We won’t go into much detail about our transition from Sri Lanka to Cebu, Philippines. It took us 1 tuk tuk, 1 train, 2 taxis and 3 flights (all on Air Asia), over 24 hours of time passed and four very bad meals. The only tip we can offer is when you land in Manilla and need to take a domestic flight to another island, the domestic terminal is on the same property but the only way there is a 20-40 minute taxi cab ride. It’s only about 2KM away but the traffic is horrible, the Aussie we met in line and shared a taxi with actually missed his connection because he did not know this either.
We stayed one night on Mactan Island, where the Cebu airport is so we could get some serious R&R.
When we were no longer traveling zombies we woke up and headed out of Mactan into Cebu City to pick up our motorbike (scooter). We took a jeepney to get there which is the popular mode of public transportation.
Jeepneys are old US army trucks that ore “up-cycled” with an open back and two long bench sets. They run specific routes and you just pass your money up to the driver and he changes it while he’s driving and passes it back. A short 5-10 minute ride is 8 pesos, or sixteen cents!
Nate loves to ride motorbikes when we travel, he has a lot of experience with them and really enjoys that type of transport. After the issues in Sri Lanka with public transport, we thought taking it into our hands might be a good thing! We picked up the bike at Ex Pat Services for $9USD per day with plans to drive around the southern half of the island over 6 days.
Before we continue reporting on our trip, we have to let you know our first impression of the Philippines. Locals are so nice, relaxed and welcoming. We were on such an edge after Sri Lanka we still thought that anyone who approached us wanted money from us or was trying to take advantage of us but after a few days in Cebu that mentality was thankfully washed away with the kindness of the Filipinos.
Our first destination on the bike was to the Central West side of Cebu Island called Maolbaol ” MwalBwal “. The first two hours of the drive were not great, we had hoped for more scenery but were mostly stuck in city traffic or on mundane highways. After we made our turn into the mountains it was more scenic. Central Maolbaol is very busy with locals filling the streets manning their street stalls selling food and random things. We drove past the Moalbaol hustle and towards the beach to our accommodations. The beach accommodations are where the tourists stay because they have restaurants, bars and dive shops located on either side of a narrow walking path along the beach.
We arrived around 5:30 pm and immediately jumped in the hotel pool and stayed there until it was dark. We then walked to The Last Filling Station, a restaurant that had good reviews. Since our last 24 hours had consisted of fast food in airports, we couldn’t wait for a good meal. The food was delicious as the reviews promised. Trip Advisor can be so spot on sometimes!
We ordered the calamari and adult beverages to kick off our night! We split the fish sweet and sour and the grilled fish sizzler. Right next to the restaurant, they had an activity sign up for Canyoning that piqued our interest. We checked out the information and decided to sign up for the next morning. They even gave us a lower rate than advertised without us negotiating. Love this place!
One Eyed Jacks has live music on Wednesdays and chairs that swing at the bar! We made friends with the local bartenders because it was pretty empty. We were desperate for socialization and they were nice enough to indulge us. After too many drinks we stumbled home for sleep before our big adventure canyoning.
The next morning we showed up at the canyoning post, paid our money and got in a jeepney with our fellow canyoneers. We took a 20 minute ride outside of MaolBaol and then jumped on the back of a bike that was waiting for us at the next stop. The motorbikes took us on a backroad for another 10 minutes to the first canyon jump.
They suit you up with a helmet and life vest and you need to wear either sneakers that drain well or hiking sandals. You also need to wear a bathing suit and a dryfit shirt and *bottoms.
*I recommend tight spandex because it interferes less with the safety gear and won’t need readjusting when you plunge into the water.
By the way, Canyoning means you are making your way down to the base of a waterfall by jumping from natural rock platform in pools of fresh water. We so wish we had photos of every jump to better explain but check our Instagram for the videos! Our first jump, which was an opening about 10ft between two canyon walls was about 15 feet high. Nate went first and I followed and it was exhilarating!!!
The water you land in is not warm but not cold, it feels good but the color of the waters are the most incredible variations of blues and teals. Our next jump could be elected and was about 40ft which we both did. The rest of the jumps that followed ranged from 5-25 feet along with with swimming in the waters and shooting down some natural slides.
The last jump of the day is at the end of Kawasan Falls, it measures 53 ft. Most of our group didn’t do it except Nate and his new found adventure buddy Eric, along with out two guides.
Our guide was an older man named Mario and his 16 year old nephew Justin. Justin was affectionately nicknamed Monkey Man by our group. This kid after showing us our path would run up the side walls of the canyons and back flip into the water or climb to a higher point in the trees and dive head first into the water. His speed and agility was so fun to watch and he enjoyed showing off!
After Nates 53ft plunge, he told me that besides Running with the Bulls, that jump might have been the scariest thing he has ever done. We both agreed that the entire tour was the most amazing adventure we have ever been on. Please go do it if you like this sort of thing. The max jump you have to do is probably 20 feet. The tour ended on the beach with a bbq and beers with our new tour friends and our guides Mario and Monkey Man.
We made plans to meet up with Zeek, a 68 year old dominator who did the tour with us.
He had a laptop with him and offered to let us look at our go pro videos from the day. We met up at Blue Abyss restaurant after a great bbq dinner of baby back ribs and shrimp.
The next morning, I relaxed by the pool while Nate walked our bike up to a mechanic. It didn’t start the night before so we had to have it looked at. He emailed the person we rented it from and they gave us the green light to get it fixed and they would reimburse us. $17 USD later, we had a working bike with a new spark plug and battery.
We attempted to get to the White Sand Beach nearby but after 3 attempts, we could not find it. We cut our losses and went back to the hotel pool until check out. We decided it would be smart to eat a snack before starting our journey further south, so we went back to The Last Filling Station for more of their coconut crusted calamari! After that snack, we were off to a new town called Santander, about two hours South. About 30 mins into our drive, I felt a putter on the engine, which made me say out loud, “don’t we need to get gas soon?” Famous last words, because our bike stopped right then and there, quickly followed by an uncharacteristic loud expletive out of Nate’s mouth.
Stay tuned for Cebu: Motorcycle Diaries Part 2