I know how important it is to plan ahead to make the most out of a trip. However, for my recent return to Cebu, I didn’t make any because my primary purpose for that visit is to attend my uncle’s birthday celebration. Glad I still managed to squeeze a day of exploration in South Cebu with my younger brother.
Since the decision to go to South Cebu was spontaneous (as in I thought of it around 8:00 PM) plus we were only two traveling, I checked DIY Travel Philippines for group tours to join in. I tried calling different tour operators in the hopes that someone will accommodate us even after office hours.
Thankfully, Cebu Affordable Tours answered and they still have three available slots. I confirmed right away. So they informed me that I can just pay the day tour cost upon pickup at our hotel by 5 AM. I don’t think Cebu Affordable Tours is a registered travel agency though and their guide doesn’t seem accredited as well.
When I return to Cebu finally with Lloyd and/or if I were to redo my South Cebu in a day, I’ll be availing tours ahead of time at Philippines Travel Packages instead. This travel agency seem more professional and they offer tours to all popular Cebu attractions. Reading their professional guides and reviews on their site has also helped me a lot in planning my future trips. Thus, I recommend for you to avail their reliable and professional services to have the best possible vacation.
The South Cebu day tour cost us PHP 999 (or USD 19.5) for each person. It includes the following:
- Hotel pickup and drop off.
- Private air-conditioned van.
- Local facilitator and guide.
- Venue fees.
- Boat ride and life vest.
- Gear and rentals.
- Bamboo rafting in Kawasan Falls.
Below is the itinerary we were supposed to follow. You can use it as your reference when you want to explore South Cebu on your own.
South Cebu in a Day Itinerary:
04:30 AM – Pickup at any point in Metro Cebu (Hotels/Airport).
07:00 AM – Arrival at Moalboal.
07:30 AM – Boat departure for Pescador Island.
07:50 AM – Arrival at Pescador Island/ Snorkeling at Pescador Island.
08:45 AM – Departure from Pescador Island.
09:15 AM – Arrival at Sea Turtle Watching Area (Snorkeling).
09:45 AM – Move to snorkeling area for sardines run.
10:30 AM – Back to the coastline then preparations for swimming at Kawasan Falls.
11:00 AM – Lunch.
12:00 AM – Departure for Lambug beach.
12:30 PM – Arrival.
01:30 PM – Cool down at Kawasan Falls.
03:30 PM – Departure from Kawasan to Cebu City.
06:00 PM – Arrival at Cebu City.
This wasn’t followed since we had a long breakfast stopover at McDonald’s and, when we arrived at Moalboal, the boat for our island adventure wasn’t ready yet. We still had to wait for more than thirty minutes which pushed back the schedule.
South Cebu in a Day
Upon arrival at Moalboal, you will see a stretch of dive shops, restaurants, and resorts with some offering a view of Tañon Strait’s azure waters. It is actually called Panagsama beach as it used to have abundant sand which was just washed away by a typhoon. I wasn’t able to take a photo of the lively coastal area since we weren’t allowed to explore on our own.
What you can just take note of is that Pinagsama beach, for DIY travelers, is where a boatman can be hired for the Moalboal/ Pescado island hopping.
Moalboal/ Pescador island hopping rates is as follows:
One boat for five persons is PHP 1500 (or USD 29.3) and additional PHP 100 (or USD 2) per person up to 15 maximum number of people.
The rate includes the use of snorkeling gear and life jacket. Experience should include a visit to Pescador Island, turtle watching, and sardine run. The tour usually lasts three hours.
Snorkeling at Pescador Island
Around ten to fifteen minutes away by boat, Pescador Island is an uninhabited islet off Moalboal that is a popular diving spot with an underwater cave called Cathedral. Non-swimmers can set foot in it to see the modern solar-powered lighthouse up close or simply enjoy the view atop it. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can jump and plunge into the deep waters of the island.
Pescador island got its name from the Spanish word for fishermen – pescador. This is because fishermen were drawn to the area by the abundance of fish supply.
Snorkelers can then expect to see a lot of fish in its clear waters. Just make sure to wear your life vest if you’re not an experienced swimmer because of ocean currents. Also, watch out for jellyfishes.
It rained hard a day before so that may be the reason why the waters weren’t as clear as it should be. As I explored it, a lot of fishes seemed to be in hiding. It may have been better if we snorkeled very early in the morning.
After snorkeling in this island, according to the fishermen, there were no turtles so they didn’t bring us to the turtle watching area anymore. I was shocked because it wouldn’t have been included in the tour if there is no frequent sighting of it. Since we are a large group, they may be a possibility that they purposely excluded it to shorten our stay at the sea. This will then enable them to tour more people.
Moalboal Sardines Run
I was in for another surprise when our boat docked near the shore of Panagsama beach, the jump-off point for the tour. This is because I thought the million of sardines can be found in open sea or in another island. No wonder the island hopping rate is cheaper than the island hopping rates in other parts of the Philippines.
After we jumped from the boat, we were guided by one of the boatmen to a shallower area. I was in awe of the school of sardines and it was truly a breathtaking experience for first-timers. This made me hold my breath long just so I can stare at them longer.
My brother and I made several attempts to go near the sardines but, whenever we were close to them, they swam away. Anyway, to allow you to follow them with less effort, bring your own goggles and snorkeling fins. It is also more hygienic than using the provided snorkeling masks.
Lunch at Panagsama Beach
We weren’t given the liberty to choose which among the strip of restaurants we would like to eat at even if we were the ones paying for our own food.
Much to my disappointment, our guide chose this Silveray Italian Cuisine restaurant. She may have forgotten that, since we were at the beach, her guests would have enjoyed grilled seafood more.
POMODORO PENNE, PHP 180 (or USD 3.5)
After lunch, we went to Kawasan Falls. The van after parking was immediately surrounded by people who are offering canyoneering and guide services. We were given the option to avail it or not but, since no one in the group was availing it, we didn’t go for it. I also would like to experience it for the first time with my Yogo, Lloyd.
Our entry was stalled since our tour guide was missing. Good thing one person from our group agreed to pay for the entrance fees first and have it reimbursed by the tour guide/ coordinator.
Entrance fees without canyoneering are as follows:
- PHP 20 (or USD 0.39) for local tourists.
- PHP 40 (or USD 0.78) for foreign tourists.
The usual rate for canyoneering is PHP 1500 (or USD 29.27) which includes the use of safety gear (life vest and helmet), entrance fees, a professional guide, transfer to the start of the trail, snacks, and lunch. A shorter canyoneering experience is also available for PHP 600 (or USD 11.71). Most canyoneering tours start at 7:30 AM with the final time of tourist accommodations at 3 PM.
Some parts of the path going to the first and lowest level of Kawasan Falls, where we were headed, is already a brick paver pathway. I appreciate that they’ve done such as it makes Kawasan Falls more accessible and easier for visitors.
The trail, lined up with trees, runs along mostly at the riverbank so the walk is refreshing with the natural scene.
After a few minutes, it rained cats and dogs so I couldn’t get good shots anymore. It takes about a 10 to 20-minute walk to Kawasan Falls. So I’m grateful that one of our travel group members accommodated my request for storing my camera in his waterproof dry bag.
By the time we arrive at the first level of Kawasan Falls, I’m grateful to God that the rain ceased completely. The rain was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I know that the area will be busy with people swimming if it had not rained. A curse because the rainwater made the water murky and it hid the famous blue turquoise color of the natural pool.
Standing at 40 meters, the cascading falls is still nevertheless a beauty to watch.
Bamboo rafting was included in our day tour cost. But, just in case you also want to experience it, the prescribed rate for it is a total of PHP 350 (or USD 6.8) for a maximum of ten individuals. Its breakdown is as follows:
- PHP 150 (or USD 2.93) to the raft owner.
- PHP 100 (or USD 1.95) for each boatman. Since a raft is normally navigated by two boatmen, it’s PHP 200 (or USD 3.9).
As you go underneath the falls via the bamboo raft, it enables you to experience a waterfall massage. The strong current of the water served as the masseuse which may be blissful for some. Oh… And bamboo rafting also allows you to stay in the waterfall’s not so secret small cave in a short while.
On the way back, I was finally able to take photos of what can be seen on the trail.
This mini falls, according to one of Badian’s tour guides, is a part of Badian’s hydroelectric facility.
This huge concrete arch, which we have to pass by underneath, is also part of the hydroelectric facility.
Finally, some parts the trail are bridges like this one. It is fun to cross it and is a nice spot for an Instagram shot minus the people in the background. The guy in the photo is my younger brother by the way.
Be sure to bring PHP 5 to PHP 10 coins to be able to use the toilet or changing rooms. Although there are toilets near the first and second level waterfalls, there is also a good toilet room near the Matutinao Church also known as Sto. Tomas De Villanueva Parish.
Our final stop was the Lambug Beach, a public beach which was supposedly our second to the last stop. Everyone agreed to switch the itinerary so we can still catch some sun for our Kawasan Falls visit.
It was drizzling and it was already low tide during our visit so our hopes of swimming again went down the drain. Having been to a lot of beaches, there is honestly nothing remarkable about it. You can easily skip going on this place. Well, not unless you’re looking for a beach with little to zero people.
We just utilized the place as a quick stop to see the area. I heard the Panagsama beach offers a stunning sunset. Best to head there instead.
That’s it for the South Cebu in a day guide! I hope this guide has been helpful to you. We would love to hear what you think of this post in the comment section below. Also, feel free to share this post.