Cebu, Phillippines – whale-sharking and river-cruising

What could be better than swimming with whale sharks (I’m pretty sure this is where the designers of the hoover handheld vacuum cleaners got their inspiration) and drifting through endless waterfalls in dreamy aqua blue water?  If you’re looking for an escape from it all with out the touristy feel of more popular Boracay, Cebu is an amazing destination.  Our detailed itinerary is below – enjoy!

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Day 1 – half day

Most of day 1 was driving through one lane road traffic to Oslob. The road is windey but hugs the coast for a beatiful drive down south. After checking in we ate dinner (prepare yourself for no decent food in Oslob) and then called it an early night.

Day 2

After a short 10 minute drive from our hostel we arrive at the whale shark area and after a short safety briefing (no sunblock, do not touch then sharks, no splashing or else you’ll be sent to prison– we are taken out). A few 100 meters from the shore and the boats  lineup encircling 2 whale sharks

I was surprised at how many people did not go into the water to get up close and personal with the whale shark. Although the water smelled strongly like fish I was willing to ignore this for the opportunity to swim with these cute gentle giants.

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A 10 minute drive from the whaleshark area and we arrive at the entrance of Tamalog Falls.  This is one of the most impressive falls I’ve seen in Asia – you can even spot some wild orchards growing in between the cracks in the falls! It’s really a magical moment and we could have spent the rest of the afternoon in the tranquil comfort of this natural beauty if it weren’t for the locals hilariously screaming and hollering as the falls crashed on top of their heads.

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Day 3

Our morning starts with a quick visit to the Moalboal market where Mario (our adventure guide for the day) picks out fresh fish and vegetables for BBQ lunch. The fish is so fresh there is no smell and the eyes are still crystal clear. Mario is the co-owner of Planet Action Adventures and he also doubles as a comedian. Himself and his german business counterpart started the company 20 years ago. Mario’s son, age 16, have been canyoning with dad for 8 years now. He has done the trek we are on over 100 times and you can tell with the sure footing of his step the way he climbs from rocks to rocks like a monkey. Mario says a lot of his competitors start from the top of the river then go down but there isn’t any “adventure” in that.  Sure enough almost everyone we met along the way hiked from the top to bottom.

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Our trek starts at the bottom of Kawasan Falls and travels up through the Matutinao river. The first three tiers of the falls are packed with many local tourists. At the end of the last pool Mario jumps into the river and starts swimming upstream and so begins our adventure off the beaten path. The water is aqua blue and cuts through deep canyons creating beatiful stillagmites against the cavern walls. There are several opportunities for 3 – 9 meter drops. Mario really tries to guide you up the rapids and it’s our first time bouldering outside of a rock climbing gym and i have to admit this is way more exhilerating. He guides you by showing you placements for your hands and feet before he offers to lend you a helping hand.

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3 hours later we reach the final pool and climb to the top of the hill where a local family in bamboo huts and a small farm complete with a goat, chickens, 2 pigs and piglets! Lunch is grilled BBQ fish, chicken and pork and it tastes delicious after the last 3 hours of climbing. It was an unforgettable experience and I would highly recommend it!

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Day 4 – half day

With only a half day left in Moalboal we decide the spend the morning snorkeling in the reefs of Moalboal offering us a unforgettable experience. We saw many different types of fish, a school of sardines, two turtles and a sea snake — in a pear tree! Best of all we had the entire reef to explore on our own. The waters were calm and perfect conditions for easy snorkeling.

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See the route of our trip here and a breakdown of costs. aka: How broke are we?

Day 1
Taxi from airport to Oslob – 3,500 PHP (4 hrs)

Day 2
Transport to and from the falls (RT) – 200 PHP
Falls entrance fee – 20 PHP
Swimming with whale sharks – 1,000 PHP
Bus from Oslob to Moalboal – 160 PHP (2.5 hrs)
Tuk tuk from Moalboal to resort (RT) – 240 PHP

Day 3
Action adventure river tour – 3,000

Day 4
Snorkeling equipment rental -150 PHP
Bus from Moalboal to Cebu City – 140 PHP (2.75 hrs)
Taxi from Cebu City to Mactan airport – 300 PHP (30 min)
Airport exit fee – 750 PHP (No visa upon entry but make sure you save some cash for the exit airport fee)

Hotel Recommendations:

Oslob Malonzo Pension House

One thought on “Cebu, Phillippines – whale-sharking and river-cruising

  1. Pingback: Donsol - The Summer Vacation Destination of Gentle Giants - A Rat's Tales

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