How to Spend a Day/Weekend in Dumaguete City
Dumaguete City is the cultural and political heart of Negros Oriental, the southern half of Negros Island. Locals call it “The City of Gentle People”. Dumaguete boasts historic buildings, a beautiful coastline, stunning waterfalls, and many scenic hiking trails.
When you have a limited time to spend in Dumaguete, you must choose from a wide range of fantastic attractions, because you cannot possibly visit them all. Some key sightseeing locations are in the city or nearby. Others require a day trip by themselves but are well worth the journey. Here are just some of the highlights.
Around the City
If you want to stay near the city and see as much as possible, these are the key sites to visit.
Stroll along the Rizal Boulevard
Dumaguete is a coastal city, and Rizal Boulevard is the best place in the city to admire the ocean views. To the west, you have tempura stands, grassy knolls, and shady trees. To the east, the open sea. Come at night to enjoy a romantic stroll along the illuminated boulevard.
Scuba dive off the Dauin coastline
If you have ever wanted to try scuba diving, this is a great place to learn. Dumaguete is an excellent base for scuba diving adventures along the Dauin coastline. Many divers come here for the opportunity to swim alongside whale sharks. Other colorful critters under the waves include blue-ring octopus, bobtail squid, cuttlefish, dragonets, hairy squat lobster, harlequin shrimp, mandarin fish, mantis shrimp, nudibranchs, juvenile batfish, fish, pipefish, ribbon eels, seahorses, snake eels, and wunderpus octopus.
Eat local foods
If you want to sample authentic local cuisine, head over to Aquino Freedom Park. This beautiful city park is a great place to laze on the grass and watch frogs frolicking in the pond. However, the big draw of this park is the Filipino food stalls that line the street. Try local specialties, such as adobo chicken, local longaniza, lumpia, and tapa cured beef.
Admire Belfry Tower
The most famous local landmark is Belfry Tower, which is featured on the city’s official seal. This 19th-century watchtower once protected the city from pirates. Now it hosts a statue of the Virgin Mary and so protects the city in a more spiritual way. The tower is most beautiful when lit up at night.
Hike to the Japanese Shrine
There are many fantastic hiking trails through the mountains near Dumaguete that offer wonderful scenic views. One of the most popular is 13km west of the city and leads to the Filipino-Japanese Amity Memorial Shrine in Valencia. The 2½-hour hiking trail passes through villages and across footbridges until you arrive at the monument 2,175 feet above sea level.
In the same area as the shrine are two picturesque waterfalls. Casaroro Falls is one of the most photographed sights around Dumaguete. To get there, you must hike up a hill, cross a hanging bridge, and descend 355 steps. The waterfall plunges 100 feet into a cool plunge pool where visitors often swim.
Nearby Pulangbato Falls features unique red rock walls and a powerful cascade that can be deafening. The calm pool beneath is a popular swimming hole. Due to the mountainous terrain, it’s a 16 km journey around from one waterfall to the other though both are around 14 km west of Dumaguete.
Daytrips from Dumaguete
If you want to see more of Negros Island, there are many wonderful sites within driving distance of Dumaguete.
Visit a local farmer’s market
Malatapay Market is found just 24 km southwest of Dumaguete. It is a fantastic place to see real Filipino people buying and selling local produce. You’ll find beverages, clothes, food, furniture, livestock, and local crafts. If you’re looking for an authentic souvenir, or simply to learn about the local culture, this is the place to go. Note that the market was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, so check current opening hours before paying a visit.
Regular boat trips sail into the Tanon Straight from Bias, only 45 km north of Dumaguete. This is a superb opportunity to observe these gregarious marine creatures in action. The dolphins swim, splash, and jump around tour boats. Get up early for your trip because the best time to see the dolphins in action is just after sunrise. The best conditions for dolphin watching are found between March and October.
Go spelunking (potholing/caving)
Just 90 km north of Dumaguete, you can find 3 fantastic caves to explore. Crystal Cave, Pandalihan Cave, and Panligawan Cave boast open grottos illuminated by beams of sunlight as well as wonderful stalactite formations. The three caves are close to one another, so you can visit them all in a day. The labyrinth of underground tunnels is challenging to navigate, so you’ll need a sweater to stave off the cold and sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
Admire Mount Kanlaon
If you have never seen an active stratovolcano, head to Mount Kanlaon Natural Park 180 km north of Dumaguete. Mount Kanlaon stands 8,087 feet high and dominates its surroundings. The peak of this picturesque volcano is the highest point on Negros Island. Since 2001, Mount Kanlaon has seen intense volcanic activity with multiple eruptions on 9 separate occasions. If you visit the park, there’s a good chance you might get to see a volcano in action. Due to the dangers inherent in climbing the mountain, a hiking permit is required if you want to scale its slopes.