Must See Places on Cebu, Philippines
A Three Day Adventure
The Philippines offers a large variety of natural beauty for locals and tourists. There are three major urban areas: Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City. All are on different islands. In all of the cities, you can find nearly everything you are accustomed to if you search. Many will take the bus for getting around, but it is far easier to rent a car assuming you can handle Philippine traffic, which is very aggressive in nature. The driver also must be constantly focused on the road and surroundings because of the motorcycles, cars and roads. Once the city is left behind, the driver can relax because congestion is greatly reduced.
The U.S. bought the Philippines from Spain for 20,000 dollars in 1896. Cebu is a place protected from almost all of the typhoons, which hit the Philippines. The sea water temperature is 80 F+ all year. All the water activities you are dreaming about are here and it's the diving destination.
The most popular spot in the Philippines is Cebu Island. The island offers just about everything from Cebu City, the Philippines second largest (several million), where there are 10,000 foreigners who make it their home. The city offers everything you will need but its traffic is a nightmare and there are electrical shortages. Next to the city is Mactan, an island , with Lapu-Lapu town. The island is connected via a bridge to Cebu city. The International airport is there. The very high end American hotels are there and offer pristine beaches and snorkeling\diving adventures, as does Moalboal\Lambug area, on the other side of the island. The area is stunning.
But for a real adventure and vacation it is best to rent a car at Avis near the airport and getaway. Nearly all of the most “must see” places on the island are luckily in the southern half. So, in a car (usually $60\day) one can travel and experience it. Driving from Cebu City along the National Hwy (two lane) requires more time than not, so never rely on travel time estimates. Outside of the city, the island is rural with few gas stations, so always keep your tank filled. Always take toiletries, drinks, snacks. Always have hand sanitzer. Plan on going an average 40 mph. This is NOT a freeway or autobahn.
From Cebu City, while all the scenery is tropical and beautiful, the first nice beach is Dalaquete Beach in Dalaquete, around 86 km (54 miles) from Cebu city proper and two hours time. Turn left onto Sitio Dakung Balas Rd from the main National Hwy. Stay on it until you arrive. It is a very nice public beach.
Visiting Osema Peak, 3000 ft., is a must weather permitting. It is the highest point on the island. Take Dalaquete Rd to the small town of Mantologon. Find the Mantologon market and park, from Dalaquete is it around 10-15 km. Once at the market your choices are either to hike to it from the market, which is around two miles or a 1.5 hour hike or less. You can drive to base on the non-paved road and hike to the top in 30 min. You can rent a ride on motorcycle. In any case, before hiking to it, you must register at Barangay Hall. Anyway, this is unlike anything you have seen!
Along the way, you may see old ruins from Conquistadores days, but most want to go to Oslob, another 23 km. Note that from Cebu city to Oslob most travel time is 2.5-3 hrs. Oslob has a lot going for it for such a small town (gas up at the Shell station there). Everyone must experience visiting the huge whale sharks. This is an early adventure between 6-9am, when they are fed. The actual place is 7 miles south of Oslob in Tan-awan. For 500 peso ($12) or 1000 peso (foreigner), you are taken out in a small boat for 30 minutes. You can swim near them and take underwater pictures. Underwater cameras rent for $12. Call 925-897-8687 for info.
Another place to visit is Quartel Beach, open to the public and near some ruins. Simply take Aragones St. to Eternidad St. This road ends up very close to the beach entrance. The ruins are interesting. Close by is also Tumalog Falls, which closes at 5 pm. It is within 20 minutes and 20 peso to enter. You can get there by takin Tumalog Falls Rd off the main highway, north of Oslob some miles away. Once there, you park, and walk in some distance. Stunning waterfalls with cold water.
After seeing whale sharks, Osema Peak, Tumalog Falls, beaches, continue south from Oslob to the town of Tangbo, where the awesome Aguinid Falls are. It is another hour or so and 20 miles because you are now on the other side of the island near Samboan. You will actually go through the town and when you see the large sign along the main road, you can enjoy this for just 20-40 peso. This actually consists of six falls, with each fall requiring you to climb to the next level. So, be prepared to get wet! Each waterfall is better than the previous. While there, visit the largest Watchtower and climb St. Jacobs ladder of 147 steps built in 1878. Nice views.
Perhaps the most popular falls is next at Badian. This Kawasan Falls. From Moalboal, it is 40 min. south, from Aguinid Falls, 26 miles north, so one hour. From Oslob, 40 miles. It is a very popular spot. Signs show the way from Matutinao Church, but you can park along the main road and walk in for about one mile, or park at the church. There are three levels, but many like to raft under the falls. Just know, everything costs: bathroom use, table, chairs, food, parking. The raft costs 300 peso ($15). Entrance fee is 20 peso for locals and 80 for foreigners. Parking is around 50 peso at Matutinao Church. The path is along the river and takes 30 min. Take bottled water and some food with you. Toilets are 5 peso, a table 300 peso. This place is a money trap. So, say no to the need for a guide, a lifevest. Swimming there is free.
Since you’re in Badian area, you can visit the Boracay-like, fine, white sand beach at Lambug. It is wide and long, breathtaking. The road there from the main road begins by finding the sign that directs you to the Cebu International gold course (as you drive through Badian town), a mostly single lane road when coming from Moalboal. If coming from Kawasan Falls, take the main highway and turn left on Lambug Badian road, past and through Cebu-Badian Golf course to the public port area has a pier and you can park past the Badian market for 100 peso. From the parking lot it is almost a mile to the beach. There are a few hotels near this remote beach like Magic Beach Resort or Grandeur Beach Resort or Lambug Beach Homestay (2000 peso a night), which is the nicest.
To summarize, from Cebu City on Day 1, go and stay in Oslob area. Since the whale event is early AM, the rest of the day can do: Osema Peak, Tumalog , Dalaquete Beach and Oslob itself. On Day 2, on your way to Badian, visit Aquinid Falls, Jacobs ladder in Samboan. Then, continue to Kawasan Falls before spending a night at Lambug Beach area. On Day 3, you can make a 3 hour trip back to Cebu City or 28 km to Barili and another 50 km to Balamban then go over Mt. Manunggai and then back into Cebu City. But really, the northern part of Cebu island just lacks in variety.