It’s official, we may have just found our favourite spot in Negros Oriental! After 9 months of exploring mostly waterfalls, this blue hole in the ground might actually take the cake. At least it does for Zowie, anyway. The sulfur lagoon in Amlan is unlike anywhere else we’ve been so far, not just in Negros Oriental, but the world.
Everything about this place was surprising, from the hidden mining tunnel on the drive there, to the hike, and of course the lagoon itself. Read on to find out why this was such an epic adventure and how you can visit the sulfur lagoon in Amlan yourself.
HOW TO GET TO THE SULFUR LAGOON IN AMLAN
This is where we have to burst your bubble a little bit. The sulfur lagoon in Amlan isn’t currently open to the general public. We were able to get special permission from the Amlan local government to visit for tourism promotion purposes. Unfortunately, they had to close the sulfur lagoon in Amlan after too many visitors left their trash behind and proper facilities hadn’t yet been built for tourists. Word on the street is they’re preparing to open it again soon, and since the dirt road is being concreted all the way to the top, there’s probably a lot of truth in the rumour.
If you think you qualify for special access (maybe you’re a blogger, vlogger, etc.), you’ll need to contact the Amlan Tourism Office. You can also contact our friend Marlon on 09672163409 and he’ll organise your trip with the local government. He’ll also accompany you on the day! It’s up to you how much you decide to pay Marlon, but keep in mind he’ll need to take time off work to guide you.
OLD MINING TUNNEL ON THE WAY
Like we said, the adventure started well before we arrived at the lagoon. Just before we reached the end of the drive, we stopped by an old mining tunnel. As you can see by the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not terribly long. It runs underneath the road for about a 5 minute walk and is a cool little detour on your way to the sulfur lagoon. Unfortunately, our GPS was way off and so our dropped pin actually leads to a spot of water somewhere between Negros and Cebu, but if you go with Marlon he’ll take you to the tunnel.
HIKING TO THE SULFUR LAGOON IN AMLAN
After the mining tunnel, it was only another 5 minutes or so to the Brgy. San Miguel Satellite Market, which is where we parked our cars and started our hike. The whole drive was pretty easy, and by the time someone else reads this the concrete road will most likely be finished.
Time for surprise number two. We knew we needed a guide to accompany us, but what we didn’t know was that our guides would be a group of 7 soldiers tasked with keeping an eye on the national forest land that the lagoon sits on. Back in the day, this area used to be a hotspot for rebels, but there hasn’t been any trouble in some 20 years. Now, these soldiers are more like park rangers… with automatic weapons. It’s more fun in the Philippines, right?
One of the good things about the sulfur lagoon in Amlan is the hike. It’s only around 30 minutes, but it’s rugged and raw. Every way we looked there was beautiful rainforest foliage, unique trees and the occasional water buffalo. You’ll also want to be mindful of giant ants that hurt like hell if they bite you. Zowie got bit on her toe and Carson became a second casualty coming to her aid.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT THE SULFUR LAGOON AMLAN
Our first impression of the lagoon was that of pure awe. Few places live up to expectations, let alone exceed them, and the sulfur lagoon in Amlan is one of those places. We’d seen a few photos before and thought it was only that blue because someone cranked the saturation up on their edit, but we were happily proven wrong!
We went after heavy rainfall on a somewhat overcast day and it was still super blue, but once the sun peaked out behind the clouds it was nothing short of incredible. Our impression went from “wow it’s so pretty” to “how is this real?!” in an instant. For maximum viewing pleasure, we recommend visiting on a bright and sunny day.
You might be wondering why the lagoon is here, why it’s so blue and if it’s really safe to swim in. It’s an old mine site that is filled by a natural sulfur spring, which gives it the bright blue colour. It’s perfectly safe to swim in, but we wouldn’t recommend drinking it. As with all places sulfur based, the water does taste like coins but thankfully it doesn’t have the rancid smell of rotting eggs we’ve experienced before.
The water is so clear it looks incredibly shallow, but that’s just an illusion! It’s actually deep enough to jump from the cliff above, but please check the water depth first. Better to be safe than sorry!
Our trip to the sulfur lagoon in Amlan was a full package adventure! We went back a second time a few weeks later (Carson’s hard drive crashed so we had to reshoot all the photos) and it was just as impressive as the first time.
We really hope this spot can open up to the general public soon, as it’s one of the most incredible destinations we’ve been to so far in Negros Oriental. Once it does open up, we’d hate for it to be treated how it was before, so please take your trash with you and respect this gift of nature.
PIN IT FOR LATER
WHERE TO STAY NEAR SULFUR LAGOON AMLAN
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. Read our full review of Atmosphere Resorts & Spa here.
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. Read our full review of Villa Amani here.