We weren’t very well prepared for our Philippines trip, as planning such a long journey (it’s our 8th month on the road already) isn’t always possible and we are also tired of it. Still, we had an amazing time on these islands and we we’ll come back, for sure.
We want to tell you what we did and how much time we needed, so you can plan better.
We arrived in Cebu city
Not the prettiest of cities, I’m sorry to say that. Just be careful with the taxi drivers – make sure you catch a WHITE taxi WITH taximeter and everything will be ok.
Cebu city to Panglao
This is a small island connected to Bohol by a bridge. There are regular ferries from Cebu city (2 hours and around 500 pesos + around 30-50 pesos of different fees) to Tagbilaran. You can catch a taxi to Panglao (around 600 pesos) from there.
Staying on Paglao
Panglao offers some nice hotels and also some cheaper options (apartments available). We tried both versions and it was quite nice. Alona beach is dotted with hundreds of boats which want to take you snorkelling. The beach itself is ok, but, as mentioned, full of boats.
Rent a scooter
We went by scooter (500 pesos per day) to the Chocolate hills (around 2 hour drive – don’t ask me how my bun hurt) and to the tarsiers sanctuary (50 pesos). These small little creatures are sooo cute, asleep for the most of the day, so have your camera ready when they open their eyes. 😉
Don’t worry about traffic – you just need to be careful in Tagbilaran, other roads are ok and not to crowded.
Ferry from Tagbilaran to Dumaguete (Negros island)
There are regular ferries, but try to catch the morning one. Dumaguete is again a not very appealing city, so move on further south. There are private properties as well as hotels on the coast.
We arranged a snorkelling trip to Apo island with Negros divers at Talata resort (no, we didn’t stay there) and because we were back already around 2PM, we could stay at the resort’s pool area. The snorkelling trip was 1000 pesos with all taxes, snorkelling gear and drinking water (and afternoon chilling at the resort). Snorkelling on Apo Island was one of the best snorkelling we have ever done. The reef life is abundant with sea turtles, corals, different types of fish. We also saw sea snakes. Back on the boat a huge group of dolphins “followed” us because they just wanted to get pictures taken, or so it seemed to us. 🙂
Dumaguete (Sibulan pier) to Lilo-an (Cebu island)
If you’re in a hurry, you can catch an evening ferry (not the same port as you arrived to Negros island) after your Apo trip, or stay another night on the coast and make it an easy morning. The ferry takes only about 30-45 minutes, 62 pesos, arriving at the southernmost tip of Cebu island.
Decide where you want to stay
From Lilo-an it’s about 30 minutes to Oslob (to swim with whale sharks), 1 hour to Kawasan falls and 1,5 hours to Moalboal. You can stay on the tip and drive around or you can move from hotel to hotel. We moved.
We didn’t book anything in advance and we had major problems finding a room. When we finally got one (in Oslob city), we went sightseeing. J A church, just a church. We found George, whit whom we arranged that he would take us to see the whale sharks and he guaranteed us, we would be in the first boat. His charge? 1300 pesos (just the swimming was 1000, the additional 300 was transport and arranging the headstart – sooo worth it). Although … we read about the ecological aspects of this attraction and we question it already.
Take the bus to Moalboal
A private taxi to Moalboal would be around 2000 pesos. Too much. So we decided to take the bus. We took a tricycle to the bus terminal, we waited for the bus for around 20 minutes, after almost 2 hours we were in Moalboal. We took a tricycle again to our hotel and then we calculated. 480 pesos for both of us and it wasn’t even that horrible. Sometimes cheaper isn’t necessarily harder. Woohoo – we just saved 1500 pesos. 🙂
Moalboal and search for the sardines
In Moalboal you can go to the white beach, which is nice and with a reef just of the beach (just don’t look at the garbage 😦 ). On the beach they will offer you boat trips to Pescador island and snorkelling with giant schools of sardines. We asked just for the sardines and they said, it’s far and they wanted 1200 pesos to take us there.
Luckily we went to Panagsama beach to see how it looks like and ask there, if they have snorkelling trips, we could join (and not carter our own boat). There we got the crucial information – you don’t have to go on a tour, just go to this beach, swim out (10 metres) and marvel at the schools of sardines. So don’t believe the boat-men, you can see the sardines swimming offshore 😉
We rented a scooter again and rode to the waterfall. Parking fee 50 pesos, entrance aprox. 50 pesos, if you want to have a table 300 pesos and bamboo raft again 300 pesos. You can walk and take pictures on the bamboo raft, but you have to pay if you want to float under the waterfall.
The fist waterfall is the biggest and busiest, the second (just 10 minutes’ walk uphill) is very quiet and the third, which is the end station for canyoneering (yes, this is how it’s called in the Philippines) is again busier.
From Moalboal you can again ride the yellow Ceres bus to Cebu city
Just wait on the main road in Moalboal (the tricycle drivers will drop you off there if you tell them, or you go to the bus station), hop on the bus and have fun watching the locals. 3 hours later you’ll be in Cebu city.
We are sorry, we didn’t prepare better, so we couldn’t ride up north to Malapascua island, where you can dive with thresher sharks. Next time 😉
It’s amazing how diverse Philippino marine life is and we were very happy and grateful we could experience it first-hand.