• This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nature and Off the Beaten Track

If you want to disconnect to connect with nature, the Philippines offer a wealth of hidden trails and unexplored gems waiting to be discovered.

Exploring Dumaguete: Tour to Twin Lakes and Apo Island

Exploring Dumaguete: Tour to Twin Lakes and Apo Island

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
In the mountains, northwest of Dumaguete, there are two picturesque crater lakes surrounded by dense rainforest - Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao. One of the most memorable day trips we’ve had, the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Tour will treat you to astonishing views of the mountains, as well as the serenity and tranquility of the surroundings. 

One of the hubs for island hopping in the Visayas, exploring Dumaguete ,which in itself is a town to behold, is a must. The provincial capital of Negros Oriental, here there are boat connections to popular destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor, among others. There is also a small airport (Sibulan Airport) from where several airlines fly non-stop to Manila. Thus, Dumaguete is an excellent starting point for tours with its nearby beautiful destinations, and an extensive stroll through the city center is recommended.
stunning Lake Balinsasayao in Negros Oriental Philippines

Exploring Dumaguete

With its interior of rugged mountains and its coastline full of virgin beaches and coral gardens, the island of Negros will never fail to amaze its visitors. IIts south coast, of course,  will easily steal the spotlight with its striking beaches, particularly the Sugar Beach Resort. The center and the energy of Negros, however, is in Dumaguete.

Dumaguete, a town with remarkably friendly locals is also known as the university city. In the north, the city of Bacolod stands out for its culinary delights, and nearby areas such as Silay highlights historical sites worthy of a visit.

In the center of Dumaguete, interesting points are easily reached on foot. For example, the old bell tower built of coral stone and the adjacent market with the many colorful fruit and vegetable stands.

In the surrounding streets, you will find department stores, pharmacies, and specialty stores. Here you can take the opportunity to stock up on your essentials before going to smaller islands or remote places for a few days.

Dumaguete also features a lovely boardwalk, the Rizal Boulevard with many restaurants. Late afternoon walks will certainly be a worthwhile activity here. In the area between the boardwalk and the port, some food stalls are set up. 

Ideal Travel Duration

Three days

Getting there

Both Bacolod and Dumaguete have daily flights from Manila and Cebu, although due to their extra-strategic location, they can be reached by ferry from most of the surrounding islands (Bohol, Siquijor, or Mindanao).

What to do in Dumaguete?

Dumaguete isn't among the top destinations for many travelers in the country for no reason. The town’s surroundings form a chic and urban society that differs from other provincial cities.

In addition, Dumaguete provide an array of exceptional food stalls and restaurants, as well as upscale accommodations, making it a base for many travelers who want to explore Negros and enjoy scuba diving. 

Dauin is a diver's paradise as the Masaplod North Marine Reserve offers excellent diving experience, and there are also stunning resorts that you can find on the Dauin coast.

In Bais and its surroundings, along the Tañon Strait, you can see dolphins and whales. Bais features one of the most remarkable sandy tongues in the Philippines, Manjuyod. In Malatapay, south of Dauin, there is a nice local market that takes place every Wednesday and which is a good opportunity to interact with the locals. 

Furthermore, Sugar Beach is among the well-kept secrets in Negros. Sugar Beach highlights a stretch of beach with stunning sunset views, and is an ideal place for those looking for a quiet and unassuming relaxing environment.
 Kayak at Lake Basinsasayao Nature Park in Dumaguete

Twin Lakes Tour

Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao are perched in the center of a national park, specifically in the mountains of the volcanic island mountain range Cuernos de Negros, which allows you to relax and enjoy  the splendid flora and fauna of the surroundings. You can go hiking, enjoy picnics with the family, sail by boat, or even do kayaking.

Already the arrival is an experience and you’ll be welcomed with scenic views of the mountains on the left and the sea on the right. The neighboring island of Cebu is also visible from here.

Fantastic view

As you go higher up into the mountains, the cool breeze is such a delight. To the left and right of the path, there are great views of the sea and the surrounding landscape marked by towering palm trees and verdant green mountain slopes.

At the entrance of the park, the visitors are asked to register and pay an entrance fee. Next to the control station, there is a quaint little lake with some trees.

As you drive up the mountain, you will see a restaurant with a panoramic terrace. From this point on, you can only continue up on foot.

First, you will enjoy the view of Lake Balinsasayao. Lake Danao, just like its smaller twin, is roughly 300 meters above sea level. The two crater lakes are each surrounded by dense rainforests where many animals live, including monkeys, and especially birds (among others hornbills, herons, and eagles) can be easily observed here.

Boat trip on Lake Balinsasayao

For the boat trip, you’ll need to go down the stairs to Lake Balinsasayao, where you will take a small boat to cross to the other side. 

On the opposite shore is a viewing platform. This platform is located right between the two lakes. Around the Twin Lakes, there are some hiking trails and one of which will lead you to a small waterfall.

Tip: On your Twin Lakes tour, you should wear sturdy shoes, because on the moss-covered trails it is quite slippery in some places.
view from above stunning Apo Island best diving site in the Philippines

Apo Island Marine Sanctuary

Another highlight for a trip to Dumaguete is the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary. This tiny volcanic island of just 12 hectares sits off the coast of Dumaguete and is renowned for offering the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the entire Philippines.

Here you will find incredible snorkeling excursions, astonishing coral sand beaches, colorful reefs with protected corals, and a very pleasant island environment.

In Apo Island, there is a marine reserve of turtles so you can easily see and observe the tranquility of this protected species. Apo's turtles enjoy a quiet and privileged environment such as this small marine sanctuary.

It does not matter if it is diving or snorkeling, the visit to Apo Island is spectacular as it offers the traveler the opportunity to swim with sea turtles in freedom.
From the port of Malatapay to the south of Dumaguete, boats depart daily to the island to return in the afternoon for what is a day trip.

The island has small accommodations for those who want to get away from reality for a few days and rest in an environment as paradisiacal as the island of Apo. 

For travelers who decide to spend more time in Apo, the options are as follows:
  • Diving: If diving is your thing, Apo is the ideal place to discover a spectacular seabed.
  • Relax and laze on the beach: Apart from diving and snorkeling, it is recommended to enjoy the beach and island environment that Apo has.
  • Trekking to the lighthouse: If you want to walk and enjoy majestic views of the island and the Philippine Sea, you can climb to the top of the Apo lighthouse (approximately 30 minutes walk and consist of more than 300 steps).