I have always wanted to explore and travel at the southern end of Cebu aka the ‘Queen City of the South’. It is well-known for its white sand beaches, mountain ranges, and waterfalls. Upon researching however, I determined that availing organized tours, although convenient, are quite expensive and it lacks the flexibility and excitement that making your own itinerary brings.
“Okay then, I’ll make my own travel itinerary!”
Just like every other adventure, it starts by planning when you’re going to your destination. I’ve decided to visit Cebu on March since it’s at the height of the summer season in the Philippines, which means less chances of rain. Then there’s actually booking your flight, I booked my MNL-CEB-MNL tickets with Cebu Pacific since they offer the lowest fares next to Air Asia.
“My travel dates are confirmed, now where should I go and what will I do there?”
There’s a lot of activities to try and experience at the southern part of Cebu. From hiking in Dalaguete, swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, chasing waterfalls in Samboan, dipping in the hot springs of Malabuyoc, canyoneering in Badian, diving/snorkeling in Moalboal, to simply enjoying the best lechon Carcar has to offer. The choices are practically limitless!
This Southern Cebu DIY trip is ideal if you’ll stay within the island for 4D/3N, and is best for backpackers since you’ll be riding the habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) when going to most of the destinations.
Notes and protips will be provided as we go along. I’ll be as detailed as possible, all rates are as of March 2017.
Notes: ATM machines are very rare and transactions are made on cash basis most of the time, including the hotels. Make sure that you have enough money with you to last for the entire trip. Bringing smaller bills is very convenient as well.
Habal-habal drivers will often quote you 4-5 times the normal amount for their transportation services, and they can be quite intimidating and relentless. For us budget travelers, that’s a big pain in the a**. Just calm your nerves, tell them you need time to think, then ask the locals for guidance.
The itinerary I will be providing will always include a 30-minute allowance solely for waiting the bus. Buses leave the South Bus Terminal every 30 minutes.
Day 1: Simala Shrine, Osmeña Peak
0900H Touch down at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Ride a taxi cab bound to Cebu South Bus Terminal.
You may save a few bucks if you use metered taxis instead of airport taxis. Fare via metered taxi is around P300, travel time is around 1 hour. Cebu city is being serviced by Uber as well. You may buy breakfast at Jollibee within the airport.
1030H At Cebu South Bus Terminal, ride a Ceres bus going to Bato via Oslob. Tell the conductor you’re going to Simala Shrine. You’ll be dropped off at Sibonga.
Buses leave every 30 minutes, there are airconditioned and non-airconditioned buses. Airconditioned buses have wifi and movies onboard. Fare via A/C bus is P72, travel time is around 1.5 hours.
1230H At Sibonga, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) to and from Simala Shrine.
Fare via habal-habal is P40 round trip, travel time is 20 minutes round trip.
Sleeveless shirts, skimpy and inappropriate outfits are not allowed to go inside the Shrine. Please observe silence as it is a place for worship and pilgrimage.
1330H Travel by bus going to Dalaguete (pronounced as Da-laget). Tell the conductor you’re going to Osmeña Peak.
Fare via A/C bus is P55, travel time is 45 minutes.
1445H At Dalaguete Junction, register and hire a habal-habal going to Osmeña Peak.
Registration is beside the 7-Eleven convenience store. Habal-habal rental is P400 roundtrip good for 2 persons. Travel time is 45 minutes. There are several eateries nearby for your late lunch.
1530H At the jump-off point, register at the DENR office then start your hike to Osmeña Peak.
Registration fee is P30, guides are optional as the trail is very obvious and the hike is very short. If you opt to hire a guide, P100 is very reasonable and provides the locals an additional source of income.
Standing at 1,013 meters above sea level, Osmeña Peak is the highest point in Cebu. Ironically, the hike up to its summit is very easy since vehicles can drive almost all the way up. Nevertheless, the views are very wonderful and the climate is cool, perfect for growing vegetables, hence the area being called the Vegetable Basket of Cebu. On a clear day, you can already see Badian and Moalboal on the other side, as well as the island province of Negros.
1630H Descend, travel back to Dalaguete.
1815H At Dalaguete Junction, travel by bus going to your accommodation in Oslob.
Fare via A/C bus is P50, travel time is 45 minutes.
1915H Arrival at accommodation in Oslob.
Both Poblacion and Tanawan are districts in the Town of Oslob where most accommodations are located. I booked my accommodation thru booking.com at Germaroze Guesthouse at Poblacion, Oslob for P1,300 a night, good for 2 persons.
Protip: The earlier you arrive at the Whale Shark Watching site, the better. Request your accomodation to secure a ride–either habal-habal or tricycle–for you at around 0530H-0630H next day.
Day 2: Whale shark Interaction, Chasing waterfalls (Aguinid, Hidden Binalayan, Dau, Inambakan)
0500H Call time, Prepare, Breakfast, Sunrise watching.
0600H Travel to Whale Shark Interaction site via arranged service.
Tricycle service fare is P150, travel time is 20 minutes. There are also eateries nearby that offer meals for a reasonable price. There are also shops where you may buy dry bags, souvenirs, etc.
0630H Briefing and Registration for Whale Shark Interaction.
Everyone is required to attend a short briefing about the rules while doing the interaction. Here are some of the rules mentioned: no flash photography, no application of sunblock, keep distance and no touching of the whale sharks.
Locals (watching inside the boat, no swimming + life jacket) – P300
Locals (snorkeling with whale shark + life jacket) – P500
Foreigners (snorkeling with whale shark + life jacket) – P1,000
Whale Shark Interaction is open daily from 0600H-1200H
Interaction is good for 30 minutes only.
0730H Whale Shark Interaction.
0810H Proceed back to accommodation, freshen up, pack up.
0930H Check out, catch a bus bound to Bato bus terminal.
Fare via A/C bus is P40, travel time is 40 minutes.
1040H Early lunch at Bato bus terminal, catch next bus bound to Cebu via Barili. Tell the conductor you’re going to Aguinid Falls in Samboan.
Fare via non-A/C bus is P10, travel time is 20 minutes.
1120H At the jump off point, walk towards and register at the DENR station then start your exploration of Aguinid Falls.
Registration fee is P40, Tour guide is required and fee starts at P100, you can pay more if you’re pleased with your guide. You may leave your belongings at the DENR station. There are eateries nearby that offer meals at a reasonable price.
1300H Back at the DENR station. Ride a habal-habal going to Hidden Binalayan Falls jump off point.
Fare via habal-habal is P20, travel time is 10 minutes.
Protip: many habal-habal drivers will try to convince you to avail their “package” for the next 2 waterfalls (Hidden Binalayan and Dau) for P250, be firm in telling them that you only need one ride going to Hidden Binalayan. It will only cost you 20 bucks.
1310H At the jump off point, walk towards and register at the DENR station then start your exploration of Hidden Binalayan Falls.
Registration fee is P40, Tour guide is required and fee starts at P100. 30 minutes walk.
1410H Back at the DENR station. Ride a habal-habal going to Dau Falls jump off point.
Fare via habal-habal is P50, travel time is 15 minutes.
1425H At the jump off point, walk towards and register at the DENR station then start your exploration of Dau Falls.
Registration fee is P40, Tour guide is required and fee starts at P100. 1 hour walk.
1600H Back at the DENR station. Ride a habal-habal, tell the driver you’re going to Inambakan Falls in Ginatilan (pronounced as Hi-na-ti-lan). Once dropped off, ride another habal-habal going to DENR station.
Fare via 1st habal-habal is P50, fare via 2nd habal-habal is P60 roundtrip. Travel time is 40 minutes.
1640H At the DENR Station, register then start your exploration of Inambakan Falls.
Registration fee is P30, Tour guide is not required. 20 minutes walk.
1730H Back at the DENR station. Ride a habal-habal going back to Ginatilan town proper, then ride a bus going to your accomodation in Badian or Moalboal.
Fare via A/C bus to Panagsama Road, Moalboal is P67. Travel time is 1 hour.
1830H Dinner at Moalboal town proper, ride a habal-habal going to your accommodation.
Fare via habal-habal is P30-70 depending on where you are staying. I booked my accommodation thru booking.com at Johnnil’s Tourist Inn at Panagsama, Moalboal for P900 a night, good for 4 persons.
Protip: You have more accommodation options that are generally cheaper in Moalboal, specifically in Panagsama, as compared to Badian. If you choose to spend the night at Moalboal, coordinate with your habal-habal driver to fetch you up early at around 0500H-0530H next day to bring you to the bus stop.
Day 3: Badian Canyoneering, Moalboal Sardine Run, Pescador Island
0430H Call time, prepare
0530H Ride arranged habal-habal going to Moalboal bus stop.
Fare via habal-habal is P30-70 depending on where you’re staying.
0600H Catch a bus going to Badian. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Matutinao Beach Resort.
Fare via non-A/C bus is P20. Travel time is 30 minutes.
0630H Arrival at Matutinao Beach Resort, breakfast, registration for Canyoneering.
There are eateries nearby that offer meals at a reasonable price. Eat light meals only prior the canyoneering activity.
I chose Kawasan Canyoneering as my operator since they are the one who established and standardized the canyoneering activity in Badian. Their standard rates for locals and foreigners is P1,500 inclusive of a guide (2 participants per 1 guide ratio), a bottled water and snack, helmet and life vest, and a hearty recovery meal at the end of the activity.
If you are travelling with a group, you may also rent an airconditioned room or kubo (nipa hut) at Matutinao Beach Resort, the operator of Kawasan Canyoneering.
0700H Start of Canyoneering activity.
I recommend starting early for the Canyoneering activity so you may enjoy the scenery and experience before the place gets crowded with tourists. Remember, there are many other canyoneering operators in Badian aside from Kawasan Canyoneering. Me and my guide started at 0700H and there’s basically no other people than us.
There are 4 drops during the entire activity, the first one being mandatory and the next three is optional. I leaped on all four drops because YOLO!
The third drop and second highest allowed jump at 30 feet high.
The fourth drop and highest allowed jump at 40 feet high.
0900H End of Canyoneering activity, exit point at Kawasan Falls.
The fifth drop and the highest is the Kawasan falls itself at 80 feet high. Guests are NOT allowed to jump from Kawasan falls.
0930H Back at Matutinao Beach Resort, recovery meal.
1000H Catch a bus going back to your accommodation in Moalboal, tidy up, prepare.
Fare via non-A/C bus is P20, fare via habal-habal is P30-70. Travel time is 45 minutes.
1200H Check out, ride a habal-habal going to White Beach, Moalboal, arrange Island hopping.
Fare via habal-habal is P75, boat rental for island hopping is P2,000-2,500 inclusive of snorkeling gear and life vest, good for 6 persons. There are eateries around white beach that offer meals at a slightly higher price.
Protip: Ask around and speak with the local boatmen. Request to tag along if other tourists rent their boat for the island hopping. It took me 2 attempts to find a group nice enough to allow me to join them. It cost me P500 instead of P2,500 to go island hopping.
1300H Island Hopping (Sardine Run, Pescador Island)
1630H Back at White Beach, freshen up, prepare, catch a bus bound for Cebu city.
Fare via A/C bus is P120. Travel time is 3 hours.
2000H Arrival Cebu city, dinner at SM Cebu or Robinson’s Galleria, check in at your accommodation.
I booked my accommodation thru booking.com at Kiwilodge Hotel at Mabolo, Cebu City for P1,250 a night, good for 2 persons inclusive of a set breakfast.
Day 4: City Tour
Your itinerary for your last day depends on the time of your flight back to Manila, and your energy level. Since my flight is at 2140H, I decided to slow down and relax on my last day.
Alternative destinations you may consider: Sky Walk and Edge Coaster at Crown Regency, Temple of Leah, Cebu Taoist Temple, Mactan Shrine, 10,000 Roses cafe.
0700H Call time, prepare, breakfast
0800H Catch a taxi cab going to Tabo-an market to buy pasalubong (Tagalog term for stuff you buy for friends while you’re on a trip).
Protip: Make sure to visit Tabo-an market prior to checking out of your hotel so you may freshen up afterwards. The smell of dried fish is so pungent that it sticks to your clothes.
1000H Back at hotel, freshen up, pack up, check out.
Protip: You don’t have to carry all your luggage and pasalubong with you while you tour the city. You can either leave them at your hotel concierge, or deposit them at a package counter in SM Cebu or Robinson’s Galleria.
1130H Magellan’s Cross, Basilica of Sto. Niño, Fort San Pedro
All these three are all walking distance from each other and can be visited very easily. Entrance fee for Fort San Pedro is P30
1400H Pick up stuff at hotel concierge/mall package counter, late lunch at SM Cebu, proceed to Lantaw Cordova.
From SM Cebu, ride a van going to Cordova, get off at Cordova Crossing, ride a habal-habal going to Lantaw Cordova. Fare via Van is P35, fare via habal-habal is P20. Travel time is 1.5 hours.
1730H Sunset meal at Lantaw Cordova
1900H Ride a habal-habal or taxi going to Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
2140H A bid good bye to Cebu.
As for my expenses, I spent around P10,000 for this solo DIY southern Cebu adventure, excluding air fare and pasalubong expenses. You can lessen the expense by at least P1,500 if you travel with a buddy so you can split the accommodation fees.
I hope this post can help you craft your own DIY southern Cebu itinerary.
Feel free to reach out to me thru this blog or thru my Instagram @adventurefootprints where you can also find more of my travel and adventure photos. Have an adventure filled day!