ESOY HOT SPRING AND KA-TINGGO FALLS IN CATMON, CEBU
Esoy Hot Springs is one of only two natural thermal pools in Cebu. Up in the mountains nearby Catmon you can find not only this incredibly relaxing hot spring but it is right next to the equally amazing Ka-Tinggo Falls. Both of these attractions can be visited in one epic daytrip fro Cebu City.
In this blog post, I will give you all the details you need to know such as how to get there, what to expect and how to make a booking in advance (required)
HOW TO GET TO ESOY HOT SPRINGS
Catmon is a province to the north of Cebu City and takes about 1.5 hours to reach. It’s 57km in distance from Cebu City but the traffic can make this a very slow 57km-journey. I’d suggest leaving Cebu City early in the morning and watching the sunrise as you drive up to Catmon. This timing will also mean you have good lighting at Ka-Tinggo Falls and Esoy Hot spring because after 10 am it is pretty sunny above the falls and you want that early morning soft light.
So, you will drive all the way to Catmon but then on the left-hand side, there is a sign that says Esoy Hot Spring. Take this road. You can follow the ‘Esoy Hot Springs’ pin on Google Maps, which is accurate. I’ve attached the pin below. You won’t be able to miss the Esoy Hot Spring entrance on the left. It’s a big white gate with the information painted on the front.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR DAY-TRIP TO ESOY HOT SPRING/KA-TINGGO FALLS
Before I visited, I had read that booking was necessary. On the front gate it says ‘No Booking, No entry’. It seems to be a pretty firm rule. However, when I showed up, we were allowed down into the complex. We were required to have a guide and a table but that was fine. The total entrance fee was 350 PHP per person, which is about $7 USD. It is a private property with a lot of infrastructure so that makes sense.
While I was able to get away without booking in advance, it wasn’t that easy and we had had to convince them to let us in. There’s also no food options up in the mountains near Esoy Hot Spring and Tinubdan Falls. Therefore, it is best to book in advance and you also get a great catered lunch by the team at Esoy Hot Spring. We looked on in envy as the other group had a great spread of rice, grilled chicken, grilled seafood, mango, and other fruits. We literally had zero food and after visiting Tinubdan earlier, we were starving.
To book in advance, you will simply just need to call through and make a reservation.
The phone number to do so is: 09218133296 (If that doesn’t work I’ve added the multiple contacts provided on their gate)
MY EXPERIENCE AT ESOY HOT SPRINGS AND KA-TINGGO FALLS
After an epic morning at Tinubdan Falls, we traced back our steps and decided to try our luck at Esoy Hot Springs. Luckily when we arrived they let us in. It was a Tuesday so there were only two other groups. Had it been a weekend, maybe they would’ve been booked out and we may not have been in luck.
We made our way down the steep set of stairs that leads from the parking lot to the complex area. It’s quite built up. there is a kitchen, multiple spring pools and stairs seem to wind off in all different directions. These guys have put in a lot of work to this canyon to ensure that large groups can come and experience the Esoy Hot Springs and the Ka-Tinggo Waterfall.
Once we reached the kitchen area, they informed us we would need a guide and entrance fee was 350 PHP for all-inclusive (not food). This included the guide accompanying us to the waterfall, into the caves and access to the hot springs. We agreed and off we set.
We first headed off to the waterfall. We had to wear a life-vest, which while not necessary was handy when floating in the deeper areas. They let us take it off whenever we wanted to it wasn’t too strict. To get to Ka-Tinggo Waterfall, you first need to cross a shaky, wooden bridge that takes you to the other side of the canyon. It was genuinely a bit scary but it seemed to hold up okay!
On the other side of the canyon, we began to realize how epic this canyon was. The underside of the canyon was a series of caves, which you could swim in. The beautiful emerald color of the water flows through the canyon and into the caves. We were there during a very bright time of day so it was quite hard to take photos, but I promise you this is a magical area.
The trail to Ka-Tinggo Falls now led us up the canyon. We wore flip flops as we bouldered and waded our way through the river.
It was only 10-minutes until we reached the Ka-Tinggo Falls, which was a 4-meter high cascade that flowed down into the large chasm. It reminded me a lot of another waterfall in the south of Cebu called Kabutongan Falls. The canyon is incredible with how it has been smoothly shaped over time. There’s lots of little crevasses to explore here and even a few caves throughout the pool.
There were two parts of the Ka-Tinggo Falls that I really loved. First was the optional cliff jump. If you are up for it, your guide will take you on a little climb up and around the side of the canyon. It wasn’t hard but I wouldn’t go on this little trek if you aren’t up for an adventure. You will emerge at the top of the falls and then you can jump down into the pool below. You can see my jump below!
The second part I loved was finding all of the little caves and coves throughout the pool. I took my proper camera on the trek in but used my waterproof action camera to swim around and take a few photos in the caves like the one below.
We then made our way back to the cottages and the complex area. It was quite cold at the waterfall even on a sunny day so I was definitely ready to enjoy the hot spring! Luckily, it wasn’t far. After following a set of stairs down from our table we arrived at the hot spring, It was a pretty surreal place as the water is crystal clear but with a blue tinge. The walls are mostly natural cave walls.
It isn’t heated by volcanic activity but is a geothermal pool and has a slight sulfuric smell but nothing too strong. The pool wasn’t as hot as the Mainit Springs in the south of Cebu. However, there was one corner where the water poured directly out of the wall and this was really warm. It was so relaxing laying there at the hot water source on the rocks.
Throughout the last ten years, the temperature of the water has changed and some of the springs that were previously hot are no longer heated. This has been affected by earthquakes and natural changes.
And that was the end of our adventure to Catmon, which included both the Esoy Hot Springs & Ka-Tinggo falls in combination with Tinubdan Falls. I hope you enjoyed this guide and get up to some great adventures in the north of Cebu near Catmon.
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
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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