Experience Sipaway Island on a Budget

Geographically known as Refugio Island, Sipaway Island is a favorite destination both of local and foreign tourists. It is just 10 to 15 minutes away from San Carlos City, Negros Occidental by pumpboat. The island is only around 7 kilometers from tip to tip so you can explore the Island in one day with a motorcycle.

Life in the island is very laidback. There are no bars and nightlife so if you want to enjoy a time away form the hustle and bustle of the city life, Sipaway is the right place for you.

White sand beaches dot the coastline of Sipaway Island. Fresh water supply on the island comes from San Carlos City and electricity is limited from 5:30pm to 11:30pm depending on the resort you’re billeted at. Some resorts provide tour packages of the island. But if you want to explore and experience Sipaway island, you can hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) for only P200 for a half day tour the whole island from tip to tip. There is no standard price for this so just haggle with the habal-habal drivers at the wharf.

Beach at Sipaway Island, Negros Occidental
Beach at Sipaway Island, Negros Occidental

Sipaway Island’s white sand beaches are comparable to that of Guimaras Island. Although it’s not as powdery white as Boracay sand, it’s still beautiful and unspoiled. And there are areas where you can picnic for free.

Aside from the white sand beaches, another point of interest on Sipaway Island is century old Balete tree located in San Juan, Sipaway Island. The tree is huge and given the folklore stories that go with an old Balete tree, it seemed eerie and mysterious.

Balete Tree at Sipaway Island, Negros Occidental
Balete Tree at Sipaway Island, Negros Occidental

How to get to Sipaway

Sipaway is accessible from both Negros Island and Cebu Island. If your jumpoff point is Bacolod City, Ceres Bus service two routes, via the coastal highway or via Don Salvador. The coastal highway will take you 3 hours and a half by bus. I highly recommend the Don Salvador Benedicto route. This is the fastest route which will only take you more or less two hours from Bacolod to San Carlos at a little over P100. You will also enjoy the view and cooler climate of Don Salvador.

If you’re traveling from Cebu, Ceres Bus Lines services the route between Cebu and San Carlos on an air-conditioned bus, for about P190, using the Lite ferry.  The trip will take you a total of about 3 hours, 1.5 hours by bus and the 1.5 hours on regular ferry. A more faster sea travel from Toledo to San Carlos is by fastcraft which will take about 35 minutes.

From San Carlos pier you ride a pumpboat for about 15 minutes for P10 fare. Just inform the boat man where you want to stay in Sipaway and they’ll dock at the nearest wharf. There are several small resorts in Sipaway but the more modern one with their own electric power is Whispering Palms Island Resort. Room rates are from P1,350 – P3,500. Smaller resorts charge around P400-P500 for a non-aircon room for two.

Travel Tip

If you’re traveling on a budget, you stay in smaller resorts. Although you will not have 24-hour electricity, this will make your Sipaway trip truly an adventure. You can ask the resort staff to cook for you but still bring extra food and bottled water. A budget trip to Sipaway will cost you P1,500-P2,000 for a two-day and one-night stay including your travel expenses from Bacolod City and a habal-habal ride around Sipaway Island.

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  1. auguri_meste says

    hi i would like to ask if how much mg pa reserve for the beach wedding un bang kasama na lahat pti pgkain. gusto kc ng fiancee ko beach wedding he is italian guy, so mg enquire po sana ako salamat

    i hope to hear from u soon

  2. Winston Campos says

    Glady’s nice site very informative, it really helps.
    just to point out minor comment regarding Sipaway travel from Cebu City..actually land trip from Cebu city to Toledo city is 1.5 hours and regular ferry to San Carlos City is another 1.5 hours but there are options to take a fast craft which will take 30-45 minutes…so travel time from Cebu City to San Carlos is much shorter compared in the past…could be 2.5 to 3.5
    hours in total. Plus 15 minutes pump boat from San Carlos to Sipaway island

    • Glady says

      Thank you Winston. I noted your correction on the time. I’ve only done the Cebu-Bacolod land trip once and now that there are much faster options, it’s tempting to make the trip again.

  3. thennyl says

    can you recommend an ideal place in sipaway where my whole class (about 35-40 students) could stay in for their post-graduation trip/celebration? thank you.

  4. Glady says

    @lukcil – Last time we were there which was already a year ago, La Basilia doesn’t serve food to guests. You have to pre-arrange with the management. Please visit my post on La Basilia White Beach Resort for more details or you can contact them at cell number (0916) 4611742 or at (0909) 6402996.

  5. lukcil says

    Can u pls.give me some details about the La Basilia..esp.the food..if its affordable out there…the accomodation..and everything about this resort..