Trip and Wellness

11 Best Things to Do in Dumaguete, Philippines

11 Best Things to Do in Dumaguete, Philippines

Dumaguete, known as “The City of Gentle People,” serves as the capital city of Negros Oriental province. Boasting four universities and several colleges, Dumaguete is an educated city with approximately 30,000 students among its 113,000 residents. This demographic paints a picture of Dumaguete as a safe and intellectually stimulating city, offering a wealth of entertainment and culinary options to cater to its diverse population hailing from various parts of the country and the region.

In addition to its forward-looking infrastructure, Dumaguete is graced with a stunning coastline, active volcanoes, tranquil waterfalls, captivating wildlife, and an abundance of hiking trails. Your visit here is likely to be an active and engaging one, as Dumaguete’s natural wonders beckon you to come out and explore.

The local residents are known for their exceptional friendliness, helpfulness, and politeness, making Dumaguete a welcoming destination for visitors from around the world to discover the full spectrum of what this city has to offer.

1. Talabong Mangrove Park & Bird Sanctuary

Talabong Mangrove Park & Bird Sanctuary
Source: cityofdumaguete

This 400-hectare region, protected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), offers an enjoyable day trip from Dumaguete.

For nature enthusiasts, it is a dream come true. Anticipate a vast natural area where you can explore with binoculars to enjoy fantastic bird watching, discover different species of mangroves, and find serenity in the echoing sounds of wildlife all around.

The highlight of this sanctuary visit is the mangroves! It’s a place where locals, fully clothed, dive in to catch fish for dinner, and you can dip your toes in the water to watch the fish swim by. Afterward, take a walk on a long pier that extends into the water, leaving you with the sensation of floating in the middle of the sea.

2. Mount Talinis

Mount Talinis
Source: wikiwand

Mount Talinis, known as “Cuernos de Negros” or “The Horn of Negros,” rises to 1,903 meters in height, making it the second-tallest mountain in the region, just behind Mt. Kanlaon. While Mt. Talinis is labeled as a “potentially” active volcano, it doesn’t exhibit as much activity as its neighbor, but it does attract numerous hikers.

This mountain is a natural wonder, featuring several volcanic lakes that enhance its already breathtaking hikes. Explore the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, where you’ll encounter three lakes: Lake Kabalin-an and the twin lakes, Balinsasayao and Danao. Alternatively, embark on hikes along easy nature trails suitable for hikers of all abilities.

3. Belfry Tower

Belfry Tower
Source: shutterstock

To delve into the history of Dumaguete and its people, a visit to the Belfry Tower is essential. This ancient watchtower played a significant role in safeguarding the city and shielding it from pirates who once raided the port to plunder goods, riches, and even enslaved individuals. Constructed in the 1800s, the watchtower became a vital part of Dumaguete’s defense system.

Visiting this majestic brick tower allows you to envision its historical significance. Ascend the weathered stairs to greet a modern statue of the Virgin Mary, or visit during sunset when the tower illuminates, creating a soothing ambiance in the evening.

4. Tanon Strait

Tanon Strait
Source: shutterstock

Dolphins are most active in the morning, and it will take you about an hour to reach their habitat from Dumaguete. So, if you wish to witness them in their lively morning routines, you’ll need to be prepared to rise at the crack of dawn and journey to the Tanon Strait.

You’ll be accommodated on a catamaran boat alongside other eager tourists, all keen to observe these amazing creatures as they swim, splash, and leap gracefully out of the water. Dolphins are known to hunt for fish in coordinated groups, displaying remarkable tactics and strategy in their relentless pursuit of a meal. It’s a truly incredible sight to behold.

5. Mt. Kanlaon

Mt. Kanlaon
Source: wikiwand

Have you ever witnessed an active volcano in person? Now is your opportunity! This prominent feature of Mount Kanlaon Natural Park is impossible to overlook, soaring to an elevation of 2,430 meters. Adventurers from far and wide converge on Mt. Kanlaon for a thrilling 3-day hike replete with encounters with wildlife, stunning vistas, and rejuvenating hot springs.

Mount Kanlaon is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and has experienced 28 eruptions, with 9 of them occurring since 2001, and the most recent eruption in 2016. While most of these eruptions involved steam expulsions and earthquakes, some have been more substantial.

If you’re an intrepid explorer, this mountain might be the perfect climbing challenge for you. Make your way to the DENR office in Bacolod to apply for a hiking permit in advance.

6. Lake Balanan

Lake Balanan
Source: Flickr

This freshwater lake, nestled deep within the forest and encircled by lush jungle and rolling mountaintops, is a must-see attraction while you are in Dumaguete. This natural lake was formed by a tectonic earthquake in 1925 when three nearby creeks and rivers changed course due to the quake and now supply the pristine body of water.

Exploring Lake Balanan is quite convenient. There is a long cement pathway that has become heavily covered in moss, seamlessly blending with the natural surroundings. This path will guide you to the lake’s shore, where you’ll find docks and huts along the river. Allocate a few hours to swim, relax, and soak in the natural beauty. Don’t forget to bring a picnic.

7. Rizal Boulevard

Rizal Boulevard
Source: shutterstock

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along Rizal Boulevard by the seaside. On one side, you’ll be greeted by the vast ocean, while the other side features serene trees, grassy knolls, park benches, local vendors selling trinkets, and occasional food stalls.

As night descends, the boulevard comes to life with the radiant glow of lampposts, creating a safe and romantic ambiance. Feel free to take a leisurely walk or find a comfortable spot to sit while gazing out at the water, watching large ships and small boats pass by. As evening progresses, more food stalls set up shop, including the ever-popular tempura stands. Plastic chairs and tables are also available for your convenience, providing a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

8. Pulangbato Falls

Pulangbato Falls
Source: shutterstock

Pulangbato Falls stands out due to its distinctive rusty red rock walls and waterfall basin, which owe their coloration to sulfur deposits.

Compared to other waterfalls in the Philippines, Pulangbato Falls is notably more robust and forceful. It descends dramatically from a visible, swiftly flowing river above, producing a thunderous sound that almost drowns out conversation. However, just as abruptly, the waterfall basin transforms into a tranquil pool, ideal for swimming. While you can relax on the rocky riverbed, it’s advisable not to linger too long, as you might depart with a souvenir in the form of a rusty red stain.

9. Aquino Freedom Park

Aquino Freedom Park
Source: Marc Giguère

Aquino Freedom Park is a charming green space where you can relax on the grass, unwind on a park bench, and observe frogs swimming in the pond. However, it’s the vibrant surroundings of the park that hold even greater appeal.

The bustling street is adorned with permanent Filipino food stalls, each bearing the affectionate name of its proprietor. You can savor dishes like Adobo chicken, tapa cured beef, longganisa Philippine sausage, or the much-revered Lumpia, deep-fried Filipino spring rolls.

Aquino Freedom Park stands out as one of the finest spots to savor authentic Filipino cuisine at an affordable price.

10. Makawiwili Ridge

Makawiwili Ridge
Source: canlaoncity

Also known as the “Saddle in the Sky,” Makawiwili Ridge is a haven for hikers, offering breathtaking views of mountain peaks shrouded in clouds and lush rolling hills in every direction. Situated between Mt. Kanlaon and Mt. Mandalagan of Silay, this hike provides a moderately challenging trek that will undoubtedly quicken your pulse.

Once hikers reach Makawiwili Ridge, they have the option to camp, allowing them to slumber beneath the starry skies with minimal light pollution and awaken to the magnificent sunrise vistas. It is advisable to join an organized hike with a guide to ensure a safe journey to this destination.

11. Casaroro Falls

Casaroro Falls
Source: istockphoto

The term “picturesque” perfectly captures the essence of Casaroro Falls and the adventure required to reach it. Your journey will encompass scaling a rugged hill, traversing a charming hanging bridge, descending 355 steps of stairs, carefully maneuvering across a rocky riverbed, and ultimately arriving at the base of the falls, where a refreshing swimming pool awaits.

This excursion poses a modest challenge, but the reward is nothing short of spectacular. The waterfall itself is a pristine cascade, plummeting from a height of 100 feet, enveloped by luxuriant green jungle foliage and little else.

You can arrange for a private driver to take you there or inquire with your hotel for assistance.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Dumaguete: Best Areas & Hotels


  1. What is the best time to visit Dumaguete?

The best time to visit Dumaguete is during the dry season, which typically falls between November and April. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities and exploration.

  1. Are there accommodations for every budget in Dumaguete?

Yes, Dumaguete offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts, ensuring there’s something for every traveler’s budget.

  1. How do I get to Apo Island from Dumaguete?

To reach Apo Island from Dumaguete, you can take a boat from the Malatapay Port. The boat ride is approximately 30-45 minutes.

  1. What should I pack for my Dumaguete trip?

Pack lightweight clothing, comfortable shoes for walking, swimwear, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear if you plan to visit Apo Island.

  1. Is Dumaguete a safe destination for tourists?

Dumaguete is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, like any place, it’s essential to exercise common-sense safety precautions, such as securing your belongings and staying aware of your surroundings.