Travelling to the Philippines was a very last minute decision for Kyle and I as we were planning to leave Thailand. We knew we would be stretching our budget with this decision but it was a place I've wanted to visit for a long time now. Our first stop would be the island of Cebu, where we had plans to see some famously photographed waterfalls and swim with the whale sharks!
We touched down in Cebu at a the gruelling hour of 1am & had to wait around till morning to grab a taxi 3 hours south to MoalBoal to meet up our close friends. Having to experience the very ugly side of travelling, Kyle and I spent the first 6 hours here sleeping outside the airport desperately clutching our bags so that nobody stole our stuff whilst we were asleep. It was a real low point. Especially after an overnight flight! Agh! But that definitely didn't get out spirits down - we were in the Philippines after all. Little did we know how much this country had in stall for us.
We spent the next 3 nights in MoalBoal exploring its surroundings & getting acquainted with the Phillipino way of life. The island vibes here are something else! Palm trees everywhere you look, fairytale turquoise waterfalls, white sandy beaches, tropical fruit stands & lots of smiling laughing kids. The locals in the Philippines are the nicest people I've ever met. The kids literally smile and yell hello at you every time you ride past chasing you down the street desperately trying to give you a high five. Ah I'm literally smiling so hard right now thinking about it.
Our first morning there we visited the famous Kawasan Falls, a place I've dreamt of seeing/photographing for a long time! Here awaits a jungle paradise of cascading turquoise waterfalls & bamboo rafts that you can drift along on under the waterfall. They say that these falls are super 'touristic' which seems bizarre to me because we had the whole thing to ourselves until 9am - and even then only a few people turned up. Nothing like visiting a European waterfall thats for sure haha! Maybe we just visited out of season. I would recommend arriving early in the morning for the best photos :P
This is actually the first waterfall out of three that are also found along this path if you venture a little further up. Although this is the most dramatic waterfall out of them all, the other two are definitely worth checking out. The furthest one I also really really loved as it also had a bamboo raft and a rope swing into the water. The whole setting just felt like we were living the real life Jungle Book.
Not only are there magical cascading waterfalls, Moalboal has pristine white sand beaches which can be explored by bike as well. One day we just decided to take a dirt road towards the beach and ended up discovering a small secluded beach with glistening light blue water. We had the whole beach to ourselves! I would love to share the location but I honestly could not tell you where it was! Make sure you check out Basdaku White Sand beach also :)
When it comes to eating out in Cebu your options are greatly limited. Probably one of the worst destinations food wise if you are vegetarian or vegan, or even just a healthy eater. We luckily had access to a kitchen where we cooked our own meals each night with groceries we bought at the local supermarket and fruit and veg market. You can purchase loads of fruit and veg from markets on the side of the road, or night markets which also sell fish and poultry. Local markets are also one of my favourite places to experience the local culture & people. I honestly love the hustle and bustle of markets & witnessing the exchange and conversion between the local people & all the laughing energetic kids running around with the biggest smiles on their faces.
From Moalboal we organised a private mini van to take all of us to Oslob where had already organised an Airbnb for our two night stay. The journey from Moalboal to Oslob only takes 2.5 hours where the road goes right along the coastline making it a super scenic and enjoyable journey. Organising a minivan is super easy, just ask the owners of the place you're staying and they will arrange it all for you. When we arrived to our Airbnb we were greeted with 5 small adorable puppies that we played with for the next hour or so taking pictures and cuddling them. Omg they were literally the cutest most placid dogs ever, we wanted to keep them forever.
The main reason for visiting Oslob was to swim with the whale sharks! Although it can be one of the best experiences of your life, this popular activity is seen by a lot of people has unethical & a morally wrong activity. The reason behind this is because the locals feed them all your round to attract them to stay in the same spot for tourists to come and swim with them. They shouldn't be fed by humans every single day as they forget how to hunt for themselves and migrate elsewhere to breed. At that time, we didn't know any of these facts, & actually believed from what we witnessed first hand whilst swimming with them was that they seemed very calm and relaxed with our presence with no sign of any distressed behaviour. I do believe though that they allow to many tourists in the water at once and should probably limit the amount of visitors per day. Other than that the experience was unreal and like no other! Swimming with such giant beautiful creatures underwater felt so unbelievably surreal, I wasn on an all time high. If I were to return I would only now choose to swim with them in the on season where they will naturally migrate to an area & not led in by a mass feeding from the locals.
Another highlight whilst visiting Oslob were the Tumalog Waterfalls. It was like a scene out of Ferngully! My all time favourite childhood movie :P The falling water almost looked like fairy dust with the sunlight shining down giving it this glistening sparkle. It is really centrally located off a small road that leads you through the most luscious jungle surroundings. Cebu was definitely the island with the most scenic waterfalls.
Such an amazing beginning to a month long journey through this incredible country. Next stop - Siquijor! Blog post coming soon.