When in Cebu: A Zion in the Heart of the Philippines

Anglerfish, Malapascua

As a Filipino-born travel agent, I am proud to say that the Philippines is known to be a go-to place when it comes to exploring wildlife and nature. With its colorful heritage marked by its historical places, and a geography unique in every way, there is no doubt about its beauty amidst the simple living of its people.

For one, it has the popular Boracay Island in Aklan Province which is perfect for tourists who wish to relax in a nice white sand beach.  In my earlier posts, you were also able witness the beauty of Palawan through El Nido and Coron.  And the list just goes on.

Boracay, Philippines
Boracay has been on best beaches in the world lists.

But the Southeast Asian country still has much more to offer that can satisfy your hunger for adventures.  The unique and personal exploration you have been looking might be just in the place, which is not usually included in the traveler radar – Cebu.  Yes, you’ve read it right.  While it is a destination for unraveling and understanding the Philippine history, it offers so much more than the typical historical tour.

Magellan's Cross, Cebu, Philippines
When the Portuguese explorer Magellan arrived in 1521, he planted this cross in Cebu.

It has a great deal of wildlife and nature adventures and is not far behind from Palawan or Aklan in providing land and underwater experience.  Let’s cut to the chase and allow me to show how this place can satisfy your wandering soul.  Are you ready?

Get out of city life through Malapascua Island

Malapascua, Philippines
Aerial view of Malapascua Island.

Malapascua Island is considered one of the smallest inhabited islands in the country.  You will definitely decide to leave your district life forever once you arrive at the island not only because you’ll be able to witness the splendor of nature, but it actually sets you in a primitive, provincial mood.  While you may have gotten so accustomed to swiping your cards for purchases, this island offers no ATM’s at all.

Most of the businesses here do not accept debit cards or credit cards.  Your only choice of survival is bringing cash with you. So, if you are up for challenging your budget skills, this is the right island for you!

Fort San Pedro, Cebu, Philippines
Fort San Pedro in Cebu is a fort built by the Spaniards under Governor Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

If you’re up to the task, the next question is how do you get to see the island. Cebu City will be your first stop.  It is accessible by air and sea.  But traveling by air would save you a lot of time. Going to Malapascua Island, you need all the time you can get.

After arriving at the Cebu City, you will have to take a van or a bus going to Maya Port.  Riding a van would cost you around $3 to $4 and it is the same with the bus.  Just remember that the non-air-conditioned bus is cheaper in case you wish to save your cash since you’ll definitely need those.  It is a four-long drive so I suggest you leave the city in the morning.

Malapascua, Cebu
These pump boats take will take you from Maya Port to Malapascua.

The $3 boat fare at the Maya Port would take you to the center of Malapascua Island.  This is just where your adventure begins. Unlike other islands, this place is more intimate and quiet.  You won’t even feel that you share the island with other tourists.

You’re in fact, really far from the busy business districts since the road is not made for cars or other type of vehicles.  The only mode of transportation is motorcycles.  Don’t worry though, you wouldn’t need that since you can go around the entire island just by walking.

Malapascua, Cebu, Philipines
Getting off the pump boat, you feel so far away from the madness of city life.

The accommodations on the island are not also pricey. It lives up to its provincial life.  Mike and Diose’s Beach Cottages offer $8 – $9 per night with free breakfast.  Of course, it is not air-conditioned, but if I was given a choice to get air-condition or experience a vivid sunrise, you just know I’ll always choose the latter.

Nonetheless a splurge trip there can lead you to the Hippocampus Beach and Dive Resort, Malapascua Legend Water Sports and Resort, and Blue Corals Beach Resort which can all you’re your needs.  They also have licensed dive centers so would not worry about your safety during your tours.

I myself stayed at Tepanee Beach Resort.  Owned by an Italian couple, it has its own private beach.  Small, but enough for beach lovers like me.  I appreciate that they do their part to protect the environment.  They have desalinization plants (two of them) and they have installed solar panels to produce warm water.

 

As a professional rescue diver for many years, I can assure you that diving is one of the activities you wouldn’t want to miss. The island hopping would surely give you the Titanic vibes through your trip in the Japanese Shipwreck.  Imagine unraveling the secrets of how this place ended up deep in the ocean!  Snorkeling sites are Dakit-dakit and Coral Garden, which are also part of your stops.  You may also want to test your guts in cliff diving!

Please note that in 2014 the island was devastated by typhoon Yolanda, the strongest so far.  So there may still be some areas of the island that has been totally restored.  For me, it just adds to its charm.  It isn’t picture perfect.  It is what island living is.

Wake up in the sleepy island of Moalboal

Sardine run Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
The Sardine run. Millions of sardines are here and you don’t even have to be lucky to see them. They are just there.

If Malapascua Island is popular for being intimate and quiet, Moalboal Island is known for swimming with a group of sardines and turtles.  You usually see this while turning your channel to Animal Planet or National Geographic Channel.  But Moalboal Island can bring this into reality for you to experience firsthand.  I suggest you turn off your TV and start booking!

Going to the island, you have to ride a $3 to $4 bus ride from Cebu City South Bus Terminal to the City Hall of Moalboal. Upon arriving, you have two beaches to consider: White Beach and Panagsama Beach.  If you’re more of a diver, which I totally am, then White Beach is the suitable choice.  But if you just love to watch and enjoy the ocean and get tanned, Panagsama Beach is what I highly recommend.

Accommodations in this island is not exactly an argument. Most of the hotels here are great and you can even you choose a good diving center with $16 to $24 per night.

Turtle Spot, Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
Turtle Spot is where you go to spot what else, but turtles.

You may want to kick off your day by island hopping.  The tour will take you to Pescador Island, Turtle spot, and Sardine spot. Renting a boat for your exploration would be around $30 to $40.  And your experience in swimming and diving with turtles and sardines are guaranteed!

Marine Sanctuaries are also just around the corner.  You may want to pay a visit to Tuble Marine Sanctuary and Saavedra Marine Sanctuary.  See for yourself how the locals protect and share the marine life in Moalboal.

Moalboal, Kawasan, Cebu, Philippines
Why not take a “shower” at Kawasan Falls in Moalboal.

The adventures do not stop there. Kawasan Falls is also one of its gems.  You are just one bus ride away from making it happen.  And it would only cost you a dollar.

 

Dive with whale sharks in Oslob

Oslob, whale sharks, Cebu, Philippines
Seeing whale sharks in Oslob are a sure thing. Please be friendly to them.

This list would not be complete without Oslob Island!  Diving with whale sharks are part of the bucket list of travelers and even just an ordinary tourist.  I mean, who would not enjoy having a great time with these huge marine creatures?  But the whale sharks or tuki, in local terms, are not the only great experiences in Oslob.  They hold a lot of more exciting explorations!

A three-hour bus ride that costs $3 to $4 from South Bus Terminal in Cebu City would take to the beautiful island of Oslob. Budget for the accommodations would not be a headache since you can get a room for as low as $8 to $14 per night at Luzmin Lodging House or Gunners Lodging House.

However, if you want a laid back vacation, then you may stay in Seafari Resort Oslob, Ermi Beach Resort or MB Sunrise View Resort.  In traveling, you can always adjust depending on your budget.

Let’s start off with your most awaited adventure – whale sharks.  This is where it gets a little tricky since they offer different rates for local and foreign tourists.  For locals, you can enjoy this experience for only $10 while foreign tourist for $20. Usually, the divers would let you have a 30-minute dive with the tukis.

Please be kind to the whalesharks.  Do not give them food!

Tumalog waterfalls, Oslob, Cebu
The horseshoe waterfalls of Tumalog is about 15 minutes away from the whale watching site.

Next stop is Tumalog Falls. It’s quite challenging to get here since motorcycle is the only mode of transportation, which costs $3 per two people.  Wouldn’t be great to relax your tired body after using up your energy diving with the tukis while under the falls?

It would also spice up your tour by visiting Oslob Heritage Park and Oslob Museum!

You see, Cebu province is not just the home of Philippine history and culture.  It holds many marine species and underwater wanders.  It would not also hurt you to add this to your travel bucket list.  Until next time!

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When in Cebu: A Zion in the Heart of the Philippines
Article Name
When in Cebu: A Zion in the Heart of the Philippines
Description
Cebu is a popular tourist destination in the Philippines. Here are some suggestions of places to visit in Cebu.
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