We thought we’d seen the best you can get chasing waterfalls in Bali. That was until we got to Cebu and realised that some of the best we’ve ever seen lay in the heart of the Philippines.
It’s a little embarrassing to say that we skipped through Cebu six years ago after reading that it had little to offer and was a pretty dodgy place. This time round we made sure we saw the best this place has to offer.
It didn’t disappoint.
Cebu Waterfalls - the best falls to explore
The great thing about Cebu is not just that is has so many waterfalls, hundreds in fact, and they’re all really different. Want a well manicured stunner? Kawasan.
Want to climb up one? Aguinid.
Want one no one goes to? Montpeller.
That is just the start. We could have spent weeks just going from waterfall to waterfall. Maybe one day we’ll be back.
Kawasan Falls - The superstar
When you talk about waterfalls in Cebu, Kawasan Falls is what comes to most people’s minds. This is the most famous after several huge Instagrammers visited and posted beautiful pictures from this little piece of paradise.
It isn’t quite the same anymore as the popularity has brought a little development with concrete platforms and food stalls. Whilst it may be the most touristy and sedate of the falls, it is still epic with a bright blue pool to swim in that is hard to beat.
It also has two other levels to explore if you want to get away from everyone else. Few people go beyond the falls at the bottom and you can find many spots to enjoy this stunning blue water all to yourself.
If you want to read up more about how to enjoy this stunning waterfall, then check out our blog all about avoiding the crowds at Kawasan Falls.
Essential Information about Kawasan
Entrance Fee: 60 pesos ($1 USD) per person, 10 peso parking.
Opening time: We aren’t sure what the offical word is but there was a ticket seller when we arrived at 6am.
Distance from Moalboal: 40 minutes, 25 km.
Nearest village: Alegria or Badian.
Road condition: Very good. It is just a short distance from the main road.
Walking trail: Very easy to the bottom falls, completely flat and paved, should take around 10 minutes from the parking area.
Guide required? No
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Dao Falls - An epic canyon hike
Dao Falls flies under the radar, and we’ve no idea why although this makes it even more of an adventure. Just a few kilometres inland from the small village of Samboan, Dao is tucked away in the interior of Cebu via some relatively rough roads (though still doable on a little scooter).
From the start you walk down hill and straight towards a seriously dodgy looking bridge (luckily you won’t have to go over it). From here you follow the path to the right of the bridge and then meander along the river which is an astonishingly beautiful shade of blue.
You will be constantly walking in and out of the water, at the beginning it will be quite shallow, barely above your ankles. You definitely need shoes you are happy getting wet for this one. Bare feet on the rocks would be painful!
Before long you’ll be up to your waist and wading through a stunningly picturesque canyon. It’s a wild place and feels like you’re a million miles from civilisation.
After 20 minutes you’ll climb up above a couple of small waterfalls before reaching the huge one at the top. You can dive in, or just sit on the rocks take in the view and it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be there with many others. To be honest the waterfall is beautiful but we loved the walk even more!
Early or late are best for no crowds, we went quite late and only saw one other couple making their way back to the carpark so we had the whole place to ourselves!
Note that last entry to the falls is at 4pm.
Essential Information about Dao
Entrance Fee: 60 pesos ($1 USD) per person, 10 peso parking.
Opening hours: 6am - 5.30pm, but the last hikes go at around 4.00pm to ensure you’re back before sunset (it can get pretty dark in that canyon).
Distance from Moalboal: 1 hr 17 mins, 53.4km.
Nearest town: Samboan.
Road condition: the road to Dao Falls is pretty rough and steep in sections, so only those who are confident on a motorbike should go here. Otherwise we recommend getting a tricycle.
Walking trail: Around 20 minutes each way but longer if you stop for lots of photos. It’s fairly easy although there are a few slippery parts where your guide will give you a hand if necessary. Terrain is uneven throughout and when exiting the trail you need to climb up 100 steps.
Guide required? Yes, a guide is mandatory. There is no set price, you offer what you see is fair.
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Binalayan Hidden Falls - for the cliff divers
There’s not much hidden about Binalayan Falls, especially as it is signposted on the main road and everyone knows about it! However, this doesn’t make it any less dramatic or beautiful.
The start is right by the road where you park your motorbike and set off. The owners demand you take a guide for this waterfall on top of your entry fee. Ours tried to give a safety briefing at the start, but soon stopped when we said we’d be ok as it was just a flat track to a waterfall! You will cross a three small streams so shoes you are happy getting wet are ideal or you can go bare foot but it is pretty stony and painful!
The walk to the bottom falls took about 10 minutes and went through a beautiful grove of palm trees before arriving in a wild jungly section. At the bottom there are a couple of tyre swings and a pretty shallow section to swim in, but the main attraction is the second falls.
Just a short staircase and river crossing and you’ll reach the main falls. These are a favourite haunt of cliff divers and our guide didn’t need to be asked twice to scale up the top and dive in! He was so quick it was like we were watching spiderman!
As if that wasn’t enough, he then did it again to get to the bottom of the first fall rather than take the path. There’s a guy who loves his job!
Essential info about Binalayan Hidden Falls
Entrance fee: 60 pesos (US $1) per person, 10 peso parking.
Opening Hours: The official opening hours are 8am until 5pm but it is possible there might be people around earlier than this.
Distance from Moalboal - 1 hr 20 minutes, 55.5km.
Nearest town: Samboan.
Road condition: Hidden Falls are directly off the main road so the condition is excellent.
Walking trail: Easy flat walking track of around 10 minutes each way. Several shallow stream crossings and a few steps when accessing the second falls area.
Guide required? Yes, a guide is mandatory. A guide is assigned to you on a donation basis.
Inambakan Falls - For adventure seekers
Inambakan is one of those places which would be a huge tourist attraction in a lot of other places but is still blissfully quiet in Cebu. This incredible five level waterfall is set in the Cebu interior, providing incredible places to swim and a short fun hike.
It says a lot about Cebu when somewhere like this isn’t one of the most visited places!
The adventure starts at the first falls which are the most dramatic. The falls here are huge and incredibly powerful, even in the dry season. Cat tried to swim here but kept getting blown back every time she got close to the drop.
There are a couple of viewpoints around the pool with our favourite being the one up the first staircase you will see beside the falls. From here you can see just how blue the water is, such an unbelievable colour!
The path then gradually goes uphill, passing through three more levels (all with smaller, but also beautiful falls) before reaching the top which is special. Fringed by jungle, the top level is wild, and incredibly picturesque. The emerald pool at the top is the perfect place to have a cool relaxing dip in the midday heat. Make sure you get in the water quick because this level was rife with mosquitos!
Essential Information about Inambakan Falls
Entrance fee: 50 pesos (just under $1 USD), 10 pesos parking.
Opening hours: 6am to 5pm. The reality is that no one is going to stop you staying a little later although we wouldn’t like to be driving the steep hill up from the falls in the dark!
Nearest Village: Ginatilan.
Distance from Moalboal: 53 km, 1 hr 15.
Road condition: The road to Inambakan isn’t the best, very steep which made it a little scary in parts. Some parts are rubble and dusty, making it a little slippery in places. However, the journey is worth it!
Walking trail: The trail to the bottom of the falls is easy and requires walking down one staircase and then on a flat path along the river, taking around 5-10 minutes. To reach the upper levels requires walking up quite a few staircases and making several stream crossings (we just wandered through in our shoes). Overall the terrain is uneven in places but it’s a pretty easy walk. Probably only a kilometre total if you want to visit all the levels.
Guide required? No. You will be offered a guide but they aren’t yet required or necessary unless you want the company.
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Montpeller Falls - A bit of peace & quiet
Montpeller Falls is as far from the tourist circuit as you can get with very few people choosing to visit. This place is really only visited by word of mouth as and very few people seemed to know about it.
The falls are down a quiet road near the town of Alegria. From the road you’ll walk down a dirt track through a rural village and onwards to the falls. The villagers are really friendly, and a couple of their kids came to play at the falls with us.
You’d never know Montpeller Falls existed as you walk along the path, you don’t hear anything until you’re up close! Then out of nowhere you come out to this epic waterfall.
We all jumped in for a swim and it’s a truly gorgeous spot. Imagine having this in your backyard like these kids do?! Amazing! The pool is deep enough for a swim and the cool water is perfect in the heat of the day.
Essential Information about Montpeller Falls
Entrance Fee: Free!
Opening hours: None, it isn’t ticketed.
Distance from Moalboal: 36km, 1 hour.
Nearest village: Alegria.
Road condition: Good, but make sure you take the southern road from Alegria! The northern road is horrific and we had to turn back after a while.
Walking trail: It’s an easy to follow dirt trail, narrow in places but nothing alarming. Easy on the way as it’s all downhill, uphill on the way back but not too steep. The whole trail only took around 10 minutes.
Guide required? Nope but you might have the cute kids come along and act as un-offical guides anyway!
Cambais Falls - A jungle oasis
Cambais falls felt like something out of a fairytale. A stunningly picturesque pool with a tree growing in it, two waterfalls, perfect blue water and surrounded by jungle. It looked like a scene from a movie, almost too good to be true.
This is another waterfall deep in the interior of Cebu and is a bit off the tourist trail. You’ll walk for ten minutes along a river, through a palm grove and past a few houses before arriving at the falls. Its the first one we did in Cebu and had a lasting impression.
There is another level you can explore if you fancy climbing up the waterfall with a rope, but we were happy enough to stick to this beautiful scene.
Essential information about Cambais Falls
Entrance fee: 50 pesos ($1 USD) per person. Some kids may watch your bike for a small fee 😆
Opening hours: There doesn’t seem to be official opening times at Cambais, we arrived before 8am and there was no one in the ticket office. When we left just after 9.00am there was and we paid the entry fee then (the ticket stall is beside the falls after you have completed the walking trail).
Distance from Moalboal: 32 km, 1 hr.
Nearest town: Alegria.
Road condition: The road to Cambais is pretty windy and rural. It can be rough in sections, so take your time if you’re on a motorbike!
Walking trail: About 15 minutes along a largely flat dirt trail.
Guide required? No.
Tumalog Falls - The wow factor
Tumalog Falls is the second most popular waterfall in Cebu with many tours including Tumalog Falls with a trip to Oslob to see the whale sharks.
Tumalog is a long way away from any towns (apart from Oslob which isn’t a great place to hang out in our opinion), so you’ll probably have to include it on a long day trip from Moalboal or a shorter one from Santander or Samboan.
The journey to Tumalog immediately raises expectations as when you turn off the main road the last 3km goes into the hills with open views all the way.
After a five minute steep downhill walk from the motorbike parking area you come to Tumalog Falls, a place with a huge bright blue pool set against towering moss covered cliff! To say the scene is majestic is an understatement.
Its hard not to be impressed by Tumalog for its stunning blue water and epic scenery, but it isn’t one for swimming and is popular most of the day. The water is shallow but you can go for a wade or a power shower under the cascades.
Most people don’t stay very long but there is a steady stream of visitors so early morning or very late afternoon are best.
Essential Information about Tumalog Falls
Entrance Fee: 20 pesos (US $0.40) entry. Parking is 10 pesos.
Opening hours: Technically the falls are open from 7am to 5pm and at 4.45pm you will be told to leave. Having said that when we left just after 5pm the ticket staff had gone home so we could have stayed a little longer. I expect if you went earlier than 7am you would just walk in and then pay on your exit when ticket staff have arrived.
Distance from Moalboal: 82 km, 2 hours.
Nearest village: Oslob.
Road condition: the road up to Tumalog Falls is in good condition but is seriously steep! If you don’t fancy taking this on, you can hire a motorbike driver at the bottom of the road for 50 pesos ($1 USD) per person. If you are arriving by tricycle they can only get you as far as the turn off when you will have to use a motorbike taxi or walk for 3km (each way).
Walking trail: Assuming you are only walking from the motorbike parking area it is a very short but extremely steep paved walk to the falls. It takes around five minutes going down and longer on the way back up!
Guide required? No.
Aguinid Falls - Climbing 5 waterfalls
For a real adventure, head to Aguinid falls, where the only way to get to the top is to climb through 5 levels of this amazing waterfall! Guides are mandatory but they’ll ensure you get up to the top without any problems.
Before starting you can hire water shoes, dry bags (essential if you’re taking a camera, you will get very wet) and any other gear you need at the entrance. Then you’ll embark on the adventure!
The trickiest part is at level two where you’ll have to walk up a waterfall where the path is a smooth rock with footholes carved out of it, you’ll be aided by a rope. This section can be slippery and it is pretty steep as well!
Here is a full run down on exactly what to expect at each level of Aguinid Falls.
Essential information about Aguinid Falls
Entrance fee: 60 pesos per person (just over $1 USD). But you will have to tip your guides too, the amount is at your discretion. 10 pesos for parking.
Distance from Moalboal: 1 hour 17 mins, 56km.
Nearest village: Samboan.
Road Condition: Short dirt track from the main road. The dirt road is in pretty good condition but there are a few bumps along the way.
Walking trail: The walking trail is fairly easy for most people overall but I found the roped section at level two quite difficult and a bit more slippery than I was expecting. The whole walk is only around 20 minutes each way, add more time for swimming and photography.
Guide required? Yes. A minimum of two per group.
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Where to stay in Cebu
The good news is that Cebu is blessed with plenty of accommodation with decent mid-range options. If you fancy seeing a lot of the waterfalls on this list, you may want to consider staying in places like Samboan and Santander so that you won’t have to do multiple long journeys.
We don’t recommend staying in Cebu City, it is way too far from all the falls we’ve mentioned but as we know that people do make day trips from the city the best Western would be our hotel pick.
A better choice is Moalboal or Samboan depending on which falls you visit, we used both as bases in order to visit all the falls listed.
Cebu City - Best Western Plus Lex
The Best Western in Cebu offers hands down the most comfortable bed in Cebu! The rooms here are a decent size, very clean, fast wifi and a shower with pressure (a rarity in The Philippines). It is also in the heart of the city and only a 2 minute walk from some of the best shawerma we’ve ever eaten.
Moalboal - D’Gecko
The rooms at D’Gecko are everything you want - decent size, comfortable beds, clean and in a reasonably quiet area away from a busy road. You can hire a motorbike next door pretty cheaply and you’re only a 5 minute walk from everywhere to eat in Moalboal.
Just make sure you avoid the weekends. The huge party in Moalboal by the beach echoes through the corridors until 3am. However, I’m not sure where is quiet on a weekend here!
Santander - Watersports Resort
For peace and quiet in Cebu, it doesn’t get better than the Watersports Resort. This hotel is tucked down a dirt road off the main road and set right by the sea. The rooms are simple but have everything you need and are very clean. It is a great place for peace and quiet while exploring the southern end of Cebu.
You can hire a motorbike here, but it is more pricey than anywhere else.
Samboan - Fantasy Lodge
Tucked away in Samboan, Fantasy Lodge is a small place to stay but caters perfectly to everything you’ll need. The rooms are nicely furnished and cosy, with big comfortable beds. They also serve food on site which can be good, but can also really hit the mark (so choose wisely!).
Location wise it is perfect for visiting Aguinid Falls and Binalayan Falls as it is 10-15 minutes away.
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Are you planning a trip to Cebu? Have you been and have a recommendation for one we missed? Let us know in the comments below!