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CEBU—This long and narrow stretch of land in Central Visayas is a proven tourism hot spot. From north to south, just about every place in the province has something remarkable to offer; from business to beaches, whalesharks and food and culture, there’s an endless list of reasons to visit this part of the country. In the town of Badian, 130 kilometers southwest of Cebu City, the crowd drawer is a gorgeous waterfalls named Kawasan.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Cebu City, the bus ride to Barangay Matutinao can take about three hours. If you’re coming from the diving destination of Moalboal, that can be as short as 20 minutes. If you’re coming from Osmeña Peak, a traverse hike into the mountains of Dalaguete and Badian can take about four or six hours. For the adventurous but less of a mountaineer, an hour-long habal-habal ride which passes through parts of Valencia, Alegria, and Compostela can be the quick fix. Be ready to haggle until it gets no higher than P300 for two (they’ve got really long motorcycles good for two people).
WORD OF MOUTH
“It isn’t anything close to ordinary as the locals may have made me assume. What a gem! What an apt reward for a tired traveler.”
ED—I didn’t really think of going to Kawasan Falls as my main adventure; I just thought of “going somewhere” after an awesome dive with the sardine shoal in Moalboal. So I asked the locals what else there was to do and they told me quite casually, as someone would point to an insignificant landmark, to go to Kawasan Falls in Badian. It’s only two towns down the road, an easy 20 minute bus ride. (There are also habal-habal drivers offering to take you there for a touristy price.)
A 7×7 tarpaulin welcomes you to the road to the waterfalls, a good kilometer of wonderful nature to enjoy—lush vegetation, birdsongs, and the calming beauty and rippling sound of the clean mountain stream, all of which I wouldn’t have enjoyed had I hopped on that habal-habal. Then finally the source of the stream appears—Kawasan Falls. Its beauty is overwhelming, its light blue-green pool so clean and calm, its white majestic water cascading like a bride’s wedding veil. It isn’t anything close to ordinary as the locals may have made me assume. What a gem! What an apt reward for a tired traveler. So, if you are looking to recharge your weary soul, or just wanting to wash away the salt from your body after a dive, d’yan lang, Kawasan Falls awaits!
AN ABUNDANCE OF WATERFALLS
Kawasan has many waterfalls. There are three major waterfalls with their own unique appeal. The first is the most photographed and also the most crowded. If you have the luxury of time and you want to spend the day in front of a good view, you can rent cottages and tables. Prices starts at P500 for tables and P1500 for cottages. Some rooms are also available for those who want to stay overnight. Although the local restaurant can cook food for you, it is best to bring your own food, as prices here can be a little surprising.
WORD OF MOUTH
Although it takes a three-hour drive from the city plus a short hike, the sight of the waterfalls will instantly make the trip worth it.
PAOLO—Don’t miss the adventure. Bamboo rafts can take visitors directly under and through the falls. While on your bellies, you’ll have that fear in your guts as you go under massive hanging rocks, but that fear goes away as you approach the waterfalls and the water just pounds on your back like a good massage.
Aside from swimming, the locals can also cook a delectable crawfish sinigang, the crawfish coming fresh from Kawasan’s river. Drinks can be cooled in the pool just by dipping the bottle in the water for half an hour (it works, I tried). Then, after the meal, hike to the second waterfalls for another cold dip. And go up farther to the waterfalls, which is a 10 to 15-minute hike.
After passing by a number of smaller rapids, you’ll reach what’s called the “second level” (definitely not the second waterfalls). Compared to the first, it’s equally busy here. You can spend your time in the grill if you’re the person who want to get busy with the barbecue. You can also just enjoy the view and take photos or take a dip in the ice-cold water along with the bottles of Coke being cooled. You can amaze everyone with your best stunt as you swing on a rope and throw yourself midair before that SPLASH, or to make it more fun, jump from the mouth of the waterfalls.
Another fun activity to try in groups is canyoneering. Although it can be extreme for beginners, the whole adventure is fun and may just turn out to be your most unforgettable experience in Cebu. You don’t need to be the best swimmer; that life vest can do the magic in the water. All you really need to go through the “obstacle course” is loads of energy and enthusiasm to survive the challenge.
There are two types of canyoneering: 1) upstream, where you have to go against the natural flow of the water; or 2) downstream, where you just go with the flow. Both of these will involve some walking, climbing, jumping from cliffs, rappelling, and swimming–all perfect for the topography of Kawasan and Badian. Downstream canyoneering starts at Barangay Sulsogan, about 5 km away from the hub, and ends at Kawasan Falls. On the other hand, upstream canyoneering starts at Kawasan Falls to Sulsogan.
There are a number of businesses catering to canyoneering enthusiasts. Among them, Kawasan Cebu Canyoneering has earned great feedback and is highly recommended. Their package starts at P1500 per head for locals and P2000 per head for foreign tourists. This fee already covers access fees to the canyoneering sites, safety helmets, life vest, transportation from the hub, tour master’s fee, snacks, and meals!
What lies after this bridge is a captivating sight, perhaps one of Kawasan’s best kept secret. Don’t miss it. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram to get updates on my travels around the Philippines.