Valencia Revisited: Red Rocks, Waterfalls and Hot Springs

On our 4th visit along with friends to our favorite city down south – Dumaguete, Negros Oriental – we made sure to drop by the town of Valencia, a municipality located for the most part in the highlands west of Dumaguete. We’ve been here before but didn’t mind showing off the town and its wonderful destinations to our friends.

sunrise at Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
All roads start here: Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete. Dumaguete was our base for exploring the towns of Valencia and Sibulan and even the island province of Siquijor.

The first time we visited Valencia was via jeepney and trike. With friends in tow we got to hire a van for a more comfortable trip. Our first stop during the morning was at the town of Sibulan. After a hearty lunch at Jo’s Inato by the sea in that town we were well on our way to Valencia and looking forward to more exploring.

Pulangbato Falls

Pulangbato Falls and its red rocks
Red rocks in and around Pulangbato Falls

Our first stop was supposed to be Pulangbato Falls (literally red rock falls in English) at Malabo or Ocoy Valley. This waterfall was named after the reddish-orange color of the rocks around the falls from the presence of sulfur deposits in the water.

a smaller waterfall inside the resort at Pulangbato
A smaller waterfall just past the entrance to the resort

Unfortunately a heavy downpour that morning inundated part of the road leading to the falls and our van was unable to get through. That meant we had to walk for a kilometer to get to Pulangbato – a rather unappetizing exercise for one of our friends who had just sprained her ankle and was still recovering. Leo, who almost didn’t make it to this trip because of a bad lower back decided to go it alone lugging a heavy camera, extra lens and tripod. The temptation to photograph such a beautiful work of nature was simply too hard to pass up. Nina and the rest of the group chose to relax instead at the Red Rock Hot Spring.

the upper pool at Red Rock Hot Spring
Alternative to Pulangbato for injured friends: the Red Rock Hot Spring

Upon entering the resort where Pulangbato Falls is located, Leo was in for a mild surprise. The place looked much more commercialized with cottages, tables and chairs, more rest rooms and shower rooms, a restaurant and even a guesthouse for overnight stay.

the two waterfalls at the resort in Pulangbato, Valencia
LEFT: The main falls of Pulangbato. RIGHT: The smaller falls at the entrance.

Despite this, both falls still looked pristine. The smaller falls near the entrance was still there – concrete catch basin made to look as natural as possible as when we last saw it in 2016. But compared to our first encounter with Pulangbato three years ago this time it was mayhem at the main falls. The morning rains had caused a massive volume of water that was cascading from the main falls into the stream, now a turbulent mix of brown and red, and was spraying water in all directions.

Red Rock Hot Spring

lower pool at Red Rock Hot Spring
The lower pool at Red Rock Hot Spring

Photoshoot at Pulangbato over, Leo headed back to rejoin Nina and friends at this hot springs resort to relax his back and leg muscles. Located 800 meters downstream from Pulangbato and along the road, this resort gets its soothing waters from hot springs nearby. This resort used to be a private pool for a local family but eventually expanded to a resort when people began dropping by to enjoy the warm waters.

Smoky Mountain

the Sulfur Vent Highway
Sulfuric fumes escaping from the hillsides of the Sulfur Vent Highway

Where there’s smoke there’s fire – but not in this case. Situated along the sides of the road to the Red Rock Hot Springs and Pulangbato Falls, the Sulfur Vent Highway, more popularly known by its monicker – the Smoky Mountain – instantly arouses the curiosity of passersby due to its voluminous smoke. And smell. The sulfuric gasses escaping from vents on the hillside gives off a repulsive odor. (Thankfully you don’t get that same scent at the falls and the hot springs.) Turns out that Valencia is the site of a geothermal power station that supplies electricity for Negros and Panay Islands and parts of Cebu.

Tierra Alta

the Lighthouse and clubhouse at Tierra Alta, Valencia

It was getting late by the time we left Smoky Mountain but with still several minutes of daylight left before a dinner appointment with friends and hosts in Dumaguete, we detoured to a destination that we weren’t able to visit back in 2016. Tierra Alta is a residential resort and events destination in the highlands of Palinpinon, still in Valencia town.

the Tierra Alta Clubhouse
Tierra Alta Clubhouse in the fading light

Valencia is such a quaint town that one would be hard-pressed to imagine that such a resort like Tierra Alta existed here. Many people say it’s the most picturesque spot you can find in the area around Dumaguete. It could very well be with its Greek architecture sitting atop a hill that provides sweeping views of not just nearby towns but islands as far away as Cebu and Siquijor.

the Lighthouse at Tierra Alta
The Lighthouse at Tierra Alta

Tierra Alta’s centerpiece is its lighthouse but various Greek-inspired structures spread over the property attract equal attention. They also have a restaurant, a swimming pool, various facilities for fun and adventure and rooms for overnight stay.

Santorini-inspired architecture and panoramic views of Cebu and Siquijor
Santorini-inspired architecture and panoramic views of Cebu and Siquijor

Tierra Alta was the finale for our day’s exploration that began that morning in Sibulan. We would have liked to stay a little longer to watch the stunning sunset that was developing but we had to drive back to Dumaguete for a dinner prepared by friends, a dinner that we really got to enjoy.

Getting There and Other Info

The easiest way to get to all of these destinations in Valencia is to simply hire a van like we did. Hotels in Dumaguete often have access to these vans for hire. You can pair it with the Twin Lakes in Sibulan like we did for a total cost of P4,500 (you can swap Pulangbato Falls for Casaroro Falls’ we’re just not sure if you could do both and the Twin Lakes and have enough time for all 3 destinations).

But if you’re saving bucks it’s cheaper to just ride a jeepney from Dumaguete to Valencia town proper then hire a habal-habal (motorbike) or tricycle to take you to the Red Rock Hot Springs and Pulangbato Falls.

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