After Manila we took a flight to Cebu city, which is an island south of Manila (£32 per person one way including 20kg of luggage). The airport is Mactan Cebu International Airport. The best way to get around the Philippines is either by boat if the weather and schedule permits. The other option is flying, which is a bit more expensive but incredibly quick so it all depends on your budget and time constraints. We took a mixture of boats and flights throughout our trip around Philippines.
The low cost carriers around the Philippines include:
They always have promotions now and again and sometimes the fare can be dirt cheap so it’s worth looking back at their websites from time to time. The Philippines Airlines isn’t specifically a low cost carrier but prices are sometimes the same as Cebu Air.
Another thing to note is everytime you leave an airport you need to pay a ‘departure tax’. This could be anywhere from 400 Pesos to 1300 Pesos. However if you book your flights online you will likely have already paid the fees as part of your overall airfare.
Cebu city was a stopover for us so we could explore the southern tip around Boljoon and Oslob (whale sharks!). You can sightsee around Cebu city but it was very crowded and busy. There are a few churches nearby.
We stayed at Le Village Guesthouse and from there we took a taxi (70 pesos + 10 pesos entrance fee into the bus terminal?! – yes very bizarre). There are lots of buses departing and different types of buses. Some have no aircon whilst others have aircon. As it is not a lot more expensive we opted for the aircon bus as the journey was at least 3 and a half hours dependant on traffic. It does make stops on the way to drop off and pick up passengers. The fare was 120 Pesos.
At Boljoon we stayed at Noordzee hostel
on the main road. All the bus drivers know this place so you tell them you want to go there and they know when to drop you off. Boljoon is a really small town and we only stayed here for the hostel as there is only one in the area. It is a good location to go to see the whale sharks from here and less expensive than the hostel where the whale sharks are.
The clear waters around Cebu
Dorms began at 400 pesos each. Here is our review.
Here you can do the following activities:
Oslob town is famous for swimming with the whale sharks:
We arrived there early to avoid the crowds. We woke up at 5am
and got the bus at 5:30am
. There isn’t a bus timetable so you holla at a bus signposted for Oslob and tell them you are going to whale sharks. It takes around 30 minutes before you get off and head to one of the stands. For half an hour of snorkelling it is 1000 pesos which includes life jacket and snorkel equipment. There is also a 100 Pesos entrance fee. You then get on a boat to the briefing place where they tell you not to feed the sharks, to maintain a 4m distance and not to wear sunscreen etc
Swimming with Whale Sharks!
Then we headed out into the sea, which is not really that far. We swam with 3 of the whale sharks. Most of the time they were feeding as the fisherman would throw chunks of food for them. It was so surreal, there are huge around 12m long!! There’s nothing really to be scared about and we also hired a go pro, as mine had broken, for 500 Pesos which we shared amongst 3 of us. It’s amazing that this place has these gentle giants. When they open their mouths it feels like you might get sucked in!
Afterwards you can use the showers and the one and only toilet.
Lockers are also provided so bring a padlock to store your valuables before you head out as the all you will be taking is yourself and your waterproof camera and snorkel out with you.
We then decided to walk to the Tumalog Waterfalls, a 3 tiered waterfall that I had seen online and off we went. Just ask someone for the directions because it is not far. At first they may offer to give you a ride for a fee – 120 pesos but we decided to do it the backpackers way and walk it. The first part is fine and very flat, but then the road got steeper and steeper. 3km took us almost an hour and sucked the life of of us. One of us nearly gave up but we just kept pushing and thinking about swimming afterwards in the waterfall and pool. It did not disappoint and the water was so cold! Everyone was having a blast! We got some really nice pictures.
Freezing cold water
After swimming with whale sharks we heard about turtles on another nearby island so we headed out again for our next trip.