DIY Adventures: A Guide to the Sights and Sounds of Dumaguete 

Our last trip to Dumaguete had a first for me –  we only stayed within the city limits. Every other time I’ve been there, we’ve always ventured outside the city. Dauin, Valencia, Sibulan – there’s a ton of choices. However, while day trips from Dumaguete are the more popular options when visiting the city, travelers still have a lot to look forward to right in the middle of the City of Gentle People.

From historic spots to pretty sunrises from the boulevard, you’ll realize there’s more to Dumaguete than just the surrounding natural wonders and nearby beaches.


Silliman University

Founded in 1901, Silliman is a private university established by Presbyterian missionaries, making it the first American university in Asia. Named after Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, the university was instituted by Dr. David Hibbard who, along with his wife Laura, held the first classes.  Silliman is a national landmark recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

The university’s Silliman Hall is an iconic picture, as easily recognizable as its church and white portals.

When visiting the university, be sure to see the Silliman University Church and the campus portals, of which the Gates of Knowledge, Opportunity and Service are the most popular. The first is the starting point of Hibbard Avenue and the campus’ main entrance. Other points of interest are Silliman Hall and the Luce Auditorium, the biggest theater outside Manila. The school has a select group of students called the Corps of Campus Ambassadors and they give free tours/orientations of the university’s campus. You can email them at


Silliman’s Museums

If you have extra time, get a dose of fascinating science and history as curated by Silliman University.  There are three museums you can choose from: the Anthropology Museum, the Gonzales Museum of Natural History, and the Marine Mammal Museum of the Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (IEMS).


Rizal Boulevard

The boulevard is a favorite among locals and visitors of Dumaguete. With shady acacia trees covered in vines on one side and the blue waters on the other, it’s hard not to be drawn to this inviting seaside area. The pretty lampposts and the salty breeze don’t hurt either.

Rizal Boulevard in the daytime makes for a great picnic venue and early morning jogging route. 

Running along coast near the port, Rizal Boulevard draws joggers and picnic goers in the mornings, and a fair amount of tourists throughout the day. People also come for the sunrise and sunset, although the former is usually better because the boulevard faces east. In the evenings, people flock here to stroll, relax and grab a drink or a bite to eat. The food vendors at night are known for their tempura and balut.


Go on a Food Trip

If you find yourself wondering where to go during mealtimes, take to the streets and find some great dining options. Dumaguete has a wide range of restaurants with differing cuisines foodies can try. The hungry hordes can have a taste of delicious fresh seafood, Japanese fusion, desserts galore, and hearty Italian fare.

And of course, you can’t not have budbud from Tanjay – a sticky rice treat that works with mangoes for breakfast or an afternoon snack paired with a cup of native coffee. I recommend the chocolate striped variety, but you have get it early as they’re usually the first to get sold out in the markets.

Budbud from Tanjay. These ones have chocolate and mangoes at the center. My favorite is still the chocolate-striped budbud.

If you’re Dumaguete and are in need of sustenance, see our foodie guide to the City of Gentle People. Along the boulevard and in the downtown, you’ll find many restaurants that serve up some really good food like the famous silvanas from Sans Rival and exquisitely prepared dishes at Kri. Don’t forget to wander around Brgy. Piapi as well, where you can find places like Hayahay.


Paddle Board Dumaguete’s Coastline

The calm waters near Brgy. Piapi are perfect for paddle boarding. You have beach access and places to rent the boards. See Orientwind Travel to go paddleboarding in front of the Hayahay area in Piapi or rent a board and head out of the city.

If you opt to go outside of Dumaguete for your paddleboard thrills, you can go open water paddling over the shallow reefs of marine sanctuaries by Apo Island or nearby towns. For a calmer alternative, you can also paddleboard around the Twin Lakes of  Balinsasayaw and Balanan.


The Campanario De Dumaguete & St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral

Recognized at the oldest bell tower in the Visayas, the Dumaguete belfry was first constructed in 1811 as a  lookout tower for the community. Standing across Quezon Park, the bell tower was originally established as one of four watchtowers used to warn the community of incoming Moro pirate attacks.

At the base of the belfry, you’ll find a grotto devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  People visit the belfry and its grotto daily to light candles and say prayers.

The Dumaguete Belfry and St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral via Wikimedia Commons
Dumaguete’s belfry and cathedral give you a glimpse of the city’s history. Photos by Ryme26 & Joelador

Beside the famous belfry, you have the St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. It’s the oldest stone church on Negros Island and is home to the Diocese of Dumaguete. Originally build in 1754-1776, the cathedral was reconstructed in 1885 and underwent renovations for an extension in 1936.  The masses at the cathedral are done in English and the local dialect, Bisaya.


Need the cold, hard facts? See other posts on Dumaguete:


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Marian Ledesma works full-time at Greenpeace SEA - Philippines, an environmental non-profit. She started R2R with Terry, her partner in crime. Marian has a love affair with good books, movies, music and photography. She also thinks writing about herself in the third person is somewhat disturbing.

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