Sugar Beach on Negros is legendary among travelers in the Philippines. Unfortunately, our journey wasn't worth the destination. Blame it on the weather. With a typhoon brewing offshore, choppy waves, muddy water, and no visibility to dive, we left Sugar Beach disappointed—but with lots of advice on how to get here without breaking the bank.
See and Do
The only thing we "saw" besides the continuing storm was the Sipalay market, complete with a 30kg tuna caught by the fisherman that day.
If you're here in better weather, supposedly you can see beautiful blue waters, tons of marine life, sharks, and even walking octopuses. That said, Sugar Beach is remote even during the best of times, so make sure you know what you're in for.
The 1 kilometer stretch of sand has about ten guesthouses, though many were closed and/or empty when we walked down in the mist. Out of the two we checked out, we chose to stay at Takatuka Lodge, which seems to be the priciest place on the block, and the only one to offer diving. Though their diving was called off, their prices were still high, and we ended up paying 1200P/night for a fan room. Thankfully, they comped the wifi, which typically costs 50P/30 minutes!
All the rooms at Takatuka are unique in design, and part of the fun was trying to find the light switch, the shower handle, etc.
Our favorite design element was the upside down toilet shower, but the light switches, which included a power saw, car shifter, and trigger to a nail were also great fun, though hard to find in the dark.
Takatuka, like many other places on the beach, has hammocks, lounge chairs, a pool table, and darts, but unfortunately, the staff pretty much shut the doors and the lights at 8pm, which made it a bit awkward to enjoy any of the games. They also nickel-and-dimed us, charging 8P for a cup of hot water!
Eat and Drink
Takatuka has a full menu, but it's expensive, with small bottles of beer running 60P. We ate our two dinners at Driftwood Village, which also has affordable bungalows at 800P max. The women who worked there were much friendlier and hospitable than the staff at Takatuka, and didn't seem to mind our presence nearly as much.
We did stock up on snacks in Sipalay, which was a 45-minute beach walk (along with two paddle boats) down from Sugar Beach.
Here's where the fun is. Getting to Sugar Beach is a key part of the experience of being on Sugar Beach, as the place is completely remote despite its location on Negros mainland. From Dumaguete, you'll need to take three buses (Bayawan to Hanabo-An to Bacolod). On the last bus, ask to be let off at Montilla.
Once you disembark in Montilla, negotiate a tricycle to Nauhang (100P max), where you'll then have to negotiate a paddle boat across the river to Sugar Beach. Make sure to clearly state that you want the paddle boat, not the more expensive automatic one. You're only going 50 meters.
The trip to/from Bacolod is much easier, and only requires one bus in addition to the tricycle/paddle boat combo. If you need to travel from Sugar Beach to Dumaguete, note that getting to the Montilla intersection prior to 8am is futile, as buses from Bacolod don't pass until then. Once you catch the first bus, likely headed to Hanabo-An, just do the journey in reverse. It should take about 5 hours.
Interested in budget travel in the Philippines? Check out our Philippines destination pages and learn how to save money during your trip.
If you have any tips of your own, please leave a comment!