Turtle Island in Siaton is one of the best hidden gems we’ve stumbled across in Negros Oriental. We wanted to switch it up from waterfalls and rainforest hikes to a bit of sea and sun on our skin, so we took to Google Maps like we always do to find our next adventure. We settled on Turtle Island in Siaton for 2 reasons – firstly, it was close to where our friend was staying in Dauin, and secondly it had very few articles online so we thought it must be a relatively secret spot. We were not disappointed! Keep reading to find out exactly how to get to Turtle Island Siaton (without a boat!) and what we thought of it.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES
WHERE IS TURTLE ISLAND IN SIATON
Turtle Island in Siaton is at the centre of an ownership dispute between the two towns of Siaton and Zamboanguita. Most Google search results will tell you it’s in Siaton, except for Google Maps which has it in Zamboanguita. There’s another Google Map location called Turtle Island Siaton, but it’s up in the mountains so that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us, which is why we ignored that one and went to Zamboanguita.
The first thing you need to know about Turtle Island Siaton is that it’s not actually an island at all. It’s a little peninsula almost entirely surrounded by water, but it’s still connected to the mainland. The second thing we should be upfront about is that you probably won’t see any turtles. Unlike Apo Island, which is home to hundreds of adult turtles, Turtle Island Siaton was once a seasonal hatching ground but has since been abandoned by the nesting turtles.
HOW TO GET TO TURTLE ISLAND IN SIATON
The best way to get there is via scooter or motorbike, which you can rent for $8 USD a day but if you’re not comfortable driving a scooter, you can rent a car for $40. Alternatively, you can get any public Ceres bus heading South from the Dumaguete terminal and get off at Zamboanguita proper, then take a habal habal (motorcycle taxi) the rest of the way. Whilst it’s possible to get public transport, we definitely recommend using your own vehicle.
Instead of following Google Maps all the way to Turtle Island Zamboanguita, use the coordinates in the map above, as they will take you exactly where you need to go to walk to Turtle Island. If you use the main Google Map marker, it will take you to the other side and you’ll have to take a boat, which takes longer and is kind of pointless since it’s only a 20 minute walk from here.
Park your car or motorbike on the side of the road and start walking along the path, down towards the ocean. If you’re not sure where to go, just ask some locals. They’re always happy to help! As you walk down the field, take the path leading left towards the giant tree and keep going until you reach a fork in the road. At the fork, turn right and keep following that path.
You’ll walk past a few houses, even a makeshift basketball court and at one point you’ll have to hop over someone’s fence, but don’t worry! Trespassing isn’t really a thing in province life. Just tell the owner you’re only passing through to get to Turtle Island and you’ll be greeted with a wave and maybe even an invitation to eat. There’s nothing like good old Filipino hospitality.
We walked through a canopy of trees a little further until we reached a bigger, Besser block house. This is where the path finally veered off right towards the beach. While you’re walking under the trees, be careful of giant thorns. These trees look harmless, but every inch of them is covered in thorns. A huge thorn went straight up Carson’s flip flops and into his heel.
After turning right at the Besser block house, you’ll finally make it to the beach. But! It’s not the right beach… So you can either keep walking right, along the beach, or head back under the trees and walk in the shade towards the tip of the peninsula. One of our favourite things about the entire trip was the colourful village we passed along the beach. The locals here are incredibly friendly, and they just have the best life living right on the ocean. Also, dogs. Lots and lots of dogs.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT TURTLE ISLAND SIATON
Most places like this in the Philippines are usually so touristy, so to find somewhere with a sandbar and sparkling, turquoise water that isn’t already developed is a freakin’ miracle. As you can see from the drone shots, we went during low tide, so only one side of the sand bar was swimmable. Those dark patches in the water are usually the perfect home for sea urchins, so I’d stick to the blue if I were you.
It drops off pretty quickly on the deep side, which is why it’s so blue. But it’s perfect for swimming even during low tide, as you’re in waist deep water after walking out just a few metres. If you’ve got kids, they can still splash about in the shallow area.
We spent a while taking photos on our private little sand bar, and couldn’t believe we had the place all to ourselves. If there’s one thing you should know about the Philippines, it’s that Filipinos love white sand, so to be the only people there was a bit of a pinch me moment. We’re not gonna lie and say it was powdery soft sand, most beaches in the Philippines aren’t. But it was definitely finer than most crushed coral and shell “sand” you’ll find elsewhere.
If you’re worried about heat stroke or sunburn, the entire beach has shaded spots to lay out your towel or tie up a hammock between trees. You don’t get this much at most sandbars, so it was a welcome change. Usually we end up fried after visiting sandbars.
Before leaving, wanted to see what the very tip was like, so we walked through the tree covering all the way to the point. These are the same trees as we encountered on the walk from the car, so they’re also covered in thousands of thorns. Some at eye level, so watch yourself.
At the absolute very end of Turtle Island Siaton, there’s been some pretty hectic erosion which has made for some cool overhanging rocks. Not so much sand here (none, actually) but a shady spot to sit and chill. There were a couple of locals up on the rocks by the trees and a fishing boat not too far out.
Turtle Beach in Siaton would have to be one of our favourite beaches in Negros Oriental. We honestly can’t believe how low key it is. If there’s one thing we highly recommend to anyone planning a visit here, it’s to bring a drone. The only way to see it in all its glory is from above. If you’re looking for a good drone for travellers, we cant recommend the Mavic 2 Pro enough!
It’s not over yet! Keep reading to find out the best places to stay around Turtle Island Siaton for every budget as well as a bunch more guides around Negros Oriental.
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WHERE TO STAY NEAR TURTLE ISLAND SIATON
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.