We had 1.5 days in Cebu after 5 days in Bohol and Panglao and we wanted to be around Cebu because our return flight was early in the morning. We decided to spend half a day in Cebu and go to Kawasan falls the next day. Cebu is usually a transit city for tourists. Though it has some attractions within the city, they can be covered in a day. Tourists then proceed to Bohol, Panglao, Malapascua, Moalboal or Oslob; all of which are few hours away from Cebu.
Local travel in Cebu: Grab works well in the city. However, you will need a local number, in case the driver wants to call.
If you are travelling from the airport; you can take a white taxi instead of the yellow airport taxi. White taxis are metered and cost lesser than the yellow one.
Itinerary for 1 day in Cebu city:
Most of the attractions in Cebu city are in South Cebu; so it makes sense to stay in south. We stayed nights in ABC hotels and suites.
Walking tour of Cebu’s attractions
You can do a walking tour of many attractions which are closeby. Take a cab from your hotel to Yap Sandiego Ancestral house and then walk to all the attractions.You can end the tour at Fort San Pedro. A leisurely 2.2 km walk (in the order mentioned) will take you through all these places:
- Yap Sandiego Ancestral House
- Heritage of Cebu monument
- The Cathedral Museum
- Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
- Magellan’s cross
- Bascillica of St Nino church
- Fort San Pedro
Yap Sandiego Ancestral House: This house is 300+ years old and is one of the oldest houses in Cebu. The house has been with the family for 4 generations now and the owners are firm on keeping the heritage alive. The 2-storey house is full of furniture, art work, religious statues and many other antique pieces. It also has a working radio 🙂
The staff at the place are very enthusiastic about answering guest’s questions and clicking pictures for them if asked.
Entrance Fee: 50 PhP
Timing: 9 am to 7 pm
Heritage of Cebu monument: This monument is like a timeline of Cebu’s history; starting from 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan inspired them to convert to Christianity till around 1670s. It depicts scenes from various important events in Cebu’s history. It also has important historical places carved in it.
Entrance Fee: Free
Timing: 8 am to 5 pm. However, its open monument and can be seen from outside without going in.
The Cathedral Museum: We skipped this because we were not much interested in museum and the reviews were not very encouraging. You can read its review on TripAdvisor and see if it interests you.
Entrance Fee: 50 PHP
Timing: 9 am to 7 pm
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral: It is also known as The Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of Saint Vitalis and of the Immaculate Conception. It was established in 1595 and is one of the most beautiful churches we have seen.
Entrance Fee: Free
Timing: Open till 7 pm
Magellan’s cross: This monument houses the original Magellan’s cross that was planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The original cross is encased inside a larger wooden cross.
Entrance Fee: Free
Timing: 8 am to 6 pm. However, the cross is visible from outside the gates as well.
Bascillica of St Nino church: This is another of their beautiful churches. It is huge and was very crowded when we went in the evening.
Entrance Fee: Free
Timing: Open till 9 pm
Fort San Pedro: This fort is located very close to Pier 1 from where the ferries depart for Bohol. It is a defence structure which was built by the Spanish in the 17th century. The fort is not very huge and takes hardly 30 mins. Its a good place to visit in the evening when it is lighted. Also, there a play area for kids and a big park across the fort. We saw many school kids practising dance or playing games in the park. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening.
I will suggest this walking tour in the evening.
If you have one full day in Cebu city; you can go to Taoist temple. It is hardly 5 kms from these attractions, but it closes early by 5 pm. It looks like a beautiful place and from the reviews on TripAdvisor it looks an interesting one too!
Entrance Fee: 30 PHP
Timings: 9 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 5 pm.
Day Trip to Kawasan Falls:
Kawasan falls is located in the Badian province near Moalboal in South of Cebu. It is approx 150 kms from Cebu and takes 3.5 hr by road. It is known for the most beautiful waterfall in Philippines. We had been to Laos in 2017 and Kawasan falls is not as encaptivating as Kuang Si falls; but it has its own charm.
Apart from having fun at the waterfall, there are other activities that can be combined with Kawasan falls trip:
Canyoneering / Canyoning: Its one of the most sought out adventures in this area. It involves trekking, walking, climbing, swimming, diving.
Pescador island tour and Sardine Run: Pescador island tour is very popular for snorkelling and SCUBA diving because of its amazing marine life. The experience as I understand is similar to what we had in Balicasag Island near Panglao. The tour concludes with sardines run near Panagsama beach. We did not do the Pescador island tour, but we did the sardines run on our way back from Kawasan falls.
Getting to Kawasan Falls: We hired a cab from Cebu for our day trip. The trip included pick-up from our hotel in Cebu (ABC hotel and suites), drive to Kawasan falls, sardine run at Panagsama beach and then back to Cebu.
Recommended Drivers in Cebu: Danny: Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone No: +639061534659 Rodel: Phone No: +63 956 863 9498
We had hired Danny; who was recommended by many travellers on TripAdvisor. Danny was very responsive on both mail and WhatsApp. He was supposed to drive us but he called us on last day to say that he had some urgent work so was sending his friend Rodel. We were very happy with Rodel and will highly recommend him too! He recommended hiring a guide. Though we were not very keen on it, we still hired him so he could atleast help us with photos.
Do you need to hire a guide in Kawasan falls? I recommend hiring a guide. You do not need a guide to climb up the 3 levels of the fall because the trail is clearly marked. However, they can help you with the following:
- Take group pics and videos
- Safeguarding your stuff when you are in water: He might even help you save some costs by taking care of your bags / shoes instead of you paying for a table to keep them.
Our guide happened to be a 19 yr old catering student who wanted to be a chef. He was working over the weekend to pay for his studies. We were very happy with his services and paid him 600 PHP; though they usually charge 300 PHP.
Kawasan falls is a private property. You can rent life jackets (recommended) and aqua shoes (depends on the weather, can get one in rainy season). There are helmets and underwater cameras available on rent too. You can also buy mobile pouches which protect phones under the water. However, the plastic quality is not that good so don’t expect the touch to work inside the water.
There are 3 levels at the falls.
Level 1 at Kawasan falls: This is one which is easiest to reach. 15 min walk from the parking area will take you to this level. There are paid bathrooms, tables for hire and a restaurant at this level. This is the most crowded level; but also the most beautiful. There used to be bamboo rafts to take tourists under the waterfall, but that is not allowed now. However, you can always swim upto the waterfall yourself.
Level 2: There are some steps from level 1 to go to the next level. This is the level where canyoneering happens; so you can see lots of people jumping from the cliff into the water. There is a restaurant at this level. The serving portions are large and one dish could easily be shared between 2 people. The food was decent too. You can also carry your own cup noodles because they keep hot water in a kettle and were generous enough to share it with us.
Level 3: This level is little steep and has some log bridges too. It is not difficult to climb though. Even our 8 yr old son could climb up with little help. This level has some thrilling activities though! There is a natural water slide and a rope swing at this level.
Check the video here:
Check the video of swing at Kawasan Falls Level 3:
Overall, Kawasan falls does not compare to Kuang Si falls in its neighbouring country Laos. But it more than makes it up by offering the kind of adventures that are so unique to this falls!
Sardine Run at Moalboal:
Moalboal,which is 25 kms from Kawasan waterfall (towards Cebu) is very famous for its Sardine run. Sardine run happens through the year and one can see millions of sardine fishes together just 20-25 m from the shore of Panagsama beach. We went here after Kawasan falls (by around 4:30 pm). The visibility at this time was very low because it was getting cloudy; and I have to say the water looked dirty. But the sight of sardine run is an indescribable experience. It is amazing to look at the beautiful corals just off the reef and be mesmerized by sardines swimming in unison. I can only imagine what it must be if the visibility is clear! I will definitely recommend this activity to anyone visiting Cebu.
And Sardine run is possible even if you do not know swimming. We did snorkelling in life jackets and were accompanied by 2 instructors. Even though we did not have underwater camera; the experience is etched in our memories. Our 8 yr old son who was snorkelling only for the 2nd time (1st being in Balicasag Island) was thrilled beyond words after this experience.
Costs associated with Kawasan Falls and Sardine Run day tour
(per person; excluding taxi charges and meals):
- Kawasan Falls entrance fee: 45 PHP
- Life jacket rental: 50 PHP
- Water slide: 10 PHP
- Swing:10 PHP
- Guide: 300 PHP (per group)
- Sardine run at Panagsama beach: 500 PHP