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Head South of Cebu to See These 10 Amazing Natural Attractions

by Patty Taboada

When it comes to Cebu, there’s so much more to discover than just the world-famous beaches on Mactan Island.

From its majestic mountain ranges to the daring depths of its dive spots, the Queen City definitely packs a lot of punch. With so many adventures to choose from, we focus on the best natural wonders south of the city—a slight step off the beaten path that leads to unforgettable experiences.

Osmeña Peak, Dalaguete

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Mountains in Cebu may not be some of the highest in the country, but they’re magnificent in their own right and worth the climb to the top. Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete is Cebu’s most famous hiking destination. Standing at 1,013 meters above sea level, the summit grants spectacular views of nearby islands Badian, Pescador, and even Negros on a clear day. It gets foggy in the mornings, so schedule your hikes in the afternoon—you can even set up camp there and stay the night.

GETTING THERE: From the South Bus Terminal, hop on a bus bound for Oslob or Santander. Disembark at the Dalaguete junction, where you’ll find a lot of habal-habal (motorcycle) drivers who can take you to the Osmeña Peak Tourism Center. After registration, it’s a 30-minute hike up to the summit.

Tumalog Falls, Oslob

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Whale shark watching may have put Oslob on the map, but the area's popularity has also benefitted surrounding natural attractions, such as the Tumalog Falls. It's famed for being a horsetail waterfall, which means the water remains in contact with the bedrock most of the time, allowing for a gossamer-like effect that is nothing short of magical. The waters gather all the way down into a shallow turquoise pool, where people can take a cool swim and enjoy a shoulder and back massage with the pressure from the waterfall.

GETTING THERE: Take a bus heading to Oslob from the South Bus Terminal, and alight at the junction leading to Tumalog Falls, then ride a habal-habal to the entrance. From there, you can choose to take a 10-minute walk along the path leading to the falls, or ride a motorcycle instead.

Sumilon Island, Oslob

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From a variety of hiking trails to the most breathtaking cliffs, and all the way down to the iconic shifting sandbar and beyond, Sumilon Island has so much to offer. It is also hailed the first marine reserve in the Philippines, and as such, boasts a vibrant underwater life. As part of efforts to protect and preserve the island’s cultural and natural integrity, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, Sumilon’s only resort, has opted to develop only 20% of the island.

Indulge in the beauty of Sumilon Island when you buy deals from Bluewater Sumilon at exclusive rates here.

GETTING THERE: Arrange transfers with the resort, or ride a bus headed for Oslob, then disembark at the Puerto Sumilon Port in Bacogon. Boat schedules from the mainland to Oslob are available every 1 hour and 30 minutes starting 8:00 AM, with the last trip at 4:30 PM. Additional schedules are available upon request, subject to corresponding fees.

Mainit Hot Springs, Malabuyoc

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Hot springs may seem like an insane idea given the country’s tropical climate, but they actually make for quite a relaxing getaway. Take it from the locals of the municipality of Malabuyoc: Hot springs offer therapeutic benefits for your skin, muscles, and other organs—something they’d know well, living in close proximity to Mainit Hot Springs. A highly-recommended detour on a south-of-Cebu road trip, Mainit Hot Springs has four pools, each with water temperatures ranging from 36-42°C (96-107°F). For a minimal fee, locals also offer body massages while you’re in the water—how’s that for the ultimate pampering escapade?

GETTING THERE: Board a Bato-via-Barili bus from the South Bus Terminal, and inform the driver or conductor to drop you off at the Mainit Springs in Barangay Montañeza, Malabuyoc. Take a habal-habal to the reception center where you can pay the entrance fees.

Canlaob, Alegria

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Canyoneering rose in popularity in recent years, attracting anyone from extreme sports fanatics to novices looking to conquer their fears, and everyone in between with a sense of adventure. It is often attributed to Badian, though the best canyoneering jump-off point is actually town-next-door Alegria. After meeting up with a guide, a briefing, and getting equipped with safety gear, the adventure begins with trekking and cliff jumps as high as 30-35 feet, some of them optional. Canyoneering offers quite the thrill—one that’ll certainly be the highlight of your trip to Cebu.

GETTING THERE: Hail a bus bound for Bato-via-Barili, and alight at Barangay Sangi, Alegria. From there, hire a habal-habal driver to take you to the jump-off point. It’s hard to miss—just a short distance away is Alegria’s famous Canlaob falls.

MAKE SURE TO BRING: A rash guard, aqua shoes (slippers not allowed; rentals are available), action camera, a dry bag, and your sense of adventure!

Kawasan Falls, Badian

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Besides being the tail-end of your canyoneering expedition, Kawasan Falls is also a must-visit destination in its own right. Cebu’s most famous waterfalls, located in the municipality of Badian, has three levels of cold turquoise waters—the perfect antidote to a hot summer day. Make the most out of your visit by renting a bamboo raft and going right under the main falls for a natural massage.

GETTING THERE: From Cebu City, hop aboard a Bato-via-Barili bus and get off at the Matutinao Badian Church. The road that leads straight to the falls is immediately beside it, and is fairly straightforward so there’s no need to hire a guide. Vehicles aren’t allowed at this point, but it’s only a 10-minute walk on a mostly-concrete path.

Pescador Island, Moalboal

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Ask any diver, and they’ll tell you that one of the country’s best dive spots is located in Southern Cebu. Pescador Island, located in the Tañon Strait, is part of the municipality of Moalboal. It's famous for its rich and diverse marine life, including vibrant corals and hundreds of species of fish, as well as an open-top underwater cave colloquially named “The Cathedral”. Whether you’re a diver or you just want to snorkel, you can also experience the dazzling rush of the sardine run here—an experience you won’t ever forget.

GETTING THERE: Get on a bus for Moalboal at the Cebu City South Bus Terminal. Once you’re in the town proper, hire a tricycle to take you to Panagsama Beach, where you can board a boat to Pescador Island. Look into dive tours or packages in resorts for a hassle-free experience.

DG TIP: As a popular destination south of Cebu, resorts in Moalboal can easily get crowded. Indulge in a stay at the exclusive Les Maisons d’Itac in nearby Ronda instead.

Hermit's Cove, Aloguinsan

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While most public beaches get jam-packed with people especially during peak season, some manage to elude the crowds. The appropriately-named Hermit’s Cove remains one of them. This secluded bay in Aloguinsan used to require people to go through a footpath to reach the place; in 2014, a staircase was built to make the beach more accessible. A long stretch of fine sand beach and clear waters await those who make the two-hour trip.

GETTING THERE: Find a bus bound for Aloguinsan, and alight at the town proper. From there, you can charter a habal-habal to Hermit’s Cove.

Bojo River Cruise, Aloguinsan

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While in Aloguinsan, it’s worth checking out another natural attraction. The Bojo River Cruise is an eco-cultural tour that takes people on a serene 45-minute tour through the Bojo River, and the mangrove forests and other scenic attractions along the way. Local fishermen also serve as guides, educating people on river systems, mangroves, and species that reside in them. The cruise ends at the gateway leading to the Tañon Strait, where you can snorkel and explore the marine sanctuary. Most tours also offer a buffet lunch, especially for big groups.

BOOK A TOUR: Since 2016, cruises have been centralized by the Aloguinsan Tourism Office. To book a tour, call (032) 469 9042 or message their official Facebook page.

Mantayupan Falls, Barili

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Kawasan may be the best known waterfalls in Cebu, but the distinction of being the highest one goes to Mantayupan Falls in the town of Barili. Also known as Ambakan Falls, it has a drop of 98 meters, or 321 feet, making for quite the majestic sight. The water drops down into a basin where people can swim, albeit with caution, as it goes deep without warning. Besides being a tourist attraction, the waterfalls also provides power to the town through a hydroelectric power plant.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cebu City South Bus Terminal, board any bus bound for Barili. Upon disembarkation, hire a habal-habal to take you to Mantayupan Falls.

BONUS: Molave Milk Station, Barili

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No road trip to the south of Cebu is complete without dropping by the Molave Milk Station in Barili. A popular stop where weary travelers can take a break, it is best known for fresh cow and carabao milk, as well as yogurt, cheese, and other dairy byproducts. On a hot summer afternoon, cool off with their soft-serve ice cream. Rice meals are also available.

HOW TO GET THERE: The Molave Milk Station is along the main road, around 20 minutes away from the Mantayupan Waterfalls.

Heading to the Queen City of the South? Find out all there is to know about Cebu when you check out our travel guide.

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About Patty
Patty Taboada is a Cebu-based lifestyle editor-turned-businesswoman who recently left the media industry to begin her own social media relations firm. A writer at heart, she juggles between maintaining a blog and contributing to local publications in her spare time—that is, if she’s not buried in a book, involved in a theatre production, or just doting on her dog.

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