For a person who has the travel bug, a hectic week in Cebu City means a great outdoor activity on a weekend. Around midnight, I went directly to my abode, not to shrug-off the stressful week I had, but to get some of my travel essentials for a day of chasing waterfalls in south western part of Cebu.
At two in the morning, I found myself in a non-aircon bus bound to Bato Port in Santander, Cebu. Some hours were spent resting inside the bus and I got to appreciate the great morning when the sun started to invade that side of the bus. Munching two ensaimadas I bought from the terminal became my undemanding breakfast.
BINALAYAN AND AGUINID FALLS IN SAMBOAN, CEBU
A short trail to Binalayan Falls.
A peaceful town of Samboan greeted me while habal-habal drivers doing some morning conversations approached me. They offered their rates when they knew that my goal for that day was to visit their waterfalls. The offer is Php500 for Dao, Aguinid, and Binalayan Falls. I didn’t expect for that rate but when they told me that Dao Falls is far, I decided to exclude it on my visit and got a deal at Php200.
First tier of Binalayan Hidden Falls.
First destination on that Saturday morning was the Binalayan Falls, also known as the Hidden Falls. Php10 is being collected at the entrance and after that, the habal-habal traversed a course bordered by towering coconuts. A short trail led us to a basin perfect for summer dips with the first tier of falls that seems to be man-made.
The hidden Binalayan Falls of Samboan.
Accessing the flight of stairs brought me to the Hidden Falls. The falls is indeed hidden that without the sound of its cascading waters, you will be fooled by its existence. Binalayan Falls is around 47 feet high and flowing on 3 streams. I wasn’t in the mood for some early morning dip and didn’t spend much time in the area.
First level of Aguinid Falls with the basin at 4-feet.
Some parts of the short drive to Aguinid Falls offer a scenic view of the sea being sparkled by the morning sun. It was early in the morning but some groups of tourists were already exploring the five levels of the destination. Upon settling the environmental fee, they informed me not to bring anything because there’s a great chance of getting wet. Fortunately, I brought my action camera for me to take videos, and photos.
Second level of Aguinid Falls is part of the trail and makes some splashes.
The tourism office of Samboan ensures the safety of their visitors by providing 2 guides per group. It started with a short trek to the first tier with a small catch-basin at 4-ft deep. The second tier is part of the trail as you need to go up its slope with the cool water splashing on you.
Third tier is a nice spot to stop and enjoy the cool water gushing from the falls.
Third tier is like a rock formation similar to the ones in the caves of Sagada where you get to walk on its rough side. For the fourth one, the basin is a bit deep as per my guides so we opted to go on the side that led me to the last waterfall. With the rock’s shape, texture, and flow of water, it really reminds me of Sumaging Cave. The guides encouraged me to climb the rocks and let the force of the water massage my body. A nice reward for a stressful week I had.
The short trek led us to the fifth tier perfect for some water therapy massage.
After exploring Aguinid Falls, the habal-habal driver brought me back to the town center where I seized a tricycle bound to Ginatilan, the next town, to visit three waterfalls: Inambakan, Bugnawan, and Kampael.
INAMBAKAN, BUGNAWAN, AND KAMPAEL FALLS IN GINATILAN, CEBU
Locals again approached me immediately and asked where I was heading. I said Inambakan and they started to offer me their rates. I got a deal at Php100 for roundtrip transfers. Going to Inambakan Falls is actually hitting three birds with a single stone. Bugnawan and Kampael are actually on the upper tiers of Inambakan Falls.
Inambakan Falls that is around 100 feet in height.
The short drive from the provincial highway, traversing some residential area, also offers a scenic view of the mountains, as well as the sea. The driver advised me to just follow the trail going to the falls and mentioned that he’ll just fetch me after an hour. Descending a few steps on the flight of stairs, a woman yelled at me and on her hands were entrance tickets, I paid Php10.
“Naa’y guide padung sa falls?” I asked her if there’s a guide who’ll accompany me to the falls. Unfortunately, she just instructed me to follow the path. Again, I trusted my instinct. Few minutes later, I heard some voices that appeared to be enjoying the waterfalls. From a distant, I saw Inambakan Falls showering its abundant water from 100 feet above. I don’t know but every time I do visit a waterfall alone, I’m hesitant to take a dip.
Moving on, my search for the other two continued. A woman, being helped by his son on arranging some chips and junk foods, smiled at me and greeted “Maayong adlaw.” As a courtesy, I smiled back and replied the same words. I continued following the trail that I wished would bring me to the other falls.
Auspiciously, I became worried that I might get lost. I went back and asked for the directions. We got to a point that I asked the son to accompany me to the falls. After successfully climbing some steep slopes, the kid told me that the falls in front me is Bugnawan and the other one few meters upstream is Kampael. Two other kids were enjoying their morning swim in Kampael during our visit. After few minutes and tons of photos, we left the area.
St. Gregory the Great Parish Church.
It took some time before a bus passed by Ginatilan so while waiting, I was able to visit the church just across the road. Surprisingly, the baroque church, St. Gregory the Great Parish Church, Ginatilan, was built in 1829. A shrine dedicated to San Pedro Calungsod was also built on the side of the church.
KAWASAN FALLS IN BADIAN, CEBU
Php48 on an air-con bus brought me from Ginatilan to Badian, the home of the most famous waterfall in Cebu, Kawasan Falls. I was advised by a friend that locals offer visitors from the highway to avail a habal-habal ride to the falls. But eventually, you can also opt to walk. I chose to walk since it was only 12 noon and I was able to have lunch in one of the stops along the way. My decent lunch that day was 3 pieces of pork barbeque and 3 “puso”.
One of the wooden bridges to cross.
I continued my walk and the clear water flowing on the stream really impressed me; serene and sparkling. There are several bridges to cross and most of the time I saw teenage girls taking selfies to brag for a summer weekend they were enjoying. Some locals were also doing their weekend laundry on one part of the stream.
The first tier and the most photographed level of Kawasan Falls.
Few more steps, I was stunned by the crowded basin of the first tier of Kawasan Falls. The waterfall itself was not visible from the trail as colorful Micromatic umbrellas, shading herds of tourists, blocked the view. I managed to keep closer and found myself praising the waterfall for its magical turquoise water.
View of the first tier from a different angle.
A raft, that can occupy at most twenty people I guess, can be rented if you plan to enjoy the gushing waters from the falls. There were also several people jumping from the slope at the rear side. Visiting Kawasan Falls is probably an easy summer destination for most locals that resulted for a crowd during my visit.
Smaller tiers along the way.
From the first tier, I followed the flow of people going to the upper tiers. Foreigners were also present in the tourist destination but Koreans dominated them. Along the way, you can appreciate smaller tiers of waterfalls flowing into a catch-basin with water as clear as crystal.
Not sure what level is this but I prefer this part than the first one.
When I reached another tier which is significantly high, I stopped and took a rest. Crowd of tourists were still there and since the basin is not that deep, almost everyone was in the water. When I captured enough photos, I decided to leave and trekked back to the national highway to wait for a bus bound to Cebu City.
MANTAYUPAN FALLS IN BARILI, CEBU
I almost surrendered inside the bus and still undecided if I’m going to drop by Barili for Mantayupan Falls. I wasn’t able to react when I said Barili to the bus attendant. After purchasing 3 packs of Chicharon Carcar, I hailed a habal-habal to Mantayupan Falls.
I was faced with same scenario in Kawasan as tourists enjoying the summer heat crowded the basin. Some were swimming while most of them were having a feast on some food they brought. I didn’t appreciate the water in Mantayupan Falls but I didn’t know what made me decide to take a dip. Probably it was already a long day and body temperature needed to cool down a bit in the cold waters.
A day of chasing waterfalls ended in a bus going back to Cebu City. I wasn’t able to wait for an air conditioned bus so I settled beside the window of an ordinary bus and enjoyed the dusty yet fresh provincial wind. Mind and body almost shut down due to fatigue, sleeplessness, and an exhaustive day of chasing magnificent waterfalls in Southern Cebu.
PS. Aside from these waterfalls, other waterfalls in Southern Cebu are Tumalog Falls in Oslob, Dao Falls in Samboan, Montaneza Falls in Malabuyoc, and Cambais Falls in Alegria.