After flying into Manila airport late, we decided to spend the night catching up on sleep, showering and re-charging. It was needed after a long airport wait and two flights and gave us time to figure out what to do in Cebu.
We crashed at a cheap hotel called Zen which was around 15 minutes from the airport. It’s worth noting that if you fly into Manila be prepared for heavy traffic getting out of the airport. It took us 3 hours to make the 15 minute journey to our hotel. The city of Manila is seriously over populated and incredibly crowded, rush hour times are from 5-10am and 5-10pm so that’s 8 hours a day of traffic.
Cebu was beautiful but it has crazy transport
The next day we headed to the domestic terminal at Manila Airport to catch a flight to Cebu and go in search of the beach. We landed at Cebu Airport after the hour flight and took a bus for 40 pesos each to My Bus terminal. The next part of the journey was a taxi to South Bus terminal. We used Grab, it’s like Uber but you can make cash payments.
The south bus terminal was chaos and when we located our coach queue, it was 200 people long! Transport in the Philippines is never in a hurry. We waited for 45 minutes with minimal movement before we decided to sod the budget and look into a taxi. We spoke to a very friendly policeman who flagged a taxi for us and got the driver down from 3500 pesos to 2000 pesos.
It was a luxury expense but we just weren’t prepared for the buses here in Philippines. A 3.5 hour ride for £29 isn’t too bad at all. After a bus, a taxi, a chaotic queue experience and another taxi, we arrived in Moalboal. Finally ready to explore and tick off our ‘what to do in Cebu’ list.
Chilled vibes at Panagsama
We woke up and grabbed a much needed coffee at our accommodation, Bamboo House, which was the cheapest option in Moalboal at such short notice. It was a collection of basic cute bamboo huts with nothing but a mattress. The coffee was just what we needed to set us up so off we headed to Panagsama to explore the beach, restaurants and dive shops.
Smoothie bowls from Shaka Cafe were so tasty!
The rumours were true, we had heard this was a cool place to chill and it was definitely a vibe. After enjoying a delicious smoothie bowl at the healthy Shaka Cafe (at 250 pesos each) we headed to the beach to watch the sunset.
It was a laid back day which was perfect after 2 days of traveling. We also hired a moped from our accommodation which is definitely needed in Moalboal. It’s a great base to position yourself at but the island of Cebu is big, so a moped helps.
We succumbed to another smoothie bowl at Shaka Cafe before going in search of the secret Binalayan Hidden Falls. They was over an hour away on our rental moped – hello numb bums! We waved at locals as we zoomed through quaint little villages and past colourful schools, it was a beautiful ride.
The falls themselves were a treat, they were 130 pesos for both our entry fees plus parking. You have to have a guide for safety reasons and can tip as much as you wish once the trip is over. He showed us the path to the falls and the safest way to jump off too.
We jumped, bathed and snapped pics whilst taking in the sheer beauty and peacefulness of this magic place. We left happy and felt so lucky that we were the only souls there.
Our journey back to Moalboal saw us stop in at the Smooth Cafe for a vegan falafel wrap and coffee before deciding to check out White Beach. Once we arrived we were totally disappointed. The sand was not white and the beach was not at all like those picturesque Philippine beaches you see online. It had rubbish scattered everywhere and the area just felt very tatty.
At the weekends it’s full of locals (quite rightly so, it is their back garden) which is cool to see but just means it’s super busy. It just wasn’t the slice of paradise we had read about in blogs online. However, if you don’t mind a busy beach, some friendly locals blasting their favourite tunes and people enjoying BBQs in the rental bamboo huts, then you’ll be just fine. We had assumed it would be a little more peaceful and untouched.
Kasawan Falls and Lumbug Beach
We got up early in order to beat the crowds that gather at Kasawan Falls due to it being such a well known tourist spot in Moalboal and we’re so glad we did. After arriving at about 7am we hotfooted it through the admission gates paid the 45 pesos each fee and made our way down to the famous falls. The 15 minute walk takes you through trickling streams and beautiful palm trees which definitely builds up the anticipation. It’s safe to safe we weren’t disappointed.
The water was a striking shade of blue and the sound of the water crashing into the pool was mesmerising. A very different experience than Hidden Falls as this was a lot more equipped for tourism. There was a restaurant and a seating area which to be honest, gave the Hidden Falls the edge. It felt a lot more ‘hidden’ and exclusive. Either way, both are worth a visit.
Happy that we had ticked Kasawan Falls off of our list we headed back to Panagsama for (sorry not sorry) ANOTHER smoothie bowl at Shaka Cafe. We then rode out to Lumbug beach which is about 25 mins away. Hoping it would be a better experience than White Beach we paid the parking fee of 25 pesos and went off to explore.
We were pleasantly surprised as it was certainly a way better beach. Hardly anyone was there and with only a fraction of the beachside huts selling food and drinks, it hadn’t been struck by mass tourism. The day we went it was incredibly windy causing the sand to blow up and whip us. But none the less, it’s a beautiful spot and worth heading down to if you’re staying in Moalboal.
Our final day ended with a delicious dinner in Venz, its vegan and veggie options are so good and a rare sight in the Philippines. We definitely made the most of this menu. The staff were lovely and are up for a chat if they’re not too busy. Also, make sure you leave a note from your travels on their money wall, you’ll spot our Maldivian Rupee if you pay this cool little dining spot a visit.
Moalboal makes a great base of you’re visiting Cebu. This place was all about exploring the nearby waterfalls, enjoying sunsets and testing out the cool cafe spots in Panagsama. Definitely worth visiting but not for any longer than 3 days, well that was enough for us anyway.
If you’re looking at planning a Philippines trip, you might like our ‘Island Hopping’ article.
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