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The Philippines is an amazing destination and our favourite place in Southeast Asia. Home to some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches, breathtaking tropical islands, crystal clear, blue waters, and some of the best adventure activities. One of our favourite and most extreme adventures in the Philippines was Kawasan canyoneering in Cebu. It was so much fun and even more intense than we expected it to be.
Here are 10 things to know before taking the Kawasan Canyoneering trip.
1. Kawasan Canyoneering Tour Guides
There are a lot of tour companies to book your Kawasan canyoneering tour through. We stayed in Moalboal and booked a private tour that was organized by our accommodation. If you have the option to book a private tour, I would highly recommend it. The canyoneering kawasan tours that are organized by tour companies are done in much bigger groups (+/- 10 people) and are a lot more “touristy.”
Private tours give you a lot more freedom and your guide can take lots of photos and videos for you. Unfortunately, we don’t have great photography gear for adventure/water activities, so my footage isn’t great. But our guide was excellent at capturing everything in the best way that he could.
You cannot go canyoneering without a tour guide. If you make your way over to Alegria (the area of Kawasan falls) you can find freelance guides, although it will cost about the same as booking through a tour company. If you wish to book in advance, you can find numerous companies online.
2. Starts with a hike in Badian and ends at Kawasan Falls
As far as I could tell there are a few different starting points depending on which canyoneering Kawasan falls tour you go with. Ours started with a 10 minute motorbike ride through some stunning terrain up to the starting point. Here we were given our safety gear and a safety briefing while preparing for the adventure ahead.
From here it was between a 20 to 30 minute hike until we actually reached the starting point of the canyoneering tour – the canyons. The entire trip was approximately 4-hours long and it ends by jumping off a cliff into the Kawasan falls. This jump is optional and there is a path to walk down if you are too afraid.
3. Cost is 1,500 Pesos Per Person
Most tour companies in Moalboal offer the Kawasan falls canyoneering experience for 1,500 pesos per person. This includes transport to Badian (the starting point), a trained guide, entrance fees, safety gear (life vest and helmet) and lunch after the activity. As far as I know, booking a tour at the falls also costs 1,500 pesos so essentially transport is free when booking in Moalboal.
This fee covers all costs. You won’t need to take your wallet out again. However, there are a few small stores selling snacks and drinks that are situated along the trek down to Kawasan falls, and you will need your own money if you want to buy anything here.
4. The safety gear is mandatory
Unfortunately, the lifevest and helmet seem to be mandatory precautions. I have seen one or two photos of people without it – I guess if you can convince your guide that you don’t need the safety gear they will let it slide. But for the most part it seems everybody has to wear it.
The only reason I wasn’t happy about it was…….photos (haha, I know). But I wish we could have got a few nice photos in the beautiful surroundings at least without those helmets on. Nevertheless I think the safety gear is necessary. Even with the lifevest on you plunge quite deep down into the water after jumping. And as for the helmets, well it goes without saying, but there’s every possibility that you could knock your head on some hard rocks. You might want to make sure that your travel insurance is up to date. Just kidding, it’s not that hectic.
5. Wear comfortable closed shoes
The Kawasan canyoneering trek involves rock climbing, swimming through rivers, and cliff jumping, so you really want to think about the shoes that you wear. We weren’t advised on what shoes to wear prior to the trip, but thankfully we wore our water shoes which also have great grip. There are a lot of slippery rocks so proper shoes are important.
Many people wear a good pair of sneakers, but I really don’t like the idea of trekking in closed wet shoot, so I think water shoes with good grip are ideal.
6. The water at Kawasan falls really is that blue
I was absolutely blown away by the colour of the water. Never ever have I seen water so rich and dense in colour. I had seen many photos from Kawasan falls, but I assumed that they had been edited to make the colour pop, so I wasn’t expecting much. I think I turned to Peter at least five times saying that I couldn’t believe the colour of the water. My photos don’t even come close to doing it justice. So don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed by the beauty.
7. Expect a lot of people
The Kawasan canyoneering experience is a very popular activity in Cebu. In fact, many travellers consider it to be the number one thing to do in Cebu. As a result, it is very busy, so you should be prepared to see groups of people. Our tour started at 07:00 am and I was very surprised to see that there were already so many other tour groups there. I think many begin as early as 06:00 am when it opens. So even if you take an early tour, don’t expect to be the only one’s there.
Since it is about a 4-hour trek from the starting point until you actually reach Kawasan falls, also keep in mind that the falls will also be very busy by the time you get there. It’s a very popular tourist attraction so it’s highly unlikely that you will ever have the falls to yourself.
8. The Kawasan falls has three levels
Once we reached the first of the waterfalls that we would be jumping into (which is the third level), I thought that we had reached the end of our canyoneering experience. But much to my surprise, there was still another one coming.
The Kawasan falls has three levels to it (three waterfalls) and as part of the Kawasan canyoneering tour you jump into two of them. After the first one there’s also an optional rope swing activity which is a lot of fun. From there you will make your way down to the second waterfall which is the last jump and the end of the canyoneering tour.
9. Bring a Dry Bag
A dry bag is perfect for Kawasan canyoneering and many people use one. Just keep in mind that not all dry bags (in fact most in my experience) are 100% waterproof. With the huge impact from jumping and a lot of swimming, there is every possibility that your things will get a little wet. So don’t put anything too valuable in there. But it is a great way to keep some of your things (like extra clothing) somewhat dry.
10. Expect to get VERY wet at Kawasan canyoneering
Just in case it isn’t already clear, you are going to be fully submerged in water, which is why I would suggest that you wear swimwear. If not swimwear, then something that you are perfectly comfortable moving around in while wet. You will be alternating between swimming, waving through the water, and rock climbing, so it’s important that you are comfortable in what you wear.
Where To Stay In Cebu
Before travelling to Cebu I had come across quite a few articles/tips from Journey Era. He advises that the best place to stay on Cebu island is Moalboal, and that’s where we decided to go. I’m so glad that we took his advice because Moalboal turned out to be perfect.
Most of the main waterfalls, whale sharks, island hopping trips and the chance to snorkel with sardines and turtles are all down south, either in Moalboal, or a little further down towards Oslob. Oslob whale watching is a very popular tourist activity. You can take a day trip down from Cebu city on a Kawasan Canyoneering tour. But keep in mind that it’s a long journey – the travel time is about 3 to 4 hours.
We stayed in a guesthouse in Moalboal which we booked through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking, and £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
Philippines Visa Requirements
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and need help with visa information, I would suggest checking out iVisa.com. The visa process can be very time-consuming, not to mention confusing. iVisa strive to make the whole process simpler for travellers by taking care of all the nitty gritty details.
Just follow my iVisa application link here and you can do a quick check to see what is required and proceed with an application if necessary.
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