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For many it may seem quite difficult to plan a journey through the Philippines, as it’s such a multi-faceted place with so many things to do - an oasis with no ends. Of course, you can always just rest easy and pick two complementary cities, like Cebu and Moalboal, to explore. Cebu is a polished resort epicenter and Moalboal can be considered to be a diver's paradise. Scroll further and read everything below to learn what you need about the Filipino retreats and how to get between them.
Imagine an island that is almost 200 kilometers long, full of turquoise water beaches and white sand. That, folks, is Cebu. A top destination that will make you want to come back again and again. You definitely want to divide your time in the city and around the Island.
Before reading all the possible variations of R&R, keep in mind that the best time to visit Cebu would be from January to April. These are the driest and warmest months of the year. Since it’s a tropical climate, expect to encounter temperatures which are cemented between 24 and 30 degrees celsius.
Cebu city is underratedly ancient. If you want to take a rest from all the regular sea-side pursuits, make sure to find a guide and start from a place like the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu. This is a basilica which was erected in the mid-16th century, a relic of the Philippine’s Spanish-colonial past. Not only is the outside intricate and beautiful, but the inside is covered in frescoes which only resemble classical Spanish styles mixed with the local soul of the people.
In regards to age old traditions, one unmissable celebration in the Philippines has to be Christmastime. Filipinos take Christmas super seriously and Cebu is a great place to cement yourself between mid-December and January. Filipinos begin celebrating Christmas, actually, months in advance, with countdowns and dinners and tinsel in preparation. On Christmas eve, we really recommend to find yourself in places like Magellan’s Cross or the earlier mentioned Basilica to experience Christmas mass and see the thousands of Cebu-locals celebrate the brightest day of the year.
Beyond this, thousands of people flock to the islands in order to experience Filipino festivals. In Cebu City, in the winter months, you can find yourself in the middle of something called the Sinulog festival. This celebration is closely related to Christian traditions and leads to street parties which stretch into the night and extravagant parades. Thousands of people line the central streets in wondrous costumes (especially the one which the Sinulog Festival Queen wears) and dance until the sun rises again.
Beyond the extravaganzas, if you’re into diving, you’ve hit the mother-load because Cebu is famous for its diving sites. The waters are starkly ultramarine and the warmest you could imagine.
When planning a trip to Cebu consider packing your suitcase full of swim suits because diving should be a top priority. The Cebu Strait offers easy access beautiful resorts like the ones at Mactan. You won’t be able to tell where the sky meets the sea.
At the end of it all, hunger might strike; it’s especially important to keep hydrated and maintain a full belly after such action packed days. What’s there to eat in Cebu? Count yourself in for a wild ride, but delicious ride, with Filipino cuisine in this neck of the woods. Fruits like mangos, spices like Sichuan pepper, and meats like pork are common so make sure to gobble down the Bam-i noodles in one sitting.
Adventure is endless when in Cebu but it might be redundant to go on vacation and not take advantage of everything the surroundings have to offer. The Philippines are filled to the brim with experiences. All the opportunistic explorer needs is ample amounts of time. A very level headed decision to make after experiencing the warm, cultural traditions of Cebu city (and eating your way through them) would be to book a ride over to Moalboal.
The journey from Cebu to Moalboal is actually in high demand among explorers in this neck of the woods. Especially in early January, you may find yourself elbow to elbow in the most popular sightseeing spots.
Make sure to head out to the beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and islands in the early mornings. This way, you can soak in the sunrise and the cool breeze, without the long lines and artificial feelings. Due to all of these factors, it may end up being much more worthwhile to book your ride in advance.
There’s really only one way to get from Cebu to Moalboal, and that’s by booking a private vehicle. The option you choose depends on how big of a group you’re traveling with, but in general the amenities provided from both vehicles are quite similar.
If you’re making it to Moalboal with four people or less, consider a private car. These vehicles are oftentimes either sedans or SUVs and can take you to Moalboal in great comfort. The pick up location is the Cebu International airport.
It’s understandable that the quality most travelers look in service options is flexibility. Private vehicles provide just that. You can virtually depart at any time of the day from Cebu.
It’s about 85 km between the two cities, so the ride should last about three and a half to four hours. It might drag a little longer if you ask the driver to make pit stops or if you hit a bout of traffic.
Minivans are also available, but this option is mainly recommended if you are traveling with a large group (up to fourteen people). Suitcases usually multiply with every extra person. “What is the luggage allowance?” is a common question pondered.
Most minivans and cars allow for a 20 kg suitcase, along with a 7kg hand luggage. The 20kg bag could be a medium to large duffel bag or a standard carry-on suitcase. The piece of hand luggage can be a backpack or a purse.
Don’t be shy to ask the drivers about rest stops or ask for help when you need it, for example with loading the luggage into the vehicle or closing the windows if the draft gets too strong. Drivers are always super knowledgeable about the routes they take on and will fight traffic like it’s nobody’s business.
Moalboal is the perfect place to explore if you're all about diving. If you do a tour around the surrounding islands, you for sure will see huge schools of fish "making their way to class", twisting between the beautiful corals. Of course, due to the state of the coral reefs in our world, it's important to follow the instructions of your guides carefully when diving. Especially, do not touch or try to break off pieces of corals as they do not heal when damaged.
If you prefer staying above water, buy a fresh mango at the local markets and cut it open in front of the Kawasan falls. It’s a short ride from Moalboal, being much more accessible than traveling to see the cascade from Cebu.
There are a few things to keep in mind before sightseeing the most serene pieces of nature in the Philippines. Cash is a must, and in order to get in you’ll have to pay a 45 peso fee. It’s also highly recommended not to wear sneakers to the falls, as the whole trek will soak your feet. Invest in some water shoes or flip flops, depending on what difficulty kind of climbing you’re willing to commit to.
After all the recommendations, you must be interested in what the Kawasan falls actually are. It’s a reservoir south of Moalboal city, filled with the most dazzling blue-ish green waters you could imagine. This is the type of place you can pretend to be a mermaid, and maybe even start believing in the dream after a while.
If you want to avoid crowds with a passion, but still want a seaside vacation, that’s also no issue. There are tons of clean and vacant beaches, providing warm waters, soft sand and beautiful sunsets. Check out Panagsama beach or Lambug Beach.
The combination of exploring Cebu and Moalboal will give any traveler an overarching view of the Filipino beachside. The Central Visayan islands a truly jewels when it comes to all of the history and culture that they pack in such a small space. Book a private car or minivan and get between the two cities with ease, traversing the Cebu province in no time.