Our Not-So-Sweet Time at Sugar Beach


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

One more obstacle until we arrive Sugar Beach

The only thing we "saw" besides the continuing storm was the Sipalay market, complete with a 30kg tuna caught by the fisherman that day.

Big Tuna

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 room in Takatuka Beach dive resort

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.

We can now say we have showered under a toilet at Takatuka Beach dive resort

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.

TIP: Don't get off at Sipalay

Not only does the tricycle/boat combo from Montilla save you money, but it'll take you through rice paddies, over wooden bridges, and past tons of excited schoolchildren.

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.

just a short boatride across the river to Sugar Beach… Part of the negotiation said Lina had to paddle
TIP: Set the price early

The paddle boat should cost 10P/head, 20P max. If you let the rower overcharge you the first time, remember that you'll be overcharged every subsequent ride.

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.

TIP: Sipalay to Cebu? It's possible

Do the paddle boat/tricycle combo to the three buses, then take a tricycle from the Dumaguete bus station to Sibulan, where you can catch a super cheap (and fast) boat to Lilo-An. From there, take a tricycle or bus to Oslob for whale watching, or hop on a bus to Cebu City or Moalboal.

More Sipalay

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!