Cebu island is one of the many hundreds of surrounding islands that make up Philippines’ Central Visayas. It is home to some of most scenic places and definitely deserves a visit for any passionate traveler. I went in May, the beginning of typhoon season and actually was quite lucky since we hardly saw a bit of rain. I spent some time in Cebu city, Malapascua and Kalanggaman on a recent trip and want to share my experience as well as some things I look forward to doing in the future. There is plenty to do on Cebu island but takes a lot of time and planning. I did a lot of researching before venturing out but unfortunately due to unexpected time constraints, there were also a lot of things I missed out on(but will return). Nonetheless, here is my list of the top things to do on Cebu.
Malapascua offers some of the beach diving and picturesque beaches. To get to Malapascua from Cebu city, take the north bound bus towards Maya port. It costs about 120php to hop on a boat that’ll take you to Malapascua. Don’t fall for the scams. Some people will tell you you need to rent a private boat for 1000php. It’s best if you go leave Maya before 4pm. For the most part, this island is much less developed but still offers small resorts, restaurants and dive shops along its sandy beaches. To get around the island, you’ll have to hop on the back of a motorbike to navigate the island. Or you can walk! Some parts of the island have a lot of seagrass but if you look closely, you’ll find starfish and fish of different sorts everywhere! The water here is very clear.
We stayed at an Airbnb a bit away from the resorts. The home overlooked another beach which offered us another port to leave from for different boat tours. From there we went on a private snorkeling trip to the coral gardens and 2 other sites including a sunken ship.
Kalangaman is a hidden gem and part of Leyte, Philippines. This place is pretty much undeveloped, and the most beautiful islet I have ever been to. The water is crystal clear and ranges in shades of blues and greens. The sand is white and powdery and because it’s pretty secluded, you feel like you’re on a castaway island with palm trees and a pretty amazing sand bar. The sand bar stretches into the distance and hardly anyone goes there because kayaking, snorkeling and swimming is prohibited due to strong currents. So feel free to take those selfies ladies!
From Malapascua, you can easily take a day trip here. The boat ride is about 2 hours. Ask around. My Airbnb host helped us out by making a few phone calls the day before to arrange a last minute trip. Our boat waited quite a bit on the beach the day of to search of other people to join. The cost was about 1,500php/person. This includes lunch and as well as an entrance fee for foreigners. Even though, there are no resorts on the island, you can definitely bring a tent and sleeping bag to sleep under the stars. Be sure to ask about one way trips if you’re planning to do this! Do not assume you will be picked up the next day. For more information about tent rentals and overnight stay fees visit this page. As far as I know, your best bet if you’re planning on an overnight stay is to leave from Palompon instead of Malapascua.
Check out my short clip of the boat ride there!
Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls
Photo by Raymond Bosma
Kawasan falls in located on the west side of Cebu island in Badian, Cebu. The falls, aquamarine in color, is 3 tiered and located in a topical oasis. You can get there from Cebu city via bus going south towards Bato. You can ask the driver to drop you off at Matutinao church. From there the trail to the falls is about a 30 mins hike. The entrance fee is 10 php. Once you get there supposedly I’ve read from many that it is a tourist trap to rent bamboo rafts. The first two waterfalls are the largest with the most development of the three. You’ll probably be better off exploring and swimming at the quieter and calmer places between each falls. I really wanted to try canyoneering but I had my mom with me and thought it’d be inappropriate to have her jump off a cliff into the water. This is a place I’ll have to return one of these days. I’ll have more to write about it then.
Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob
Photo by Janey
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. They can grow up to as long as 40ft! Fortunately for us, these gentle giants are filter feeders and their favorite food is planktons along with small fish. Early in the morning you can find boats in Oslob feeding these giants for tourists to swim along side them and see these amazing creatures up close. It is very important though to refrain from touching them. Even friendly toughing can cause these animals to be exposed to bacteria on our skin which is very harmful to them. This also is something I plan to come back for. However, these were some things I had researched before my trip unknowing that I could not plan a visit.
- Oslob from Cebu city is about 3-4 hours depending on traffic times
- Swimming with these gentle giants start from 6am to about noon
- You can leave as early as 3am(the bus leaves every 30mins) from the south bus terminal in Cebu City, ask to be dropped off at Tan-awan at the whale watching area for roughly 150 php ($3USD)
- You can also leave from Dumaguete, pay for a tricycle taxi to take you to Sibulan port from the airport (~15mins) for about 60-100 php, then take a boat to Liloan port(~60php and these leave every hour) where you’ll catch a Ceres bus going north towards Oslob(just right outside the port).
- No reservations needed, just go!
- You can also conveniently visit Sumilon island from here +50 php/person
- If you only want to watch from the boat: ~30mins
- 300 php for locals
- 500 php for foreigners
- If you want to snorkel: gear included ~30mins
- 500 php for locals
- 1,000 php for foreigners
- Scuba Diving: gear is NOT included ~1 hour
- 600 php for locals
- 1,500 php for foreigners
- If you only want to watch from the boat: ~30mins
Hope this inspires you!