One of the smaller waterfalls at Kawasan.
NOTE: My SD camera card messed up, so I lost a bunch of photos of the trip. My GoPro videos on the trip capture a good amount of it, and you can see the vids embedded at the end of this post. Thanks.
One of the (many) great things about living in the Philippines is the ability to travel about the islands at will. With it’s extensive network of short hop flight specials (Cebu Pacific’s specials in particular), ferries (both passenger and RO-RO), and buses, exploring the islands is very easy and cheap. I have been here for a little while and continue to be befuddled by the number of expats who have not taken advantage of the opportunity to travel around the country. The Philippines is just too beautiful a place not to see!
Google Maps is your friend…….
Last week – having an acute case of itchy feet – I decided to head up to Moalboal on the west coast of Cebu. I had heard that there was some pretty good snorkeling up there and that the western national road on Cebu was a pretty stunning ride, and seeing as it was a 154 KM round trip, I decided to make it a day trip, thus saving me the (negligible) costs of staying at a hotel. I looked over the map on Google, put my gear together, and hit the rack. I woke up at 430 AM, woofed down a quick breakfast of boiled eggs, loaded up the YBR and cruised into the sunrise (and worrisome storm clouds) to the nearby port town of Sibulan. After refreshing myself with a delicious cup of Nescafe 3 in 1 coffee, I rode my bike onto the 6 AM RO-RO ferry (the trusty if rather decrepit LCT-Martin), which makes hourly runs between Sibulan and the town of Santander on Cebu island. The 9 KM trip across the Tanlon Strait was uneventful. The looming clouds were slowly dispersing and I kept my eyes peeled for dolphins which sometimes cut across the bow for a free and very entertaining ride. Alas, no dolphins, but it was still a very peaceful and relaxing start to the day. And as always, it was always a sublime pleasure to stand on the fantail and watch the volcanic Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros – Nearby Mt. Talinis among them) loom over the receding shores of my home island.
Ro-Ro crossing Tanlon Strait
Ferry pilot house – rice cooker out of frame…….
Once I got the bike off the RO-RO, I donned my helmet and hit the road. It was only around 7 AM, and the temperature was still in the high 70’s – perfect riding weather. What I had heard about the scenery along Cebus’s western national road was true. Even though it was overcast, with an occasional very short shower, the ride along the coast was frikken awesome. A good portion of it is right along the ocean, and the scenery was just amazing.
Smokey morning at Sibulan – right out of Apocalypse Now (which was filmed in the Phils)…..
I stopped at some little town about 30 KM’s up the coast and invigorated myself with a breakfast pastry and another cup of 3 in 1. In the more provincial portions of the Philippines, pedicabs (bike powered tricylcles) are much more prevalent than their motorized relatives, and the dudes (and gals) propelling them sported some pretty massive quadriceps. Then again, I saw quite a few of them smoking as they pedaled along. Funny that I mention that, seeing as my lame ass still hasn’t quit…..
I missed the entrance to Kawasan Falls and had to backtrack a few klicks to find it. The inconvenience was well worth it, however, as – even along the access road – you can tell that Kawasan is a pretty special place. I took another break along the fall’s outflow river (gorgeous, shaded turquoise water), sat myself down on a rock, shot two clips on my GoPro (my Six Months in the Philippines and some footage for the Kawasan Falls video), and just slowed myself down and enjoyed the moment.
After taking a bunch of video, I continued north to Moalboal. The town itself is pretty non-descript, being virtually identical to nearly every other Filipino town I have driven through, and – as usual – found myself lost. By now it was hot as blazes – the sun was beating down, my exposed skin was starting to fry, and that nasty heat/humidity-induced layer of slime had accumulated on my skin. I found myself on a dirt road, motored along a KM or so and ended at the gate to a dive resort called Turtle Bay. Hot, tired and a bit miserable, I stumbled into the reception area and asked what their enterance fee was. (Most resorts have “consumable” enterance fees – usually a few hundred peso that you have to spend in the restaurant; all in all, a pretty good deal!)
The courteous receptionist eyed my disheveled state with no little amount of pity and made a call to the dive shop, as I had explained that I just wanted to do some snorking off their beach. The Filipino staff membre from the dive shop arrived shortly and told me that I could just use their beach for free! The receptionist then ushered me into their very nice restaurant where I woofed down a yummy (and huge) egg salad sandwich (with fries for 180 pesos) and about a gallon of water. Since it was off season, the place was deserted – there was only one guest (a short Spaniard who looked just like Lars Ulrich from Metallica) and he ate his lunch and was off back to Spain an hour later. I then had the place to myself. Woo-hoo.
The snorkeling right off Turtle Bay’s dock area was pretty nice. They didn’t have the variety of fish that Dauin’s marine sanctuary has, but they had a lot more of them. The “wall” was about 200 meters off shore, and it was nice being able to snorkel along the cliff that plummeted into the cerulean blue darkness. There are nutritious up currents coming from the depths, and thousands of reef fish were swarming about having lunch. Peering into the darkness below was kind of disconcerting. Anything could be down there, and amidst flashes of movement below, my imagination ran wild.
Despite this, I didn’t’ get eaten by sea monsters and made my way back to the beach. Rinsing off the salt water, I relaxed for a bit on a shaded lounge chair. Finally unwound, I mounted my YBR, bade the awesome staff at Turtle Bay farewell, and headed out once again. A forum member had mentioned that I should seek out a guy named Steve at a nearby restaurant and say hi, but when I got there he wasn’t to be found. Alas.
There were a few heavy rain showers on my way back down the coast to the port of Santander. I had to pull over a couple of times to wait them out, and it was good that I had my helmet, as the roads got pretty slick. I arrived back at the port around 515 PM and took the 6 PM ferry back to Dumaguete. The sun was setting behind Mt Talinis as we sailed, and I was very content with my day trip up to see the fishies at Moalboal.
Pipefish making the magic happen…..
Stay tuned as I will be putting up the video of my side trip to Kawasan Falls soon!