A PRACTICAL DIY TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS OF SOUTH CEBU (UPDATED)

Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Cebu Tourism Office at cebuprovincialtourism@gmail.com or at (032) 888 2328 to know the latest update.

Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!

Trekking the mountain peaks of South Cebu for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide for Osmeña, Casino and Candongao peak is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, suggested trails, recommended transports, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!

START HERE!

SOUTH CEBU MOUNTAIN PEAKS AT A GLANCE

DALAGUETE, the Vegetable Basket and Summer Capital of Cebu, which lies 3 hours south off Cebu city is well-liked for being a key player in the sustenance of food supply in the province. Thanks to its strong vegetation and advanced method of farming. But that is only a lesser recognition for the municipality. At its hinterland sets up a stage for a pageantry of ruggedly beautiful mountain peaks which launched Dalaguete to greater heights of popularity among hikers and campers over the years. Reigning the prestige amongst this line-up of captivating summits are a trio of gigantic karst formation of jagged hills namely Osmeña peak, Casino peak and Candongao peak.

The sweet panorama of karst, jagged hills as viewed from Casino peak.

The mountain peaks of Dalaguete which are a haven of leisurely fresh, cool breeze make for a good vantage point for a scenery of great landscape that cascades with an immense gush of moss-green, sharp-looking hills.

To choose the most photogenic among the trio demands a long discourse of subjectivity. I’d rather that you be the judge. Visit these mountain peaks, which are neighboring to each other, by following the guide below.

Note: The three mountains in Dalaguete and Badian are walkable and do not necessarily need a tour guide; although it can be challenging for a beginner since one would have to scale through a trail of steep slopes and high elevation that would demand stamina and leg power. Check out tips found at the bottom part to help you on your trek to Casino, Candongao and Osmeña peak.

GETTING TO & AROUND THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS

Step 1: In Cebu City, head out to the South Bus terminal and take a bus bound for Oslob or Bato which cost around P106, travel time is 3 hours. Ask the driver to drop off at Dalaguete junction where you can find a 7/11 store and Julies bakeshop fronting each other.

For instructions on how to get to South Bus terminal from any area in Cebu City, read this link: How to Get Around Cebu.

Note: Bus trips are frequent as every 15 minutes between 5:00AM to 9:00PM and become less frequent 10:00PM onwards.

Step 2: The mountain peaks of Dalaguete and Badian are reachable by trail and road. The former is preferred by hikers and mountaineers because of an imposing view of vegetation growing luxuriantly along its way while the latter is favored by most visitors for fast and easy access.

From the junction in Dalaguete, ask a motorcycle-for-hire (habal-habal) to take you to the three mountain peaks. The trip will take half to entire day and would cost for P400 per person round trip. The motorcycle is only allowed to take 2 persons. If you opt to visit one mountain peak only, the cost per person is P200 round trip.

THE THREE MOUNTAIN PEAKS

MAP OF THE THREE MOUNTAIN PEAKS

OSMEÑA PEAK

Osmeña peak overlooking a foggy sky.

Osmeña peak is considerably the highest point of Cebu, with an elevation of 1013 meters above sea level (MASL). The ascent to its summit is approximately 1.3 kilometers and would take for about 20 minutes in a continuous pace. The trail is a bit rocky but well-defined which makes trekking relatively easy that even a beginner would not necessarily have a guide. The peak which has a capacity of 30-40 visitors at a time offers a view of a fascinating vista that is composed of Badian Island, the Tañon strait, and farther, the province of Negros Oriental.

At the top most part is a less foggy view of Badian island and Tañon strait as seen from Osmeña peak.

For safety, trekking to its summit is permitted only until 6:00 p.m. and camping is only allowed at the base. You can pitch your own tent or rent one at the registration area (which also has a comfort room) for P200.

An 8AM view from Osmeña peak as the fog slowly sweeps away.
  • Location: Mantalongon, Dalaguete
  • Entrance Fee:  P30 for adults, children 12 and below are free. P50 per tent for overnight camping.
  • Guide to Osmeña Peak: There are three hiking trails to the peak. One begins in Badian passing Kawasan falls, another is from Dumanjug which alights in brgy. Liong, and the other, which is the most popular, is at Mantalongon Public market in Dalaguete. The first two trails will take a multi-day hike, while the last can be covered in half day.

Rating: 4/5

LUGSANGAN CASINO PEAK

The fang-looking Lugsangan Casino peak viewed from half-way of the trail .

Casino peak (or now officially Lugsangan peak) is a distinct monolith among an expanse of jagged hills at the highland of Dalaguete, Cebu elevating for about 1,003 meters above sea level. The peak is easily identifiable because of its fang-looking shape. The hike en route to its top which stretches for about a kilometer is walkable but more rocky and steep compared to that of Osmeña peak. It will take for about 20 minutes to reach the summit in a nonstop pace. Once at the top, the peak overlooks a visual treat of dotted moss-green hills reminiscent of that of Bohol. Casino can only cater 20-25 visitors at a time and walking through its peak requires extra caution because of its narrow form.

“Chocolate hills” like view reminiscent of that in Bohol as seen from Lugsangan Casino peak.

As of January 2018, Casino peak is free of registration. However, discussion with tourism to include it in the list of natural attractions in Dalaguete is ongoing so expect that a fee will soon be imposed.

Camping out is not permitted in the area.

Standing on the narrow Casino peak while showing its other side to where Osmeña peak is situated.
  • Location:  Sitio Lugsangan, Brgy. Tabon, Dalaguete, Cebu
  • Entrance Fee:  none (as of January 2018)
  • Guide to Lugsangan Casino Peak:  A trail from Mantalongon public market or from Osmeña peak to Casino is well-defined and can be done in an hour hike preferably with the help of a guide.

Rating: 4/5

CANDONGAO PEAK

A big rock on the trail to Candongao peak. From here, Candongao peak will just be 5-10 minutes away.

Candongao peak is another rock land-form that has become popular among trekkers and campers in Cebu. It neighbors Osmeña and Casino peak for about a 30-minute motorcycle ride. Getting to its pinnacle starts with a 195-step, drawn out, concrete stairs which makes hike moderately easy half way. From there, the trail becomes rocky, and steep – even more difficult than that of the other two peaks. It will take for about an hour to reach the top where you will be met with a 360-degree view of the nearest islands of Cebu, namely Bohol and Negros. The peak provides access to another two less popular peaks: the lovers and sunset peak, where camping is allowed.

A far look at Candongao peak where a Philippine flag is installed. This photo was shot from another peak opposing Candongao which is only seconds away.

On its way down is the small Candongao cave with a shy entrance allowing only one person to pass at a time. Exploration inside the cave is limited only up to a few steps where you can freely watch the beautiful rock formation that ornaments on its ceiling.

A stalactite hanging at the near entrance of Candongao cave which can be located in a few minutes downhill.
  • Location:  Sitio Lugsangan, Brgy. Tabon, Dalaguete, Cebu
  • Entrance Fee:  P30
  • Campsite Fee: P50 per tent (You may rent a tent at the registration area for P200)
  • Guide to Candongao Peak:  Another trail to reach Candongao is through Badian which passes by Dalas-ag peak, another underrated mountain in Cebu.

Rating: 4/5

A closer look of Candongao peak.
 

Bonus attraction:

At barangay Lahug Mantalongon somewhere around on your way to Candongao peak are strawberry and sunflower farm, and a mini-rice terraces. You may drop by and pay a visit, just ask the motorcycle driver.

At a distance from Candongao is the Sunset peak which makes for a perfect campground for mountaineers. Find a suitable place around here while watching the sunset. Beside the peak, just few steps away, is the Lovers peak.

SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET

ActivityPrice
Round trip Bus FarePhp212.00
Tour (3 mountain peaks)Php400.00
Registration Fee (2 mountain peaks)Php60.00
Guide Fee (for Candongao peak only)Php150.00
Food/SnacksPhp200.00
Pole rentPhp10.00
Total expensesPhp1,032.00

TIPS FOR TRAVELERS

When is the best time to visit? Sunrise or Sunset? All three peaks offer a scenic view during sunrise and sunset. However, during rainy season, sunrise can be difficult to capture as dense fogs are expected to blanket around the thickets of the hills. Sunset, on the other hand, can be observed all-year round depending on the weather. For best experience, visit the peak during summer for a greater chance of seeing both sunrise and sunset.

The mighty sun braving its way through the sky amidst a foggy morning.

Which mountain peak should you go first? It depends. Osmeña peak is the nearest from the main road among the three, next is Casino and last is Candongao. If you want to catch the sunrise, you would have to go to the nearest. On a different point of view, motorcycle drivers would opt to visit Candongao first since getting to the other mountain peaks from there would be faster considering that it is the most difficult to trek and the most time consuming among the three.

A traveler on a wooden trekking pole (P10 rent at the registration area) during sunrise in Osmeña peak.

Tips for Campers:

Bring portable stoves for cooking as bonfires are highly discouraged. Pack food, water and extra batteries for your flashlights, it gets really dark at the area.

The full expanse of the nearby hills viewed from Casino peak.

More travel tips:

  1. Check the weather forecast before going. A muddy and slippery trail on a rainy day can be dangerous.
  2. The trek can be exhausting. Bring at least 2 liters of water or pack energy-boosting beverages like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat.
  3. Have a good rest and eat before going on a trek.
  4. Prepare your muscles. Warm up before you ascent to avoid fatigue.
  5. Hire a guide as much as possible. It’s more safe, faster and is a way of paying back to the community.
  6. Summer is the best time to visit the peaks, but expect more travellers and campers in the area.
  7. Wear comfortable clothes and trekking shoes or sandals.
  8. Spat on a sunblock during day time and a mosquito repellent at night when camping.
  9. Get ready with your rain gear and waterproof your belongings on a rainy season or your sun visor or a cap on a dry season.
  10. Bring a towel or extra shirt if you sweat a lot.
  11. Tuck a couple of garbage bags in your backpack.
  12. Do note that mobile reception is intermittent at the peak, except in Candongao.
  13. Last bus trip back to Cebu City is 8PM. Be sure to be back at the town proper before the time if you are not planning to stay or camp overnight.
Osmeña peak
Osmeña peak is considerably the highest point of Cebu with an elevation of 1013 meters above sea level (MASL). The ascent to its summit is approximately 1.3 kilometers and would take for about 20 minutes in a continuous pace. The trail is a bit rocky but well-defined which makes trekking relatively easy that even a beginner would not necessarily have a guide. The peak which has a capacity of 30-40 visitors at a time offers a view of a fascinating vista composed of Badian Island, the Tañon strait, and farther, the province of Negros Oriental.

USEFUL PHRASES

Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals can speak and understand English in South Cebu. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with them.

English to Cebuano (the prevalent language among the locals in South Cebu)
Thank you – Salamat
Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
How much is… – Pila ang…
Where is… – Asa ang…

MORE OF CEBU

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Leaning on our boat at Punta Sibaring 1. This photo was taken during a high tide.

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