Next stop! Cebu & Siargao - Philippines
Two weeks of island hopping and coconut sipping our way through Palawan just wasn't enough. Our final week in the tropical Philippines was spent exploring the islands of Cebu and Siargao. We want to share with you our 3 must-see destinations.
1. Moalboal - Kawasan Falls
Moalboal is a chilled out little fishing town located roughly 90km southwest from Cebu City, or 2 and a half hours by bus. Panagsama is where you will find the majority of the guest houses, dive resorts, restaurants etc. We recommend staying as close as possible to the heart of Panagsama, which will make getting around far easier. Panagsama isn't overly populated, which was a huge drawcard for us. We loved the relaxed vibe! The town itself is great at night with some good dining options and cool waterfront bars - Chilli Bar was our favourite. Panagsama was a great location to be based, but the biggest attraction for us was a 30 minute moped ride away - Kawasan Falls.
We were warned that the Kawasan Falls were very popular so we hired our moped and were sure to be on the road by 7am. After our scenic half an hour trip we arrived to an unsuspecting little parking lot where we payed a random guy 50 peso ($1.30) to park our bike - I still don't think he actually worked there, but that's the Philippines! We were also told it's best to wait and pay for a guide - we ignored this advice, and were glad we did! Apart from getting up at the crack of dawn, it was super easy to get there on your own and navigate the track up to the falls.
There are 3 main sections to the falls. They are all incredibly photogenic! We had never seen water so blue, it's genuinely amazing. You will see in our shots below, the first pool is the biggest, where you will see the bamboo raft that can take you right under the waterfall. However, our favourite was the top one. Here we swam with some locals, and watched the local kids do tricks off the giant swing. The water is incredibly clean and refreshing. It was really pleasing to see that the locals had put some conservations measure in place to make sure the falls remain the way they are. By the time we started to head back down, around 10.30am, there were people everywhere! Early bird gets the worm, or in this case gets the instagram-worthy photo.
2. Oslob - Whale Shark Watching
As the crow flies Oslob isn't far from Moalboal, however, there is no direct route from the west of the island to the east - only the single road circimnavigating the island. The plus side is that the 3 hour scenic route was just that - scenic.
It's no secret that the main reason tourists come to Oslob is to pay a visit to the underwater friendly giants - the whale sharks. We were no different, although Brit was having kittens at the thought of it, we were both keen to get up and close with these giant creatures. Oslob itself is a tiny little town that until recently, was nothing more than a roadside village. Since tourists have started frequenting here some of the switched on locals are cashing in on the tourism boom. There are now a few little restaurants (for lack of a better word) and even a cafe with real barista coffee! The Filipinos were super friendly, they would all wave and smile when we walked past them on the street - it was a nice change from Cebu, where it's obviously not so unusual to see westerners trying to decipher streetside menu's.
A van picked us up from our guest house at 5am to ensure we got the diving site as early as possible. Turns out it was a public holiday that particular day, so despite the early rise, the place was packed! Although much different to what we anticipated, the experience was amazing. The sheer size of the creature is truly a sight to see. They are as big as a bus, but far more graceful than the ones you see flying around Cebu like they have a death wish. We were stoked to tick this off our bucket list, but couldn't help but wonder what impact tourism was having on these animals. They are fed everyday, which is why they keep coming back to the same spot each day. We just hope tourism doesn't jeopardise the long term health of these amazing creatures.
3. Siargao - Cloud 9
We saved the best until last. Siargao (she-are-gow) is a tear-drop-shaped island 45 mins east of Cebu by air in the province of Surigao Del Norte. What a stunner! We spent our last 3 nights here, in what we both agreed was our favourite part of the Philippines. Siargao is world renowned as the surfing capital of the Philippines and is the home to one of the best waves on earth, Cloud 9. General Luna is the town where most visitors stay, with ample accommodation to suit all budgets. We were lucky enough to get a little cottage that backed onto the beach and only 2km from Cloud 9. *For our special readers only, book your next stay using our unique link here https://www.booking.com/s/brit0k93 to earn AUD25 when you next book through booking.com.
Siargao reminded us of what Bali would have been like 20 years ago. It had such a cool vibe! The locals were different to everywhere else we visited, with their long hair, Byron Bay / Venice Beach style fashion, and super-relaxed attitude. The island plays host to some of the best (and cheapest) restaurants we visited in our time in the Philippines. None better than Shaka Bowls. This chic little cafe was our favourite, and their super-photogenic smoothie bowls became our morning ritual. Shaka Bowls was the perfect place to sit and refuel after a session at Cloud 9. Unfortunately there was virtually no swell for the entire 3 days we visited Siargao, but this didn't stop us eating here everyday. Siargao has so many great restaurants, but we will save the details for another post!
Although surfing is the main drawcard for Siargao, there is certainly plenty of other things to keep you occupied. One of the advantages of the island having such a small population is that there are virtually no cars. So, we decided to hire a motorbike. The roads were great, and there is no such thing as traffic (or road rules). We spent hours cruising around the palm tree-lined road that circles the island, stopping off at a town called Dapa, which is famous in Siargao for having the only ATM on the island. On our way home we got stuck in a thunderstorm, and pulled into a "cafe" which was more like a bamboo shack that had a kettle and instant coffee sachets. Although the owner couldn't speak English, she was very accommodating, she gave us shelter from the rain and warmed us up with instant coffee, lollies, and biscuits. After half an hour or so, and 35 peso (95 cents) worth of junk food and coffee, we were back on the road. It was moments like this that really demonstrated the Filipinos kind hearted and hospitable nature.
3 days was not enough time for us in Siargao, but we were stoked that we got to experience when we did. We can't imagine the island staying the same for long. Tourism is gaining momentum - if you wanted to visit Siargao we would definitely suggest you do so sooner rather than later!
Please enjoy our images from Cebu & Siargao. We would love to hear from you if you have any other questions / comments. Follow us on instagram (@seekseetravel), Facebook, and Pinterest for more.
All our images were shot on Sony a6000, with 14-105mm lens, Go Pro Silver 4, and DJI Mavic Pro. There are links to purchase these at the bottom of this page. Please note we will be paid a small commission if you buy through our links. This will help us fund our travels and keep the content coming!