In 2016, my Cebu flights were cancelled 3 times on 3 different occasions. It felt like the universe is telling me ”you’re not meant to go, move on girl.”. I moved on and didn’t plan to book my 4th flight in the same year with the thought that it may get cancelled again. Come early 2017 when a piso-fare promo (one peso base fare) from a local airline company was released, I was fortunate enough to get a nice deal for a Cebu flight, and that’s when I told myself I’d go no matter what happen.
I arrived at Mactan airport at 9 in the evening with no definite plan. I thought of going straight to the South so I can start some activities early in the morning. However, my migraine was so terrible and it felt like my head was going to break into two, so I decided to stay in the city for the night and think of a plan B. Since I’m already in the city, I decided to just explore the Queen city of the South.
I started the tour after lunch just to make sure that I’m already feeling better. I was lucky cos it was cloudy all throughout the day and the air was a bit cooler than usual. The tourist spots in the city are quite far from each other so it would be best to rent a service. Since I’m solo, I rented a habal-habal (motorbike) to get around. It was my first time riding it and it was so fun as it adds more thrill and excitement to the tour.
SIRAO FLOWER FARM / SIRAO GARDEN
Sirao Garden was dubbed as the “LITTLE NETHERLANDS’ of Cebu because the place is filled with beautiful flowers, but unlike the original farm in Netherlands, Sirao garden is only about 2 hectares. The place was just refreshing with a lot of variety of flowers. Some of the flowers are still growing, but with a perfect angle, you can get a instagram-worthy photo.
Tops is literally situated on the top of the mountain and if you’re a sucker for city views, then it should be on your list. It has a nice panoramic view of Cebu City and its neighboring towns, also a good escape from the city noise and pollution. Best time to visit is during sunset until night time to get a burning modern city.
TEMPLE OF LEAH
Temple of Leah was built to commemorate the late wife of Teodorico Adarna, a Cebu-based business tycoon who also happens to be the grandfather of a Filipina actress, Ellen Adarna. Although, it may not be as spectacular as the famous Taj Mahal, the pillars and inticrate sculptures would give you a taste of Greece and Rome.
YAP-SANDIEGO ANCESTRAL HOUSE
The Yap-Sandiego ancestral house was built in the late 17th century and is one of the oldest existing structural houses in the Philippines. It was unbelivable as it survived that long time with no major renovation or make-over ever since it was built. Inside the house you can see a lot of religious images, antique furnitures, old kitchenwares, paintings, family photos and decorative art that has been passed to eight generations.
ENTRANCE FEE: 50 pesos
FORT SAN PEDRO
If Manila has Fort Santiago, Cebu has Fort San Pedro. Fort San Pedro was constructed under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi though the exact date of construction the stone fort was never identified. This triangular piece of history faces both land and sea and the main purpose of the structure was mainly for defense, as evidenced by its still existing centuries-old cannon. Now, Fort San Pedro can be your next tourist spot for your heritage walk tour in Cebu City.
Magellan’s Cross is a Christian cross planted by Portuguese, and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu. Some people, however, believe that the original cross had been destroyed or had disappeared after Magellan’s death, and the cross is a replica that was planted there by the Spaniards after they successfully colonized the Philippines. Among the devotees it is an old practice to drop coins or put light candles at the foot of the cross. It is seen as the symbol of the establishment of Roman Catholicism in the country.
10,000 roses cafe is located in Cordova which is quite far from the city but is definitely worth the travel. The place is a garden filled with white roses that glows at night, so it is ideally to be visited after the sun has set. This is inspired by the 20,000 lighted roses garden display in Dongdaemun, South Korea.
South Cebu is known for water activities, from beach to falls, name it they have it. Now you know why I wanted to go straight to the island and skip the city. There’s just so much to do in the South! The rain was on and off when I arrived in Oslob, and sadly some of the things that I wanna visit has to be cancelled. However, that means spending more time in each spot I have left to visit.
South Cebu is about 3-4 hours travel from Cebu city and the spots that are most likely to be visited are quite far from each other. Thus, commuting would eat up most of your time. I highly suggest to rent a car if you’re a group or a habal-habal if you’re traveling solo. As for me, since I don’t have much time to plan out my trip, I contacted Organizado travel and tours to arrange my first 2 days in South Cebu and they surprisingly did an amazing job. From transfer to South Cebu, accommodation in Oslob and activities were planned by them.
HERE ARE MY ADVENTURES!
Canyoneering or Canyoning is located in Badian and Alegria which is a form of water adventure where you’d hike, cliff jump, abseil and stream within canyons. This activity is very popular in South Cebu and it is one of the top tourist destinations especially for adrenaline junkies. It usually takes 3-4 hrs depending on you pace. You have an option to do the full or half canyoning.
Kawasan falls where the water is bluest of all blues. It is probably the bluest water I’ve seen my entire life with its turquoise gatorade like color. Some choose to take picnic by the falls as there are canteens and nipa huts where you can have your lunch or snack while appreciating the nature.
You can swim but note that the current of the falls is strong. Or if you’re afraid to swim, you can try water rafting instead to get close to the falls.
WHALE SHARK WATCHING
Swimming with the whale sharks has been on my bucket list ever since I conquered my fear for open water. YES!! I was once afraid to swim in the ocean cos I got drowned when I was a kid, but it’s just a story to tell now.
Whale shark watching starts 7AM until 11Am, and swimming with them would last for 30-minutes. There’s a short briefing of the dos and don’ts before going near the whale sharks, and they also speak different languages such as Mandarin and Korean which I think is very helpful for those who don’t speak english.
Of course, this trip would not be complete without exploring a nice beach, and when I say nice it has to be white sand with clear water cos that’s what Philippines is made for.
Sumilon Island is a small island which is privately owned by a resort. However, they let visitors come in and enjoy the water with just a dollar entrance fee. Sumilon Island has a white powdery, crystal clear water and a stunning sand bar that stretches up to 100 meters. If the water activities have drained your energy, this small island would recharge you.
The sky turned dark and the rain was raging when we departed to the island. I thought it's going to be a bad day, but the sun showed up the moment we hopped off the boat. The water was crystal clear and the sandbar was just perfect! 🏝 .⠀ You really can't declare a day as bad when it has not yet ended. Sometimes, that millisecond would make a huge difference. 😌 . #JaniceinCebu #project81 #DMTravelseries #sinopinas
MOALBOAL ISLAND TOUR
Freediving has been one of my recent addictions and swimming with the fishes is one of its perks. You get a closer encounter with the marine life. Moalboal on the other hand, is known for the school of sardines and sea turtles.
I did the island hopping in Moalboal which takes about 3-4 hours and it includes Pescador Island, Sardine Run and Sea turle chasing. There’s not much tourist when I went, it was so peaceful and quiet which made me enjoy it more. And if there is one place in Cebu that I would go back to, it is definitely Moalboal.
PESCADOR ISLAND is where you can snorkel to see nice coral reefs and see different kind of fishes. Some dolphins even showed up while we are on our way to the island, although it was just quick, I am still lucky to have seen them dancing in the water.
SEA TURLE CHASING is also part of the island hopping. The guide would swim to find the turtles and would call the guest when he spots one. Since I am wearing freediving gears, I helped him chase them. The turtles only stays up in the surface for less than a minute, like they are just trying to breathe in air, then dive back to the water that is up to 50 meters deep which makes it hard to follow.
The SARDINE RUN is probably my favorite from all the activities that I have tried in South Cebu. With Sardine run, you will have a close encounter with thousands of Sardines. YES! Sardines like those you eat from the can lol. It was surreal swimming with that much fish and you don’t even need to deep dive to get close to them cos you can see them even from the surface.
**You can rent a boat for 1,500 pesos which is perfect if you are traveling as a group since you can split the expenses. You will be accompanied by a helmsman and a guide who will swim with you for safety purposes.
You may contact VICMAR at +63949-337-0450 for the boat rental.
Since the weather was not so good when I went to South Cebu and I have to cancel some of the places that I wanna visit. Here’s some of the places that you can check out while in South Cebu.
OSMENA PEAK – the highest point in the islands of Cebu. You may visit it during sunrise or sunset, and can be done same day as Canyoneering.
TUMALOG FALLS – a unique gosamer curtain falls worth visiting. Can be done same day with whale shark watching.
SIMALA MONASTERY – Monastery of the Holy Eucharist is famous for the miracles made by the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can do this on your way back to Cebu City as it is quite far from the water activities.
CAR CAR CITY – if you wanna try the best lechon and chicharon in the Philippines, this is the best place to go. You can visit on your way back to Cebu city, after Simala monastery.
🍃DAY 1 – CITY TOUR:<< b>Sirao Garden Sirao Garden▪️Tops lookout Temple of Leah▪️Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House▪️Magellan’s cross