whalesharks cebu

Cebu: Climbing, Whalesharks and Cabanas

Last October, Nicolas and I flew down from Hong Kong to Cebu in the Philippines for our first overseas climbing trip together. Of course, you can’t visit Cebu without hitting the white sand beaches also, so the plan was to break down our trip into 4 sections: Climb for a few days in Cantabaco, spend the night at Moalboal on the West Coast, see the whalesharks in Oslob, then finally rest and recuperate on Bantayan Island. Here’s what we did…

Climbing in Cantabaco

The climbing in Cantabaco was awesome. White limestone rock and a good mixture of easy and challenging climbs for both Nicolas and I. Unlike other crags, you get this one all to yourself though we did meet and climb with a few friendly local climbers who showed up on the second day.

How to get there:

The easiest way to get here is to rent a “v-hire” car or mini-van from Cebu International Airport. Tell them you are heading to Cantabaco area for climbing, and look out for “Manang Virgie”. If your driver gets lost (which ours did), just stop the car and ask the locals walking along the road (you won’t be short of them!). You’ll get there 🙂

Where to stay:

The view from our dorms. You can see the big white limestone wall where the crag is in the near distance.

Cantabaco is not a fancy or developed place so expect some chilled out dirtbag climbing while you’re here. Saying that, the people are incredible humble and accomodating. For accommodation, we rented some basic rooms from a lady called “Manang Virgie”. The building looks like a dormitory close to the road and right in front of the crag. The family lives in their bungalow home on the same premises, but rent out these no-frills rooms for close to nothing. Just tell your driver to head to “Manang Virgie” and they should know where to go.

Food & Drinks:

There is a very basic and humble food shack by the road, near the dorms. Just tell the lady that runs it what you would like to eat for breakfast and she’ll have it prepared for you when you want the next morning 🙂 Our breakfasts here were  surprisingly spoiled considering it’s quite hard to find your usual grocery supplies out here. We asked for eggs, bread and coffee the first morning. Eggs were scrambled, bread was white and toasted, coffee was nice and hot from a Nescafe packet. But the next day, she surprised us with a cheesy omelette! Boy did that go down well, especially after our first full day at the crag! We both agreed after our trip that this breakfast was the BEST we had. Just goes to show, hunger, gratitude and a kind effort by someone else can make all the difference 🙂

About the crag:

I’m not gonna lie, this blog by local climbing couple, Adrenaline Romance, has got everything you need. It was how we discovered this place at all! But in short, the parts I remember most were the big white limestone walls, the cracks (turns out I love climbing them!) and the beautiful sharp features (which it turns out I also loved climbing). I was working on some 5+ routes and Nicolas was working on some cool 7s on the right hand-side, when you first get to the crag.

Image Source: http://www.rockrun.com/wp/cantabaco-cebu-philippines/

Rest & Recuperate at Dacozy Beach Resort, Moalboal

After a few days climbing, we hired a van to drive us to the west coast, usually known for being a scuba diving destination. We spent a couple of nights at Dacozy Beach Resort in Moalboal, which was great as we had it all to ourselves. Super fun also to drive around on a semi-automatic bike and get to see the countryside that way. You can arrange to hire one from the front desk.

The view out our balcony with the pool and beach up ahead. On the right, you can just about see the al fresco dining area where we’d have breakfast and dinner.
Rum and mango juice 😉
Of course, there has to be some yoga!
Always happy to travel with this one 🙂

Swimming with Whalesharks in Oslob

From Moalboal, we went onwards to our third destination: Oslob. That’s on the south-east coast of Cebu. So incredibly grateful that I finally got to tick another thing off my bucketlist: swimming with whalesharks! It was such a surreal and humbling experience, to see these beautiful creatures out in open water, and swim amongst them. God, you feel so small!

Beaches in the Philippines are the best! Crystal clear waters and powdery white sand!
A beautiful underwater show…
Whalesharks are docile creatures than only eat plankton. Surprising considering their size! Here you see one vacuuming water through its mouth to feed…
They are huge! But please don’t touch them. Your guides should explain this before your trip out on the boat. Keep a fair distance.
All smiles 😀 Absolutely incredible.

Amihan Beach Cabanas, Bantayan Island

It’s a bit of a journey to get here but trust us, if you have the time and love the adventure like we do, it’s so worth it! After an action-packed few days, it was great to just chill out and escape the hustle and bustle at this cosy little beach resort. The best part? You get to stay in cabanas! There are only about 8 or 10 so you really have a sense of privacy when you get here. I will honestly never tire of the fresh seaside air, the hot sun on your skin and the absence of every day city life. Honestly, it’s worth hopping on that ferry and checking in here. A real, white sand beach paradise…

The beach hut and reception area…
Walking from our cabana to the beachside huts…
Haha, we pulled our lounge chairs all the way out to soak up that sunshine!
Sunkissed. Don’t we look alike here??
Seriously… are you not sold yet?? 😛

And that’s a wrap!

Hope you found this guide to Cebu helpful. We can’t wait to go back!

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