Last edit: February 2023 | I included a frequently asked questions section at the bottom of this South Cebu Tourist Spots | Things to Do in South Cebu post. If you got a question, fill free to leave a comment below. I check my blog all the time and answer questions. If you’re coming from abroad, make sure you meet all the travel requirements for the Philippines in 2023. Jump to the top South Cebu Tourist Spots for first-time visitors if you wanna skip my thought meanderings.
Where to Stay in South Cebu?
No doubt, for convenince, it is Oslob and Moalboal. But if you ask me personally, my bias is Moalboal.
The best place to stay for family or group in Oslob: Susada’s Inn
The best place to stay for couple in Oslob: Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort
The best place to stay for a solo traveler in Oslob: GT Seaside Inn
The best place to sty for couple in Moalboal: Hale Manna Coastal Gardens
The best place to stay for family or group in Moalboal: Quo Vadis Dive Resort
The best place to stay for a solo traveler in Moalboal: PIG DIVE HOSTEL MOALBOAL
I have lived all my life here in Cebu. It is the Point A for all destinations I have been to. It is where I live. It is the place I often leave. But it is also my point of departure, the point I return to.
In Cebu, my midweek affair is down south [ READ: 20 Southern Cebu Beaches; but my weekend lover is up north: Malapascua. But even though I constantly travel around Cebu, I cannot claim I know these places well, because they keep on changing, especially to meet the demands of the burgeoning number of travelers and I do not know if I should be happy for that or what. I am happy that more locals can travel around, but I am alarmed as well for its possible ecological impact. So here is my ultimate southern Cebu guide, encompassing all towns and cities. Yes, beaches, waterfalls, old churches. Yes, you can freely break this. I would love you to not follow these. I would love you to follow your own gut.
And if you got a diving license, diving in Moalboal is a must!
You can experience Cebu City through the eyes of a local. I know you have the urge to leave Cebu City as soon as you arrived in this congested place. But I highly recommend that you spare a night or two in the city. Cebu City is a creative city. I spent fifteen years living in the second largest city of the country. I wrote my Cebu City Travel Guide in case you’re wondering what to do in the city. Of course, this is a perspective of a local who spent fifteen years living there. | Looking for a place to stay in Cebu City? Chick HERE |
South Cebu, with its proximity to the city and its varied natural landscapes, has become one of the must-experience in the country. Understand that south Cebu or southern Cebu is composed of several municipalities, the most famous are Oslob, Dalaguete, Badian, and Moalboal.
It does not mean other municipalities do not have anything to offer. Rather, each town in south Cebu has a lot to offer!
Truth be told, southern Cebu remains one of my favorite destinations. The via Oslob route for one has a highway constantly hugging the sea. The view from the bus window never fails to make me feel awed and wowed.
Southern Cebu has two routes: via Oslob and via Barili. via Oslob passes through Dalaguete (Osmeña Peak) and Oslob (Whale sharks) and via Barili passes through Moalboal (sardine run and turtles) and Badian (Kawasan canyoneering). So decide which south Cebu tourist spots do you want to experience first. If your main purposes are canyoneering in Kawasan, the sardine run in Moalboal, and whale sharks in Oslob (I do not really recommend the whaleshark practices in Oslob), another and nearer possible point of entry is Dumaguete, which is a lot nearer to southern Cebu.
From Dumaguete airport, ride a tricycle to Sibulan port and ferry your way to Liloan, Santander—the tail of Cebu. From there, bus to Oslob or Badian or Moalboal. You will save a lot of time this way. And you can sneak in a day trip to Apo Island and even include a trip to Siquijor island.
Cebuanos are very proud of our Cebuano roots. We are masters of code-switching as well. The old ones can speak straight Cebuano, but the young ones often pepper their sentences with English phrases. The young city natives can chatter on end in English. Cebuanos are trilingual by birth, by geopolitical coincidence. Tagalog and English are the languages of TV. Parents speak English and Cebuano. Most subjects at school are taught in English. So the people from Manila, the capital city, cannot understand us, but we can understand them. When they talk to us in Tagalog, we reply in English. They find us snotty for doing so. But our spoken Tagalog is as thick as Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence.
From my Cebu Travel Guide
Locals from southern Cebu has a certain accent. They can easily spot Cebuanos from the city with our way of talking. They talk with a certain cadence and they don’t clip their words, say, we say “bay” and they say “balay.” Balay means house.
There is no Cebuano equivalent for hi and hello. Cebuanos love using “hoy” as a casual way of calling someone your age. You can’t use it to someone way older than you though, it can be misconstrued as disrespectful.
Aside from hi or hello, we use greetings depending on the time of the day. This is still widely used in the countryside.
Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good noon – Maayong udto
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
How much is this? – Tagpila ni?
Where is the ______ – Asa ang _____
It is so delicious! – Kalami oy!
Thank you very much! – Daghang salamat!
The first 6 destinations are located in the via Barili route. You can day trip Oslob and Sumilon Island from Moalboal. Or, what I usually did back then, round the entire south Cebu. Say, I would stay 3 nights in Moalboal and explore the first five of this list, and then stay a night or two in Oslob.
Nestled in the heart of Barili, Mantayupan Falls is a true natural wonder that will take your breath away. The falls stand at a staggering height of 98 feet and cascade down into a tranquil pool below. Surrounded by lush vegetation and towering trees, the falls offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a dip in the cool waters, relax on the rocky banks, or simply bask in the beauty of this natural wonder. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the rainbow that often appears in the mist of the falls. So, what are you waiting for? Make Mantayupan Falls your next adventure!
Moalboal Sardine Run. Photo by @run.away_mermaid
Looking for a triple treat of adventure, relaxation, and natural wonder? Look no further than Moalboal’s sardine run, Pescador Island, Panagsama Beach, and white beach. Dive into the deep blue and witness the spectacle of millions of sardines swimming in unison, creating a dazzling display of aquatic acrobatics that will take your breath away.
Then, head over to Pescador Island, where you’ll explore stunning coral formations and swim alongside sea turtles and colorful schools of fish. And if that’s not enough, unwind and soak up the sun on Moalboal’s white beach, where crystal-clear waters and powder-soft sand make for the perfect beach getaway. So what are you waiting for? Get ready to dive in and discover the best of Moalboal and tag me on Instagram @jonajournals so I can live through you. 😛
Get ready to take the plunge and experience the ultimate rush with Kawasan Canyoneering in south Cebu! This adrenaline-fueled activity is not for the faint of heart, as you’ll be cliff jumping, rappelling, and swimming your way through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Philippines. From crystal-clear pools to rushing waterfalls, every step of the way is an adventure waiting to happen.
If you got some more time, squeeze in a lounge at Lambug Beach.
Looking for a waterfall that’s a hidden gem? Look no further than Inambakan Falls in Ginatilan! This breathtaking beauty is tucked away in a lush jungle and requires a bit of a trek to get there, but trust us – it’s totally worth it. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a stunning cascade of water plunging into a crystal-clear pool. It’s the perfect spot for a refreshing swim or a picnic with friends. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even climb up the falls and take a daring leap into the water below.
Samboan, a small town in the southern part of Cebu, is home to not just one, not two, but three stunning waterfalls that will leave you mesmerized. The trio includes the multi-tiered Aguinid Falls, the majestic Binalayan Falls, and the picturesque Dao Falls.
These waterfalls are not just any ordinary falls – they offer an exhilarating experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and energized. Each waterfall has its own unique charm, and together they form a trifecta of natural wonder that will make you feel like you’re in some sort of fairytale core, but the amount of tourists will really stop you from thinking so.
If we were friends back then, I could have tagged you along, so you can experience these places before the crowd find them. Yes, I’m a trailblazer. Joke, my friends are. I just tagged along. 😛
So, anyway, pack your bags and get ready for a journey that will make your heart skip a beat and your Instagram feed explode with envy!
Pebble Beach, where the sand is replaced by smooth stones and the vibe is laid-back and chill. This little gem in Santander, Cebu was my favorite beach in Cebu. It offers a unique beach experience where you can sink your toes into smooth, pebble-like stones instead of the typical sandy shores. But don’t worry – these stones won’t hurt your feet, they’ll actually give you a relaxing foot massage as you stroll along the shore. And the view? It’s simply unbeatable. With a stunning vista of Dumaguete and the majestic mountain ranges of Negros Island, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.
LOCAL TIP: Be careful with the current. Since the tunnel is quite narrow, the current in this area is strong. The area is called Liloan for a reason. Lilo in Cebuano means whirlpool. This beach is right next to Liloan port.
Rise to the top and take in the breathtaking views of South Cebu from Osmeña Peak, one of the region’s top tourist spots. At over 1,000 meters above sea level, the peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and coastline, making it the perfect destination for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even camp overnight and witness a stunning sunrise over the horizon. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to conquer Osmeña Peak – it’s a trek you won’t soon forget!
LOCAL TIP: If you got sturdy legs and have more time to explore Cebu, try trekking from Osmeña Peak to Kawasan Falls. I did it a lot of times back then, and still one of the highlights in my travel life in Cebu. Don’t do it alone. You won’t know the way. Hire a guide. Message me on Instagram if you need one, I can tap some friends.
Oslob is not the only place where you can swim with the gentle giants of the sea—the whale sharks—by the way. But sure, these magnificent creatures are truly awe-inspiring, and getting up close and personal with them is an experience you’ll never forget.
And when you’re ready to dry off, head over to Tumalog Falls for a refreshing dip in its cool waters. The falls are a picture-perfect paradise (when there’s no drought), with a curtain of water cascading down into a serene pool below. So, grab your snorkel and your swimsuit, and get ready to make a splash with the whale sharks and Tumalog Falls in Oslob!
This little slice of heaven offers crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand beaches, and breathtaking views that will leave you speechless. Take a dip in the ocean and discover a colorful world of marine life, including coral gardens and schools of fish. Or, simply bask in the sun and relax on the sand with a refreshing drink in hand. And when the day is done, catch a glimpse of the island’s famous sunset and sand bar.
LOCAL TIP: There is only one resort on the island, the gorgeous Bluewater Sumilon, if you got some mullah and want to be pampered to bits, stay here. It’s a gorgeous gorgeous place.
There you go, folks, 9 of the 20-somethings tourist spots in south Cebu. It’s safe to say that you can experience all of these with 3N4D itinerary. If you want to explore some less known south Cebu tourist spots, check out the rest of this meandering post.
Let it sink in your mind that Cebu is an elongated island with the head and the tail closer to its neighboring islands than to its own capital city. South Cebu, fingers crossed trafficless, takes fours hours from the city if you use the public transportation. It is a different story if you book a private car.
IMPORTANT: South Cebu has two routes via Barili and via Oslob. These routes are plastered by the bus driver’s seat. So don’t confuse the two. If you are going to Moalboal and Kawasan Falls, you take the via Barili bus. If you’re going to Osmeña Peak or swim with the whale sharks, you take the via Oslob bus.
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WHERE TO STAY IN DUMAGUETE | WHERE TO STAY IN OSLOB | WHERE TO STAY IN BADIAN | WHERE TO STAY IN MOALBOAL |
South Bus Terminal, located near downtown Cebu, houses the buses bound for down south except for the bus to Tuburan (my hometown) via Toledo, which is more popularly serviced in North Bus Terminal, where buses for up north [Danao, Bantayan Island, and Malapascua] are. When you are taking the bus, at the south bus terminal, buses are marked by via Oslob and via Barili.
In the photo, it is marked with teal color.
An hour away or so from the city, it has beautiful centuries-old trees that canopied the highway. You might want to have a quick stop in Perrelos, Carcar to check the trees out. This is before the rotunda that separates the two routes to southern Cebu. It is known for its heritage houses from the Spanish and American period, even its museum is housed in a restored old hospital for kids. My favorite is the market by the rotunda, because Carcar, for me, has the best lechon! So you might want to have a quick stop here for some serious binge-eating and yes, chicharon.
It is a religious site for most Filipinos. Simala, Sibonga is a spiritual destination, a pilgrimage site for those who ask help from God or thank him for his help. This is a popular destination for those who are going to take licensure exams and the like. But aside from that, I do not really know much about this quiet town.
It has a well-manicured square and a beautiful old church. I have heard about a public beach too though I have not been there except for that unusual occasion when a poet friend and I randomly drove to Carcar to eat lechon and gossip by a random beach in Argao.
It is the vegetable basket in Cebu, is the jump-off point for the popular Osmena Peak. Often, for travelers pressed for time start their adventure here.
It is often my first stop when I round the whole south. Tingko Beach can be a prelude to your Oslob adventure. It is a beautiful white-sand beach. You can stay for hours for free, but it can be really hot. What I do usually is leave at 4:30 in the morning and wait for the sunrise in Tingko Beach.
What I love about Tingko is not its white-sand coast and crystal waters—which can be a cliché when you go beaching all the time in Cebu—rather its communal act of fishing. Locals gather and exchange banter as they drag their net ashore and laugh regardless of their catch.
QUICK TIP! Advanced snorkelers or freedivers, bring your own gear since there is no equipment that can be rented. Tingko Beach has a drop that can be a good place to test your lungs. [READ: Affordable and Practical Gifts to Travelers]
It is roughly fifteen minutes away from Tingko. What distinguishes Boljoon from other Cebu towns is its boulevard. It is squeezed between a rocky hill and the sea. It is a sexy curve that forces the bus to slow down and provides the passengers an unrestricted view of its plaza and Nuestra Señora de Patrocino Parish—one of the oldest churches in Cebu.
It is alarmingly getting more and more popular. Just you know, I do not support the way sharks are treated. It is ecologically unethical. I have been there, yes, to accompany some guests and friends. There is a briefing on the right interaction with the gentle giants, but some fishermen would encourage the guests to touch or play with them, on top of that, the giants are fed, so they would stay and stay longer. It means money. Some staff are so haughty, saying you could never find sharks so near the beach anywhere the Philippines. So it depends on you if you want to go or not. I am proud to say that although I live in Cebu, and Oslob is just three hours away, I had my first whaleshark interaction in Donsol.
NOTE: If you’re crammed with time but want to experience this.
Coincidence brought me to this beach. It was one of those moments when I—together with a friend—randomly hopped on a bus without a specific destination in mind. Such longing brought us to Cebu’s tail: Liloan, Santander.
[READ: Cebu’s Tail: Santander]
It is one of the beaches where I snorkeled and swam for hours without entertaining thoughts of SPF, sunburn, and whirlpools with locals who thought a heartbreak brought us in Liloan. No, it was love: the love to wander. And since then, I keep coming back here. No fellow wanderers. Just locals who have the waves as their afternoon lullabies.
NOTE: via BARILI is a longer route than via Oslob. It is the route you must take if you want to go directly to Moalboal or Kawasan Falls for your canyoneering activity.
When I started traveling with a friend, this was our first destination. Some years ago, I called this project townhopping, which is quite popular nowadays—skewering two or three towns in one go.
DUMANJUG is largely unexplored, and I myself have not really been around except for that sole moment when I ferried from Guihulngan, Negros Orienental. But once I had a prenuptial shoot—yes, I take romantic photos to fund my travel—outside Dumanjug’s church. It is one of the many beautiful old churches in Cebu.
These I have not been to.
Via Barili, often this is my first stop. This is also one of my midweek destinations. There are two popular beaches here in Moalboal. Panagsama Beach (also called Bas Diot) is a popular snorkeling destination where you can find the famed sardine run. Nearby is Pescador Island, a famous diving spot. Bas Daku [30 pesos habal-habal ride away] is another beach known for its stretch of white-sand splendor.
You can stay here in Moalboal and just have a quick trip to Kawasan Falls, which is in the neighboring Badian.
Pescadores Seaview Suites Moalboal (Highly Recommended)
Quo Vadis Dive Resort, Moalboal (Highly Recommended)
The Blue Orchid Resort
T Breeze Coastal Resort
Tipolo Beach Resort
Kasai Village Dive Resort (Highly Recommended)
Native House Resort
Harman Suites Moalboal
Kawasan Falls—the river I found the most adorable in Cebu—makes Badian popular. This has become popular for downstreaming/canyoneering. The jump-off actually is in Alegria, the town next to it. If you are in a budget, you can still enjoy this place and trek to Kawasan’s watersource, where Kanlaob River (the actual place where canyoneering happens) starts.
The first falls is the most crowded, so if you like some quietude, head to the small waterfalls tucked between the first and secondhand waterfalls or trek to the source. It is just 10-minutes away from the second falls. There is a huge lagoon there, and a natural Jacuzzi that you can enjoy.
[READ: Kanlaob: Beyond Kawasan ]
My affairs with Cebu start with mountains. So I learned about Alegria through its challengingly amazing Mt. Lanaya: perhaps the most adventurous trek I ever had in Cebu. But nowadays, it is becoming more and more popular as the starting point of the famed canyoneering activity. But Alegria has more to offer.
Interestingly, Malabuyoc is not as popular as Kanlaob when in fact its Montañeza Falls has challenging boulders fit for downstreaming and upstreaming. And at the starting point is a hot spring right in the middle of the river. Quite unusual but it is real.
It has been awhile since I went there. I have heard they put ladders on the challenging parts. That kills the fun, if you ask me.
When I look for beach stories, I travel on weekends. But when I long for momentary solitude, I wander on weekdays. Palanas falls on the latter. It greeted us with similar Santander waters There were no locals in sight except for a passing frozen fruit salad vendor who shared the beach’s name.
While my companion shed her clothes and confidently took a dip in her bikini, I read Pico Iyer’s Falling off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World.
With the waves’ endless voyage to the shore and the sun setting, Palanas sounds and looks solitary, not lonely. But it was a narrow beach meant for a weekday.
It was the falls—not the sea—that brought me to Samboan. This southern town has three of the most refreshing yet unknown falls to many in the province: Dao Falls, Aguinid Falls, and Binalayan Falls
We trailed a fall down, and it unsurprisingly led us to a sea blanketed with white pebbles. Not far from the shore, a fellow wanderer who had been there shared that Samboan has a rich marine paradise for the curious. Too bad, I forgot to bring my goggles. During our short visit, it was rather quite. Nobody was around except my fellow climbers and an angling local boy. That’s one of the rewards of dipping in an untouristed sea: it becomes momentarily yours.
I know we see traveling an escapist, enjoy-the-now moment. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, fellow nomads, let us travel responsibly. Snorkel without touching the corals. Wander beaches with trash tucked in the bag’s side pockets. Drink alcohol if you must, but leave the place with your trash. Go home without any guilt. Leave no trace. Trace memories instead.
Enjoy. But be responsible.
Yes, there are, but not all municipalities have them. Major hubs such as Moalboal, Carcar, and Argao have ATMs. But be reminded southern Cebu is a countryside at its core. So it is for the better for you to withdraw cash in the city before everything goes south. Pun intended. 😛
Now, this is a tricky question. Without the flights, it is safe to say you’re going to shell out at least Php2500 if you have Kawasan canyoneering activities and whalewatching in Oslob. But except for these two, most places in southern Cebu are affordable.
If you ask me, no, two days is too short. You will end stressed instead of enjoying your trip. To cover the so-called must-dos, you need at least three days. The usual destinations down south are Osmena Peak in Dalaguete, whalewatching in Dalaguete, canyoneering in Alegria and Badian, and snorkeling and beaching in Moalboal.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport is 40-minutes away (no-peak hours) from Cebu City. Some friends living in Lapu-lapu City (also called Mactan) find their place a cursed land. The traffic can be crazy especially in Mandaue, the city between Lapu-lapu City and Cebu City. So when you book your flights, it is advisable to have your arrival in Mactan early in the morning or late at night or travel on weekends, or between rush hour, so you do not have to combat against the commuting public. No, our traffic is not as crazy as Manila, but we are on our way to becoming one. So, be cautious, especially on your way back to the airport. If you are bunk for the night in Cebu City, leave your hotel about 2 ½ hours or earlier, especially if your flight falls sometime after rush hours.
And if you feel extra grateful and generous for this 3000-word south Cebu travel guide [if you read it this far!], why not buy me a cup of coffee, or beer, or a good meal.