Cebu, Philippines

Cebu is a popular jump-off point for travel around the various Philippine islands, so you may likely go through there at some point if the Philippines are on your list. If you do find yourself there, and have time to spare before heading out to your other destinations, below are a few tips on things we found to be both exhilarating and relaxing and interesting while there.

[Must] risk

“Canyoneering” was a new term for us, as it’s referenced as “canyoning” in the U.S., (which even then was a foreign concept to us). In Cebu, canyoneering encompasses a wide range of risky adventures; from appeling up waterfalls and sliding through rapids, to jumping off 16-20 meter cliffs over waterfalls into sapphire blue pools. The descriptions for these tours (both online and in hotel brochures) are all similar and all brief, so it’s not entirely clear until you arrive what you’re truly getting yourself into.

We had an action packed, adrenalin pumping, heart racing, exhilarating morning, starting with a 4-person motor bike ride through windy rocky roads, then filled with jump after jump off of higher and higher waterfalls. We loved every minute but it isn’t for the faint of heart, and it is highly risky, so do take all of the possible unknowns into consideration if you decide to go yourself.*

*We had signed up for what we thought was an appeling tour, where you climb up waterfalls using secure pre-set ropes. Instead, we were led through the canyon where we jumped off a series of wildly high waterfalls. Although it was an incredible experience for us, it wasn’t what we signed up for (and was dangerous) so just want anyone who decides to go to make sure to get the details of the day laid out before you sign up.

Must hop

There are a number of beautiful islands surrounding Cebu [Mactan Island] where you can snorkel to see beautiful exotic fish, or simply lay on white sandy beaches. A variety of tour companies offer day packages where you can do both, and given we only had one day, thought this was the best option for us. We did some research, found this blog to be very helpful as it lays out things to watch out for in choosing a tour, and offers recommendations for legitimate companies. We went with Fun & Sun and truly enjoyed the day. We shared a boat with no more than 6 other people, who we became fast friends with, and were taken to two islands. The first, we simply snorkeled off the boat and never touched foot on the beach. The second, Pandanon Island, we played on the pristine sandbar, enjoyed a delicious BBQ (that had been grilled on the back of our boat) in a hut on the beach, and relaxed in the breezy shade. A guitar player made his way around, and sung requested songs for a marginal tip, which made the day even more pleasant.

Must research

Whale shark diving has been drawing a number of travelers from around the globe to Oslob in Cebu since a video was released on YouTube in 2011, showing a diver with a shark as big as a school bus. There have been mixed reviews since then regarding the health and welfare of the sharks given the rise in tourism, so we did some research on what we felt was the best way for us to see them while we were in the Philippines. The below blogs were helpful for us to make a decision, so hoping they can help you too. (We chose Donsol and were thrilled we did!)

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