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From Cliffs to Waterfalls: Canyoneering Adventures in Cebu, Philippines

Located about 345 miles southeast of Manila, Cebu is a vibrant province in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Often referred to as the "Queen City of the South," Cebu features a distinctive mix of modern urban development and historical charm. Its capital, Cebu City, is a bustling economic hub, while the province offers diverse attractions, from pristine beaches to historical landmarks like Magellan's Cross and Fort San Pedro. Renowned for lively festivals, including the Sinulog Festival, Cebu is a sought-after destination for travelers seeking a blend of tropical paradise and historical intrigue.

One of the most thrilling adventures that drew us in was the experience of canyoneering in Cebu. Located in the town of Badian, approximately 65 miles southwest of Cebu City, this heart-pounding activity is guided by experienced tour guides, leading participants through a captivating journey surrounded by jagged cliffs, turquoise waterways, towering limestones, and lush tropical vegetation.

Led by the team from Highland Adventure Tours, on a cool and overcast day, our journey began with a motorcycle ride to the starting location, where we registered and participated in a brief orientation. Following this, our adventure unfolded with a picturesque 15-minute walk, evolving into a hike down steep jungle paths alongside the river, marking the beginning of our canyoneering expedition.

The landscape that welcomed us at the bottom of the trail was breathtaking! Massive boulders, towering limestone formations and the clear turquoise water was the perfect backdrop as we took our very first leap - a daring move that featured a 12-foot cliff which truly surpassed all expectations. With hearts intensely pumping, we continued onward and swam through the shallow river, clamber over rocks, while also pausing occasionally to savor the breathtaking surroundings.

A few minutes later, we arrived at a slide naturally carved into the rocks, resembling miniature waterfalls. The naturally polished rocks allowed for an exhilarating descent down the slide. Whether gliding on our backs or going headfirst, it provided a thrilling surge of excitement.

And then came our next cliff jump. Following a brief ascent along narrow trails, we reached the designated jumping point. Despite a fleeting sense of hesitation and a brief contemplation of life choices, the lingering thrill from our initial leap fueled my excitement. As I surveyed the pool 15 feet below, I plunged into the jump.

At different points during our expedition, various sections presented opportunities for small jumps, rock sliding, and navigating through narrow passages. For those less inclined to do the significant jumps, alternative paths were available for descending alongside the waterfalls. Nonetheless, it never dampened the level of excitement that this adventure brings.

Around the halfway mark, we encountered a series of stalls positioned in front of a narrow canyon. At first, seeing vendors despite the challenging terrain, offering barbecues and drinks for sale along the rocky river and canyon, seemed… insane. Yet, I quickly reminded myself to never underestimate the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos. Expect nothing less.

Opposite the food stalls and just past the canyon, our next cliff diving spot awaited us. This one was approximately 20 feet high. While the jump was optional, the irresistible allure of the thrill was too compelling to resist. So we jumped!

After another short hike, we arrived at our next destination — one of the two highest cliffs along the trek. Some chose to slide down the natural waterslide, while others, including myself, opted for the jump. As I waited for my turn, the mix of fear and exhilaration rushed through me, pumping up my spirit even further as I sprinted and leaped 30 feet high, plunging into the crystal-clear turquoise pool beneath us. I can still vividly recall the indescribable feeling that particular moment has given to me.

Taking a brief rest, mostly to slow down our heartrates, we reached an area with picnic tables along the canyon. Yet, we couldn't resist the temptation to try out a rope swing as it offered the thrilling experience of a Tarzan-like dive into the water below.

We then arrived at the final cliff jump at Kawasan Falls. This particular jump stood out as the most intimidating for me. Navigating steep and narrow pathways to reach the cliff's edge demanded careful balance, with a constant reminder to maintain steady breathing. But despite the fear, the culmination of the previous six hours - rich with thrill, excitement, and uncertainties - morphed into pure joy as I gazed down at the pool below. Perched at a height of 35 feet, I took a few deep breaths and with lungs filled with gratitude, I made the ultimate leap. The moment was absolutely surreal.

Canyoneering in Cebu goes beyond mere thrill; it's a unique chance to explore the natural beauty of the island. The adrenaline rush harmoniously intertwines with the awe-inspiring scenery. The vivid hues of the water and the lush surroundings contribute an extra layer of enchantment, rendering each moment truly unforgettable. Above all, sharing this adventure with some of the most significant people in my life made the experience nothing less than perfect.


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