Traveling to South Cebu for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended tours and transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!
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SOUTH CEBU AT A GLANCE
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 travelers. Witness the gentle yet ginormous whale sharks dance along the small waves off the coast of Oslob; the mountain peaks of Dalaguete and Badian balance through the beaming vastness of Cebu’s horizon; and the majestic cascades of the waterfalls of Samboan trapeze to a hundred feet drop. South Cebu is an extravaganza of natural wonders – and it does not stop there.
South Cebu tourism is fascinatingly alive and sees no sign of slowing down. In fact, it is relentlessly scouting for more attractions. With its 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.
Note: There are three samples of 1-day South Cebu DIY itinerary at the bottom part of this post that you can combine for a multi-day itinerary. Alternatively, click the links if you are looking for a full Cebu budget travel guide or a layover tour in Mactan Cebu; or check out the top 30 tourist spots in Cebu that also cover attractions in the north and other parts of the island.
GETTING FROM MACTAN AIRPORT 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 Mactan 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, 12I, 10M or 10H jeepney and inform the driver to drop off at the South Bus Terminal. Fare is P10. The terminal bound for South Cebu is a few steps farther from Elizabeth Mall.
- Option 2 (Most cost-effective and time-saving if you travel in group) From Mactan 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 around P200. Once at SM, go to the terminal and take a 12I, 12L, 10M or 10H jeepney bound for South Bus terminal. Travel time is 30 minutes, depending on the traffic situation. 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 airport 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 re-loadable tap card that would cost 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 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Once at SM, you may take a 12I, 12G, 10M or 10H jeepney at the terminal or take a taxi to South Bus terminal. Travel time for both is roughly 20-30 minutes and taxi fare is P100.
If you want to book online or find a ticket for available transport from your location to Cebu City, use the search box below:
Once at South Bus terminal, take a bus bound to your location in the south. In a nutshell, there are two bus routes for South Cebu: via Barili, if you are bound for towns of Barili, Moalboal, Badian, Malabuyoc, Ginatilan and Samboan; and via Liloan, if you are bound for Oslob. To know the right bus and schedule for your location, click here.
Once in South Cebu, how to get from one town in the east to the west?
If you are traveling from an east town to a west, say Oslob to Moalboal or vice versa, you have the following options:
- Via motorcycle-for-hire (takes for about 30 minutes to an hour). Motorcycles are the only transport that can directly cross one town in the east towards an opposite town in the west. Cost is around P500. This option is quite risky as travel requires scaling through the highlands.
- Via bus (takes 3 to 5 hours depending on your destination). Get a bus to Bato terminal located at the very tip of South Cebu, then transfer to another bus of your destination.
TOP TOURIST SPOTS IN SOUTH CEBU
Here are the best activities around South Cebu, from my most to least favorite.
Top 1: Canyoneering in Kawasan
Nothing gives the most adrenaline rush among these attractions than canyoneering in Kawasan. It’s a safe yet extreme adventure which starts with a trek through a forest to a heart-pumping jump to a flowing turquoise blue water. This attraction has drawn hundreds upon hundreds of tourists and travelers all-year round and remains to be the top outdoor activity in South Cebu.
While canyoneering, it is required that you wear the necessary gears and tour with a guide for safety. Bring only waterproof gadgets and wear tight swimwear for a hassle-free experience.
Note: The biggest jump is at the last part which goes as high as 40 feet so muster up some courage and get that brave you ready. Your first jump is an initiation. Afterwards, there is definitely no turning back.. Kidding!
- Operating Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m (Getting into the canyon during sundown is highly dangerous. Please don’t ever insist to stay beyond operating hours.)
- Location: Brgy. Matutinao, Badian, Cebu
- To get there: Ride a bus via Bato/Barili at the South Bus terminal. 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.
For a hassle-free experience, arrange your canyoneering adventure with KLOOK using any of their tour packages below:
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Canyoneering Experience for P2,400
- Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour for P2,250
Top 2: Moalboal Beach, Marine Sanctuary and Diving Site
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 waters 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 White (Basdaku) beach which prides of its long stretch of fine, white sands suitable for beach bumming. At sundown, the beach 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 like island hopping 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 P1,500. Free divers can enjoy the waters without paying. Scuba diving cost ranges from P2,000-P4,000.
- Location: Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
- To get there: At South bus 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 from the main road) or to Panagsama Beach (2 kilometers away). You can also charter a motorcycle-for-hire for the same destination.
KLOOK also offers a Moalboal and Pescador Island Snorkeling Day Tour for P1,850 which I find reasonable and hassle-free. Click the link for details.
Top 3: Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island and Tumalog Falls in Oslob
The fascinating town of 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-elaborated 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 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. For more details of this waterfall and other awesome waterfalls that can be found in South Cebu, click this link. Details include operating hours, entrance fee, location and information on how to get there.
Lastly is the whale shark watching in Oslob. There are three (3) guided whale shark watching centers in the Philippines: One 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 in 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 and earth warriors like Greenpeace. This is due to the idea that feeding the whale sharks which are highly migratory species could eventually modify their natural 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 sanctioned for a certain fee.
Things to note:
- Whale shark watching is limited to 30 minutes.
- Operating hours is from 07:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Be there early. The number of tourists in a daily basis reaches to 500 to 800, and may reach 1000+ in summer and holy week.
- 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.
- The biggest of whale sharks are seen during the months of June and July.
- The encounter is best enjoyed from 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. on a bright day during the first round of feeding as tens of whale sharks school around the “whale shark feeder” boat.
- Guests will be provided with a life vest. One need not to be a good swimmer to enjoy the shark interaction.
- For foreigners: watching from the boat (P500), snorkeling with the whale sharks (P1,000), scuba diving (1,500)
- For locals: watching from the boat (P300), snorkeling with the whale sharks (P500), scuba diving (P600)
To get there: Take a bus at South bus terminal bound for 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 main road where you can arrange a tour for Sumilon island and Tumalog falls.
For an affordable guided tour, avail the Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure for P2,850 package from KLOOK which I personally prefer. Click the link for details.
Top 4: Osmeña Peak and neighboring peaks in Dalaguete and Badian
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 among this lineup of captivating summits are a trio of gigantic karst formation of jagged hills, namely Osmeña, Casino and Candongao peak. Read more details here.
Operating Hours: Trek can start as early as 5:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m.
To get there: The mountain peaks can be reached by trail and road. The popular option is going by road. Take a bus at South bus terminal bound for Oslob or Bato which cost for about 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. From the junction, ask a motorcycle-for-hire (habal-habal) to take you to the three mountain peaks.
Top 5: Waterfall Trilogy of Samboan: Aguinid, Dao and Binalayan Falls
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 about these three waterfalls and other waterfalls in the South on this link.
- Operating Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Location: Samboan, Cebu
- To get there: At South Bus terminal, take a bus via Barili or 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 from the main road and ask for a tour covering the three waterfalls. Price is P400.
SOUTH CEBU SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET
Here are 3 samples of 1-day DIY South Cebu itinerary that you can combine for 2 to 5 days. The allocated budget assumes a party of two which includes expenses for food, transportation, and entrance fee; and does not cover cost for accommodation, souvenir items and other incidentals.
Option A: Oslob and Samboan attractions itinerary (budget: P1,970.00 per person)
|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||–|
Option B: Moalboal, Canyoneering and Osmeña Peak attractions itinerary (budget: P3,150.00 per person)
|Moalboal Island Hopping||8:00AM – 12:00PM||P2500 (Group)|
|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|
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 (budget: P1,060.00 per person)
|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||–|
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH CEBU
Depending on your itinerary, here are best-rated accommodations at the key areas around South Cebu. Click the photo for more details.
- “TGH” The Guest House Badian Rating: 8.9 | Price: P1,063 for a room good for 3 persons
- Cuestas Beach Resort Rating: 9.0 | Price: P3,850 for a family hut good for 5 persons (with free breakfast)
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
Done with South Cebu? Head out to the north at Bantayan Island or tour around Cebu City. Here are budget travel guides for your reference:
While this article is best suited for DIY budget travelers, we also share the same sentiments with those who love to go on a tour package. KLOOK offers the most affordable and hassle-free tour services for Cebu.
Here are some of its tour packages. Click each link for more details.
- 3 Day Cebu Highlights Tour for P5,130
- Cebu Rediscovery Tour for P1,300
- Sirao Flower Farm and Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Half Day Tour for P1,800
For other KLOOK services like transport and tour offers, use the search box below:
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