Pasalan Falls in Amlan is without a doubt one of the most epic adventures we’ve been on in all our many months in Negros Oriental. From the drive there, to the hike, to the scenery, Pasalan Falls is seriously insane. We’d attempted to find it ourselves twice before, but were led astray both times. Third time turned out to be a charm when we met Marlon, an Amlan local who showed us the way.
Before you think you can get here yourself, we’re here to tell you, you probably can’t. We seriously recommend you contact our friend Marlon on 09672163409. Even with all that anticipation, Pasalan Falls did not disappoint! Read on to find out everything you need to know about Pasalan Falls.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES
HOW TO GET TO PASALAN FALLS
This is where the real adventure begins. You’re going to need your own transport to get to Pasalan Falls in Amlan. True, you can get a public Ceres Bus from Dumaguete to Amlan proper, but from there you’ll be stranded if you don’t have your own motorbike. If you’re not a confident driver, we’re gonna stop you right now. This drive is not for rookies. Marlon can help arrange motorcycles for you if you need.
Okay, moving on! Pasalan Falls is about an hour’s drive from Amlan town proper, which sits 30 minutes outside of Dumaguete City. To reach Pasalan Falls, you need to pass through the Amlan Hydroelectric Power Plant which is easy enough to find on Google Maps. The problem with Google Maps though, is that it tells you to go down an adjacent road and walk across to the falls. What it doesn’t show you is that the “walk” is across a mountainous valley and is just not possible. Don’t go that way.
We recommend putting in Cantalina Falls in Google Maps, as it will take you down the correct road. Don’t be fooled by the giant rock at Cantalina Falls that says Pasalan Falls with an arrow pointing right. It’s completely wrong and threw us off the first time, which is how we ended up exploring the wrong waterfalls.
Once you reach that big rock, just keep going straight. The paved road will turn to dirt and rocks, and from here we wish you immense luck. But if you just take our advice and go with Marlon, you won’t need to worry about any of this.
If there’s two of you sharing a motorbike, an XRM won’t cut it and one of you will end up walking half the way (ehmm, Zowie). You’ll need something more powerful, or you’ll need to drive one bike each. We started off on an XRM which overheated, and played musical chairs until we were all on bikes that could cope.
There were still a few times where Zowie was better off walking instead of holding on for dear life as we tried to manoeuvre big potholes and even bigger rocks. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos of the drive as we were too busy trying not to die. You’ll just have to take our word for it.
After 45 minutes of hellish road, you’ll reach the entrance gates to the Hydroelectric Power Plant. We told the guard we were going to Pasalan Falls and he radioed down to someone (his boss probably) and waved us through. We’re still not 100% sure if it’s open to the public or if it’s because we knew someone who knew someone, but you can check with Tourism Amlan on Facebook before you make the journey out.
From the entrance gate, it’s another 10 minutes of jungle driving before you reach the actual power plant. This is where you park your bike, stretch your legs and your ass, and start hiking.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT PASALAN FALLS
The first challenge is getting over the wall. You have to climb the ladder and either jump or shimmy down. We opted for jumping and Zowie almost broke her ankle. Off to a good start! After you manage that, it’s relatively smooth sailing upriver for about 15 minutes.
The hike involves a considerable amount of scrambling over rocks on all fours as you follow the trail upriver. It’s not a long hike, and there are so many beautiful swimming holes and mini waterfalls along the way. The water is bright blue, while the rocks are orange and rainbow coloured thanks to all the sulphur in this region. We don’t recommend wearing white (or good) clothes to this waterfall. The orange is impossible to get out of clothes. Zowie learned this the hard way. RIP favourite shorts.
Less than 5 minutes upriver, we stumbled upon another waterfall called Kan-Untol Falls. Whilst not as tall as Pasalan Falls, this waterfall alone would be reason enough to visit. You can read more about Kan-Untol Falls here.
After a little more hiking and bouldering, we eventually reached a massive freaking roadblock. A gigantic sloped rock stood between us and Pasalan Falls. No way around, only over. Luckily the guys we were with were well prepared with climbing ropes and carabiners to haul us and our bags over the rock.
If you don’t have any climbing gear, you can make it over (very dangerous) but you have to swim to the not so steep side, meaning you’ll have to abandon all your bags if you don’t want them getting wet. For this reason, we recommend a local guide or at the very least some strong ropes.
The swimming hole at this part of the river was the best so far. Super clear, super blue and there was even a cave. After some hot and sweaty hiking, we were happy to cool off a little here before taking on the giant rock.
After a quick dip, we took on the rock and rounded the corner to Pasalan Falls. We’d seen photos of Pasalan Falls which showed an enormous, rushing waterfall, but they must have gone after some heavy rainfall because there was practically no waterfall when we got there. Cue laugh+cry face.
The dam above prevents the river from crashing into the canyon below, unless it overflows after excessive downpour. But! Don’t let this deter you. There’s a steady trickle from above which is enough to fill the bottom of the canyon with a vibrant blue swimming hole and when the light catches the water spray the right way, it’s really magical. We might even prefer it more without the huge waterfall because it wouldn’t be bright blue if the waterfall was churning it up.
The water was so incredibly clear (and cold) and there was no sign of previous visitors. Not a scrap of trash, not even a gum wrapper. This place is really untouched, probably thanks to the horrendous drive there. If you decide to journey out here, please keep it this way. Beautiful places deserve to stay beautiful.
The view from above was just as spectacular as below the surface. We sent the drone up to get a better look at the enormous canyon and the bright colours. We recommend going here on a sunny day to get the most out of the blues. It’s also not somewhere you’d want to be during heavy rainfall, as flash flooding in the canyon would be incredibly dangerous. If it looks like you’d get rained out, save it for another day.
After an hour or so at the falls, one of the local guys told us you can actually drive to the dam above if you backtrack a little from the hydroelectric power plant. We decided to check it out and see where this majestic waterfall was trapped! We hiked back, hopped on our bikes and drove not 5 minutes to the dam. It’s a cool little detour if you’ve got the time. Carson even backflipped off the edge into the water below.
All in all, our trip to Pasalan Falls was one of the craziest adventures we’ve been on in a long while. A global pandemic will do that to ya. It’s definitely not the easiest trek, but what waits for you at the end is so rewarding. All we can really say is good luck, hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
PIN IT FOR LATER
WHERE TO STAY NEAR PASALAN FALLS
Most people who visit Negros Oriental are told to stay in Dumaguete, but what they really mean by that is stay around Dumaguete. True, Dumaguete City has plenty of tourist inns and budget hotels, but it’s the surrounding towns of Dauin and Zamboanguita that offer the best spots to stay. There’s not a whole lot to do in the city itself, so when you stay in the nearby municipalities there’s plenty of nature to explore whilst still being nice and close to Dumaguete City. Check out our top picks for accommodation near Dumaguete City.
LUXURY: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dauin
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin is the resort to stay at if you’ve got a big budget and fancy the finer things in life. Atmosphere has hosted its fair share of local celebrities and deep pocketed divers looking for the best beachfront luxury in Dauin.
MIDSCALE: Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort, Dauin
If you want to stay by the ocean without breaking the bank, Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort in Dauin is a comfortable midscale accommodation option perfect for diving enthusiasts. If you’ve never dived before, you can get your certification at Mike’s, and divers of all skill sets can enjoy the abundance of macro diving opportunities in and around Dauin.
BUDGET: Bongo Bongo Divers, Dauin
Bongo Bongo Divers is one of the most popular hostels in Dauin for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation in a convenient location. The rooms are simple, without any glitz and glam, but the vibe is fun and welcoming. They have a variety of room styles to choose from, ranging from couples rooms to AC or fan only dorms.
AIRBNB: Villa Amani, Zamboanguita
Villa Amani in Zamboanguita is the perfect holiday home for small families or groups of friends looking for privacy that a traditional resort or hotel can’t offer. The main house sleeps 4 with additional space for 2 in the guest house, or you can book the guest house separately if it’s just the 2 of you and you’re on a budget. The property has a swimming pool, an unbeatable view of Apo Island and kayaks to use whenever you want.