Oriental. Buglasan Festival is celebrated in the city of Dumaguete in the middle of October. There’s a lot of fun things do during this celebration. The festivities is not only uniting people of Negros Oriental but also sharing and showing the different culture and traditions within the region.
The festival is composes of several competitions including show down competition, street dance to fireworks display; events such as food festival, trade fairs and nightly cultural shows that people will surely enjoy during this Buglasan Festival.
So if you are here in October, make sure you check out this week-long festival.
4. Try Balut at the Boulevard night market
The famous Rizal Boulevard at night transforms into a mini foodie haven, with tons of different street vendors lining the shore and street. Although I wouldn’t call this food ultra spectacular, aat least in regards to Balut, it is something you should try at least once in the Philippines.
So what is balut? Balut is a Filipino delicacy, that most people hate. While at the boulevard we couldn’t convince any locals to actually try it for a photo, all saying it is just for tourists! What balut is, is a partially developed duck or chicken egg, that is cracked open and eaten whole, feathers, beak and all.
So if you’re brave, come give it a try. Otherwise, there are a few other vendors selling a plethora of other local dishes that you are guaranteed to enjoy more. Either way, its a fun environment.
5. Discover some of the world’s most unique marine species
Dumaguete, and the nearby Dauin, have been featured many times on this site because of it’s amazing SCUBA diving. The coast line of Negros, from Dumaguete down past Dauin, is home to amazing species that you can not find in many countries, such as blue ring octopus, wunderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish and much much more.
Besides Apo Island, which is a further boat ride from Dumaguete, the dive sites here are mostly considered muck dives, which means black sands and piles of rubble. Where they might not be the most beautiful reefs in the area, the sites here do have the most rare species on offer. So if you are a diver or underwater photographer, you do NOT want to miss diving in Dumaguete.
ALSO READ | Guide to SCUBA Diving in Dauin
6. Head to the Manjuyod Sandbar
If you are fascinated with white sandbars, then you’re in a right place while exploring around Dumaguete City. The Manjuyod sandbar is often called “The Maldives of the Philippines”. This internet-famous, but still an unusual destination, and one of the most popular things to do in Dumaguete.
This extremely stunning sandbar is situated less than 2 hours north of Dumaguete City, and has quickly become one of a best places to visit around Negros Oriental. A relaxing paradise that seems a hundred miles away from everywhere, it’s like a dream world you can share with your friends and loved ones.
If you want to add even more to this day trip, leave early and ask the boat crew to cruise out into the Tanon Strait to find the dolphins!
7. Wandering at Casaroro Falls
If you are into hiking, than one of the more adventurous things to do around Dumaguete, is a visit to the falls. Casaroro Falls will definitely be worth the effort to see the breath-taking scenery along the way. Get your walking legs ready because you’ll take over 300 steps down (and back up!). This is one of the nicest water falls around the area.
It is a tall waterfall which seems to have a really strong plunge, and is surrounded by lush green forest. It blows cool breezes, and is almost untouched by businesses, and hopefully locals can keep it that way.
Unfortunately, swimming around the falls is strictly prohibited because of several incidents of tourist drowning when the waterfalls’ pressure pushed them deep down the falls’ basin, but it is still nice to see.
8. Marvel at the Twin Lakes
If you’re particularly captivated by nature, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park is surely the place you’ll want to visit. This is one of the major tourist attractions in the province of Negros Oriental, and is a protected Natural Park, home to an expansive ecosystem and great biodiversity.
The Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao is also the habitat of many birds and animals, some of which are also rare. Activities include swimming, fishing, boating, trekking and kayaking. The area is surrounded by lush tropical greens and vegetation.
9. Silliman University Anthropology Museum
The building that houses the rare and priceless collections of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts is the oldest standing American structure in the Philippines. The Silliman Hall is located at the southeastern part of Silliman University, and faces the Rizal Boulevard, and into the sea. It is of Victorian or Stick type design, and was constructed 2 years after the birth of Silliman University.
10. Get your Sugar Rush at Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries
Sans Rival is a pasalubong, or food souvenir place that offers great tasting pastries and cakes. It became famous for both its sans rival and silvannas. If you are a chocolate lover, you will enjoy this! It brings the same goodness as the regular silvannas, but may be slightly better or worse depending on your preference.
There are plenty of other things to do in Dumaguete, both in the city and as day trips, but this list should get you started. As we mentioned before, Dumaguete is also conveniently located to add it to any Visayan itinerary, especially locations like Moalboal and Siquijor!