Tambobo Bay was an unexpected find for us, having stumbled upon it as we drove aimlessly around the town of Siaton just to get out of our hotel room for a few hours. Lockdown restrictions in Dumaguete had just eased so we decided to drive along the coast until we found something cool. That “something cool” turned out to be Tambobo Bay, Negros Oriental’s yacht parking lot lined with mangroves and native style restaurants.
We had pulled over atop a cliff and ended up looking down at Tambobo Bay on the other side. We didn’t know what it was, having done absolutely zero research before our drive. We saw the yachts and the bamboo boardwalk and thought “there must be something worth looking at down there”. We were right! But we were woefully unprepared with no camera gear, so we ended up going back a second time a few months later to snap some decent photos.
WHERE IS TAMBOBO BAY
Tambobo Bay is in the town of Siaton, about an hours drive from Dumaguete City. The exact spot we went to was called AB Cafe, which is the most popular restaurant in Tambobo Bay. We recommend renting your own scooter or car to make life easier for yourself while you’re in Negros Oriental. You can rent a scooter or motorbike in Dumaguete for $8 USD a day, or if you’re not comfortable driving a scooter, you can rent a car for $40.
WHAT TO BRING TO TAMBOBO BAY
Prepare for your trip to Tambobo Bay with our must have travel essentials.
Waterproof backpack & phone case: Earth Pak 35L or 55L Heavy Duty Backpack, IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included (click for price)
Quick dry microfiber travel towel: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Travel Towel (click for price)
Action camera: GoPro HERO9 Black (click for price)
GoPro dome: TELESIN Dome Port Lens for GoPro Hero 9 (click for price)
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro (click for price)
Snorkel, mask & fins: Cressi Adjustable Mask,Fin & Snorkel Set with Carry Bag (click for price)
WHAT TO EXPECT AT TAMBOBO BAY
This mangrove boardwalk is what we saw from the cliff on the other side of the bay. We had no idea it was actually a restaurant and a dock for the people in the yachts to come onto land. Tambobo Bay is where the wealthier folks and foreigners keep their boats, many people were even living aboard during the pandemic, unable to set sail elsewhere.
If you’re wondering if you can swim, the short answer is no. With all the boats permanently anchored in Tambobo Bay, it’s not the most sanitary place for a dip. However, we do recommend bringing your swimming gear, because just outside the bay are some really beautiful beaches and snorkelling spots, like Kookoo’s Nest.
The entrance to AB Cafe is rather nondescript, and the first time we visited we had to pull over and ask people for directions to “the boardwalk” not knowing it was actually a restaurant. There’s a narrow pathway through some houses that leads to the mangroves and out to AB Cafe. There is a ₱25/USD $0.50 entrance fee which is paid at the cafe.
AB Cafe is built right on the waters edge of Tambobo Bay, with a lot of bamboo and wooden furniture. The menu is simple but tasty and the serving sizes are quite good for the Philippines. To make the absolute most of it, you’ll want to visit on a Friday when they have a buffet for ₱200/$4. We never quite timed it right, and we’re still kicking ourselves for it to this day.
VISIT NEARBY KOOKOO’S NEST
Don’t call it a day just yet! Right around the corner is the famous Kookoo’s Nest. Speak to anyone in Dumaguete and they’ll ask “have you been to Kookoo’s Nest yet?” If you’re as clueless as we were and you have no idea who or what a Kookoo’s Nest is, it’s a tiny resort/restaurant that accepts day visitors to swim and explore their beautiful beach.
PIN IT FOR LATER
WHERE TO STAY NEAR DUMAGUETE
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.
MORE NEGROS ORIENTAL GUIDES:
Pulangbato Falls, Valencia
Upper Pulangbato Falls, Valencia
Secret Hot Spring & Waterfall, Dauin
Baslay Hot Spring, Dauin
Lake Balinsasayao & Danao Twin Lakes, Sibulan
Casaroro Falls, Valencia
Swimming with Apo Island Turtles, Dauin
Original Casaroro Falls, Valencia
Tottyn Falls, Valencia
Dumaguete Belfry Tower