48 HOURS: Southern Cebu
CEBU CITY—If you only have 48 hours of stay in Cebu province, its southern towns can give a sample of the great Cebu summer escapade: beaches, waterfalls, good food and lots of fun.
Every road trip starts early. By 5 a.m., leave Cebu City for Carcar City, 42 kilometers away, to savor two of its most famous delicacies—Cebu “lechon” and “chicharon.” Dozens of stalls at Carcar’s rotunda sell the crispiest pork skin cracklings and roast pig chopped right in front of you.
The local lechon tastes different and it comes with a sauce concocted from its juices. The sauce gives the accompanying rice a special kick.
In Argao town, try its popular “torta,” a thick cake infused with “tuba” (coconut wine). Locals say tuba was used centuries ago as a substitute for yeast, which was then a rare ingredient.
Argao is dotted with beach resorts. The most recent to open was Maayo Argao, which is Moroccan-inspired.
Drive farther south and stop by the sleepy town of Alcoy, the home of Cebu’s endemic black shama, locally known as “siloy.”
Alcoy is also known for its white sand beach, called Tingko, at Barangay Daan Lungsod. Entrance fee is P20 and rentals of cottages range from P300 to P1,500, depending on size.
At the southernmost tip of Cebu is Samboan town, which has built a reputation as the “Waterfalls Capital” of the province.
There are at least eight waterfalls, and the more popular ones are Aguinid, Dao, Balay’g Sawa and Hidden Falls. It is best to limit your visit to only one place per trip.
Hidden Falls, also known as Binalayan or Triple Drop, is a perfect choice—three falls cascading into one natural pool. The entrance is a 10-minute walk from the highway.
Samboan has a number of resorts and guesthouses for an overnight stay.
Popular among tourists is Fantasy Lodge at Barangay Dalahican. The resort is perched on a cliffside and offers a stunning view of Tañon Strait, which separates Cebu and Negros islands, as well as the sunset.
Early the next day, experience the resort’s “kawa” hot bath in a huge cauldron heated by burning wood. The water is mixed with herbs, flowers and essential oils.
Diving, snorkeling sites
From Samboan, head to Moalboal in the western coast—a favorite for sea explorers. The town has white sand beaches in Basdaku and Pescador Island, which is famous worldwide for its diving and snorkeling sites.
Boatmen can take you to Pescador for a quick visit. You may spot sea turtles along the way.
On Panagsama Beach, be enthralled by the magic of a sardine run. Thousands of sardines are found in the waters, and you can swim in the middle of the school.
The sardines may be more difficult to spot, though, during bad weather.
After lunch at the eateries in Moalboal, head to Ronda, a half-hour travel away. The town is becoming a favorite stopover for its dragonfruit farm along the highway at Barangay Santa Cruz.
Delcio’z Resto Cafe has over a thousand dragonfruit plants and offers several snack items, including the dragonfruit shake (P90 per glass).
Guests can take a short tour of the farm behind the café. Fresh fruits can be bought for around P300 per kilo.
During the two-hour drive back to Cebu City, you may drop by Carcar again for more lechon and chicharon as “pasalubong.”
There are still more popular sites to visit in southern Cebu, like the Kawasan Falls and canyoneering in the towns of Badian and Alegria, whale shark (“butanding”) watching in Oslob, and Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete town.
The towns have centuries-old churches.
“Traveling south of Cebu is an amazing yet convenient experience. All the great things Cebu has to offer are all just 15 minutes away from each other. You can basically spend two days of travel for a month’s worth of experience,” says Miguel dela Paz, a 30-year-old businessman.
Dela Paz relocated to Cebu from Manila just this year after falling in love with the province. Now, he spends weekends in the south on random road trips and discovers new places.