When it comes to adventure, South Cebu has it all. Known for its Gatorade blue waterfalls, whale shark encounter and beautiful beaches, you’ll never run out of South Cebu tourist spots to explore. Whether you decide to stay for 2 days or 2 weeks, you can bet you’ll be blown away by the incredible attractions on offer.
We’ve spent a lot of time in South Cebu over the years, so we like to think we know a thing or two about the top places to visit beyond the most famous destinations. Not only will we share our pick of the 17 best tourist spots in South Cebu, but also how to get there, what to pack and where to stay.
WHERE IS SOUTH CEBU
South Cebu is — you guessed it — in the south of the island of Cebu, in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. It’s become hugely popular amongst the backpacking community mainly because of the ultra IG famous Kawasan Falls. Most visitors will stay in the bustling tourist town of Moalboal and explore the area from there, or head further down south to Oslob. However, Moalboal is definitely the more developed of the two.
HOW TO GET TO SOUTH CEBU
It’s around 3 hours from Cebu City to Moalboal, so the quickest way would be to rent a private car or van, but we’re all about budgeting. If you’re a budget backpacker like us then you can get a public bus headed to Moalboal from the Cebu South Bus Terminal. It’ll cost you around ₱150-200 (USD $4) one way. Once you’re in Moalboal you’ll then want to rent a scooter to get around South Cebu freely, which you can usually find for around ₱400 (USD $8).
WHAT TO BRING TO THE SOUTH CEBU TOURIST SPOTS
Prepare for your trip to South Cebu with our must-have travel essentials. (click for prices)
- Snorkel, mask & fins
- Quick-dry microfiber travel towel
- Insulated water bottle
- Hiking Sandals
- Waterproof backpack & phone case
If you’re interested in photography and/or videography this is the gear we can’t live without:
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SOUTH CEBU TOURS
19 BEST SOUTH CEBU TOURIST SPOTS
- Kawasan Falls & Badian Canyoneering
- Alegria Canyoneering
- Aguinid Falls
- Wonderfalls Canyoneering
- Inambakan Falls
- Cambais Falls
- Mantayupan Falls
- Dao Falls
- Tumalog Falls
- Oslob Whale Sharks
- Sumilon Island
- Osmeña Peak
- Casino Peak
- Moalboal Sardine Run
- Pescador Island
- Turtle Bay Moalboal
- White Beach/Basdaku Beach
- Bojo River
- Hermit’s Cove
We’ve spent as little as 2 days and as long as 3 weeks in South Cebu, so it’s really up to you how long you want to stay. If you’re pressed for time and you’re wondering what are the main South Cebu tourist spots you absolutely cannot miss, then make sure you check out Kawasan Falls & Badian Canyoneering, Oslob Whale Sharks and the Moalboal Sardine Run.
Let’s kick this list off with the gem of South Cebu tourist spots, the mighty Kawasan Falls. If you only do one thing during your entire trip to South Cebu, let it be this. Affectionately known as the Gatorade factory, Kawasan Falls is recognised the world over for its unreal blue water. Located just 30 minutes from Moalboal, it’s an easy day trip for travellers staying in the central tourist hub of Moalboal.
You’ve got two options when it comes to visiting Kawasan Falls, walk in and simply experience the main waterfall or spend several hours canyoneering down the river. Having done it multiple times now, we absolutely recommend completing the Badian canyoneering trek to Kawasan Falls. It’s the most epic adventure you can have in South Cebu and something you cannot miss out on.
FULL BLOG POST: KAWASAN FALLS GUIDE
With life jackets, helmets and guides at the ready, you can look forward to jumping, climbing, sliding and swimming along the canyon. The entire experience is breathtaking and exhilarating, as you wind through the narrow canyon crevices and marvel at the turquoise blue water. After 3 hours of exhausting exploration, the river will eventually lead you to the grande finale — Kawasan Falls.
FULL BLOG POST: BADIAN CEBU CANYONEERING GUIDE
If the Badian canyoneering trek isn’t enough adrenaline for you, then you might want to pair it with the Alegria canyoneering trail. These two treks used to be connected to form one giant all-day river adventure that ended at Kawasan Falls, but after a little local government dispute, the two treks are now completely separated.
It’s the same river that flows through the Badian canyoneering course, however with different landscapes comes different awe-inspiring views and adrenaline-pumping challenges. The Alegria canyoneering trek takes between 3-4 hours to complete and is jam-packed full of jumps both big and small. If you’re not a fan of heights, fear not, there are always options around the jumps, but you best believe your guides will try their hardest to peer pressure you into the jumps.
After completing the course we exited the canyon which was honestly the most exhausting part. We ended back at the briefing centre where we returned our jackets and helmets then headed to the Badian briefing centre to meet our new guides and get suited up in new gear. If you’ve got an entire day and a lot of energy, then we definitely recommend starting with Alegria canyoneering and continuing all the way through to Badian and Kawasan Falls for the full experience.
FULL BLOG POST: ALEGRIA CANYONEERING GUIDE
One of our favourite South Cebu tourist spots is the epic Aguinid Falls. Located in the little town of Samboan, it’s about an hour’s drive from Moalboal or 30 minutes from Oslob, but well worth the drive. So much more than just one stunning waterfall, this majestic cascade is an adventurer’s playground.
Unlike the Badian and Alegria canyoneering courses where you traverse downriver, Aguinid Falls is an upward climb over eight levels of unique rock formations. From the entrance area you’ll be assigned at least one guide to take you through the course, as well as a life jacket and helmet.
It’ll take a couple hours to get through the entire trek, with each level more stunning than the last. The true beauty of Aguinid Falls is that each level offers something different. From turquoise pools and cliff jumps to natural showers and rockclimbing, there’s a little bit of everything.
FULL BLOG POST: AGUINID FALLS GUIDE
If you thought we were done with canyoneering in South Cebu, you’d be mistaken. One of the lesser-known courses, but just as exhilarating, is Wonderfalls Canyoneering in Alegria. The start of Wonderfalls kicks off at the same information centre as the main Alegria Canyoneering course, but from there we took a different route on motorbikes down to the river.
The action kicks off at the jump-off point from an old bridge, where we flipped our way into the river. Truthfully, Zowie walked down and around to a lower level to jump in, so if you’re not a fan of heights at least you know there are other options. The current was particularly strong and the water level high as it had been raining for days on end, but that just added to the excitement!
FULL BLOG POST: WONDERFALLS CANYONEERING GUIDE
We spent the next 4 hours jumping, swimming and floating our way downriver, stopping to take photos along the way of the incredible landscape. The tree canopy was so dense we could barely see the sky, and yet with so little light the water still managed to radiate a vibrant blue hue.
Next up on the list is Inambakan Falls, one of our favourite South Cebu tourist spots. Located deep in the jungle of Ginatilan, about an hour from Moalboal, Inambakan Falls is a tropical paradise surrounded by dense foliage. The best part about Inambakan Falls is how easy it is to reach, both the drive and the hike. From the parking area it’s barely a 10-minute walk down a concrete staircase and upriver to the main falls.
Vibrant blue water cascades down the five levels of Inambakan Falls, with the bottom waterfall being the main and biggest attraction. We actually visited during the pandemic, so the falls were technically closed to visitors, but we were rebels with a cause and decided to explore nonetheless. Our trip was short but sweet, hiking up to the next two levels of Inambakan Falls. On a regular day you’ll be able to hire a guide to take you up to all five levels of the falls for a small fee which we recommend doing! The surrounding area has also been developed with picnic huts so you can pack some food and stay for lunch with a view.
FULL BLOG POST: INAMBAKAN FALLS GUIDE
Another day, another waterfall! Cambais Falls is a seriously breathtaking waterfall, also in the town of Alegria. For such a little town, it really was blessed with a high concentration of some of the best South Cebu tourist spots! With its own pin on Google Maps, Cambais Falls is fairly easy to find. From the parking area it’s only a short 15-minute walk upriver, past a handful of local houses before reaching the entrance area.
Just a few metres beyond the entrance is the lower level of Cambais Falls. This enormous swimming area features several waterfalls and rock formations, making it the perfect spot to swim and explore. From the first level you can either climb up and over the small waterfalls and continue upriver to the next falls, or hike around and pop out on top of the falls. Since the hike around was a new trail we decided to check it out.
We were welcomed by the rushing second level of Cambais Falls, which was particularly strong after a heavy onslaught of rain. This is more of an adventurous level, with different vantage points for jumping as well as a natural slide. If you visit when the water isn’t quite so hectic you can even climb up onto the falls and sit in a tub directly under the stream, which we were lucky enough to experience a couple years back.
FULL BLOG POST: CAMBAIS FALLS GUIDE
Mantayupan Falls in Barili is truly a sight to behold. Standing tall at 98 metres, she takes the title for the tallest waterfall in Cebu, which is reason enough to add this beast to your South Cebu itinerary. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Moalboal to Barili, or around 2 hours from Cebu City.
The beauty of Mantayupan Falls is that it’s not far out of the Barili town centre and you can drive just about all the way up to the falls. From the entrance area it’s only a couple minutes walk to the majestic waterfall, no hiking involved. The waterfall plummets into the large basin below where you can swim in the refreshing jungle water. If you want to explore a little more, the main waterfall flows into a series of smaller falls below the hanging bridge.
FULL BLOG POST: MANTAYUPAN FALLS GUIDE
8. DAO FALLS
Next up is the spectacular Dao Falls, a popular South Cebu tourist spot about an hour from Moalboal, with plenty of signage from the highway and a Google Maps pin to lead the way. The adventure starts at the information centre where you’ll be given a helmet, life jacket and guide, and then you’ll head down into the canyon below. The hike is easy and the trail well established, but the bamboo bridge was one of the sketchiest we’ve experienced!
Dao Falls features the most unique landscape of all the falls we’ve been to in South Cebu with its iconic S-shaped channel of milky blue water. We hiked upriver for around 20 minutes before reaching the S part and it was just as magical as the first time we saw it. From the S it’s just a short climb up a makeshift staircase to Dao Falls.
As you approach Dao Falls you’ll notice it’s actually a three-tier waterfall, however, the main attraction is the 40-metre waterfall at the very top. We’re not 100% certain of the history of the area but based on how the rocks have been cut, Dao Falls used to be a quarry. The waterfall is constantly changing shape due to regular landslides, so keep in mind the Dao Falls of today may not be the Dao Falls of tomorrow.
FULL BLOG POST: DAO FALLS GUIDE
Last waterfall but by no means least is Tumalog Falls, a mesmerising curtain waterfall in Oslob, South Cebu. Tumalog Falls is one of the most traversed waterfalls in the South, partly because of how easy it is to access, but mostly because of its proximity to the famous Oslob Whale Sharks (more about that later). What Tumalog Falls lacks in power, it makes up for in sheer height and beauty. The gentle spray of the water glitters in the sunshine and the milky blue basin is the perfect spot for a refreshing dip in paradise.
FULL BLOG POST: TUMALOG FALLS GUIDE
We’re switching it up from waterfalls and canyoneering with the second most visited South Cebu tourist attraction, the Oslob Whale Shark experience. Popular though it may be, the Oslob whale shark experience is not without controversy, but we’ll present you with the facts and let you decide if it’s something you want to do.
The Oslob whale shark experience is in — you guessed it — Oslob, which is a lot farther down south than Moalboal. The tours kick off bright and early, usually around 6am, so you’ll want to spend the night before in Oslob. The whale shark tour is quite the spectacle so you won’t have any trouble finding it, either on Google Maps or just by asking the locals.
You can book and pay for your tour at the briefing centre then sit down for a few moments while they explain the rules of a safe whale shark encounter. The main areas of contention surrounding the whale sharks are overcrowding and the practice of feeding them daily. It still has a long way to go to be considered ethical, however, the local government has implemented a lot of new rules and restrictions to make the experience better for everyone. Big fines apply so be sure to listen carefully. We go into detail about the rules and precautions in our full guide here.
Once you’re out on the water the boats will take you just offshore and from there you can jump on in. There’s nothing like the first glimpse of a whale shark underwater, so make sure you have your mask and snorkel at the ready. Whilst they look perfectly capable of swallowing a grown man whole, whale sharks are placid creatures who feed on plankton and small fish/shrimp. The whole encounter lasts no more than 30 minutes so be sure to make the most of it.
FULL BLOG POST: OSLOB WHALE SHARK GUIDE
11. SUMILON ISLAND
For the perfect day down south you can pair your Oslob whale shark experience with a trip out to Sumilon Island. Just a stone’s throw from the coast, it’ll only take you around 10 minutes by pump boat to get to Sumilon Island. The first thing you’ll notice as you approach the island is the sandbar right beside the dock. It makes for quite the welcome and we were dying to get out and explore the white sand and crystal clear blue water.
The island is privately owned by Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, so when you book your tour you’ll get lunch included as well as access to the resort facilities. They have a brackish lagoon where you can fish for Tilapia, kayak and standup paddleboard. We gave these activities a go then headed back to the restaurant for lunch, followed by a tour of the island.
FULL BLOG POST: SUMILON ISLAND GUIDE
12. OSMEÑA PEAK
If you’re looking to switch things up from coastal activities and waterfalls then Osmeña Peak is one South Cebu tourist spot you can’t miss. It stands at 1013 metres as the highest point on the island of Cebu, however it’s an incredibly easy peak to summit when compared to other “highest points”.
Osmeña Peak is in the centre of the island, between Badian and Dalaguete. It’s best to get there as early as sunrise, which means travelling from Moalboal before dawn. We were in Cebu City the night before so we didn’t make it for sunrise which was a bummer as it meant missing out on the best lighting. Regardless, it was still a beautiful view even with cloud coverage.
Osmeña Peak has a few nicknames, like the Chocolate Hills of Cebu for its rolling hills and Little Baguio for its cooler climate. The trail was surrounded by cabbages which did give us Baguio vibes, and you might even meet a cabbage farmer on the way up.
The hike itself was an easy climb up a well-established trail that only took around 15 minutes all up. The view from the top was stunning, with limestone peaks covered in greenery (and cabbages!). If you have a drone, you don’t want to forget it, as the viewpoint makes for some stunning photos.
FULL BLOG POST: OSMEÑA PEAK GUIDE
13. CASINO PEAK
If you still have energy after hiking Osmeña Peak (which you should — it’s like, 15 minutes), then we recommend heading down the road a little farther to Casino Peak. Whilst it misses out on the “highest point” title, it’s actually our favourite of the two peaks. Without that claim to fame, it’s a lot less touristy which is just how we like it.
The trail is slightly more rugged and will take around 20 minutes, but it’s still easily accomplished in a pair of flip flops. We hiked amongst the cabbages (yep, more cabbages!) until we reached the top of Casino Peak. We personally think the view from Casino Peak is just a little bit more spectacular than Osmeña Peak, with rolling hills stretching out as far as the eye can see.
Casino Peak itself is a dinosaur-shaped spine with rough, rocky edges. If you’re afraid of heights, fear not, it’s wider than it looks with plenty of flat areas big enough for romantic picnics for two — which another couple were enjoying. We met another adventurer who was more than keen to run along the spine for a drone photo opp, so whilst him and Carson got their adrenaline pumping, Zowie third-wheeled the picnic. However you want to experience Casino Peak is up to you, but it’s definitely a South Cebu tourist spot you need to visit.
FULL BLOG POST: CASINO PEAK GUIDE
We’re heading back into the water to explore Moalboal’s most famous attraction, the Moalboal sardine run. This truly epic encounter is a South Cebu tourist spot you absolutely cannot miss, as it’s like no place else on earth. Sure, there are sardines elsewhere, but only in Moalboal can you wade out 30 metres from shore and swim with 10 million sardines, every single day of the year.
One of the best things about the Moalboal sardine run is that it’s entirely free if you have your own mask and know where to look. You’ll be able to find them a couple of hundred metres to the left of Panagsama Rd, just in front of Savedra Beach Resort. They hang out just below the surface so there’s no need to scuba dive to experience the Moalboal sardine run. It was surreal to swim through their school, watching them shapeshift and reflect the light like millions of mirrors.
Aside from sardines, you might even get a chance encounter with a turtle or two! The coast of Moalboal is teeming with underwater wildlife, and turtles are not uncommon in this area. We’ve even heard stories of rogue whale sharks passing through the area and other predatory fish that come to snack on the sardines.
FULL BLOG POST: MOALBOAL SARDINE RUN GUIDE
15. PESCADOR ISLAND
This one’s for the scuba divers! If you’re scuba certified — or would like to become scuba certified — Moalboal is a great place to dive. Just off the coast is a tiny island called Pescador, where the local dive resorts will bring their tourists to explore the underwater world.
We organised our tour through Quo Vadis Dive Resort, probably the most well-known and reputable dive resort in Moalboal. To book your own tour to Pescador Island, you can either arrange it through a Moalboal beach resort like Quo Vadis or book online at GetYourGuide. Most tours will also then take you to the Moalboal sardine run afterwards, as they’re so close to each other.
The good news is, you don’t actually have to be scuba certified to enjoy a trip out to Pescador Island. Whilst Carson was able to scuba dive down to about 18 metres, Zowie hung about closer to the surface and was still able to see amazing marine life, including several turtles. No matter how you choose to explore Pescador Island, you’re bound to enjoy the experience!
FULL BLOG POST: PESCADOR ISLAND GUIDE
The award for the most underrated South Cebu tourist spot for snorkeling would have to go to Turtle Bay Moalboal, or at least we think so. Our photos really don’t do it justice, but Turtle Bay Moalboal has the most vibrant, expansive coral reef we’ve seen anywhere in the Philippines.
Often overlooked for the more well-known Pescador Island, Turtle Bay is somewhat of a hidden gem. We had found out about it from our friends who own Herbs Guest House just down the road and came back to explore it for ourselves. From the shore, it looks seemingly like any other local beach, but below the surface tells a very different story.
You’ll want to visit at high tide, otherwise you’ll share our struggle and end up scraping your stomachs along the top of the coral at low tide. We were told to head out to the buoys, so after gingerly making our way towards them, the dramatic drop off became apparent. It went from as shallow as a bathtub to an infinite depth, and that’s where we swam around, diving down the shelf and getting up close with turtles and other interesting marine life.
FULL BLOG POST: TURTLE BAY MOALBOAL GUIDE
Your visit to South Cebu wouldn’t be complete without catching the sunset at White Beach Moalboal. This beautiful stretch of coastline is only around 15 minutes from the main tourist stretch in Moalboal, so it’s a very popular beach — particularly on weekends — for both international and local tourists alike. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can always aim to visit on a weekday.
Whilst it can get quite busy, there’s enough sand to spread out if you continue to walk farther from the entrance. You’ll be greeted by local vendors, oftentimes young girls selling souvenir jewellery or fishermen selling sea urchins! If you want to do more than just gaze at the sunset, White Beach Moalboal is a beautiful spot to swim in clear blue water, standup paddleboard and snorkel. If you don’t have your own gear, there’ll be vendors around to hire from.
FULL BLOG POST: WHITE BEACH MOALBOAL GUIDE
18. BOJO RIVER
And finally we have the stunning Bojo River and Hermit’s Cove in Aloguinsan. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Moalboal, but still considered part of South Cebu. Since it is farther north than most of the other South Cebu tourist spots, it makes for an easy day trip from Cebu City, as it’s only 4 hours round trip.
The Bojo River project is an eco-friendly paradise, which starts with a grand entrance along a bamboo boardwalk through dense Nipa palms. These boardwalks aren’t uncommon in the Philippines — usually they pass through mangroves — but this Nipa boardwalk was by far the best we’ve seen.
The Bojo River itself is a beautiful 1.2km stretch of turquoise blue water snaking through an abundance of rehabilitated mangroves. All the employees are local members of the community have been tasked with protecting the biodiverse landscape, so they’re very passionate about sharing their knowledge and insights. Our guide took us on a small canoe downriver, describing all the different kinds of mangroves, fish and birds that call Bojo River home. Once we reached the river’s mouth, we changed boats into a larger glass bottom boat to take us to Hermit’s Cove.
FULL BLOG POST: BOJO RIVER GUIDE
19. HERMIT’S COVE
Hermit’s Cove is a charming little beach tucked away just to the left of the Bojo River mouth. You can either visit at the end of your Bojo River cruise or if you’d just like to visit Hermit’s Cove, you can hike down from the hilltop. The beach itself is quite small, but there are picnic huts and vendors selling refreshments. Despite visiting on a weekday during the pandemic, it was actually really busy with local tourists, which was very surprising. We still managed to find our own little spot and enjoy some time in the water checking out the coral and marine life.
FULL BLOG POST: HERMIT’S COVE GUIDE
Make the most of your trip to South Cebu and check out the best restaurants in Moalboal, including one of our favourite restaurants in the entire world. Our roundup has you covered with the best breakfast, lunch and dinner spots to keep you fueled up for your adventures to the South Cebu tourist spots.
FULL BLOG POST: WHERE TO EAT IN MOALBOAL
From Moalboal to Oslob, We’ve put together this handy guide to the best beach resorts in South Cebu, catering to most budgets and occasions!