16 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON CEBU, PHILIPPINES
Cebu is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. Because it has an international airport, many people touchdown in Cebu from overseas and this is their first destination for their Philippines adventure. There are so many things to do on Cebu that unfortunately, most tourists do one or two and then head to another island. This is a big mistake as you can have an adventure-packed week or more on Cebu alone! These are all of the places I have personally visited in Cebu so far and you can click the links throughout the article to visit the individual blog posts about each location.
* I will keep updating this guide as I visit more and more of the epic waterfalls, viewpoints and diving spots on the beautiful island of Cebu.
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My travel insurance: One last thing before you get started! Have you got your travel insurance yet? You can Click Here to find out how I get the best deal on travel insurance, which insurance recommend using in Southeast Asia and why I never travel without it. *This blog post involves photos of my bike crash.
16 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON CEBU
1. INAMBAKAN FALLS
Inambakan Falls is known for having a beautiful 100-ft waterfall that plunges into a wide pool of blue water. Surrounded by lush jungle greenery it is indeed an amazing scene. However, what makes Inambakan Falls such a memorable adventure is the multi-level trek to different pools and waterfalls.
Inambakan Falls is a solid four-hour journey from Cebu City. When I visited, I was based in Moalboal and the drive took less than an hour on the motorbike.
The main waterfall is a 100ft flow of water, which crashes down into the blue pool of water. I really love the limestone cliffs behind the waterfall. The orange tinge contrasts so vividly against the strong blue of the pool below.
We swam behind the waterfall into the cave and explored the rocks of the main pool before sending a couple of jumps into the pool below. You could adventure here for hours and it is an adventure in itself. However, there are five levels at Inambakan so this is just part of the experience.
The third level was such an incredible spot. A crystal clear pool, deep enough for cliff jumping, sits in front of a backdrop of idyllic palm trees. It is a slice of paradise right in the middle of the jungle.
Inambakan Falls is a full-day adventure and is easily one of my favorite waterfalls on Cebu!
Read the full blog post: INAMBAKAN FALLS IN GINATILAN
2. SUNRISE HIKE TO OSMENA PEAK
From Alegria, we organized motorbike to take both myself, a friend and of course the driver to Osmena Peak. It was only $10 per person return and was a 1.5-hour journey each way. It was very uncomfortable but the budget option. You could take a car here but it would be much more expensive. We had to leave before 4 am in order to make it to the summit before sunrise.
The Peak is known for having amazing panoramic views across jagged cliff lines and the ocean. We were told it would be best for sunrise and we were left speechless by the scene from the summit of the short 20-minute trek.
There is an entrance fee of a few dollars to the hike, which comes with a guide who you can choose to tip and of course the cost of the motorbike. It is quite a cheap adventure and an amazing sunrise experience.
Book a tour: You can do it DIY like me but there is a really good tour you can book as well. The tour I can recommend to you actually includes a visit to Kawasan Falls and Osmena Peak on the same day for just $30! You can Click Here to book it online ahead of time.
View the full blog post: OSMEÑA PEAK IN CEBU – A BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE HIKE
3. KAWASAN FALLS CANYONEERING
Canyoneering through the Gatorade blue waters all the way down the canyons into Kawasan Falls is one of the most popular tourist activities on the island. Thousands of tourists participate in the adventure every day. It’s definitely worth the $20-30 and the crowds but it definitely isn’t the biggest adventure you can do on Cebu. It may feel like it, but trekking to Dao Falls or Kabutongan Falls even feels more adventurous because you will be the only ones there. However, having said that, I do encourage you to do the canyoneering at Kawasan Falls.
My Recommended and the TOP-RATED Kawasan Falls Canyoneering tour in Cebu for under $40: Click Here to book
The canyoneering starts in the jungle and you will wear a helmet and a life vest. Accompanied by a guide you will jump into the water and begin floating down the canyon. This goes on for the best part of 2 hours as you float, jump and climb your way down to Kawasan Falls.
The biggest jump was 50ft but it was optional. The biggest jump that was required to continue the journey downstream was only a few meters. Halfway through the floating and swimming comes to an end more or less and you begin to trek through the water and the jungle. It is quite an immersive experience but still quite safe.
Finally, you will end up at Kawasan Falls. Here you finish the experience with a big jump from the top of the waterfall. Note that you don’t have to jump you can walk down quite easily but it is the tradition to finish with the jump. Now you can enjoy Kawasan Falls and have a rest! If you prefer not to do the canyoneering you can just walk to Kawasan Falls at the base and enjoy it from there. It is definitely the most crowded waterfall on Cebu with lots of food outlets, umbrellas and touristy action going on. It’s definitely one of the most popular waterfalls on Cebu but it is worth battling the crowds!
Read the full blog post: KAWASAN FALLS CEBU CANYONEERING
4. MAINIT HOT SPRING IN MALABUYOC
A 15-minute bus ride away from D’Allegre (costing less than $1) you will head to Mainit Hot Springs. A short walk through the jungle and you will arrive at some amazing hot springs, surrounded by lush greenery and a waterfall.
The Hot Springs were steaming. So hot we could hardly sit in some of the springs which ranged from 38-42 degrees Celsius. Set in a rainforest just beyond a local village we could feel this was just the beginning of an amazing trip
Read the full blog post: MAINIT HOT SPRINGS IN MALABUYOC
5. KABUTONGAN WATERFALL TREK
Kabutongan Falls trek is one of the most magical adventures on the island of Cebu. The trail follows the blue waters of a narrow stream up the canyon until you reach Kabutongan Waterfall. Here you will find a hidden cave behind the waterfall and several different cliff-jumps!
The trail is only a short 30-minutes but there are a few sections that require rope (it is installed). It is possible without a guide but the guide is vital to help protect natural areas like this and they will help keep you safe.
The trail crisscrosses the river and includes bouldering and some intermediate difficulty sections. The hardest part is climbing along the edge of the narrow trail but ropes guide you in all of the parts that are slippery or steep. Most people of average physicality will find this trail normal.
The blue water of Cebu is exemplified no better than in the limestone-laden pools of the Kabutongan Waterfall trek. It is just pure crystal clear water with that trademark blue, common in all of the south Cebu waterfalls. Despite only being a 30-minute trail, you do feel truly immersed in the jungle as you make your way up and over boulders and through the vines.
After 30-minutes we reached the Kabutongan Waterfall viewpoint. From the viewpoint, you can only see half of the waterfall as the rock wall wraps around, concealing the waterfall. Luckily you can get a closer like by swimming down in the pool below.
You can even enter the cave by swimming on the left side, directly underneath the flow of the waterfall. Inside the cave, the water has that beautiful blue tinge and the cave goes back about 20-meters. It was one of my favorite parts about the trek.
The cliff jumps at Kabutongan are pretty awesome. From the viewpoint, you have two levels. One if about 5-meters and the other is about 8-9 meters. The water was really deep here, which makes it a risk-free jump unlike some shallower pools on Cebu. However, you must always check for yourself as rocks move below the surface or there could be debris or wood floating just beneath the surface. Your safety is your own responsibility.
Read full blog post: KABUTONGAN WATERFALL TREK
6. VISIT SUMILON ISLAND NEAR OSLOB
The island is only a 15-20 minute boat ride from Oslob and I managed to get on board for free after I made friends with the captain at lunch. When I arrived at Sumilon Island there was a 50 Pesos or $1 USD entrance fee. A group of holiday-makers played in the water and their kids were having the time of the life. The sand was some of the whitest I had seen so far in the Philippines and contrasted beautifully against the clear water and surrounding reefs. This is a great spot to hang out for the afternoon with a bunch of friends. You feel like you are in the middle of the ocean, totally isolated and separated from all of the commotions back on Cebu.
Read the full blog post: WHAT DO IN OSLOB FOR AN OVERNIGHT STAY
7. DAO WATERFALL TREK
Dao Waterfall offers not only an epic waterfall finale but it is the trek in that is truly astounding. For thirty minutes you wade through those trademark Cebu blues, while ferns and palms cover the canyon walls on either side. The trek to Dao Falls itself isn’t hard but it does require you to walk through the water and navigate your way around boulders and rocks. It is a moderate adventure with incredible scenery, which is far away from the crowds at Kawasan Falls.
The vibrant green ferns, palms and jungle plants come at you from all angles and contrast against the blues. The final piece of this incredible natural puzzle is the high canyon walls that slowly close in on you as you make your way up the cascades until you are walking through a narrow trail.
In the final parts of the trail, the locals have built a staircase, which is quite necessary as the waterfall gets fierce and steep. This is a very scenic part of the trail and you can actually get a glimpse of Dao Waterfall from the base of the stairs with the smaller waterfalls below it. This was probably my favorite spot on the trail.
Dao Waterfall is about 40-50m high and pours down into a large pool. You can swim safely in the pool and near the falls when the flow isn’t too crazy but of course be careful depending on the conditions. It was a great pool to refresh in after the short trail hike. I’ve heard that the falls used to be double the width but a landslide impacted the flow and it isn’t quite as impressive these days but it still impressed me!
Read the full blog post: DAO WATERFALL IN SAMBOAN
8. PALM TREE ROADS NEAR GINATILAN
On the drive to Kabutongan are some of the coolest roads on all of Cebu. If you are looking for a scenic road to take some epic photos and enjoy the jungle atmosphere, keep your eyes open on the drive up to Kabutongan Falls. However, there are palms all over Cebu and you will get some great shots with palms on the way to Inambakan Falls, Dao Falls, and Montpellier Falls.
9. CAMBAIS FALLS
Cambais Falls is an amazing waterhole in the hills of Alegria, Cebu. It’s less than an hour drive from Moalboal and there are several other great waterfalls nearby to make an epic waterfall adventure day. There are several waterfalls and different cliff jumping levels at Cambais as well great spots for swimming.
Cambais Falls has two distinct levels. On the first level, a huge, milky blue pool is surrounded by ferns, boulders, and trees. The waterfall at this level pours over the limestone cliff wall without extreme force, more of a pour! It seems to drip off the limestone in lines, which creates a beautiful scene from below. There is a lot to explore on this level like a few small caves and plenty of rocks to jump off.
On this first level, there is a solid cliff jump. From about 7 meters and then 10 meters you can jump directly from the waterfall. The spot to land it is quite small as it isn’t too deep and you need to hit the right landing area. Make sure you check the depth before jumping.
To get to the second level you clamber up a small cascade using a rope. You then wade your way through the blue water until reaching a bamboo ladder. This takes you to the second level where another beautiful waterfall crashes down into a private pool.
Read the full blog post: CAMBAIS FALLS IN ALEGRIA
10. MONTPELLIER WATERFALL
Montpellier isn’t the most popular waterfall on Cebu amongst tourists. In fact, most probably don’t know about it. The locals are happy to share this one. They have painted a big mural and sign near the road, which marks the entrance. It is a great little watering hole without much of a hike and a great way to cool off after exploring Osmena Peak (on the same road).
Once you reach the waterfall you will have to crane your neck to take it in. It’s a tall one. A single flow of water plummets onto a giant boulder below before cascading into the emerald pool. It’s a great spot for swimming and hanging out with some of the local kids. I can’t imagine having something so epic in my backyard.. let alone my hometown! It’s one of the best waterfalls on Cebu for a relaxed afternoon.
Read the full blog post: MONTPELLIER WATERFALL IN ALEGRIA
11. SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS
Swimming with Whale Sharks is the number one attraction on Cebu. In Oslob, you can get in the water and witness these graceful giants swim by. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this tourist attraction as many people believe that humans shouldn’t interfere with the animals feeding patterns. At Oslob, the Whale Sharks are fed plankton, which is how they can guarantee you will see the Whale Sharks.
Other Whale Shark experiences, like the one in Donsol, don’t feed the Whale Sharks but they tend to chase them in the boats a bit. Neither of the operations is perfect but the Whale Shark in Oslob continues to improve as scientists and environmental workers continue to monitor and improve the tourist interaction when considering what would best benefit the Whale Sharks.
Obviously, no human interaction would be best but these animals were hunted and killed in the Philippines not too many years ago and still an area in foreign waters. Many people will skip the Whale Shark experience as they read into it and that is entirely up to you and what you think about zoos, animal tourism, feeding, eco-tourism and so on.
If you are looking for a great tour that includes swimming with the whale sharks then I think this is the best combo tour. With this combo tour you not only get to swim with the Whale Sharks but also it includes visiting Tumalog Falls, which is an amazing waterfall near Oslob. You can Click Here to book online for the Whale Shark & Tumalog Falls combo tour.
12. BINALAYAN (HIDDEN) WATERFALL
Tucked away in Samboan is a beautiful waterfall at the end of a tranquil jungle trail. It is also the place of one of the most dangerous cliff jumps I’ve ever done in my life. It’s a beautiful but short little adventure, which you can combine with the other waterfalls in the Samboan region of Cebu.
Binalayan Waterfall is also known as ‘Hidden Falls’. Like many ‘hidden’ places around the world, it is not hidden at all. It is advertised with a road from the sign, which directs you to a parking lot and the ticket office.
The trail only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish but provides a beautiful coconut palm-lined path and peaceful scenery. Most of the path is a steady dirt trail, which we traversed in flip-flops. Enormous palm trees cover the land. One of our guides showed off his rapid climbing skills and gathered some coconuts for us, which was super impressive.
Read the full blog post: BINALAYAN FALLS (HIDDEN FALLS)
13. AGUINID FALLS
Aguinid Falls has become one of the most popular waterfalls on the island of Cebu. While it may never surpass the popularity of Kawasan Falls down the road, the Aguinid Falls trek is a great, adventurous activity for explorers of all levels. Personally, I think this is one of the best things to do on Cebu.
You can do a tour that lets you see Aguinid Falls and swim with the Whale Sharks all in one day! That is a great way to see one the best of south Cebu waterfalls and swim with the Whale Sharks on a tight schedule from Cebu City! You can book this tour online and check the availability for your dates by Clicking Here.
Aguinid Falls is split up into multiple levels. The adventure used to take you to eight levels. However, since there were a few accidents and fatalities on the higher levels, you are now required to take a guide and you will only reach level five. Don’t worry this is more than enough adventure!
The adventure to the waterfall is the attraction. You will walk through the water, along with bamboo bridges and at one point scale straight up the waterfall aided by a strong rope. Don’t worry it isn’t vertical. It is more of a 45-degree angle and not slippery at all.
After about half an hour we reached the level 5 waterfall, which pours down over the rounded waterfall. Caves inside can be explored and it is a great place for a refreshing dip. This is definitely one of the best waterfalls on Cebu if you want a big adventure!
Read the full blog post: AGUINID FALLS IN SAMBOAN
14. FREEDIVING WITH SARDINE BALLS IN MOALBAOL
One of the coolest things to do on Cebu is to head down to Moalboal and get amongst the diving scene. The big attraction at Moalboal is the sardine balls. A sardine ball is a collection of thousands of sardines that all swim together in unison. When you dive down they move as a collective this way and that way in what is an incredible dance.
The best part about this activity is that it is only 30-meters from the shore. This means you don’t need to pay for a tour or rent a boat. All you need is your goggles and mask. To be honest you may not even need fins if you are trying to save money. You can rent these from any of the dive shops for less than $5 and enjoy the clear water of Moalboal! It’s definitely one of the most unique things to do on Cebu so don’t miss this one.
15. SWIM WITH THE RESIDENT TURTLES
Moalboal is home to hundreds of turtles. Every day swimming and snorkeling near the drop-off I would encounter sometimes up to five turtles!
You don’t need to go chasing and annoying the turtles as they just cruise around doing their thing and will often swim closer towards you if you just stay still. The best place near Moalboal to look for turtles is in between Tongo Point and Main beach at Moalboal although they seem to be everywhere. You will also find turtles around other spots in the south of Cebu but I have only personally swum with them in Moalboal.
The best way to experience the turtles, Sardines and island-hopping of Moalboal is with this combo tour. It combines swimming with the sardines, swimming with the turtles and island hopping to Pescador Island all in one trip. You can Click Here to book online in advance.
16. BUDLAAN FALLS
Not all of the waterfalls on Cebu are in the south, although that famous blue water tends to be. However, if you find yourself near Cebu City there is a cool little waterfall trek up in the hills called Budlaan Falls. When I went, we did an Adventure Bag Adventure Day and had almost 100 people come too Budlaan Waterfall to clean up the trash. Hopefully, it is in good shape when you visit.
The waterfall itself is pretty big and you can get in behind the flow of the waterfall to the caves. You can also trek up on top of the waterfall and follow the canyon below. There’s lots of exploring to do at this waterfall trek that takes about 1-hour round trip.
Read the full blog post: ADVENTURE BAG ADVENTURE DAY AT BUDLAAN FALLS
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
The Cebu Waterfall Guide: Best Waterfalls on the Island: BEST WATERFALLS 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