Western Negros, Philippines
Bacolod. The capital of the province of Negros Occidental is Bacolod – the “Sugar Capital” of the Philippines, where almost everything revolves around the cultivation and processing of sugar cane, also nicknamed the “City of Smiles”. Why this is so, it becomes clear immediately upon arrival: the people of Bakolodsk welcome their guests very openly, cordially and cordially. As for Bacolod itself, this city is considered the cleanest and greenest in all the Philippines. One of its interesting sights is the Negros Museum with expositions dedicated to the history of the development of the sugar industry, the peasant life of the province and steam locomotives, which play a special role in the life of the island. Also highly recommended is the Center for Biodiversity Conservation, where conservationists fight to save endangered native species.
Mascara Festival. A thousand smiles a minute – this is the motto of the spectacular multi-day Mascara festival, held annually in Bacolod in October. This event – the largest and most colorful on the entire island of Negros – presents an extensive musical and cultural program to the audience. The focus of the festivities is the magnificent street processions, the participants of which wear multi-colored elaborately decorated masks, which come to see the curious from all over the world. Street dancing, the sale of handicrafts by local artisans and the presentation of a prize for the most beautiful mask of the festival are also part of the general program.
Journey to Mount Kanlaon. Mount Kanlaon, a volcano with a height of 2465 meters, is located in the center of the national park of the same name. This park protects various types of forest, including virgin mountain rain forests and cloud forests, which are the habitat of countless species of animals. Kanlaon is the only active volcano on the island. Several routes lead to its top, in addition to the main crater, there is also an old side crater and several beautiful lakes. The reward for those who dare the three-day ascent will be a fantastic view from the top of the jungle, the coastal plains of sugar cane, the sea and the neighboring islands of Cebu and Panay.
Mambukal. Mambukal is an unusual place at the foot of the Kanlaon volcano, about 30 km east of Bacolod. It is from here that most travelers begin tours through the jungles and mountains of Kanlaon National Park. This place itself is also interesting: hot sulfur springs, natural pools with warm water, waterfalls and beautiful lake landscapes framed by subtropical vegetation make Mambukal a very tempting route. This is the perfect place to recharge before reaching the summit or relax after an exciting hike. Here you can also see rare species of fruit bats and bats. Often it is enough to raise your eyes to see flying creatures hanging upside down in the trees in groups.
San Carlos. The hospitable town of San Carlos is located in the north of the east coast and belongs to the province of Negros Occidental. San Carlos is famous for its annual Pintaflores festival, which is centered on fiery street dancing, where dance groups from different parts of the province perform side by side in colorful attire. As for the area outside the city, it is worth seeing the local version of the “Chocolate Hills” – a hilly landscape similar to the homonymous one on the island of Bohol, only a little smaller.
Sipawai Island. Sipawai is an enchanted tropical island that can be reached in 15 minutes by outrigger canoe from San Carlos. In the local thickets of rain and mangrove forests, there are more than 30 species of birds. The dive sites of Sipaway are in no way inferior to their neighbors on the southeast coast. Both the inner reef and its coastal edge are home to countless sea slugs, moray eels, warty, also known as stone fish, octopus, stone bass, sea snakes, spotted eels and many other marine life. A little further from the northern coast of Sipavay there are densely overgrown coral blocks, a reef shallow – the “roof” of the coral reef, labyrinths of rocky formations, sheer walls and sand deposits near the coast, where you can meet a stingray, dog fish, tube-winged, barracuda, horse mackerel, tuna and stone bass.
Paradise beaches of Sipalay. Sipaway or Sipalay? Both names are so similar that it is easy to confuse them. Sipalay, however, is not the twin brother of the island of Sipawai, but a picturesque town in the south of the west coast of Negros Occidental. A multi-day stop in this region should definitely be included in the itinerary of traveling around the island: to the north and south of Sipalay are the most beautiful beaches of Negros. Romantic little coves, a white sandy beach, great snorkelling and diving opportunities in the coastal waters and waterfalls dozing in the sun make this stretch of coastline the culmination of a trip to Negros.
Negros is easily accessible by plane or ferry. Flights from Manila and Cebu City land at Dumaguete and Bacolod airports. There is also a Davao-Bacolod air connection. High-speed ferries connect Negros with the islands of Luzon, Bohol, Cebu, Guimaras, Mindanao, Panay and Siquijor. So, for example, ferries run daily between Dumaguete and Cebu City, as well as between Dumaguete and Tagbilaran in Bohol. Bacolod is also connected in this way to the provincial capitals of neighboring islands.
The climate in Negros is not much different from the climate in Cebu: there are no pronounced periods of drought and rain, so Negros and Siquijor are attractive holiday destinations all year round. The temperature ranges from 23 to 33°C, with the coolest days usually falling in January and the hottest in May.
On the coast you can find very beautiful hotels and beach resorts with natural gardens, stylish swimming pools, restaurants and beach bars. Some of them specialize in divers, rent equipment and organize courses. Hotels on small coastal islands are especially suitable for those seeking privacy on vacation. Also in the cities and in the mountains you can find a variety of accommodation options, from affordable boarding houses to first-class resorts. During multi-day, guided hikes in the mountainous regions of Kanlaon National Park, overnight stays in tents are undoubtedly the most exciting way to spend the night on the island.
Moving around the island
The road network and public transport are well developed here: minibuses, jeepneys, tricycles and taxis can be found almost everywhere. If you wish, you can rent a car and explore the island yourself, planning your own route.