Waterfalls are a deeply personal thing. What makes a good waterfall? Is it height, width, swimming access, the colour of the water? These are all subject to opinion, but for us Palaypay Falls is arguably one of our favourite waterfalls in Negros Oriental, and we’ve been to a fair few. It’s not the tallest or the grandest waterfall, but something about it is just special.
The water is crystal clear and a striking dark blue colour, contrasted against bright orange rocks, there are three levels plus a bonus waterfall right next to it. You can swim in each pool, it’s deep enough to jump from rocks and trees and there are picnic tables that aren’t so intrusive they take away from the natural beauty. Palaypay Falls is honestly kind of perfect… for us anyway!
Hold that thought. We have some unfortunate news after we revisited Palaypay Falls on a weekend to show our friend this magical waterfall. Palaypay Falls is one of the most crowded waterfalls we have ever been to. From a near empty waterfall during our first visit to something that closely resembled an amusement park the second time around, disappointed would be an understatement. Let this be a warning to you – never go to Palaypay Falls on a weekend.
GETTING TO PALAYPAY FALLS
Palaypay Falls is in the town of Pamplona, only about an hour and a half outside of Dumaguete City, so it’s the perfect spot for a day trip away from the chaos of downtown. Just follow the Google map location all the way to the end of the road, where you can park and hike the rest of the way. The best way to get there is via scooter, which you can rent for $8 USD a day. If you don’t want to drive a scooter, you can rent a car for $40 a day or take a bus to Tanjay City and ride a tricycle or motorbike taxi (habal habal) to Pamplona, but you’ll have to agree on a special ride to the Palaypay Falls since it’s not on any public transport route.
One of the reasons Palaypay Falls is so high up on our list is because of how easy the hike is, yet still rugged and natural. It’ll only take you around 15 to 20 minutes to get from where you parked to the falls, and if you’re lucky an adorable black dog and her pup will meet you along the way and lead you to the falls. We named her Girly and she is an angel, she’ll show you shortcuts and watch over your things while you swim. If you’re lucky enough to meet her, please be nice and give her pats.
There’s been a little bit of development to make the place more visitor friendly, with a bridge crossing the stream and 3 picnic tables. They’ve also dammed it off with natural rocks to make a deeper swimming hole at the base of the falls, but aside from that, there’s no other manmade structures, and they don’t impact the falls whatsoever.
The waterfall itself is a series of 3 cascading falls and a bonus fall to the left. You can swim in every tier, but the middle one is the biggest and deepest, and if you’re feeling up to it you can scale the rocks and trees on the side and jump into the pool. It’s deep enough that you don’t have to worry about touching the bottom, which Carson can attest to.
The dark blue colour of the water and the orangey red hue of the rocks was one of the most striking things about Palaypay Falls. Most people who visit Dumaguete go to Pulangbato Falls to see the vibrant red rock, but Palaypay has a really similar colour and hasn’t lost its natural charm. It’s also a lot more adventurous than Pulangbato, which is why it ranks so highly in our books.
If you’ve got a spare day while you’re in Dumaguete, we can’t recommend Palaypay Falls enough. But if you’re pressed for time, then you should at least check out Casaroro Falls or Tottyn Falls since they’re so close to the city.
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WHERE TO STAY NEAR PALAYPAY FALLS
Most people who visit Negros Oriental are told to stay in Dumaguete, but what they really mean by that is stay around Dumaguete. True, Dumaguete City has plenty of tourist inns and budget hotels, but it’s the surrounding towns of Dauin and Zamboanguita that offer the best spots to stay. There’s not a whole lot to do in the city itself, so when you stay in the nearby municipalities there’s plenty of nature to explore whilst still being nice and close to Dumaguete City. Check out our top picks for accommodation near Dumaguete City.
LUXURY: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dauin
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin is the resort to stay at if you’ve got a big budget and fancy the finer things in life. Atmosphere has hosted its fair share of local celebrities and deep pocketed divers looking for the best beachfront luxury in Dauin.
MIDSCALE: Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort, Dauin
If you want to stay by the ocean without breaking the bank, Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort in Dauin is a comfortable midscale accommodation option perfect for diving enthusiasts. If you’ve never dived before, you can get your certification at Mike’s, and divers of all skill sets can enjoy the abundance of macro diving opportunities in and around Dauin.
BUDGET: Bongo Bongo Divers, Dauin
Bongo Bongo Divers is one of the most popular hostels in Dauin for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation in a convenient location. The rooms are simple, without any glitz and glam, but the vibe is fun and welcoming. They have a variety of room styles to choose from, ranging from couples rooms to AC or fan only dorms.
AIRBNB: Villa Amani, Zamboanguita
Villa Amani in Zamboanguita is the perfect holiday home for small families or groups of friends looking for privacy that a traditional resort or hotel can’t offer. The main house sleeps 4 with additional space for 2 in the guest house, or you can book the guest house separately if it’s just the 2 of you and you’re on a budget. The property has a swimming pool, an unbeatable view of Apo Island and kayaks to use whenever you want.