In the backyard of a friendly family near Lugsangan is one of the most amazing viewpoints on Cebu. Known as Casino Peak, this short trek to the top of a rocky ridge has a view I can guarantee you have never dreamed of in your wildest imagination.
When you think of Cebu, the first things that come to mind are the beaches, Whale Sharks, scuba-diving, canyoneering, and waterfalls. However, there are quite a number of beautiful hikes on the island.
Osmena Peak is among the most popular of the hikes as it looks out over the west coast above all of the hills. In the mountains of Cebu, you find these incredible hill formations that seem to go on forever. You might compare them to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol but in my opinion, there is no-one else in the world just like it. There are also a number of other hikes starting to draw some adventurous travelers away from the beaches such as Kandungaw Peak, Lovers Peak, and Sunset Peak. Casino Peak is one of the hikes you should definitely put on your bucket list. In fact, put it straight to the top because it is by far my favorite hike on Cebu so far!
HOW TO GET TO CASINO PEAK VIEWPOINT
There are several options to arriving to Casino Peak but the easiest is definitely to arrive by motorbike. It is possible to also arrive on a bus or habal-habal (bike transport). The third option is to hike to Casino Peak all the way from Osmena Peak, which is about an hour trek. Casino Peak is on Google Maps and I can confirm it is an accurate pin, which is always handy. I will outline how to get to Casino Peak below and also tell you what you can expect on the journey as well as my tips for the drive. It is important to note that it may be referred to as Lugsangan Peak by many people including the locals you are trying to ask for directions.
- Motorbike (How I arrived): From Moalboal we drove down to Alegria and in particular at Sangi in Alegria. You will need to turn right on the road after one of the main canyoneering centers. You can put Cambais Falls into google maps and this will give you the correct turn of also. The roads were average. Not great and lots of scattered potholes but nothing too crazy to navigate. We stopped off at Cangkalanog Falls at the halfway point to break up the journey. I suggest picking either Cambais or Cangkalanog Falls as they are both on the exact route to Casino Peak and otherwise it is a solid 2 hours of driving from Moalboal. The other tip is that there is a little restaurant in Mantolongan that has typical Filipino food with rice, vegetables, egg, pork and all other dishes to choose from. There isn’t an abundance of choice up in the mountains.
- Local bus: You can catch the local bus to Mantalongon (Dalaguete) from Cebu City and it will take about 3 hours and cost about $3 USD. Get off at Mantalongon market and find a Habal-Habal. It won’t be hard the whole town was staring at us as we stopped for lunch. This isn’t a tourist town whatsoever. The price should be about$1-2 (50-80 pesos) for the 15-minute journey. Casino Peak is just 5km from Mantalongon Market.
- Hike from Osmena Peak: I’ve never done this route but I know it is possible and takes about an hour. I’ve heard the trail isn’t hard but it isn’t a common route so the trail isn’t always clear. I would suggest this route only for the adventurous people willing to get lost or those willing to hire a guide. It would no doubt be a great little hike.
CASINO PEAK ENTRANCE AND FEES
No matter which option you choose to arrive at Casino Peak, the entrance will be the same. There is a small house with an ‘information center’, which is a small little hut. Another sign is seen from the road but this is a tiny road, you cannot miss it if you follow google maps pin. The entrance fee was 30 pesos per person and the mother of the family, Viring, showed us the path and had a chat with us.
CASINO PEAK TREK
The trek up Casino Peak from the information center is actually very short and hardly considered a trek in my opinion. The total trekking time to reach the summit is about ten minutes although it is quite steep. The track is clear the whole way but not marked.
First, you will wind your way up through the grassy field and likely pass by the local goats. Already from here you can turn around and get an amazing view of the hills behind you. This is just a teaser of what is to come. We knew that the viewpoint was going to be good by this point but every time we stopped to look around, the views on this hike just got better and better.
After about five minutes, there was a little plateau with a viewpoint out to the ocean. From here the trail continues to the right and is still quite worn but can be hard to miss. Viring told us the lady before hadn’t continued up past this point and I’m not sure if it was because of the rocky trail or she didn’t find the trail. Just know you definitely need to continue up past this point as it isn’t very dangerous and the view gets 100x better!
The trail gets a little bit wild from this point on but you never have to do any crazy maneuvers and there is a dirt trail the whole way. As we rounded the final little climb and looked backward, we could not believe our eyes as we saw the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. For me, this was the best mountain view I had ever seen in Cebu and It was a more impressive vista than Chocolate Hills on Bohol in my opinion.
I think because the summit was so wild it made the experience better. You climb atop a narrow ridge and then hang out here while the sun sets. At places like Chocolate Hills, you stand amongst hundreds of people on a platform watching the hills in the distance after driving all the way to the summit. Casino Peak isn’t a huge hike but you still have a strong sense of adventure.
From the summit, you can see hundreds of peaks spread throughout Badian and beyond. They are surrounding you in all directions! We could also see all the way out to Badian (Zaragosa) Island, which is just in front of where the sun actually set. As the sun did begin to go down, it lit up the peaks of all the hills, which is my most vivid memory from this hike. I do suggest arriving before sunset to experience all the peaks lit up well the rest of the hills are already out of the light.
*It’s important to note that the drive home is quite long and will take almost 2 hours back to Moalboal. Even though it is warm in Moalboal at night, make sure you pack a jacket as the drive back is in the mountains and with the wind, it is genuinely freezing. I know that is hard to believe in Cebu but my hands were completely numb. Trust me and pack a jacket or you will remember reading this tip as you shiver for 2 hours all the way home… like I did.
LUNCH IN MANTOLONGAN
It is a pretty long journey and there aren’t many food options for tourists up in the mountains. There is one cafe you can rely on in Mantolongan right near the market. They serve rice, eggs, meat dishes, and vegetables. We ate lots of dishes for three people and it cost only 170 pesos, which is about $3 USD in total! Excuse my poor food photography skills!
WHERE TO STAY ON CEBU?
I really think that if you are going to be exploring Cebu, the best place to stay is in Moalboal. There are a few reasons why!
Cebu City might be where you land at the airport but if you are looking for adventure, you will need to head south as soon as possible. Most of the best waterfalls, whale sharks, snorkeling with sardines and turtles are all down south. So where do you stay to do all of these adventures? Moalboal! Trust me I know… I rent an apartment in Moalboal and that is my base for all of the adventures you have just read!
Moalboal is a cool town, which is the free-diving and scuba capital of Cebu and even the Philippines. Here there are tons of hostels, hotels, and homestays. There are plenty of restaurants and even a small mall. This is really the last spot as you travel down south where you will have good wifi, 4G connection, western restaurants and lots of facilities. Once you head further south to Alegria and Ginatilan those towns just aren’t set up for tourists really.
Moalboal is just a short drive from most attractions and even all the way down to the Whale Sharks is just a 1-hour drive. There are a variety of accommodations in Moalboal but I will tell you my favorite for each style of traveler. I have a recommendation for budget travelers, mid-level and luxury.
MoHo Moalboal Hostel – Budget: I stayed at this cool hostel for a few days. It is brand new and pretty modern with a huge chill-out space. The WIFI works! I was blogging and using WordPress and the connection was fine. The dorm rooms are clean and modern with each bed having a blind for privacy. The staff were super chill and helpful. There was free water to refill your bottle and free coffee and tea. It is the cheapest option on booking.com at just 8 USD.
Teobas Homestay – Value: You need to click on that link just to see how rad this place is. It has a staircase down to the ocean into crystal clear water. I can tell you, I have snorkeled out the front of this place with turtles many times. For about $30 USD you get a private room with all of the facilities you need. There is not much better than having ocean access and a bit of a sunset view!
Dolphin House Resort – Luxury: If you are looking for a nice resort, Dolphin House is a 5-star resort with a huge pool for less than $200 USD per night. It has ocean access, great restaurant, chilling areas and a beautiful garden throughout the property.
To view all of the accommodation options in Moalboal head to the Moalboal search page on Booking.com
MORE CEBU TRAVEL GUIDES
Awesome Things to do on Cebu: 16 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON CEBU
Kawasan Falls Canyoneering: KAWASAN FALLS CEBU CANYONEERING ADVENTURE
Oslob: WHAT TO DO IN OSLOB CEBU
Osmena Peak: OSMEÑA PEAK IN CEBU – A BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE HIKE
Digital Nomad Guide to Moalboal: THE DIGITAL NOMAD GUIDE TO MOALBOAL, CEBU
The Ultimate Philippines 3-4 week Itinerary: ULTIMATE PHILIPPINES TRAVEL ITINERARY FOR 3-4 WEEKS
The Backpacking Guide to the Philippines: PHILIPPINES BACKPACKING GUIDE: 1 MONTH FOR $800