Moalboal is the unsung hero of Cebu. In my opinion, it is the ultimate base for all of the best adventure spots on Cebu. Whether you have one day or one week on Cebu, I’m telling you, make your base Moalboal. All of the best waterfalls are within a moped ride from Moalboal and you also have a number of pretty sweet hikes within striking distance. The other key factors that make Moalboal such a good spot to stay is that you have a couple of nice beaches, which are surprisingly rare in Cebu. Among all of the epic things to do in Moalboal, there is also somewhat of a nightlife scene with a decent amount of restaurants and food options, which is not seen elsewhere in the south of Cebu.
I actually stayed in Moalboal for a few months after renting an apartment there for a year as my home base. I’ve done a lot of adventures while basing out of Moalboal so you can count on me to give you the lowdown on all of the best things to do in Moalboal. In addition, I also have the handy tips only you can only learn by staying in Moalboal for an extended period of time.
In this blog post about the best things in Moalboal I’ll detail the following:
- The best waterfalls near Moalboal
- The best hikes near Moalboal
- The best beaches near Moalboal
- Where to eat in Moalboal
- Best spots for WiFi in Moalboal
- Where to stay in Moalboal (for different budget types)
- How to get to Moalboal from Cebu( the cheap way or the convenient way)
- Freediving and snorkeling tips for Moalboal
20 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN MOALBOAL
First, let’s take a look at the waterfalls nearby Moalboal. The best thing to do is to rent a moped in Moalboal, which will cost you around $5-8 USD per day depending on your haggling ability. You can easily find a moped to rent at many of the guesthouses but definitely down at the Panagsama beach strip. If you don’t want to drive a bike you can ride on the back of a local’s bike but you will need to pay his wage for the day.
All of the waterfalls I list below are within striking distance from Moalboal. Most of them are within one-hour driving from Moalboal. Some are closer than others but you can reach them all from Moalboal, which is where I stayed when I visited them. I’ve written an individual blog post for each waterfall so you can click on that link and investigate the driving time, trek required and see more photos and details about that specific waterfall.
WATERFALLS NEAR MOALBOAL
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. 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 top things to do near Moalboal.
Read the full blog post: INAMBAKAN FALLS IN GINATILAN
KAWASAN FALLS CANYONEERING
Yes, it is super popular and Yes it is crowded but it’s still worth it. 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
KABUTONGAN WATERFALL TREK
Kabutongan Falls trek is one of the most magical adventures on the island of Cebu. It’s also rarely crowded as it isn’t as popualr as many other waterfalls in the south 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.
At the Kabutongan Waterfall 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 of the trek.
The cliff jumps at Kabutongan are pretty awesome. From the viewpoint, you have two levels. One is 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.
Read the full blog post: KABUTONGAN WATERFALL TREK
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.
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.
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.
Read the full blog post: DAO WATERFALL IN SAMBOAN
Cambais Falls is an amazing waterhole in the hills of Alegria, Cebu. It’s less than an hour’s 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 as 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
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
MAINIT HOT SPRING IN MALABUYOC (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)
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
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)
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.
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!
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
Cancalanog Falls is one of the most incredible spots on Cebu and it remains off the beaten path. While it isn’t a massive waterfall it boasts some incredibly transparent, freshwater in a stunning watering hole. The location is before Cambais Falls and only 1-hour drive from Moalboal. I honestly couldn’t believe it when we arrived at this location and there was no-one else there it really topped it off. In fact, no-one else came to this spot for the entire afternoon in which we visited.
Read the full blog post: CANCALANOG FALLS IN ALEGRIA, CEBU
Mantayupan Falls in Barili is the highest waterfall in Cebu and one of the most beautiful. Set inside a natural amphitheater of trees, vines, and tropical plants, this is truly one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Cebu. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Moalboal. It can get quite busy on the weekends for the entire day but visit on a morning during the weekday and you might just enjoy this waterfall all to yourself like us.
Mantayupan Falls has two levels. On the small level is a 14-meter cascade that flows down into a circular pool. It’s the warm-up. On the top level, you will find Cebu’s highest waterfall at 98-meters, which flows down into a huge pool below.
Read the full blog post: MANTAYUPAN FALLS IN BARILI, CEBU
Lusno Falls is a bit of a hidden gem on Cebu as it isn’t located next to the main road and is a little bit more low key than some of the other waterfall hotspots on the island. Because of this, it has a local charm and a relaxed atmosphere. There is no entrance fee, no cottages, no cement path. It’s just a tranquil waterfall amidst the palms halfway between Argao and Ronda in the middle of Cebu.
The falls are quite beautiful with rounded sandstone that the water flows down over like a vase water feature. With no crowds, it will be a relaxing, off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Read the full blog post: LUSNO FALLS IN CEBU: HIDDEN WATERFALL
HIKES NEAR MOALBOAL
Now that we have covered the waterfalls near Moalboal (that was a lot!) you might be keen to hear about some of the treks in the area. None of them are incredibly long but as you will see a few of them have pretty epic views. I like to do 1-2 waterfalls during the day and then finish with a sunset hike or reverse the schedule with a sunrise hike followed by some waterfalls. Again, all of these hikes are within about an hour from Moalboal for the most part. Casino Peak is a little longer but I did drive there from Moalboal (and most people do) so it’s on the list.
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
CASINO PEAK TREK
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.
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. At the summit, 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.
Read the full blog post: CASINO PEAK VIEWPOINT HIKE IN DALAGUETE
Kandungaw Peak is an epic ridge in the mountain range of Dalaguete, Cebu. It is also commonly known as Candongao Peak but Kandungaw seems to be the more commonly used. This short hike of about 30-minutes takes you to some beautiful viewpoints with dramatic drop-offs. There are four viewpoints to see at this location and one additional cave to explore.
Read the full blog post: KANDUNGAW PEAK VIEWPOINT IN DALAGUETE
BEST BEACHES NEAR MOALBOAL
Cebu has tons of hikes and waterfalls but tourists often lament at the lack of beach areas to hang out for the day. Moalboal has a couple of spots. The main one is White Beach but you can also find a small patch of sound to hang out just off the main strip from Panagsama Beach.
There are a few little coves at Panagsama where you get enough sand for 20-30 people to lay out, get a tan and read a book. It isn’t a beach you take a photo of (hence why I’ve not got one to add here yet). However, it does face the sunset so it is really nice to just take a breather at this little sandy patches. I used to run in the morning, then work in the cafe and then come down to the same spot and read a book, get a tan and keep cool for a short swim.
White Beach, also known as Basdaku Beach, is really the place to go for a proper, beautiful beach. It’s where most people who want more than a quick dip head to chill for the afternoon or to catch the sunset. It’s only a short drive from Panagsama so it’s easy to get there by tricycle or your motorbike. They do charge a small entrance fee but it’s worth it.
FREEDIVING, SCUBA-DIVING AND SNORKELING IN MOALBOAL
FREEDIVING IN MOALBOAL
Moalboal is a hotspot for Scuba and free-diving. The entire strip on the beach is lined by dive shops. It is very popular to learn to free dive in Moalboal because of the drop-off and has become a bit of a hub for free-divers. The prices for courses and dives here are pretty cheap in relation to Asia and very cheap compared to western countries. If you are looking to do a basic course, it usually runs across 2-3 days and costs you around $200. By the end of the course, you know all the safety techniques and have the skills to dive down to 10-meters in order to pass your basic exam.
SNORKELING IN MOALBOAL
The beauty of Moalboal, which many don’t realize, is that if you rent a mask and snorkel for just a few dollars you can swim with the sardine balls. I think a lot of people assume you need to be on a tour on go out into deep waters on a boat to find the sardines. However, these massive sardine balls are literally right next to the shore at the drop-off so you can just swim out 20-meters and then do a few duck dives and find yourself in the middle of a million sardines. It’s pretty sweet and one of the cheapest but most epic things to do in Moalboal.
SCUBA-DIVING IN MOALBOAL
Scuba-diving is also a popular thing to do in Moalboal because of the incredible drop-off, sardine balls, and resident turtles. The water clarity is pretty epic on most days and it would be a great place for a fun dive or to do your entire scuba-dive course. There are also a number of scuba-dive sites out at Pescador Island, which is just a short boat trip from Panagsama Beach.
WIFI IN MOALBOAL
For a digital nomad there usually is nothing more important than a strong WiFi connection. We can deal with most other factors but we need that internet speed to get work done. The Philippines is notorious for having a bad internet connection throughout its 7,500 islands. It’s true, some places here in the Philippines are terrible for internet connection.
When I decided I wanted to base in the Philippines, I knew it would be best to be near an international airport so I decided on either being based in Manila or Cebu. I don’t enjoy being a city so I opted for Cebu. From that decision, I figured out how far away I could get from the city towards that relaxed island vibe while still having a good internet connection for work.
Moalboal is that spot. It is kind of like the final frontier for Cebu right now. If you drive any further south of Moalboal, you can get patches of LTE but it isn’t reliable. Moalboal LTE on Globe is great. I obviously do a lot on Instagram, uploading bulk photos to WordPress and sending off heavy photo packages to brands.
WiFi is any many cafes, hotels and can be installed in your apartment or accommodation. The best and most reliable WiFi at a cafe is at The French Cafe, which is next to the beach on Panagsama Road. Shaka Cafe also has good WiFi.
GYM ACCESS IN MOALBOAL
Previously there was only one gym in Moalboal and it was called LGC gym. It is run by a lovely old lady who charges everyone 20 pesos or 5o cents entry. It has free-weights and all the equipment you need. There is no a/c and I often leave puddles on the floor because I’m sweating so hard. It is honestly perfect for me. It’s super cheap, a chill environment and only a couple minutes from my apartment. However, now another gym has opened up on the road down to Panagsama Beach on the left-hand side about 500m before you hit the beach. I didn’t stop to check it out when I noticed it on my last visit but it will be more convenient for tourists who can walk there because LGC was a long way from Panagsama Beach.
TRANSPORT IN MOALBOAL
Moalboal is the land of motorbikes and mopeds. It is all about far for a bicycle. Panagsama Road has to be at least 4km long so if you leave near the beach you will be doing minimum of 10km round trips out to the grocery stores or vice versa if you need to make that journey into the cafes each day. A moped or motorbike means everything is just 5-10 minutes away.
The beauty of a motorbike means you can explore the south where you find so many waterfalls and adventures it is ridiculous. A car isn’t the best here as the roads are tight, there are a number of small lanes and often you will be on gravel. The majority of people rent or buy a bike.
Without doing any major haggling or bargaining you can get a moped for $5 USD a day. I bought a motorbike for $1000 brand new from the local Yamaha dealer. Mopeds are about $1100 to $2000 depending on the brand and model. Gas is just a few dollars for the moped to fill the tank and the motorbike costs me $8 but obviously lasts a while.
WHERE TO EAT?
Moalboal is not only the last frontier for good WiFi but also for cafes and restaurants. It is the last heavily populated place so a good restaurant just doesn’t get the traffic further south. I have a few local favorites that I frequent but there are lots of good spots on offer.
Venz: Venz cafe can best be described as modern Filipino cuisine. You can get all the classics like Sisig and Adobo but it isn’t your classic local eatery. They really step it up here by offering the local dishes with vegetarian and vegan options. For example, they have an eggplant Sisig. The vegetable curry, eggplant Sisig is my favorite vegetarian dishes from Venz.
Dishes go from $3-6
The French Cafe: Not only is the WiFi great here but the food is spot on too. Breakfast is very popular here and they just seem to source the best bread. Smoothies, fruit plates and sandwiches give you a good break from local dishes if you are craving a classic sandwich or western-style breakfast.
Dishes go from $3-6
Shaka Cafe: It only opened when I first moved to Moalboal but it is definitely my favorite cafe in Moalboal. Smoothie bowls, fresh juices, and smoothies are an awesome healthy alternative to start the day. It is a bit more expensive but the ingredients are also a touch more exotic such as chia seeds, healthy greens, maca powder and all of the good stuff. You get what you pay for and it’s a good vibe in here.
Smoothie bowls go for $5 or $6 with a machine coffee (Hard to find in Moalboal. It might be the best coffee in Moalboal too!)
WHERE TO STAY IN MOALBOAL?
MoHo 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.
HOW TO GET TO MOALBOAL
Once you land at Cebu International Airport on Mactan Island you will have a few decisions to make. You can either take public transport all the way to Moalboal or you could have arranged a private transfer in advance. I’ll be honest unless you are on a tight, tight budget it is worth doing the private transfer in a shared van. I’ll detail the two options below and I have yes done both ways.
Public Transport to Moalboal: 4+ hours (depends on traffic)
- Taxi from airport to Cebu South Bus Terminal: $4
- Bus to Moalboal $3
Private transfer in a shared van from airport: 2.5+ hours (depends on traffic)
If you want to book a transfer from Cebu Airport in advance Click Here for the most recommended (and cheapest) private taxi service from the airport to South Cebu. You need to book it 24 hours in advance though so don’t get to the airport and try and book a shared van there. It’s 575 PHP, which is about $11 USD.
So, as you can see you will save about $5 by going with public transport. It’s safe on public transport it is just a matter of time, comfort and cost. The decision is yours.