Dipolog Travel Guide and Itinerary

A beach hut in Dipolog (Photo: Samuel de Leon)

Called the Gateway to Western Mindanao, the Orchid City and the Bottled Sardines Capital, Dipolog comes by many names — all of which hint at the many facets of this coastal city. 

About Dipolog City  

The relatively small city of Dipolog is the capital of the province of Zamboanga del Norte, and serves as the gateway to the rest of Western Mindanao. With about 131,000 people, the coastal city is bounded by rolling hills to the south, and the Sulu Sea to the north. 

 

Highlights for the Traveler 

Dipolognons sure know how to kick-start the year. Every third Saturday of January, Dipolog City shifts into party mode with the Sinulog sa Dipolog Festival, a loud and throbbing celebration in honor of the city’s patron, the Santo Niño (Child Jesus). It’s a great time to see the Orchid City in full bloom, with festive colors, street dancing and smiling locals welcoming strangers into their homes. 

The annual Sinulog sa Dipolog starts with a fluvial parade at the Fisherman’s Village and ends at Punta Corro, a landmark that indicates the spot where settlers from the Visayas arrived in 1905. For more merrymaking, check out the Pagsalabuk Festival in May, which celebrates the unity between the indigenous Subanons, Muslims and Christians. You can replenish your energy at the many food stalls that sprout up along Dipolog Boulevard, selling chicharon (fried pork rinds), barbecue and lechon (roasted pig). The boulevard is also the venue for an annual car show that takes place during the Pagsalabuk Festival.  

 

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The rest of the year, Dipolog is a fairly quiet but thriving coastal city. For all its progress, nothing beats the simple pleasure of sitting on a bench along Dipolog Boulevard to watch the sunset over Sulu Sea. The 1.6km promenade is where locals gather on most days, where some might go for a run or munch on unbelievably affordable streetside eats.  

Dipolog also offers a number of outdoorsy activities. Challenge yourself with a 3,003-step climb up to Linabo Peak in Mount Linabo Park, 6km away from the airport. The arduous climb has become part of the panata (vow) of Catholic devotees observing Holy Week. Both the religious and non-religious alike will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city.  

Visit the Cogon Eco-Tourism Park, 20.5km from the city, which has 344ha of forest and developed nature park facilities. It also has a mini zoo with exotic birds, snakes and mammals. A 30km jeepney or bus ride from the city and a short hike into a forest, meanwhile, will take you to Sungkilaw Falls, a great place to relax. 

 

Around Dipolog 

The history of Dipolog is closely intertwined with that of neighboring Dapitan. As the place where national hero Jose P Rizal was exiled for four years, Dapitan has some interesting historical sites as well as its own attractions.  

Dakak Beach Resort is probably Dapitan’s most popular summer getaway. The resort offers various outdoor activities that include ATV rides, wall climbing, water sports, and a river cruise. Guests can stay overnight in the resort’s casita complex.  

If you’re after a beach day, you can take a three-hour boat ride from Dapitan Port to Sinilog Island, which is blessed with white sand, turquoise water and abundant marine life. The island is sparsely populated, with less than a thousand villagers mostly relying on fishing. The locals are warm and accommodating to tourists, and you can hire a local guide to take you on the marine life tour. Alternatively, pitch a tent and enjoy an overnight stay on the beach or hunt a homestay from one of the locals for just around US$2 (₱101) per head. 

 

 


Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

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