Cebu Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. People come here to see the amazing blue waterfalls, hang out at pristine beaches, enjoy the vibrant underwater world and complete some breathtaking hikes. The key to our South Cebu itinerary is to make your way down south towards Moalboal as soon as possible.
This is where most of the action and adventure is on the island. Having visited Cebu a couple of times, we decided to put together a South Cebu itinerary, which is our complete adventure travel guide designed to help you make the most of this incredible region.
Despite having been to Cebu a few times, it was only on our second trip here that we truly began to appreciate just how good this part of the world is. While the main Cebu attractions, such as Kawasan Falls canyoneering and diving are brilliant, there are tonnes more Cebu hidden gems. We originally booked into our accommodation in Moalboal for two nights but just kept extending our stay as there were so many things to do in South Cebu.
It didn’t take us long to realise that southern Cebu is an adult playground and pretty much the dream destination for adventure lovers. A week spent hiking, cliff jumping and diving is just about as good as it gets.
Where to Stay in South Cebu
As we mentioned above, we recommend heading south straight away. Most travellers will arrive into Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City, but we don’t recommend spending any time in the city unless you have to. We spent a couple of nights here in between flights and when we were extending our Philippines visas, but suggest blasting straight through Cebu City and heading south.
In our opinion, Moalboal is the best place to stay when exploring the southern region of Cebu. It has all the amenities and everything you need to make an epic trip. Most importantly, it is within easy driving distance of all the most beautiful places in Cebu, making it the perfect hub to base yourself. There are lots of great places to eat, strong wifi connection, plenty of other travellers and a wide range of choices for accommodation.
As we recommend basing yourself in Moalboal, our South Cebu itinerary could also double as a Moalboal itinerary. That being said, if you opt to stay elsewhere in South Cebu, the itinerary will still outline the best activities and agenda for the region.
Below we have listed our top picks on where to stay in Moalboal.
Budget: J&C Guesthouse – Our choice for budget accommodation and where we stayed while in Moalboal. A private double room with air conditioning cost 1000PHP ($19.56 USD) and this price also included breakfast. It is a short walk to the beach and close to lots of good restaurants.
Mid-range: Moalboal Shaka Traveler’s Place – If you want to stay right on the beach but not break the bank then this is the place for you. They have their own private beach area and a great terrace to watch sunset each night. Shaka also offers dorm rooms for those who want a more social atmosphere.
Luxury: The Blue Orchid Resort – A much more luxurious way to enjoy Moalboal. They have an awesome pool, an on-site dive centre and they are also located right on the water.
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Getting to South Cebu & Moalboal
Most people first arrive in to Cebu City. In order to get to Moalboal from Cebu, you need to reach the Cebu South Bus Terminal from either the airport or from your accommodation. The easiest way to do this is to take a Grab, which is the Asian version of Uber, to the bus terminal.
The bus you need to take is the Bato via Barili bus and is run by Ceres Tours. This bus leaves from bay 4 of the Cebu South Bus Terminal. Busses run frequently throughout the day and into the evening until clear. This means that the busses run until there is no longer a queue of people waiting to travel.
We recommend travelling during the day if possible as you will be unable to rely on catching a bus late in the evening. We caught our bus at 8:30pm and it may have been the last bus of the night.
The journey to Moalboal should take around 2 hours and 45 minutes and costs 156PHP ($3.05 USD) per person. Most of the busses are large, air conditioned coaches that make for a comfortable journey.
Once you reach Moalboal you will be dropped in the town centre. The main tourist area isn’t actually located in Moalboal centre, but at nearby Panagsama Beach. You will need to take a trike or habal habal to get here. If you arrive during the day, this trip should cost 50PHP ($1 USD) per person, however if you arrive late in the evening it will be more expensive. We paid 180PHP ($3.52 USD) for a trike at 11.30pm.
Getting Around Cebu Island
As so many of the best things to do in Cebu are spread out, you will need a good mode of transport to get out and explore. We recommend renting a scooter while you are in Moalboal. It makes life so much easier being able to jump on a scooter and take off whenever you feel like it.
Scooter rental costs around 300PHP ($5.87 USD) per day and the roads in Cebu are fairly well maintained. It isn’t too busy on the roads making driving a scooter here easy.
If you really don’t fancy driving a scooter, there are a couple of other options. You can pay for a habal habal (motorcycle with a driver) or a tricycle to take you around the island, however this will be much more expensive than renting a scooter.
There are also local busses that service the main roads on the island but they can rarely take you exactly where you want to go. Once you get off the bus you will usually have to get a habal habal to your final destination.
Lastly, there are some tour operators that can pick you up at your hotel in Moalboal and take you out exploring. Although this is incredibly convenient, it doesn’t allow access to some of the more off the beaten path destinations and can cost much more than the DIY version.
South Cebu Itinerary 5 Days
In our opinion, five days is the perfect amount of time to spend in this region. It will allow you to experience the awesome things to do in Moalboal as well as the best places to go in South Cebu. We didn’t expect to enjoy the region as much as we did and kept extending our stay night by night until we had almost stayed a week.
We have provided below the outline for our South Cebu itinerary that we followed during our time here. Below this is a comprehensive guide for all of the best things to do in Moalboal and South Cebu, explaining each activity in greater detail.
- Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls
- Snorkel with the Sardine bait balls
- Swim with the resident turtles
- Osmeña Peak
- Casino Peak
- Cambais Falls
- Aguinid Falls
- Island Hopping to Pescador Island
- Hidden Falls (optional)
- Go Scuba Diving
- White Beach
- Lambug Beach
- Dao Falls
- Inambakan Falls
- Kabutongan Falls
This itinerary is designed to give you an action-packed five days in South Cebu. As the places to visit in Cebu are quite spread out, we designed our guide strategically to ensure you do several activities each day that are close together.
The above itinerary can be easily modified to fit a longer or shorter stay here depending on the amount of time you have and how much you want to do each day. Simply space out the activities over more days to give you more time to relax, or remove a few of the activities to shorten your duration.
Things to Do in South Cebu
Canyoneering Kawasan Falls
When people are deciding what to do in Cebu this is usually at the top of their lists. Kawasan Falls is probably the most famous and popular waterfall in the Philippines. The water flows down through the mountains into numerous Gatorade blue pools. It is a seriously beautiful place.
The epic thing about Kawasan is that you can actually go on a canyoneering tour. You start high up the waterfall and make your way to the pools at the bottom by swimming, sliding and cliff jumping. It is an adrenaline filled adventure that makes for a super fun day out. The expert guides know all the best and most thrilling ways down and will guide you through these amazing falls. Canyoneering is always a good time and to be able to do it somewhere so spectacular makes it next level good.
If you are looking to book your tour before you go, then we recommend the Badian Canyoneering Experience. Check out their rates and availability here.
If you don’t fancy canyoneering, then it is possible to just visit the main waterfalls and swim in the blue pools. We chose to do this on our second trip here as we had already done the canyoneering experience. You can drive to Kawasan Falls and pay the entrance fee, 45PHP ($0.88 USD) per person, and explore the bottom section of the multi tiered cascading waterfalls yourself.
There are several waterfalls to enjoy and once you make your way passed the main falls at the bottom, the crowds start to thin out and you can even find little pools to chill out in with no other people.
We recommend canyoneering here as it is so much fun and probably the most beautiful place on earth you can do an activity like this. But if you decide against canyoneering, a visit to Kawasan Falls should still be one of your main priorities.
Snorkel with the Sardine Bait Balls
Moalboal is renowned for the huge sardine bait balls that swim just a few metres from Panagsama Beach. Thousands of fish swim together to form these giant black schools that are truly unique. If you dive down amongst them, they will circle around you and incorporate you into their ball. We have done loads of free diving around the world and this was definitely one of the cooler and more unusual things we have witnessed underwater.
One of the reasons that it is so good is that it is easy to access. There is no need to take a boat or scuba dive as the sardines swim close to the shore. They are around 20 metres from shore and swim just a few metres below the surface of the water.
To find the bait balls head to Panagsama Beach and turn left. Follow the beach until you see a yellow pier that extends into the ocean. Just past this pier is where the bait balls can be found.
Snorkels can be rented from most accommodations or from the shops near the beach and should cost 100PHP ($2 USD) per person. If you are unsure of exactly where to snorkel just ask the friendly locals and they will be more than happy to show you.
Swim with the Resident Turtles
As well as having bait balls, Moalboal is also home to tonnes of turtles. The turtles hang out in the sea grass garden just in front of Chili Bar. This is where they come to feed and as a result there are usually loads of turtles hanging out here and having a munch.
We saw 8 turtles when we swam here and have heard that this is a common occurrence. The turtles are found near to the bait balls so you can do both of these snorkel spots at the same time.
There are a couple of great hikes on Cebu that offer incredible views across the unique mountainous landscape. Osmeña Peak is about 1.5 hours drive from Moalboal and is a short hike that offers an impressive 360-degree view from the top.
Hiking in the Philippines can be tough going. The heat and the humidity can make even a short hike seem difficult. Luckily, it only takes 15-20 minutes to climb to the top of Osmeña Peak to catch a glimpse of the hundreds of rounded hilltops scattered across the countryside.
The entrance fee for this hike is 30PHP ($0.59 USD) per person and it is not required for you to take a guide. The trail is fairly easy and is very simple to follow. We completed this hike in the middle of the day and didn’t find it too difficult in the heat. Hiking Osmeña offers something a little bit different to the diving and waterfalls that Cebu is famous for.
If you are coming from Cebu City there is a really good tour that takes you to both Osmeña Peak and Kawasan Falls for under $30USD. Check availability for the Osmeña Peak & Kawasan Falls tour.
Read our full guide on the Osmeña Peak hike to find out more: Osmeña Peak | Epic Hike on Cebu Island
Casino Peak (Lugsangan Peak)
While Casino Peak is nowhere near as popular as Osmeña Peak, we actually thought it was even better. It is just a 10-minute drive from Osmeña making it easy to do both hikes on the same trip. The views afforded you at the top of Casino Peak are similar to that of Osmeña, however there are no crowds here.
We shared the top of Osmeña with around 15 people while we had Casino Peak all to ourselves. Being able to enjoy somewhere this good with nobody else there is always a bonus.
Entrance fee for Casino Peak is also 30PHP ($0.59 USD) per person and no guide is required. The climb to the top takes around 15-minutes however it is quite steep. It is locally known as the chocolate hills of Cebu and when you reach the top you will understand why.
While Kawasan Falls is the most popular waterfall in Cebu, there are actually loads of incredible waterfalls dotted all around the southern end of the island. Cambais Falls is one of our favourites as it has that signature blue water you come to expect from waterfalls here.
Cambais allows you to enjoy 3 levels of waterfalls but offers a more DIY adventure than Kawasan. You can cliff jump, rock climb, swim and slide between the different pools. It is a remote waterfall surrounded by lush jungle greenery which just enhances the sense of adventure you feel when exploring these magnificent falls.
Cambais Falls is located on the road out towards Osmeña and Casino Peak, rounding out a great day trip and making it the perfect spot to cool down after a couple of hikes. Entrance fee is 50PHP ($1 USD) per person and you are not required to take a guide. If you decide to take a guide you will need to leave them a tip.
Cambais Falls is one of the more off the beaten path waterfalls in the area and you should only have to share it with a few other people.
Please note that that Cambais is closed on the first Monday of every month to allow regeneration of the area.
Read our full guide on Cambais Falls to find out more: Cambais Falls | DIY Waterfall Adventure
Our favourite waterfall in the Philippines! The Tangbo River cascades down 8 different levels to create these stunning waterfalls. Aguinid Falls was the best and most challenging waterfall adventure we had in the Philippines. The water cuts through the jungle, gushing down limestone rocks and into too many blue pools to keep count.
The entrance fee here is 60PHP ($1.17 USD) per person and you are required to take a guide here. On top of the entrance fee you will need to leave a tip for your guide as the entrance fee does not cover their wages. Aguinid is located about 1 hour and 20 minutes drive from Moalboal.
Usually you are only able to climb the first 5 levels, however you may be able to convince your guide to take you to all 8 levels like we did. The main waterfall is at level 5 so don’t fret if they won’t take you any further.
Again we only had to share this amazing place with a few people and we even received fresh coconuts at the end. Scrambling up these waterfalls made for an epic day out and if you only have the chance to visit one waterfall in the region, make sure it is this one.
Read our full guide on Aguinid Falls to find out more: Aguinid Falls | Best Waterfall in Samboan, Cebu
Island Hopping to Pescador Island
To discover more of the underwater world around Cebu, jump on a boat tour to Pescador Island which is in the Tañon Strait. Pescador is so popular as it is surrounded on all sides by vibrant coral reef that is teeming with fish. The reef is relatively shallow, meaning you can enjoy them without scuba diving, just bring a snorkel.
As well as the coral reefs, it is common to see turtles just off Talisay Point and if you are lucky you may even spot some dolphins on the way home.
Book your island hopping tour to Pescador Island here.
Hidden Falls (Binalayan Falls)
This waterfall isn’t one of the must see attractions in the area but if you have some extra time it is definitely worth checking it out. It is right next to Aguinid Falls so we easily squeezed it into our South Cebu itinerary. If you are in the area it is worth making a stop.
It is a 15-minute walk to reach the first waterfall. Here you can swing out over the water on the tire swing, swim in the pool and enjoy an aqua massage from the small waterfall. The second waterfall is the main attraction though.
The water splits into three different streams and flows down the 10-metre drop to the pool below. There are several cliff jumping spots at varying heights and if you are feeling limber you can climb up into a cave behind the waterfall with the help of one of the guides. After enjoying the view from behind the falls you can jump through the waterfall and into the pool below.
It costs 60PHP ($1.17 USD) per person and parking our scooter cost 10PHP ($0.20 USD). Even though it is a straight walk through the forest you are required to take a guide with you and you will need to tip the guide.
Binalayan Falls are just a few minutes’ drive from Aguinid Falls and you only need an hour to experience these falls. If you have the time we recommend making the short trip as it is still a really cool waterfall.
Go Scuba Diving
The waters around Moalboal are renowned for great diving. The ocean is warm, visibility is great in the crystal clear water, and there is a vibrant world underneath the surface for you to discover.
There are several options when diving here. You can go on a dive from shore which usually entails diving with the huge schools of sardines. A shore dive costs around 1100PHP ($21.50 USD).
A more popular option is to head out on a boat and check out the airplane wreck, Pescador Island or many other dive spots. There are loads of options for diving here, including deep water dives, fascinating macro life, huge drop offs and incredible corals. Boat dives start from around 1300PHP ($25.42 USD).
With such an action packed South Cebu itinerary it’s important to kick back and relax for a few hours. White Beach is just a 15-minute drive from Moalboal and offers a much prettier stretch of sand than Panagsama Beach. The brilliant white sand and crystal clear water make this the perfect place to relax.
It is worth noting that compared to many beaches in the Philippines the Cebu beaches didn’t blow us away. White Beach is a beautiful sand bar, but it is a small stretch of beach and the numerous restaurants cramp the relaxed, quiet beach vibe you may be going for.
There are a couple of separate entrance fees you must pay to gain entry to White Beach. On the main road you will be made to stop to pay 5PHP ($0.10 USD) which is a government fee. At the beach you must then pay a 10PHP ($0.20 USD) fee to the land owners.
This is one of the nicer beaches on Cebu and is a great place to escape from the crowds. It is a long stretch white sand, scattered with palm trees and with very few people around. It is a 30-minute drive from Moalboal and the last leg of the drive out here is very pretty. As you come down the hill towards the water you will start to catch glimpses of that clear aquamarine blue.
The beach is located at the end of some narrow, windy roads through the countryside. It cost us 25PHP ($0.50 USD) to park our scooter here.
Dao Falls, with its canyons, is one of the more unique and spectacular waterfalls in the area. The 20-minute hike through the jungle to reach the main waterfall was just as impressive as the falls themselves. We crossed a rickety looking bamboo bridge, walked through the jungle, across streams and through the canyons and ravines.
It really was an awesome hike and the canyons that the river flows through are so different to all of the other waterfalls in Cebu. There are four different pools to swim in plus several waterfalls to enjoy. The final waterfall is the best and it cascades into a blue pool which is ideal for swimming in.
The entrance fee for Dao Falls is 60PHP ($1.17 USD) per person and even though there isn’t really any need for a guide you are required to take one with you. There was also a 20PHP (0.40 USD) fee for parking our scooter.
Dao Falls is a 1 hour 15-minute drive from Moalboal. It is ok to wear flip flops as it is an easy hike to the falls. Plan for at least 1 hour to enjoy Dao Falls.
After Kawasan Falls this is probably the most remarkable waterfall in the region in terms of sheer size and scale. The main waterfall at the bottom level is huge and it thunders down into a stunning aquamarine pool. You can swim under the waterfall and into the cave behind the falls.
Inambakan Falls is actually spread across 5 different levels. As very few people venture past the main waterfall at the bottom, we actually had the upper levels all to ourselves. Make sure you hike to the top and enjoy each level of the falls. It is a steep 15-minute climb to reach the top of the falls and you make your way back down from here.
The upper levels have more of an emerald green water colour as opposed to the magnificent blue of the main waterfall. However, it is the fun of getting down the falls that make it such a great experience. There are some cliff jumps, caves and numerous different pools to enjoy.
Our favourite part of the falls was at level two where we could clamber up onto the rocks at the base of one of the waterfalls and let the water rush over and around us. It was epic. Plan to spend around 1.5 hours here.
Entrance to Inambakan Falls costs 50PHP ($1 USD) per person and we also paid 15PHP ($0.30 USD) for parking. You have to take a guide with you to explore the top levels of the falls and be sure to tip your guide.
These falls are just a 10-minute drive from Inambakan Falls and perfect to do on the same day. These were probably the least beautiful falls that we visited – although keep in mind we are comparing it to the brilliant blues of Kawasan and Cambais – and that they are still in no means average. They are definitely still worth doing.
It was the most active and challenging experience as most of your time is spent in the water, clambering over rocks, wading through waterfalls and swimming from one spot to the next.
You swim and climb your way across 4 different levels, until you reach the main waterfall at the top. There is a 20-foot cliff jump into the deep green pool, a large cave you can swim into behind the falls and the main waterfall itself is really cool.
On the way back down there are some other smaller falls, natural rock slides and some smaller cliff jumps including one into the emerald pool at the bottom of the falls. The return trek up the waterfall and back took us just over 1 hour.
The entrance fee is 100PHP ($2 USD) per person and you are required to take a guide and wear a life jacket.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
This has become sort of a taboo subject when visiting Cebu. We decided not to swim with the Whale Sharks in Oslob as we had heard how it was having a negative effect on these amazing creatures. Luckily, we have swam with Whale Sharks before in Western Australia so we didn’t feel like we missed out too much.
To get a better understanding of the impact that tourism is having on the Whale Sharks in Cebu we suggest reading this article, why we chose not to swim with the whale sharks in Oslob.
Where to Eat in Moalboal
Three Bears – Great burgers and they even had poutine, a staple for any good Canadian. Not the cheapest place we ate, but it was tasty.
Mayim Beach Bar – Fantastic value for wood fired pizza and it has a great view over the water.
Shaka – Awesome smoothie bowls and chilled out vibes. We first encountered Shaka in Siargao and were delighted to find another one in Moalboal.
Tacos Bar – Maybe not the best Mexican food we have ever had, but it was nice to mix it up and have something different. It’s also very cheap.
Chili Bar – The ultimate spot to have a cold drink and watch the sun set over the water. Get in early to get a table by the water.
We really didn’t envision falling in love with this part of the Philippines but the amount of epic waterfall adventures, hikes and diving had us head over heels for Cebu. Our South Cebu itinerary was designed to give you the most action packed week and enable you to see almost everything in this amazing part of the Philippines.
We know that we have suggested a heap of different activities, making for a busy week, but once you start to explore this region you’ll find it difficult to stop.
Have we missed anything on our South Cebu itinerary? Let us know your favourite places to go in Cebu.
*Please note, prices are a reflection of our experiences while traveling the Philippines in June 2019 and are subject to change. Prices quoted in PHP were the exact prices we paid and USD conversions are listed for your convenience.