6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List


White-sand beaches inevitably come to mind when Cebu is mentioned, but there’s more to the province than just Cebu Island.

The second most populous province in the Philippines, Cebu is home to some of the most gorgeous natural wonders in the world. Besides Cebu Island, Cebu province also consists of 167 smaller islands including Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango and Camotes Island.

Known for its waterfalls, clear beaches, tall mountain peaks and nature experiences, there’s plenty to see and do in Cebu. Here are six of our favourite outdoor adventures in Cebu to add to your bucket list.

1. Hike to the top of Osmena Peak

At 1,013m above sea level, Osmena Peak is the tallest point in Cebu. From this vantage point, you can see the rugged terrain of the Mantalongong mountain range, soaking up striking views of sharp lines of limestones cutting through the horizon, backlit by the glitter from the ocean behind.

Sunrise is particularly magical from the top of the mountain. Fortunately, it’s only a short 20- to 30-minute walk from the base to the peak, which means you don’t necessarily have to wake up in the middle of the night just to make it for sunrise.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Hike to the top of Osmena Peak
Photo: @jun_barnes / Instagram

If you’re not confident of your navigation ability, join a day tour. Not only does the tour include a pick up, drop off and transfers to the jump-off point, but Kawasan Waterfall is also included in the itinerary. That way, you get to enjoy two sights in one trip.

2. Swim or dive with thresher sharks on Malapascua Island

Located 6km off the northern coast of Cebu Island, Malapascua Island is synonymous with pelagic thresher shark diving as the majestic marine creatures visit the waters surrounding the island all year round.

There are no artificial attraction methods such as feeding to lure the sharks closer. It’s easy to spot them – they have a distinctive long tail fin and they often jump out of the water like a dolphin. They’re also most active in the early morning. Depending on the time of the year, you might also get to see other marine animals such as hammerhead sharks, manta rays, reef sharks and banded sea snakes.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Swim or dive with thresher sharks on Malapascua Island
Photo: @rafafdezjr / Instagram

While most of the dive spots are only open to those with diving certifications, there are spots that are suitable for novice divers like Whitetip Alley and Chocolate Island where sharks can also be seen. Just ask your dive centre (there are plenty on the south side of the island) to bring you to these specific dive spots.

3. Go cliff diving at Kabutongan Falls

Entrance fee: PHP 100

If you’re a fan of adventure dungeon-type games, you’ll enjoy an adventure at Kabutongan Falls. It’s one of Cebu’s hidden gems, and literally so as it’s hidden in the furthest section of Malabuyoc’s Barangay Looc’s forest.

The main feature of Kabutongan Falls is its hidden caves behind the waterfall as well as its multiple cliff jump points – one is around 5m tall, while another is roughly 8m to 9m tall. The water is a shimmery turquoise that looks almost unreal. Soaking in the blue waters, surrounded by the sounds of nature all around you, is an experience you won’t soon forget.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Go cliff diving at Kabutongan Falls
Photo: @keishamaeryl / Instagram

Getting there is half the fun too. The journey there involves hiking, trekking and even canyoneering to make it past the thickets and streams. There’s even a section that requires rope rappelling! Those who have gone through the journey say all that only takes half an hour. If you’re worried about your physical ability or safety, get the help of a local guide available for hire on-site.

4. Scuba dive into a sardine ball at Moalboal

While Malapascua has thresher sharks, Moalboal has sardines!

No one really knows for sure why such a huge school of silver sardines flock to Moalboal’s waters, but they’re here. Every day, they partake in a phenomenon called the sardine run. It’s literally millions of sardines swimming together and forming a giant ball!

Thanks to the close proximity of the sardine ball to shore, you don’t have to spend extra on renting a boat or a tour just to see them. All you need is a pair of goggles and the ability to swim out to view the sardine ball from above.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Scuba dive into a sardine ball at Moalboal
Photo: @taeyupkim_yupee / Instagram

If you can scuba dive, the experience will be magical! The sight of millions of glittering sardines moving throughout the water below is beyond spectacular!

If you’re really lucky, you might even get the chance to swim alongside sea turtles and dolphins. The best time of the year to swim with the sardines is between November and May, when the weather is the clearest and the water is the calmest.

5. Meet wild animals at Cebu Safari & Adventure Park

Adult: PHP 1,200 weekends and holidays, PHP 1,000 weekdays (non-holidays)
Child (admission fee based on height): Above 3ft – regular rate, 2ft to 3ft – half price, below 2ft – free admission

To experience nature and see wildlife in a more controlled setting, head to Cebu Safari & Adventure Park. About an hour’s drive away from Cebu City, the 170ha safari park is home to over a thousand animals from 120 different species.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Meet wild animals at Cebu Safari & Adventure Park
Photo: @duh.its_rence / Instagram

Main attractions include a White Lion Safari where you get to meet the king of the wild; an African Savanna where you can get up close and personal with zebras and African antelopes; a Petting Zoo for kids to pet baby farm animals like calves, kids, ducklings and kits; and a Bird Show starring friendly macaws, chattering lories, African crowned crane, Philippine sea eagle, Philippine owl and Philippine hawk.

For adventure seekers, the adventure park offers exhilarating rides and experiences including ATV ride, a 1.3km zip line, Sky Bike, Giant Swing and cave exploration.

6. Relax on the beach on Sumilon Island

If you’d like nothing more than to sit back and relax on the beach, head straight for Sumilon Island, a small sandbar island that’s just a 10- to 15-minute boat ride away from Oslob.

6 Amazing Outdoor Adventures in Cebu to Add to Your Bucket List - Relax on the beach on Sumilon Island
Photo: Hitoshi Namura on Unsplash

The surrounding waters are remarkably clear and the sand is pristine white, making it possibly the most picture-perfect, Insta-ready beach you’ll find on your Cebu trip. If you’re planning to spend the night on the island, check in to the only resort on the island – Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort.

Besides rooms and villas, the resort also offers glamping tents which provide campers  captivating sunrise views. The resort also offers day trips and activities such as snorkelling, fishing and paddling.

*This article has been edited and adapted from Now Boarding by Changi Airport’s “From mountain peaks to marine depths: Cebu’s best nature activities