7 ways to spend a weekend getaway in Cebu, Philippines

Ronda and I arrived in Cebu excited for a relaxing island stay mixed with Filipino excitement. With 3 nights at an amazing Air BNB and an eyeful of adventure it was sure to be a great stay. The Philippines are a perfect place for backpackers on a budget or flashpackers like ourselves ready to spend a little more. If you’re heading to Cebu you’re sure to enjoy these top favorites from our stay!  Our Air BNB was in a town called Ronda just north of Moalboal.  Les Maison’s estate is amazing.  We stayed in Studio Poseidon with a Sea View and loved it!

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1) Swim with the whale sharks – This was the highlight of my stay and the big ticket item that drew me to Cebu in the first place. For a paltry 2500 pesos ($50) they’ll pick you up at your hotel and head to Oslob near the southern tip of Cebu. (It’s a 1.5 hour ride from Moalboal and a hair longer from Cebu City) Whale Sharks are a protected species as the world’s largest fish. They skim the surface for zooplankton and are always available for tourism since local fisherman feed them from 9am-12pm.

Tourist Spots in the Philippines

Snorkeling with these monsters can be intimidating for some but once you’re in the water you forget about all that as they swim past you. Symbiotic smaller fish tag along creating a diverse assortment of life. Careful near the top; I got a few jellyfish stings but nothing bad enough to spoil this magical experience.

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2) Rent a motorbike – In Moalboal you can easily find a motorbike rental for about 500 pesos/day. Make sure to check the breaks and don’t forget your helmet! One of the biggest mistakes tourists makes when motorbiking keeping their sandals on. If you’re good on a bike it probably won’t matter but if you’re new then be sure to wear real shoes in case you have to bail.

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Once you’re on the bike you can tool around the local villages, head to the beach or waterfalls!  I highly recommend grabbing a dozen snacks at a street-side shop.  Every time you see a wandering kid hand out some food and you’ll make their day!  The smiles were rewards enough for Ronda and I 🙂

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Photos by Ronda Christensen & Mike Still.

3) Stop by Kawasan Falls – just under 20 km south of Moalboal you’ll find Kawasan Falls. There’s a giant sign on the left where a local will try and convince you to park the bike for 50 pesos and then guide you to the waterfall for another 150. It’s unclear if you really need to pay these fees since a few hundred meters later you’ll see the actual entrance for another nominal park entrance fee. Following the crystal clear river you pass through a tiny village and might find some massive insects and spiders hiding among the leaves. Don’t let these critters scare you away because the massive waterfall is just around the corner.

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At Kawasan falls you can have a snack at the restaurant, swim in the beautiful water, or pay to ride a bamboo raft beneath the wall of water. They also run canyoning adventures here but we decided to pass in lieu of some more time on the motorbikes.

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4) Bathe in Tumalog falls – Tumalog Falls are just outside of Oslob and the perfect pairing with a whale shark tour. Most tours take you to both places and I would highly recommend booking one that includes Tumalog. This massive fall towers above the jungle as a beautiful spray dances slowly down to the bathing pool below. It is a steep walk from the parking lot to this landmark but for 50 pesos each way you can jump on the back of a motorbike.

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Photo by Ronda Christensen

Holiday in the Philippines

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5) Explore Moalboal – Moalboal is a gem tucked away on Cebu’s western coast. This tiny little town is the perfect stop for those wanting to go to Oslob, visit a beach some waterfalls and get away from the bustle of Cebu City. Stay overnight in one of the backpacker hostels, grab a hotel or book an Air BNB like we did. In Moalboal you can easily rent a motorbike, book a tour or jump or a dive boat. White beach is just around the corner and this village has the best restaurants in the area.

Tourist Spots in Cebu

6) Relax on White Beach – Moalboal’s white beach is pristine with a westerly view. It’s the best beach on Cebu and perfect for all of your beach activities.

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7) Canyoning – Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try Canyoning in Cebu but we hear it’s an amazing way to explore the jungle. Tours bring you to a river, gear you up and give you a chance to hike the waterway and descend through a series of waterfalls. Definitely on my list if I return to Cebu!

Where to Stay in the Philippines

Would I go back to Cebu?  Hell yeah!  But honestly I might pick a different island for a return trip to the Philippines.  Cebu is a gorgeous island in an archipelago of paradisical wonderlands but it just doesn’t hold its own when compared to Boracay or Palawan’s beaches.  The great thing about Cebu is the variety of adventurous activities available and if you’re like me and drawn by the whale sharks then be sure to explore these other great excursions.

Have you been to Cebu?  Tell us what you liked in the comments!

Are you in the Philippines?  Check out this amazing Street Food Guide!

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7 Ways to Enjoy Cebu, Philippines

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

47 thoughts on “7 ways to spend a weekend getaway in Cebu, Philippines

  1. It does look you had a great adventure on one island!

    The whale feeding in Oslob has been part of a recent controversy since the whales are artificially fed so that they would stay there instead of roaming around. Was that the case when you were there?

    1. It still is a little artificial but the government only lets them do it in the mornings and they are surprisingly strict about it. Definitely would be cooler to see them in the wild but in Oslob you’re guaranteed to see them.

    1. Have fun! You’ve gotta tell me how the canyoning goes! If you write about it I’d love to link to your post 🙂

  2. Hi Mike,

    Awesome pictures bro! Amazing place. Added to the Philippines list, Cebu is. Good advice on the motorbike too. After riding one for a fair amount of time during the past 5 years – i.e., for 2 years during trips to Bali and Thailand – ya gotta keep shoes or sneakers on your puppies if you bail. Even when you’re a vet, wear flip flops sparingly. Ripped up my foot something nasty when I hit the pavement twice during accidents. My podiatrist best buddy would be shaking his head LOL. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    1. Ryan, ouch man. Foot road rash is the worst! I’ve seen some pretty bad cases but thankfully always on other people.

      You’ll love Cebu! If you’re there for longer check out Bohol too. I had to skip it but am tempted to go back!

      Mike

  3. OMG every aspect of the place looks amazing. Not sure how courageous I am to jump in with the whale shark, but I think traveling via scooter or tbike on islands/beach side towns is always the best way. The kawasan falls looks gorgeous.

  4. Love the pictures and swimming with the whale sharks does sound like an amazing experience! I’ve been to Cebu once and honestly found it quite touristy, but if I do go back again, I’ll make sure to try what you’ve recommended!

  5. I have been aching to visit this part of the world! That beach and falls are a huge reason why, but swimming with the whale sharks would be icing on the cake! Spectacular shots, cannot wait to see it all for myself!

    1. I absolutely loved Palawan too. Frankly I liked it a little better than Cebu but they offer different experiences. Cebu is more adventurous and Palawan more relaxing I think. You can read about my trip to Palawan here!
      livetravelteach.com/2016/05/19/el-nido-turning-30-in-paradise/

  6. Hi Mike! I’m from the Philippines and it always makes me a proud Filipino when people enjoy my country. Cebu, indeed, has a lot to offer from beaches to waterfalls and canyoning. To be honest, though, I am not keen on the way the whale shark tourism is handled in Oslob. Artificial feeding and some swimmers directly touching the sharks have long term effects on the natural behavior of these wild animals. I think this weblink (if I may attach a link) best explains the negative impacts of this practice in Oslob – http://dive-bohol.com/conservation/5-reasons-not-go-oslob/. In my opinion, whale watching in Donsol, Sorsogon in the northeastern part of the Philippines is a better option as they do not allow artificial feeding that’s why there’s only a certain season for spotting them, and the guidelines on watching/ swimming at a certain distance from the sharks is more strictly implemented. Oslob is a great destination but I do hope that regulations geared towards sustainability get enforced.

    Sorry for making this very long comment (hehe), but thank you still for promoting Cebu. 🙂

    1. I have just added Donsol to my list! I understand the issues with the whale shark tourism and it can certainly have damaging effects. I think a lot of those issues have been addressed with new laws but they are certainly still an issue. I know that they are only allowed to do the tours for a few hours in the mornings so that the sharks have to hunt for their own food for the rest of the day and while I was there they didn’t allow anyone near them. Definitely not touching them. Also they don’t let you put on sunscreen if you are swimming with them. A girl in my group wasn’t allowed to go in because they saw her putting sunscreen on! They made her wait a long time (I think an hour or 2) so that the sunscreen wouldn’t come off and get into the water. I’m sure there are people who disregard the laws but there are a lot of groups that adhere to them too.

  7. Everything sounds amazing except for the whale shark part. LOL I’m bit of a scared-y cat, but I eventually give in and do it anyway. So maybe I would give it a try. Thanks for all these great tips. I can’t wait to get to that part of the world!!

  8. Try the Sumilon Island, Malapascua island, Bantayan island, Ilocos island, Siquior island, Camotes island, Sargao island those islands are always on my do to list anytime i have a free time and spend 1 week by myself away from the city.. Try that too! and Good Luck 🙂

  9. Try the Sumilon Island, Malapascua island, Bantayan island, Ilocos island, Siquior island, Camotes island, Sargao island those islands are always on my do to list anytime i have a free time and spend 1 week by myself away from the city.. Try that too! and Good Luck 🙂

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