It wasn’t until I went for the third time and did a little backpacking around the southern part of Cebu that I finally fell in love with this island. You know what they say, sometimes, it just isn’t the right place and time. Cebu, although one of the most popular islands of the Philippines (click here to see the rest), still contains many little hidden locales that not many may know of. But then again… off the beaten path or not, the southern part of Cebu is one of the places I would easily recommend anyone to go take a look at for themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, the entire island of Cebu is impressive as it is, but there’s just something about the south that could simply entice any traveler. Here’s a few reasons why…
It’s better down where it’s wetter…under the sea…
Although the southern part of Cebu lacks the accessibility of immaculate beaches with stretches of white powdery sands, you will find a superb underwater biodiversity here. Known for having one of the world’s best diving spots, Moalboal, Cebu attracts divers and snorkelers from all over the world. With a colorful array of thousands of fish and corals, THIS is where you want to experience an underwater adventure. One of my best snorkeling experience is right with the thousands of schools of sardines circling around down under. They happen to be there everyday so try not to miss that.
And of course, one of the most popular tourist attraction in Oslob are the whale sharks. Although it is in fact in the wild, do expect a lot of tourists sharing this experience with you. I’ve read many falsified reviews on exploited tourism here, but I’ve personally witnessed the protection these gentle giants gets. They don’t use a motorized boat to get near them to avoid injuring them, and they also educate tourists on their regulations prior to going in (such as non use of sunblock etc). On top of that, you will get fined if you get caught touching those beautiful creatures.
Go chasin’ waterfalls…
Nature at its finest here, you guys. With the amount of beautifully hidden waterfalls around southern Cebu, a weekend here will not be enough. Head to Samboan (“sum-bwon”) and start early for a long day of waterfall hopping. The Aguinid waterfalls is a five-tiered flowing beauty that requires a pretty good pair of water shoes for the climbing and sliding. About another half an hour away, there’s the Hidden Falls that rests so peacefully in a cave like setting. If you head down to the town of Alegria, you will find the freshest and bluest waterfall you possibly ever would– Kawasan. I recommend going there via the harder way which is a 3 hour canyoneering adventure through the Matutinao river (may also be the bluest river you’ll ever swim in). Tumalog Falls is in Oslob where an eternal drizzle flows down a gigantic mossy wall– think Avatar setting. If you have more time to spend, there are many other waterfalls around this part of the island that hides secretly in the midst of nature waiting for you to be explored.
Proximity to other islands
From the most southern part of Cebu, you can make your way to other beautiful islands. Feel like swimming with sea turtles in the wild? Head on to Apo Island in Dumaguete. What about a little black magic? Siquijor is a few more steps away. Though you can reach Bohol from here, it’s actually closer to Cebu City. But then again, there are many other less touristy islands you can hop to from here.
I’ve been told me that if I wanted to meet the nicest Filipinos, I should head down to Cebu. So you can imagine my dismay when I went to Cebu City and I still got the unnecessary (not to mention violating) hollers and whistles from the men in the streets. But when I finally got to explore the rest of Cebu away from the city, I met some of the kindest and most endearing strangers in the Philippines. Wow, Filipinos ARE actually hospitable, I thought. Even the men we paid to take us around (habal-habal drivers) took such good care of us and made sure we had a great time. One even brought us home cooked food — the famed Cebu lechon, at our guesthouse because we’ve been desperately searching for it. They spoiled us! Living in the Philippines, I learned to always put my guards up because most of my experiences with people trying to help always came with a hidden motive for money. But I didn’t get that here at all. People would offer help just because. The ones who were actually trying to make a living and offering their services are still honest, and we never got the feeling that we were getting ripped off– a rarity for us in this country. If warm, wonderful, honest locals aren’t enough to persuade you to come, then I don’t know what will.
Now there are many other things to see and things to do in this part of Cebu. I didn’t mention the beaches, the islands, the hikes, the history, etc.. Because as great as they are, to be honest, that’s not the reason why you should put southern Cebu in your itinerary. Those are not what stands out here, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re probably better off at a different spot because there are better ones all over the Philippines. THESE, however are the jewels of southern Cebu. THESE are what you come here for. They’re all pretty amazing, so go plan that trip already! (READ:The 4 Towns You Must Not Miss In Southern Cebu)
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