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Top 5 Attractions in South Cebu – with sample itinerary and budget

So much of what makes Cebu a top destination in the world is its southern part where lies a circus of nature-based entertainment for both tourists and travellers. To name a few, there is the gentle yet ginormous whale sharks that dance along the small waves at the off coast of Oslob, the mountain peaks of Dalaguete and Badian that balance through the beaming vastness of Cebu’s horizon, and the majestic cascades from the waterfalls of Samboan that trapeze to a hundred feet drop. South Cebu is an extravaganza of natural wonders!

And it does not stop there. Tourism in the place is alive and sees no sign of slowing down. In fact, South Cebu is relentlessly scouting for more attractions. With 50+ underdeveloped waterfalls, newly discovered caves, springs, beaches and mountain peaks, what we are enjoying now are but half of a full scale tourism spectacle.

While more are yet to be discovered, here are five (5) organized attractions that you can take pleasure in.

(Side note: Three samples of 1-day itinerary that you can combine for a multi-day itinerary are shared at the last part. If you are looking for a full Cebu budget travel guide, click here. )

The Cuartel Ruins of Oslob, Cebu. Take a side trip to this heritage site after a whale watching adventure.

Getting to South Cebu

Access to South Cebu is via South Bus Terminal which can be reached from Mactan airport through the following options:

  • Option 1 (Cost-effective but takes more time because it primarily uses public transport.) Take a multi-cab at the airport and drop off at Marina Mall. Fare is about P10 and travel time is 10 minutes. At the mall, ride a v-hire (van) to SM City Cebu for P25. V-hire operates from 8AM to 9PM. Travel time to SM is 20 minutes. Once there, go to the terminal and take a 12G or 12I or 10M or 10H jeepney and inform the driver to drop you off at the South Bus Terminal. Fare is P10. The South Bus Terminal is a few steps farther from Elizabeth Mall.
  • Option 2 (Most cost-effective and time-saving if you travel in group) From the airport, take a regular taxi (not the yellow ones) to SM City Cebu. The taxi stand is located outside the arrival area. Exit the airport and turn right for a few steps. You will line up to wait for your turn. Travel time is 20 minutes and fare is about P200. Once at SM, go to the terminal and take a 12I or 12L or 10M or 10H jeepney bound to the South Bus terminal. Travel time is 30 minutes, depending on the traffic. Fare is P10. (Note: If you want to go via taxi all the way from the airport to the terminal, fare is roughly P250.)
  • Option 3 (The most convenient) Uber or Grab taxis are available in Cebu. You can either use the app or go to the booth (for Grab only) outside the arrival area to book for South Bus terminal. Fare is about P250. Travel time is 30 minutes.
  • Option 4 SM offers a MyBus service which will require a reloadable tap card that would cost for P200. The card, which is available at their stations in the airport and at SM malls, gives P100 load that can be used for multiple persons per ride. Fare to SM City is P25. MyBus runs as frequent as every 30 minutes from 6:00AM to 8:00PM. Once at SM, you may take a 12I or 12G or 10M or 10H jeepney at the SM terminal or take a taxi to the South Bus terminal. Travel time for both is roughly 20-30 minutes and taxi fare is P100.

Once at the South Bus terminal, take a bus bound to your location in the south. In a nutshell, there are two routes the buses take: via Barili if you are bound to the towns of Barili, Moalboal, Badian, Malabuyoc, Ginatilan and Samboan; and via Liloan if you are bound to Oslob. To know the right bus and schedule for your location, click here.

(Note: Only a motorycle-for-hire can cross one town in the east to another in the west. But this option is pricey (usually would cost P500 when travelling to an opposite nearby town) and risky as travel would require scaling through the highlands.)

Few steps at the back of Cuartel Ruins is the old Immaculate Conception church.

The Top Attractions in South Cebu (rank based on my rating)

Rating is found at the end part of each attraction.

Top 1: Canyoneering in Kawasan

Kick off an hour+ long canyoneering activity with a 25 feet high jump. That’s for the bravest of hearts. For the faint-hearted, there is a lower jump off point nearby.
One of the low jumps. There will be more on your way. 🙂
A wall of icicle-like features on the second half of the trail. Get ready with your cam for a photo op.
The fourth level of Kawasan falls where the “graduation jump” happens after each canyoneering. The jump is 50 feet high.
  • Description: Nothing gives you the most adrenaline rush among these attractions than the canyoneering in Kawasan. It’s a safe yet extreme adventure which starts with a walk down a forest, bemuse by the turquoise blue water, a quick heart beat while preparing to jump-in, yell, adrenaline rush, submerge deep in the canyon, go out in the water, catch your breath, look around, a sigh of relief and finally, feel that great sense of joy! This attraction has drawn hundreds upon hundreds of tourists and travellers all year round and remains to be the top outdoor activity in South Cebu. While canyoneering, it’s required that you wear the necessary gears and follow through with a guide for safety purposes. Bring only waterproof gadgets and wear on tight swimwear for a hassle-free experience.
  • Note: The biggest jump is at the last part which goes as high as 50 feet. Muster up some courage and get your brave souls ready. There is no turning back the moment you first jump in. Kidding! 🙂
  • Operating Hours: 8:00AM to 2:00PM (Getting into the canyon during sundown is highly dangerous.)
  • Location: Brgy. Matutinao, Badian, Cebu
  • To get there: Ride a bus via Bato/Barili at the South Bus terminal.The fare is P140 and travel time to Badian is around 4 hours. Tell the driver to drop off at the headquarters of Matutinao Beach Resort where you can arrange a canyoneering tour for P1,500 per person.
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Top 2: Moalboal Beach, Marine Sanctuary and Diving Site

Beach bumming at the long strip of white sand at White (Basdaku) beach, Moalboal.
Panagsama beach of Moalboal is where all water adventures happen. Its shore is filled with diving centers which offer scuba and free diving courses both for beginners and advanced divers; and an island hopping experience to Pescador and its neighboring islands. Common sights under its water are slow-swimming turtles, dolphins, a tornado of tiny flickering sardine fish, and unadulterated coral reef which make Moalboal one of the best diving sites and marine sanctuaries in the Philippines
  • Description: The attractions in Moalboal can be break down into two. On the one hand is the Panagsama beach where all water adventures happen. Its shore is filled with diving centers which offer scuba and free diving courses both for beginners and advanced divers; and an island hopping experience to Pescador and its neighboring islands. Common sights under its water are slow-swimming turtles, dolphins, a tornado of tiny flickering sardine fish, and unadulterated coral reef which make Moalboal one of the best diving sites and marine sanctuaries in the Philippines. On the other is the White (Basdaku) beach which prides of its long stretch of fine, white sand suitable for beach bumming. At sundown, the beach also offers a perfect spot for sunset viewing.
  • Note: As it is true for anything with nature, sightings of sardine fish and other marine life, although can be seen all year round, is weather permitting and not always guaranteed. It’s best to visit Moalboal during summer or dry reason for a clear view of its waters.
  • Operating Hours: Scuba diving happens in the morning, afternoon and night time; while the rest of the activities usually start early in the morning and ends late in the afternoon
  • Tour Fees: Island hopping for 8-10 persons would usually cost for about P1500. Free divers can enjoy the waters without paying. Scuba diving cost will range from P2000-4000.
  • Location: Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
  • To get there: At the terminal, take a bus via Barili or Badian. Drop off at the bus stop in Moalboal. Travel time is roughly 3 hours and fare is P100. Depending on your sense of enjoyment, ride a tricycle (motorcycle with a side car) and head on either to White Beach (6 kilometers away) or to Panagsama Beach (2 kilometers away). You can also charter a motorcycle-for-hire for the same destination.
  • Rating: 4.4/5

Top 3: Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island and Tumalog Falls in Oslob

Apart from its sandbar, the island is also notable for its white, coarse sand and cool blue waters that nestles a rich marine life. Most of the island is owned by Bluewater beach resort. Contact them at (032) 481 0801. The public area of the island can be reached by renting an outrigger boat at the mainland where the whale shark watching is arranged. Boat rent is P1,500.
Tumalog is a huge waterfall that can’t be contained by a single shot from a non-wide angle camera. This immensity is well put to use as it waves at visitors even at a hundred meters away from its jump-off point. The falls cascades strongly in a horsetail and never misses to contact with its wall as it descends to the ground. Its spray when catches by a light creates a well-defined rainbow ornamenting an already breathtaking waterfall. The catch basin is shallow and wide which can accommodate a multitude of visitors.
The “whale shark feeder” boat that throws shrimp to the whale sharks. This is how the boat men lure the whale sharks to gather around the watching area from out to sea.
An underwater shot of the ginormous whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu.
Another underwater shot of the gentle giant. A word of caution: Do not get close to the whale sharks to avoid deep bruises.
  • Description:  The awesome Oslob and it’s three must-visit attractions: Sumilon island, Tumalog Falls and whale shark watching.  First off is Sumilon, a 24-hectare island 10 minutes away at the coast of Oslob. The island is notable for its lagoon, adventure trek trail and long strip of white sand bar that changes location from season to season. Surrounding the area is a rich marine sanctuary home to baby sharks, and a well-elaborate coral reefs making the island a perfect place for snorkeling and diving. Most of the island is owned by bluewater and visitors usually arrange a tour with them through their website: www.bluewater.com. The remaining area which is purely sand is a public place and can be reached by boat for P1,500 rent. The best time to visit the island is during low tide to get a glimpse and a full walking experience of its sand bar. Second is Tumalog falls, a huge waterfall that can’t be contained by a non-wide angle camera when captured. More details here. Lastly is the whale shark watching in Oslob. There are three (3) guided whale shark watching centers in the Philippines. One is at Donsol in southern Luzon, the first of the three; second is at Southern Leyte; and the third which is also the most popular is at Oslob, Cebu. Popularity sometimes equates to getting a lot of attention, including the not so favorable ones. For years, the whale shark encounter in Oslob has met several backlash from environmental groups like Greenpeace. This is due to the idea that feeding the whale sharks which are highly migratory species would eventually modify their behavior resulting to dependency to human food supply. This was true in my visit last January 2018. The whale sharks were observed to be actively parading to the boatmen as the they throw food at them. On the contrary, the local government of Oslob has set rules to regulate the encounter. Boats are without engine; guests are prohibited from using sunblock and are required to keep a certain distance to avoid causing injuries to the sharks. Life guards surround the area to ensure that these regulations are strictly enforced. Any guest who would dare touch the whale sharks will be penalized for a certain fee.

Things to note:

  1. Whale shark watching is limited to 30 minutes.
  2. Operating hours is from 07:00AM to 12PM
  3. Be there early. The number of tourists in a daily basis reaches to 500 to 800, and may reach 1000+ on summer and holy week.
  4. Whale sharks may measure up to 40 feet and have the tendency to swim close or beside humans. At all cost, do not approach them to avoid fatal injuries.
  5. The biggest of whale sharks are seen during the months of June and July.
  6. The encounter is best enjoyed from 7:00-9:00AM on a bright day during the first round of feeding as tens of whale sharks school around the “whale shark feeder” boat.
  7. Guests will be provided with a life vest. One need not be a good swimmer to enjoy the shark interaction.

Ticket fees:

Foreigners: watching from the boat (P500), snorkeling with the whale sharks (P1,000), scuba diving (1,500)

Locals: watching from the boat (P300), snorkeling with the whale sharks (P500), scuba diving (P600)

  • To get there:  Take a bus at the terminal bound to Bato via Liloan. Drop off at brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob. Travel time is roughly 5 hours and fare is P150. The whale watching is just beside the high way where you can arrange a tour for Sumilon island and Tumalog falls.
  • Rating: 4.2/5

Top 4: Osmeña Peak and neighboring peaks in Dalaguete and Badian

At the top most part is a less foggy view of Badian island and Tañon strait as seen from Osmeña peak.
The sweet panorama of karst, jagged hills as viewed from Casino peak.
A big rock on the trail to Candongao peak. From here, Candongao peak will just be 5-10 minutes away.
  • Description:  At the hinterlands of Dalaguete and Badian sprawl a stage for a pageantry of ruggedly beautiful mountain peaks which launched the two municipalities to greater heights of fame among hikers and campers over the years. Reigning the prestige amongst this line-up of captivating summits are a trio of gigantic karsts formation of jagged hills, namely Osmeña, Casino and Candongao peak… Read more details here.
  • Operating Hours: Trek can start as early as 5:00AM and ends at 6:00PM
  • To get there:  The mountain peaks can be reached by trail and road. The popular option is going by road. Take a bus bound to Oslob or Bato at the terminal which cost for about P106. Travel time is 3 hours. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Dalaguete junction where you can find a 7/11 store and Julies bakeshop fronting each other. From the junction, ask a motorcycle-for-hire (habal-habal for locals) to take you to the three mountain peaks. More details here.
  • Rating: 4/5

Top 5: Waterfall Trilogy of Samboan: Aguinid, Dao and Binalayan Falls

Taking a moment after a good dip in the catch basin of Dao falls.
The third level of Aguinid falls – a beautifully carved rock formation which drips off water from its top.
A small cavern at the top part of Binalayan falls.
  • Description: Samboan is home to three (3) of the best waterfalls that can be found in South Cebu: Aguinid, Dao and Binalayan falls. Each with its unique and come-on properties that leave visitors with a fun, relaxing and memorable experience… more details here.
  • Operating Hours: 6:00AM to 5:00PM
  • Location: Samboan, Cebu
  • To get there: At the South Bus terminal, take a bus via Barili/Bato. Fare is P160. Travel time is 6 hours. Drop off at “Aguinid falls” stop where you will see a welcome signage. Take a walk to the registration area which is only 5 minutes away and ask for a tour covering the three waterfalls. Price is P400. Specific details for each waterfall is shared here.
  • Rating: 3.9/5

3 Samples of 1-day itinerary (good for 1 person)

  • Option A:  Oslob and Samboan attractions

Activity Time Price
Whale shark watching 7:00AM – 09:00AM Php500.00
Sumilon Island 9:00AM – 12:00PM Php1,500.00 (group)
Lunch 12:00PM – 1:00PM Php200.00
Tumalog Falls 1:00PM – 2:00PM Php120.00
Samboan Waterfalls 2:00PM – 5:00PM Php400.00
Aguinid Falls 2:00PM – 3:00PM 
Dao Falls 3:00PM – 4:00PM
Binalayan Falls 4:00PM – 5:00PM
Total Budget Php2,720.00
  • Option B: Moalboal, Canyoneering and Osmeña Peak attractions
An 8AM view from Osmeña peak as the fog slowly sweeps away.
Activity Time Price
Moalboal Island Hopping 8:00AM – 12:00PM P2500 (Group)
Pescador Island
Sardine Run
Turtle Point
Lunch 12:00PM – 1:00PM Php200.00
Canyoneering in Kawasan 1:00PM – 3:00PM  P1500.00
Rest 3:00PM – 4:00PM
Osmeña Peak Trek and sunset viewing 4:00PM – 6:00PM Php200.00
Total Budget Php4,400.00

Note: Take a motorcycle-for-hire to reach Osmeña peak from Kawasan. Fare is P500 per motorcycle good for 3 persons and travel time is 1 hour. If time constraints, Moalboal White beach can be a good replacement for Osmeña peak for sunset viewing.

  • Option C: Mountain Peaks and Samboan Falls
Me posing with a background of a dreamy waterfall at the fifth level. As per guide, the 6th to 8th level are dangerous without proper harness. It will not be made available to the public until they have the proper equipment.
Activity Time Price
Mountain Peak Trilogy 5:00AM – 11:00AM Php400.00
Osmeña Peak (Sunrise) 5:00AM – 8:00AM
Casino Peak 8:00AM – 9:30AM
Candongao Peak 9:30AM – 11:00AM
Lunch 11:00AM – 12:00PM Php200.00
Travel to Samboan by bus 12:00PM – 2:00PM Php60.00
Samboan Falls 2:00PM – 5:00PM Php400.00
Aguinid Falls 2:00PM – 3:00PM
Dao Falls 3:00PM – 4:00PM
Binalayan Falls 4:00PM – 5:00PM
Total Budget Php1,060.00

Where to stay in South Cebu

  • MOALBOAL
    Ester Homestay (Basdaku): +63 927 578-5983
    Moalboal Backer Lodge (Panagsama): +63 917 751-8902
  • SAMBOAN
    •Villa Isabela (Ponong) : +63 916 370-9104
  • OSLOB
    •Chateau de Tan-Awan (Tan-Awan) : +63 917 912-7783
  • BADIAN
    La Playa Resort (Matutinao): +63 932 475-1194

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