Coordinates Cebu: The Latin America of Southeast Asia

June 30, 2016

by Joy Martin
Coordinates Cebu: The Latin America of Southeast Asia

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Destination name: Moalboal, Cebu, Visayas, Philippines 

Common nickname: Lechon Capital of the World 

Location: Located between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Philippine's ninth largest island (of 7,107 islands) is easily accessed via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport about a half hour taxi ride (~$6USD) from Cebu City. Cebu's adventure hub, Moalboal, is a three-hour bus ride from the capital city.

Primary active pursuits

From world-renowned diving to mountain biking around Cebu's 3,500-foot high peaks and limestone plateaus, Moalboal welcomes travelers seeking the ultimate off-the-beaten-path destination. Beginner snorkeling accessed from white-sand beaches, moderate trekking to Cebu's tallest mountain, and adrenaline-infused canyoneering to Kawasan Falls are a sampling of activities offered from Cebu's adventure basecamp of Moalboal.     

Micro destinations

Kawasan Falls Canyoneering 

Only a 30-minute drive from Moalboal lies a true oasis of turquoise-blue waters, cascading falls, and Cebu's most dynamic adventure that includes an action-packed combo of trekking, cliff jumping, exploring, and swimming. Not into 5-8 hours of canyoneering? Opt for the 20-minute easy walk to swim at the main falls. Snacks and water available for purchase.   

Mountain Biking 

Moalboal's adventure map has been developed in large part thanks to German expat, Jochen Hanika, and his wife, Jinky, both former competitive mountain bikers. For an unforgettable morning, afternoon, or multi-day trip, sign up for one of Jochen's cycling tours through farmlands, rainforests, streams, and Cebu's lush hills to experience expansive views and refreshing swims along the way. Jochen will cater to your technical ability, so simply communicate your level of expertise and saddle up! More info at

Mt. Osmena Trekking 

Cebu's highest peak rests at a lofty 3,599-feet above the sea, surrounded by rolling hills, verdant valleys, and rugged, jungle-thick terrain. Plan on a moderate to difficult hike for 4-5 hours roundtrip, and take plenty of water and sun protection.     

Still want more? Rock climbing in Cantabaco and caving at Argao are other great options, not to mention the world-renowned diving off Cebu's narrow coastline. 

Best Season

Though it's a tropical climate (~78 percent humidity), Cebu's weather is relatively moderate, sunny and dry most of the year. Year-round temps average between 75 and 93 degrees. Most Cebu travelers would say the best time to visit is in the cooler season between November and January, with temperatures in the mountains hovering in the 60s. The third week in January features one of the Philippine's biggest festivals, the Sinulog, so book hotels early if you're traveling during this time. May is the hottest month, and rainy season starts around July. Typhoons are historically not an issue for Cebu, with one hitting land about once every 10 years.

Other Recreational and Cultural Gems

If you love flowers, don't miss Southeast Asia's largest orchid display at the Orchid Gallery in Moalboal. This farm grows over 200 types of orchid varieties from Asia, South America and Hawaii, as well as other rare tropical flowers, like Cattleyas and Vandas.  Relax and unwind by the pool or explore the mini-aviary on the property. Entry is less than $1USD so you have no excuses. Located at Poblacion East in Moalboal.  

Lodging and Dining

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From 5-star resorts, like Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa for $250USD/night, to open-air bungalows in sleepy beach towns for around $20USD/night, lodging options abound in Cebu. If you're camping, check out Archery Campground Moalboal (~$6USD per person/night. You can also rent a tent, mattress, pillow, bedsheet, towel, and shower). While you can definitely find McDonald's in Cebu City and a number of Western-inspired restaurants in the beach towns, Filipino food doesn't disappoint if you like a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish influences - and rice. Try Cebu's famous roasted pig dish, lechon, and their beloved dessert, halo-halo.  And, for the truly adventurous,'ll have to see it to believe it.   

Best Single Reason to Visit

Cebu's warm, welcoming spirit of the Filipino people, cheap travel alternatives, delicious food, and perfect blend of outdoor adventure and relaxation are not to be missed in a lifetime. A true gem of Southeast Asia.   

Getting Equipped

For more information on Cebu, visit for updates on events, links to hotels and tour companies, and excited sales pitches on why Cebu should be your next destination. For adventure-specific guidance, the Planet Action Philippines is the most established company in Cebu. 


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