Carnaza Island - Another Summer Beach Destination in Cebu

carnaza island beach
Carnaza Island

Carnaza Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu has been on my bucket list of beaches in Cebu I would want to visit and explore. I am not really a beach person, but hanging out by the beach is (as they say) a bliss. Life is just happier when on the beach, isn't it? For me, beach is not just about the sun, sand and  the sea - its the feeling of in a state of "hakuna matata," it means no worries. This made me want to explore every beaches within and nearby Cebu province.

I first learned about this island from Whacky Adventures, where he featured/narrated his experience in this island enroute for Masbate for his backpacking in Bicol Region. After that, I Immediately gathered some information about the island and scheduled my trip. However, I also found out that the waters from Daanbantayan which is the jump off point going to Carnaza island is really rowdy especially during afternoon. Until a friend of mine who has been to the island a couple of times invited me to celebrate fiesta in the island. My excitement grew bigger and bigger as the day coming near.

carnaza island beach
We rendezvoused at Cebu North Bus Terminal as early as 4:00 in the morning. We were expecting huge passengers in the terminal since it was Holy Week. We rode Maya-Kawit bound bus and alighted at Tapilon port where the outrigger boats going to Carnaza are stationed. We already contacted a boatman who will fetch us at the port, however due to time constraints, we have to ride a different boat so that we can maximize our time in the island. It was actually a special trip together with some locals also attending the fiesta.

After we met our host in Carnaza, we hurriedly explored the island by foot. We visited different beautiful beach sites as well as the lone beach resort owned by the Osmena's. Atop of the mountain is a runway where it gives you an aerial view of the neighboring islands. For adrenaline junkies, there is also a cave where you can explore and perhaps take a dip in the swimming pool inside the cave.

carnaza island
Carnaza Island Guide

 1. From north bus terminal, ride Maya-Kawit bound buses and dropped off at Tapilon Port. Travel time is approximately 3-4 hours.
2. There are outrigger boats in Tapilon port bound for Carnaza Island.
3. There is no resort in the island. You can camp out in your favorite beach site or ask some locals if they can host you for the night. Locals are really accommodating and friendly.
4. For your beach supplies, I suggest to buy it from the mainland. I did not see any market in the island what they have there are just convenience store for basic goods.

Niludhan Falls of Bayawan City

Niludhan Falls Bayawan
What is it about the waterfalls that attracts people? Have you ever thought about it? I myself always got hypnotized every time I stand in front of a waterfall. I really do not know the exact reason, I am just naturally attracted to this natural wonder.

There is no plenty of information you can find when you try to search for Niludhan Falls. This majestic water fall is not so popular to many, that only those who braved to go off the beaten will get to experience and witness the hypnotic beauty of Niludhan Falls. As they say, "difficult roads lead to a beautiful destination." This quote is so true! We traveled more than two hours of bumpy and rough road from Bayawan City to barangay Dawis via habal-habal to get to this site.

Tuesday morning, we traveled from Sipalay to Bayawan, that is approximately two hours trip. We do not have any idea about the bus schedule from Bayawan to Mabinay, we just purely rely on our luck.  The bus just left the terminal a few minutes before we arrived. That means we have to wait the 3pm trip if we would really want to pursue our itinerary. We tried to ask locals for some possible options and we ended hiring a special trip through a habal-habal which cost us 500 pesos. Initially, I thought that the rate was too steep then I realized that it was a good deal considering the distance and road condition from Bayawan to Dawis. Our driver also brought us to barangay Paniabonan where buses plying the Bacolod-Mabinay-Dumaguete route will pass by.

There was no other people on the site when we arrived at Niludhan falls. There was even no caretakers assigned to collect for entrance fee and rental for huts. Its totally undevelop compare to other waterfalls in the country. We just spent few minutes enjoying the view and take snapshots then left the area. If only we have enough time, I will not hesitate to take a dip into its water. Also another factor that made us decide not to spend much time on the falls is the bad weather and it seemed that a heavy downpour is coming anytime and we still have to travel to the next barangay.

How to Get to Niludhan Falls of Bayawan City

Via Mabinay: There are buses stationed at Dumaguete Ceres Bus Terminal plying the Mabinay route. Your drop off point would be at barangay Paniabonan. From the junction, you need to commute to barangay Dawis which is the exact site of Niludhan Falls.

Alternative route via Bayawan: From Dumaguete City, ride a bus bound for Bayawan City. Drop off point would be at Ceres Bus Terminal in Bayawan. Then there are jeepneys plying the Bayawan-Dawis route or you can also hire habal-habal that can take you right exactly at Niludhan Falls. 

Top 6 Outdoor Adventures in Cebu

One thing is for sure, thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkies will skip Cebu from their must-do adventure destination due to a common notion  that Cebu is just like Manila. Everyone knows Cebu as one of the best Philippine destinations for white sand beaches, nightlife, as well as history and culture, but Cebu is more than just meets the eye. This province is also the "perfect" travel destination where you can live some of the most unforgettable adventures of a lifetime, provided of course that you're willing to explore beyond the city.

To help get you inspired, I compiled some of the most highly-recommended destinations in Cebu to satisfy the daring side of you. From the canyons of southern Cebu to the high cliffs of the north, here are my top 6 Cebu adventures guaranteed to get you adrenaline-pumping.

Cebu Rock Climbing, Cantabaco
Rock Climbing in Cantabaco. Photo Credits to Cerwin
1. Although water activities are pretty popular in Cebu, trekking has never lost its charm. I  would say that mountain climbing/trekking is the most popular outdoor adventure activity among Cebuanos. The mountains in Cebu are not as high compare to those in Luzon and Mindanao, but that does not mean that you won't get to enjoy trekking here in Cebu. Osmena Peak is the most popular mountain to climb in Cebu. A four to five hour trek from its peak will take you to another popular Cebu tourist destination – Kawasan Falls. Another great place to trek or go mountain climbing in Cebu is Mt. Lanaya. The infamous lung-busting Lanaya trail is unforgiving due to its almost 60-70 degrees constant ascent and looseness of the soil. Click on the link for some lists of mountains to climb in Cebu for big adventures.

2. Rock climbing is an adventure. A very extreme adventure! Imagine yourself hanging on a 100-ft high cliffs, with just your fingertips holding and feet pushing on the crevices of the rock clinging for your dear life. Scary? Well it sounds more fun to me. I have tried indoor climbing a couple of times, but the truth is real climbing exists far beyond the gym walls. Cantabaco in Toledo City, Cebu is the mecca for all junkies wanting to try rock climbing both locals and international rock climbers. Notes: Cantabaco is accessible by V-hire from Citilink Terminal. Drop off point would be at Silangan/Lutopan and from there you can ask local for guides who can also provide you equipment for the climb. Travel time is approximately an hour. There is no fixed rate for guide fee. Some of the rock walls were as follows: Snake Skin, Vulva, O Babe, Guyabano, Pumping Station, Miserable and etc.

Cliff Jumping, Malapascua, Camotes, Medellin
Aaron Cliff Jumping at Funtastic Island Medellin
3. Caving in Cebu. Although the province is not known for this activity, Cebu also has an abundance of cave systems waiting to be discovered. Honestly, I only got to    explore few caves in Cebu. To those looking for a real taste of  caving experience, I can only think of one place - Argao. The town is home one of the largest caving system in the province – Lantoy Cave or Balay sa Agta. Notes: Balay sa Agta is located in barangay Conalum and its about 30-40 minute ride from Poblacion. It measured 475 meters long, while its height measures 175 feet from the roof to the ground. It also has seven chambers and some of which are still unexplored. The cave is also the breeding place of bats in different species and is closed during nesting season.

4. Ready...One...Two...Three...Go! I hesitate. Standing there still gazing at what is ahead of me, a long drop, then water. My friends down there shouting and cheering trying to instill confidence in me and then start of a new countdown. You can do this! Jump! This is it. One...Two...Three...Go! I then took my last gap of air, closed my eyes and try not to think of anything. The next thing I knew, my feet push through the board and my last foot slowly and gracefully leaves the edge of the jump board, suspended in the air  for a few seconds and then suddenly, the water that I have been awaiting for patiently, strikes me - that was the indication that I made it! That's what I felt the first time I had cliff jumped. Notes: Cliff jumping spots in Cebu: the 45-ft high cliff in Funtastic Island in Medellin, 50-ft high cliff in Malapascua, and 40-ft high cliff in Camotes. Cliff jumping is one of the most exciting adventurous activity you can do in Cebu.

5. I am naturally attracted to waterfalls and just a mere view of it is already amazing. How about if lets level up that experience far beyond the limits of a normal sightseeing. Waterfalls abseiling is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope. The intense and powerful feeling of the water dropping above you combined with the fact that you are hanging on a rope, will surely give adrenaline push like you have never experienced before. Notes: Danasan Eco Adventure Park offers waterfalls abseiling and a not-so-known spot for this activity is in Montaneza, Malabuyoc, Cebu.
canyoneering cebu
Photo credits to Albert Aspacio

6. Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls. Before you sign up for this activity please do check if you have fear of heights and getting drowned, because the next adventurous activity you can do in Cebu entailed jumping off from a cliff, river trekking, waterfalls abseiling and swimming. Bearing all this in mind, I had a “why not” moment and signed up myself for five hours of canyoning/canyoneering into Alegria-Badian Kawasan Falls. Just merely peering over the edge of the 20-feet high waterfall, my knees begin to shake and my head spins slightly. My past experience cliff jumping 45-feet high does not help at all. It's now even more harder to fight anxiety in my head. But, our guide, Albert (Albert +639359254769 or JB +639065132480) gives me an assuring smile that its going to be fun. I just took my first step on the rock, stretch my legs and jump into the water. Within a few seconds, my fear is replaced with sheer excitement and adrenaline. For the uninitiated, canyoneering is an outdoor sport that involves technical descents down narrow canyons and often requires rappels, technical climbing, jumps and swims. Notes: popular canyoneering spot in Cebu is in Matutinao, Badian, but for a more advance canyoneering experience, Montaneza Falls in Malabuyoc is the perfect place!

My Extreme Canyoneering Adventure in Badian, Cebu

Canyoneering Moalboal Cebu

Canyoneering or canyoning is one of the most heart-pumping activities in Cebu. Why? Simply because this activity involves river trekking, bouldering, climbing uphill slope, jumping off a 30 feet waterfalls, rappelling and swimming the turquoise pool of Matutinao river. This adventure is relatively new, but now is gaining popularity among adrenaline junkies and to ordinary individuals wanting to experience a new adventure.

The upstream canyoneering activity will start at Kawasan Falls. From the highway, Kawasan falls is approximately 1.5 kilometers. Then we climbed up to the third waterfalls which is the jump-off point for this activity. The first challenge is to cross to the other side of the river and that is by swimming. Aside from the swimming part, I am really more concern of getting some muscle cramps because of the coldness of the water. This is the exact reason why everyone must wear a life jacket. Soon afterward, the trail gets down to a deeper ravine. We trek steep trails which even require us using rope, then steep downhill slope, until we reached a small segment of Kanlaob river where some locals were having fun doing the laundry and kids just playing around.

Before the actual jump, the guide will brief you about where and how to jump off the falls. So its critical to listen attentively to your guides. Then here comes our first jump! We were piling in a single queue, waiting for our turn to stand at the edge of the rock. The first jump is about 15 feet high. Once you've done the first jump, you generally have no choice but to complete the remaining jumps. There is really no turning back after the first jump. I should say that this is the most nerve-wracking part of this activity. I don't really have fear of heights, but once you're there, it seems that all horror things that happened in your life flashed back in front of you. With knees and hand shaking, I just closed my eyes and jump into the blue-green water of Matutinao river. The highest jump in this activity is approximately 30 feet and this is the finale jump. Although, this is optional, I highly suggest if you have the guts, to try this finale jump.

1. For safety reasons, all participants must wear life jacket/helmet regardless of your swimming skill.
2. Get a guide who is expert about this activity. They will be the one who will be giving you instructions on what to do and what not to do. Listen to your guide at all times. Highly recommend Albert 09359254769. Don't forget to mention my name, you might get a discount. Haha.
3. Be careful with your footing. Trails and rocks are very slippery.
4. Start early. Nobody wants to be in the middle of the canyons when the darkness comes.
5. Wear proper gear/clothing (rashguard, boardshorts, aqua shoes, durable sandals). This is to avoid any injuries.
6. Hydrate. Drink water as often as possible to avoid dehydration.
7. Buddy system, especially there is one in the group who is not a swimmer. Watch out for each other's safety.
7. LEAVE NO TRACE! Leave nothing but footprints take nothing but pictures kill nothing but time.

Subic Beach in Sorsogon | My Piece of Paradise

Subic beach in Sorsogon has all the ingredients for a perfect summer getaway: turquoise and crystal clear water, less crowd, untouched, fine white sand, and hospitable locals. There is no wonder why Subic beach is always included on the list of the best or top beaches in the country according to travel bloggers.

Subic Beach Sorsogon
Subic Beach in Sorsogon
The weather was very favorable for a beach getaway when we leave Cebu. However, as we enter the island of Samar, the weather suddenly became gloomy which made me think of cancelling or changing the plan of going to Biri and Subic Beach.  

There was still no improvement of the weather the following day, yet we still pursue our plan of reaching the southernmost tip of Luzon enroute to Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. From Allen, we took Montenegro Shipping Lines. The water was really rowdy and unfriendly that despite the size of the vessel, you can feel the waves slamming and  the cracking sound of the wheeled cargo made me feel more nervous. After two hours of combating those gigantic waves, we reached Matnog, Sorsogon. Another thrill awaited us, as we need to get an outrigger boat that can take us to Subic Beach.

Subic Beach Sorsogon

After what happened, I did not expect that the boat ride going to Subic beach would be a smooth one. As they say, most of the beautiful places are the hardest to get to. As the boat drew nearer the island, I can no longer contain my excitement of what I saw, a white sand beach with a blue-green waters. Perfect beach getaway!

I suggest to buy your food supplies in Matnog public market as there is no available store in the island, there is one sari-sari store with limited supplies. Those who wants to go overnight, there are huts in the island for P500 per night. Since we bring a tent, we only rent the open cottage for 300 pesos. There is an electricity in the island so no worries about charging your batteries and most importantly there is also mobile signal. You may be asked to give a donation for use of the toilet.

How to get to Subic Beach

By Land - There are plenty of bus companies to choose from that plies directly to Matnog, I suggest if you take this route to get a night trip to save your time as travel time from Cubao to  takes roughly 12-13 hours.

By Air - If you are coming from Manila, you can take either Legazpi or Catarman depending on the availability of the flight schedule. If you take the Legazpi route, get a trike from the airport to the terminal and ride a bus or van bound to Matnog. Travel time takes approximately two hours. From Catarman, you need to ride a jeep bound for Allen port (45 minutes) then RoRo ride to Matnog Port (2 hours).

By Boat - From Cebu, there is only one shipping company that can take you directly to Calbayog and that is Cokaliong Shippine Lines. Then, from Calbayog, take a van Allen bound vans and travel time takes about 2 hours. Then to get to Matnog Sorsogon, you need to take a Roro.

Once you reach Matnog Port, you have to hire a boat going to Subic Beach. Boat rental is from 1500 to 2000 depending on your haggling skill.

Introduction to Scuba Diving: My First Time

Hadsan Scuba Diving
Photo credits: Glenn Cabeguin

I would say that not everyone is really attracted to scuba diving. Others just do not have the courage to try fearing that instead of meeting Nemo and some underwater denizen, they will be meeting their end in the dark and gloomy depths of the sea. Unfortunately, I am one of those people. As I have mentioned in my previous post, water is not really my element. I would rather climb thousands of feet above sea level than swimming a few feet below the surface.

I am a natural sinker with zero knowledge in swimming, so you cannot blame me if I would really feel skeptical whether I should give it a try or not. Apart from that, I have also lots of questions in my mind like 'What if the regulator quit? What if I ran out of oxygen before I could get to the surface? In short, I feared of getting drowned. Who wouldn't be? Thinking about it makes me sick and all frightened.

But then, I was so curious why people get addicted to scuba diving. I oftenly heard from friends who had gone scuba diving that under the sea is totally a different world - a beautiful world. And for that, I am taking my risk and its time for me to overcome my fear!

Before the actual diving, Sir Glenn (one of our dive master) gave us a brief discussion about scuba diving. This includes the basic sign language, and ways to equalize pressure. After signing the waiver, we went to the shallow part of Hadsan Beach for the actual demonstration.

Well, I went down for about few minutes, scared to death, breathing that air out of the tank like there was no tomorrow. Proud to say that I am not one of those freak-out first timer. I remain calm and tried not to panic. Panicking under the water is a major no-no, that is why buddy system was implemented during our diving. Our first dive basically served as a preparation for our second dive which is more deeper.

During the second dive, I do not exactly know the depth but I am certain that its beyond my height. I went down deeper and deeper then all of a sudden, I noticed that there was no one following me. I lost the group! So I tried to swim back and find the rest of the group however, probably due to a strong current and poor visibility I was blown to a different direction. It was really hard navigating underwater if you do not have a compass. At this moment,  I tried hard not to panic. I just kept on positive thoughts that this is going to be a wonderful experience.  But, no matter how hard I tried to entertain only positive thoughts, I could feel my heart beats fast, my ears hurt, and I am pretty aware that I am using more air. I was like one breath closer to my last. I just keep on kicking towards the shore and from time to time look at the surface to check if I am going towards the shore. Then I saw Kim and Erick who were 'freediving' at that time. Thinking that the depth of the water was already within my height, I removed my mask as well as the regulator. This is a no-no in scuba diving. Never ever removed your gears or equipment while you are still in the water. I was blown by the waves and then the next time I knew I was already grasping for air. I tried to put back the regulator however, but rowdy water won't allow me to. Thanks God that Kim was there to rescue me and I immediately put back the regulator and mask.

Although I was not able to see stunning corals that resembles like a mushroom or encounter some underwater creatures like I have seen in pictures, I am still proud of myself that I was able to conquer my fear. I also had fun watching those bubbles burst forth from my regulator. Its like I was suspended in a limbo as I watched the bubbles dancing and what took my breath away is the surface that glimmered above. That is an indication that I just conquered my fear!

If you are apprehensive and scared about your first dive underwater, but have the adventurous spirit that keeps on telling you to give it a try, then wait for my next post as I will be writing  my top tips for your first time scuba diving.

Snapshot Friday: The Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Picture

The Angkor Wat is know as the mother of all temples in Cambodia, and if I am not mistaken, this is the largest religious structure in the entire world. Exploring the temples is a truly memorable experience. What you can see in this snapshot is just the facade of the temple and once inside, you will be amazed as to how these ancient people managed to built this huge architecture without the aide of any machine.

Tip: IF you want to take a good photo of the temple, visit this complex as  early as possible. Angkor Wat is also a good spot for sunset viewing.

Details: Exposure: 1/400s | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100 | Focal Length: 35mm | Software:  Lightroom 4.0

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