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

Mt. Hambubuyog, Ginatilan, Cebu - 5th Annual Friendship Climb

Friendship Climb, Katkat Pakighimamat, Mt. Hambubuyog
The Annual Katkat Pakighimamat or Friendship Climb was first initiated or spearheaded by two mountaineering group - EWIT and ZETS. The first friendship climb happened last August 1 and 2, 2009, and this was held in Mt. Manghilao, Danao City, Cebu. This was created for the sole purpose of unifying the mountaineering groups in Cebu both the 'gurus' and the neophytes.

The first friendship climb gained good feedback which is why during the 2nd Friendship Climb (February 27–28, 2010) almost hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from different mountaineering societies as well as freelancers supported and participated the annual event. It was held in Mt. Kan-Irag and just like during the first event, clean up drive and tree planting was still practiced.

The 3rd Annual Friendship Climb (February 26 and 27, 2011) was held in Danasan Eco-Adventure Park in Danao City, Cebu. And just like the past events, clean up drive and tree planting was practiced. This is our way of helping preserved mother nature. Last year (Febuary 25 and 26, 2012), the organizers decided to bring the event outside Cebu, and it was held in Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Camiguin. I failed to join last years event because I had a solo climb in Mt. Hibok-Hibok months prior to the event.

Mt Hambubuyog Ginatilan
This year, the 5th Annual Friendship Climb was held in Mt. Hambubuyog, Ginatilan, Cebu. There was a votation as to where the the 5th Annual Friendship Climb be held. Amongst the three mountains that where pre-picked, Mt. Hambubuyog gained majority of the votes. The other two mountains were Mt. Lanaya in Alegria, and Mt. Naopa in Naga. I personally voted for Mt. Naopa because of its proximity to the city and the scenic view from the campsite.

Ginatilan is located in the southern most part of Cebu. That's around four to five hours from the City. This municipality is known for its waterfalls (Kampael, Bugnawan and Inambakan Falls). Our second saint, Pedro Calungsod was also believed as a local resident of Ginatilan.

The participants rendezvoused at Taboan Ceres Bus Terminal and departed at around 9:30 in the morning. It was already past 1:00 in the afternoon when we arrived in Ginatilan. We were all surprised when local students dressed in native attire welcome us as we alight the bus and hang some garlands on our neck. That is what you call hospitality.

Mt Hambubuyog, Friendship Climb, Katkat Pakighimamat
We had a courtesy call with the Mayor and the registration was held in Municipal Hall. FYI: this is the biggest climb in the history of Katkat Pakighimamat. From the jump off point, there were at least 4 dump trucks which we will be using instead of trekking towards the summit. We were one of the first group who arrived the summit, and immediately we pitched our tents because of the impending rain. Actually it was already drizzling when we arrived at the campsite and fog enveloped the area.

Mt. Hambubuyog is the highest mountain in Ginatilan and atop of this mountain is where the Divine Mercy Chapel was built.

The participants where divided into four sub-groups and each group has a specific task. I belonged to the group four where we are assigned to do the clean-up. Other groups task includes tree planting and outreach program. After the activities, the participants gathered at Ginatilan Plaza for the activities like Amazing Race and some Pinoy Games. This is supposed to be a 3-day activity, but due to responsibilities at work, we (United Backpackers) need to be back at the city the soonest. Prior to heading back to the city, we had a short dip in the pristine waters of Ginatilan.

Although I not able to join the entire 3-day activity, I can say that at 770 meters above sea level, I was able to achieved my goal of meeting new friends and making new ones. Kudos to the organizers and the municipality of Ginatilan for supporting this program.  

Biliran Travel Guide Itinerary, Expenses and Accommodation

sambawan island biliran maripipi
The island province of Biliran is the first province I visited in eastern Visayas Region. I was supposed to go to Bohol that weekend to attend a friends' wedding, but due to unfortunate events, it leads to me to make a huge detour. My experience in Biliran is full of roller coaster of adventures and emotions. Emotional because I was traveling alone and have never done solo travel in almost a year. Unlike with my previous solo travels where I felt really excited, this one, I was dubious whether I should pursue or not. Then the next thing I knew, I was already in Biliran Island.

tinago falls biliran
Tinago Falls
bagongbong falls biliran
Bagongbong Falls
The first on my list was to go immediately to Sambawan Island, but unfortunately there is no trip from Naval, Biliran to Maripipi Island on Sundays. FYI: Biliran has two main island: mainland Biliran and Maripipi Island. You may read my previous post for a detailed guide on how to get to Sambawan Island as well as for the schedule of ferry trips. It was already past 10 in the morning when I arrived in Naval Port. I stayed for a few minutes in Julies Bakeshop, take some pieces of bread and at the same time was thinking on what to do next. Since I know nothing about Biliran and I also do not have any contacts nor booked for an accommodation, I browsed the web and luckily found Marvin's of Pinoy Adventurista post about Biliran. I then patterned my itinerary for the city tour based on his post. I also hired the service of Kuya Jun Murillo for the city tour. What I like about the habal-habal's in Biliran is that It has a roof or cover that protects the passengers from being exposed to extreme heat of the sun. For my accommodation, instead of staying at Agta Beach Resort where the cheapest room is at PHP400, I stayed at El Roman Pensionne and paid PHP180 for standard room.

I was very excited on my second day in Biliran Island because I am going to Sambawan Island and this is what I really came here for. I was already awake as early as 6 in the morning to charge my cameras and cellphones since there might be no source of electricity in the island. El Roman Pensionne is just a few meters from Naval Port. Aside from the affordable room rate, I was able to save for the fare as well. With no breakfast, I boarded the Brian Claire Cruiser as early as 8:00 in the morning. I am one of the first passenger in the ferry and Roy (one of the crew who arranged my trip to Sambawan; 09065501845) advised me to stay on the second floor for me to have a better view. He even provided us a free habal-habal ride in Maripipi Island port to barangay Ol-og where we can hire outrigger boats bound for Sambawan. It was already pass noon when we arrived in Maripipi Island. There is a store near the port where you can buy supplies that you will be needing in Sambawan Island like rice, canned goods, water and some booze. After all was set, we went to barangay Ol-og which is the jump off point in going to Sambawan Island. The only guest in the island was me and three young travelers from Manila whom I shared cottage and the pumpboat. A simple chit-chats and a bottle of 'empi' wrap-up the night. At dawn, we need to go back to Maripipi port to catch the only trip going back to mainland Naval.

Mainint Spring Biliran
How to get to Biliran

Via Cebu
If you are coming from Cebu, only MV Blessed Stars of Roble Shipping ply the Cebu-Naval route. The other ferries which plies this route (Cokaliong and Shuttle ferry) have folded up their operations. Because of limited trips, you can also take the Cebu-Ormoc ferries which has daily trips (thrice per day), just like what I did, I took the Cebu-Ormoc route via SuperCat/2Go and this is inclusive of van transfer from Ormoc port to Naval, Biliran. Travel time Ormoc to Naval is 2 hours.

Via Tacloban
Major carriers (Cebu Pacific and AirPhil) serve direct flights to Tacloban City. From Tacloban, there are shuttle vans or vhires as well as buses plying the Tacloban-Naval trip. Travel time is 1.5 to 2 hours.
Roble Shipping, Inc. 43-C Escario Extension, Cebu City 6000 Telephone: (032) 255-3871, (032) 254-0583 Fax: (032) 416-6117 Booking Offices: Naval Telephone: (053) 500 7898 Cebu Telephone: (032) 255-5904, (032) 255-1849

Top things to do in Biliran

1. Island Hopping (Sambawan and Higatangan Island)
2. Chasing Waterfalls (Tinago, Casiawan, Bagongbong, Tomalistis)
3. Sight seeing (rice terraces of Sampao, Iyusan, Caucab)
4. Beach bumming (Agta Beach resort, Higatangan Island, Sambawan Island)
5. Hot and Cold Spring (Masagongsong, Naval Spring and Mainit)
6. Mountain Climbing (Tres Marias, Maripipi)
7. Caving (Lovers Cave and Ka Ventong Cave)
8. Food Trip (Special Suman)

Sample Itinerary (Biliran-Sambawan)

Day 1
05:30-07:30: Cebu to Ormoc via SuperCat/2Go
07:30-0930: Ormoc port yo Naval, Biliran
09:30-12:00: Staycation at El Roman Pensionne
12:00-13:00: Lunch
13:00-17:00: City tour (Chasing Waterfalls)
17:00-18:00: Dinner

Day 02:
06:00-07:00: Preparing for Sambawan Island
07:00-08:00: Strolling/familiarization of Naval
08:00-10:30: Boarded Brian Claire Cruiser
10:30-12:30: Travel Naval to Maripipi Island
12:30-13:00: Last minute buying of supplies
13:00-13:30: Travel Maripipi port to barangay Ol-og
13:30-14:00: Waiting time for our boatman
14:00-14:20: Barangay Ol-og to Sambawan Island
14:20-15:00: Cook for lunch/dinner
15:00-18:00: Beacheneering/Photo Ops
18:00-03:00: Socials

Day 03:
03:00-03:20: Sambawan to Barangay Ol-og
03:20-03:50: Depart to Maripipi Port
04:00-06:00: Maripipi to Naval Port
06:00-08:00: Travel Naval to Ormoc
08:00-08:30: Breakfast at Ormoc Port
08:30-13:45: Familiarization Ormoc
13:45-15:45: Ormoc to Cebu

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