The Philippines has a never ending list of places to explore. In the Visayas region, Cebu, an island province is a testament to that.
After an hour of flight from Manila, you’ll be in Mactan, Cebu. That is, if your flight isn’t delayed which is not always the case. We took the Cebu Pacific flight to Cebu and it was delayed for 1.5 hrs. So we missed the opportunity to squeeze in a city tour.
Day 1– We arrived in Cebu at 3:00 pm and took the airport bus going to SM Cebu. This will definitely save you money. From SM Cebu, you can take the cab to your hotel. ;
We booked a night at the Tropical Hostel. It is a backpacker’s choice of accommodation it is one of the cheapest and most reasonable rate in Cebu City.
From the hostel there are available jeepneys going to different places in the city. 3A is going to Colon street, the oldest street in the Philippines, which has a resemblance to some of streets of Manila too. There is also a nearby 7-11 store to grab quick bites from.
Since our first day was wasted due to the delayed flight (I just realized that when doing itinerary for Philippine travel, you must add a contingency time), we decided to head to the Biggest Mall in Asia- the SM Seaside Cebu. But…another misadventure, we were drop off somewhere far from the mall. So, we just headed to Larsian. It is well-known place for grilled foods in Cebu city.
We were excited but ended up disappointed. This place needs a serious hygiene/sanitary check. It was jam-packed and we were asked to sit in the smelly corner but of course, my friend, Soleil said no. After waiting 10-15 mins, our grilled isaw, chicken, and her chorizo topped with sweet barbecue sauce came. I enjoyed the isaw paired with “puso”, their traditional rice wrapped in coconut leaf. Until…I saw the “uncooked” meat of the chicken barbecue we ordered. Thrice, we asked for them to grill it again; it was left uneaten. Never again will we eat at this place.
Day 2- It was 3:00 am in the morning, we rode the jeep going to South Bus terminal. After the two full buses, we were able to board and sit comfortably on the bus going to Oslob (route: Bato Barili). Three hours passed, we arrived at Aaron’s Resort and bought the ticket to the famous whale shark interaction in Oslob.
There were so many tourists from different parts of the world willing to wait for hours just to have that 30 minutes of swim with the gentle giants. Surely, their dollars will create a positive impact to the people in Oslob.
a must-know: the attraction closes at noon. So, make sure to be there as early as you can. A lot of people were disappointed when they closed down the ticketing as early at 10:00 am. Ticket for locals costs 50 php and for foreign tourists it costs 1000 php.
Of course, it is more wonderful to watch the whale sharks in their natural habitat. In Oslob, there is a boatman feeding the whale sharks and luring them to where the tourists are. I have yet to see and experience Donsol Sorsogon which is also famous for whale shark watching but unlike Oslob, they do not feed and lure the whale sharks.
Going to Moalboal- just 2 hours away from Oslob is the sleepy town of Moalboal. It’s a quiet town with a lot of friendly locals. What I like about Cebu are the locals! They are helpful without expecting anything in return. As a tourist, you wouldn’t want people to sell stuff to your face or push you to buy souvenirs; we never experienced this while in Cebu.
We booked in a resort called “T Breeze” located in Saavendra, close to Basdaku beach. It was hard to find and would require you to spend 200 php for a tricycle.
“All rooms are fully booked” the staff said. This is where the trouble started (which kind of ruined our smooth sailing vacation). “But we got a confirmation from Agoda” I insisted. I showed her my booking which I made 2 weeks ago but the staff said that there are no more available rooms for us. We got a refund and tried to look for other resorts in the area but only family rooms, costing 3000-5000 pesos are available. There’s no way we’ll pay for it! We have a budget and itinerary for this travel and spending that much for a room is not on our list. To cut the long story short,the owners of the resort let us stay in their stock room because we spent 3 hours looking for a place to stay and it was already dark. They were asking for 1000 pesos for that room which has no aircon, bathroom and shower. Of course, it was a “no way” for us so they gave it as complimentary (which should have been the case from the beginning). It was wasted time for us and money too because we didn’t get the chance to explore Moalboal because of this.
a must-know: Staying in Moalboal? Just find a resort close to the beach. The beach in Moalboal is not fine white sand but it is definitely a place of rich marine life.
Day 3 – Back to Oslob. To make up for the disappointment in Moalboal, we decided to go back to Oslob and visit Sumilon Island (or should I just say, sand bar?). If you’re not staying in the resort, you are only allowed to stay on the tiny sand bar in Sumilon island.
After an afternoon of swimming, we had late lunch at Big Jay’s restaurant. It was a surprising treat for me and my friend. Their food was amazing! I ordered beef steak and Soleil ordered Gambas.
On our last night in Cebu City, we stayed at Tr3ats, close to Fuente Osmena circle. Thankfully, our booking was not messed up again. I’ve never had an issue with Agoda except for that resort in Moalboal. If you’re on a shoestring budget, Tr3ats is a good place to stay compared to Tropical Hostel. It’s less crowded and quiet.
Before heading for dinner at Orange Brutus, we went to Shamrock store to buy “pasalubong”. Their “Otap” or puff pastry is a must try!
Day 4- On our last day in Cebu, we went to Magellan’s cross. It’s under construction so I was only able to take a peek.
The most memorable for me was our side trip to San Pedro Fort, a historical place in the Philippines. We asked for a tour guide but we got the curator instead! Looks like luck is turning for us. The curator, Albert Vestil, is an entertaining guide. You could feel his passion and love for his hometown, Cebu. He had a lot of stories about San Pedro since he grew up in the same neighborhood. I only have good words for this guy!
It is definitely a place worth the visit. You’ll be corrected about the facts you learned in school! Albert has a way of telling history without boring his audience.
Flight back to Manila, delayed! Why are you always delayed Cebu Pacific? 😦
Finally, we’re back in Manila at 6:00 pm but our original time of arrival is 3:35 pm.
Until our next Philippine travel!