What to Expect in Cebu

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Setting Foot in Cebu

10 months into our 1 year trip and we were finally on a Cebu Pacific flight bound to Cebu, the Philippines. Cebu was going to be one of the many islands that we would visit during our 60 days in this incredible country.

As with any other new destination, we got that usual excitement while figuring out what mode of transport we should use to reach our Hostel. In the Philippines there are quite a few modes of public transportation which got us a bit confused. Therefore, we settled on using our Grab App and after a few minutes were on our way.

The ride to our Hostel was an interesting one. Firstly, the ride which was only 14 km took us just under 2 hours. Although this may sound strange, we actually enjoyed it. As we sat in the back seat of our cab staring out the window like 2 little kids. My eyes were set on spotting local eateries which looked very interesting, chicken and crispy pork belly rotating on an open flame. Wow, I couldn’t wait to try. And while we sat there with our faces glued to the window, scooters cruised by and unlucky folks were having their punctured tyres vulcanized on the sidewalk on open flames.

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The exhausting yet interesting ride was definitely a great way to get introduced to the Philippines. It was a kind of introduction where we got snippets of the local culture, daily lives, cuisine and all this while chatting and getting other tips from our driver. 

Finally we arrived at our Hostel, still feeling lost you would have never imagined we had been travelling for almost a year. 

For the next 2 days we stayed in Cebu City. Went out for dinner and lunch at nearby eateries, I managed to eat a Balot on the first night. But mostly our days were spent planning and figuring out the logistics of our trip. 

At the time of writing, we have been 3 times to Cebu City. The first time we chose our accommodation in a not so good location which made our days not the best. And since everywhere was so hard to reach due to traffic (check out tip below), we didn’t go so much out and about. 

TIP: Our first visit to Cebu City was during the festive days of Sr. Sto Nino in mid January. A religious festivity that attracts lots of Filipinos from all over the country. Like any other city in the world there will always be traffic in Cebu City, but unless you are there around this time of year traffic will be not as bad.

just a small part of the millions of palm trees we saw
doesn't look that appealing but this is Balot which is actually quite good

What We Think About Cebu City

Cebu City is a great place to visit but I guess it is best to know from beforehand what to expect. The Philippines is a poor country and this is obvious in Cebu City. Impoverished areas and slums are dotted all around the city. And sidewalks are non existent in many places. And obviously then there is the traffic which is normal in any city in the world.

On the other hand, there are loads of restaurants, huge Malls, cool cafeterias and above all the locals are the best. We actually made quite a few friends in the city which we met every night on our third visit.


Meanwhile, we planned a route around the Philippines. Our next destination was a seaside village named Moalboal, about 90 km away from the stressful city life. Moalboal is on the opposite coast of Cebu City and a local bus ride takes between 2 to 4 hours. The trip took us through winding roads nestled in tropical jungle and along Cebu’s highlands.  This 90 km trip only cost around 3 euro.

Moalboal is the complete opposite of Cebu City. A laid back seaside town on Cebu’s South Western coast. It is also the main touristic area in this part of the island. Although we had already been in Cebu for a couple of nights, Moalboal was where our Philippine adventures began. 

But strangely enough this wasn’t a beach holiday and although we were right beside the ocean, we only got wet in seawater twice. For the following 5 days our activities involved getting wet in freshwater, cruising around mountainous farmland and along the way being greeted by groups of kids waving and shouting ‘hello’, kids who would be on their way to or from school. In the meantime I would have figure out if it was wise to wave or keep my eye out for any unseen bump. Most roads were perfect so I even managed to give high fives when riding slow.

waiting for jacqueline on my scooter after we had been to a beach
mama dog sleeping with her puppy at sunset on beach

Canyoneering | An Epic Adventure Along Rivers Hidden in a Tropical Jungle

As the sun started to rise on our 4th day in Cebu, we were cruising along the fresh morning air passing by charming little houses and dodging any unwary dogs and chickens. We were on our way to an epic canyoneering adventure about 45 minutes drive away from Moalboal.

From our first meeting point we were shuttled high up in the highlands on an extended motorbike. Not sure how but the motorbike managed to make its way up with us 2 our guide and the driver. A pretty badass motor I guess.

The dropping off point marked the start of this epic adventure. And 10 minutes in we were trekking in streams of water, sliding down slippery rock slides and jumping off adrenaline pumping cliffs and floating down canyon rivers. This was pretty much a non stop excitement for the following few hours.

early morning and making our way to Kawasan falls to beat the crowd
Kawasan waterfall and its surreal milky blue pool

Other Days

Besides the one massive canyoneering trip, most days we wandered off to loads of other waterfalls. Some were worth the trip while others didn’t really live up to what we expected. Still it was worthwhile to be out chasing waterfalls. You can find more about our favourite falls in the area on our Cebu post. This will be published shortly.

One day, in mid afternoon we thought of reaching Osmena peak. The intention was to get there and watch the sun setting over an epic view of jagged mountain tops. Our trip didn’t go to plan which was a good thing. 

Still on our way and about 15 minutes to Osmena, it was already getting dark. By the time we reached the entrance gate of Osmena peak it was, so dark we could see the milky-way and a few fireflies buzzing around the trees. Riding back to Moalboal wasn’t an option so we went on a search for the only accommodation in the area. A basic homestay not found online and barely anyone knows of the place. However, it still didn’t take us long to find since we got good whereabouts from a couple of locals. We spent the night here in this isolated village. We woke up early the next day. Cruised along foggy, dark, slippery streets. Almost crashed in the process of avoiding a frog and also dodged a snake. And at last reached Osmena peak a little too early this time. Unfortunately January isn’t a good time for Sunrise at Osmena. Most of the view was foggy and not that good. We did get a few minutes where the fog cleared up and we got a relatively good view of what to expect on clear days. 

Beside canyoneering, Moalboal is known for a spectacular underwater wonder, the sardines run. Just off the coast, millions of sardines cruise along a ridge a few metres away from the restaurants and tourist area of town. Really, this is an overwhelming experience and something we only had seen on documentaries. The syncronized way in which the sardines swim or seemingly dance is just unbelievable. We only needed to dive 3 or 4 metres to see these small fishes create all different forms right in front of our eyes. 

We had so many experiences in Cebu. I don’t know which to say is best since all are unique in their own way. But the top 3 are Canyoneering, the sardines run and Osmena peak did offer a glimpse of the view which is nothing short of amazing. 

warming up with a cup of noodles near Osmena Peak
waiting for clouds to clear up at Osmenia peak
a water dam, a part of the canyoneering adventure
selfie time near crystal clear fresh water

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