Seda: We are in Moalboal, Cebu, a divers’ heaven! This is a great place to get serious about diving, take regular diving lessons, get certified and go to more advance levels. Are you beginning to wonder what we are doing here since neither of us are into diving? Well, lucky for us that there is so much in this wonderful place we just didn’t know which activity to pick first! We started slow, me watching the sunset and Andy snorkelling… Then we had a visit to “White Beach” for a bit of a swim.
Canyoneering is the first group activity we tried. We got to the initial meeting point by a pink jeepney ride. When we were at the top, there was a quick briefing of do’s and don’ts. We were also told at this point our adventure would take 3 hours! Our 30 min hike finally begun then to get to the actual starting point. There was an opportunity to zip line to the start in 1.5 minutes and it was designed so that by paying for the high price of the zipline, you’d be carrying less weight in your wallet. No one took the easy option and we all walked. That was the moment we knew that we were in a good group!
Our canyoneering started off by going backwards head first over a slide with about a 3 metre drop into the water. What an exhilarating way to get going! The water was cold and people looked at each other with a “What the hell are we doing?” face as they surfaced. We continued swimming, sliding, hiking, crouching, squeezing and jumping. Soon we realized that the temperature was absolutely perfect for this activity. The water was lovely and when out of it, we dried off very quickly but no sweat, no humidity. Lovely!
We did several jumps gradually increasing to 8 and 10 metres. I loved the 8 meter one. Since we have no photos, you’ll have to trust me to describe it well to you! Our 3 guides were really jolly guys who knew this canyon like the back of their hand. They were absolute showmen and kept the energy levels high at all times with their songs, jokes and well planned little tricks. On this occasion, we stood at the edge of this 8 meter cliff facing one of the guides, our backs to the water. Every one of us took their turn to be pushed, playfully punched, kicked down to the water below and the rest took great pleasure in watching the action with massive laughter! I was pushed down with a kung-fu punch whilst Andy had a spartan kick. There are loads of videos on you tube for Kawasan falls canyoneering if you’d like to see more.
We were with a fantastic group of people, with constant laughter and chatter along the way. The 10 meter jump was very enjoyable and not scary at all. Our adrenaline levels ware very high as we arrived at the 12 meter jump where you’re supposed to run a few steps and jump! The problem was that you couldn’t actually see the water, so you’re jumping into the unknown! What could possibly go wrong? We thought it was scary but having turned into adrenaline junkeys at this point we both loved it.
The whole day led up to the biggest jump of the day – 15 meters! Once this simple task was completed we would have earned our lunch. We were told that anyone who refused the jump got no lunch and had to take their place in the “chicken wing”! Andy hesitated but didn’t back down, so we took our place amongst the team. All but one was there, pretty impressive! As we stood at the edge to jump, the water looked so far down, I couldn’t believe it. If I thought one more second I’d probably hesitate so I just went for it. What a feeling! Andy was after me so I got to watch him as well, crazy! Finding each other in the water, we felt rejuvenated!
We got to play Tarzan as well before lunch, a rope swing that you reach at the top of 3 steps and off you go to drop yourself in the middle of the water. We did this twice, it was great fun! Of course our lovely friend Connor who has kindly shared most of these photos taken by his GoPro camera, made the tarzan jump much cooler with a backflip. We all had to applaud in admiration!
Lunch was a lovely chicken dish with some rice, Michal kindly bought a bottle of rum and coke for us all to share. We were still high on adrenaline and needed to keep sugar levels up, that’s all and no other reason!
The organisation of the whole day was very good and at this point our guides thankfully didn’t expect us to walk much to go back as we were all pretty tired now the adrenaline had worn off. We finally got to see the wonderful Kawasan Falls before leaving which was fantastic.
There was a lovely pathway next to the river that took us back our bright pink jeepney, chatting and laughing with our new mates all the way.
It might be worth mentioning at this point that later that evening, we met all our friends again for a drink at their hostel which was round the corner from where we stayed. It was a lovely evening. I told them about the adventures of the karaoke king earlier as we were having lunch. Naturally, when they decided later on to go and have some karaoke fun, the king was ready to shine again!
Since we were hungry for more adrenaline, our island hopping tour was booked for the very next day. Even though our over 40s bodies were not happy to be on the go again, those beautiful turquoise waters soon revitalised us.
Would you believe that this was my first proper snorkelling experience? Andy helped me with it and showed me what to do. After all the necessities were completed such as getting assurance from the guides that they wash the mouthpieces with soap and water, I was ready!
This time nobody joined us and we had the boat to ourselves with 2 guides. Our first destination was Pescador Island to do some snorkelling around the coral reef. The underwater world is simply breathtaking. I was not expecting this much beauty. Andy described it like being in a garden centre and looking at all the colourful fish in the tanks. To me, what I’ve seen has just brought one of the Attenborough documentaries alive in front if my very eyes. Lots of tropical fish, amazing colours and coral. They are so undisturbed by admiring humans around them, just swimming in a serene tranquility.
Then our guides started to call us back saying they have spotted a whale shark! We swam back in a hurry all the while expecting this to be a joke. Turns out it wasn’t! There it was, this beautiful whale shark swimming not far from us at all and it wasn’t in a hurry. Just lingered there quite a while until we got a good look at it then gave us a wave and went to make other tourists smile!
Andy: As the crew took us to our next destination, we had massive smiles on our faces still not believing we had just seen a whale shark! The boats engine was very loud so we couldn’t really communicate all that well, but the constant smiles between us was a sure sign we’d just witnessed something very special.
There were no sea turtles in sight at first when we arrived at a known hot spot. Our guides were so amazing though as they soon spotted one and they quickly led us towards it at such a pace, we could hardly keep up. We eventually found one of these amazing creatures happily feeding at around a depth of 2 metres. Sea turtles are such beautiful animals and we couldn’t take our eyes of it as it was chomping on some sea grass. We then saw 3 together which was unbelievable. It felt a bit like we were ganging up on them as there were now about 6 of us in a circle, floating above them intently watching their every move.
Seda: The last part of our island hopping adventure was a chance to watch the sardines at Panagsama Beach very near to where we stayed. The sardines were not shy, so many of them in schools right under our feet. Occasionally one would turn the opposite direction and we loved catching a glimpse of their shiny silvery side.
As the rain started moving in, our guides took us closer to the shore and left. Andy and I simply stayed there in the water. Why not eh? We were wet and the sea was lovely and warm, just hang around there a little until our tummies started screaming for food. The good thing about Filipino eateries is that you can go and sit at any of them totally wet with dripping clothes! They even have menus covered with plastic. All good!
For our final watery activity, we took several buses to get to Oslob, in the south of Cebu island, where the area is known for whale shark watching. We spend the night there to be ready for our early start at 5am next morning. When we turned up at 5.45, there were already thousands of people before us but we weren’t deterred. As you see in the photos, people were taken out to the sea in boats holding about 15-20 people and every boat stays out there a good amount of time once people scatter around to watch the whale sharks.
There were already a couple of whale sharks swimming around us but annoyingly I was unable to get a good look because a group of ladies who could not swim were waving a lot of arms and legs around hopelessly and I was stuck around them. Swiftly changing positions, I had a good look at these amazing creatures.
It is an indescribable joy to swim next to whalesharks and if it wasn’t for a lovely couple from Indonesia, we would have no record of such a memory. Luthfi and his lovely girlfriend have kindly agreed to take our picture underwater using their GoPro camera. We are grateful to you both…!
Along with our stay with Mariand and her family, we had wonderful days in Cebu. As there are over seven thousand islands in Philippines, it might be time for us to see another one before we leave this wonderful country.