Our next few stops in the Philippines were near the south of the country and we did our best to fit in a lot of relaxing and beach time. We spent quite a bit of time kicking back, meeting locals, eating tons of delicious food, experiencing the local transportation options and much more.
We left Boracay on a plane headed for Dumaguete, which is a town on Negros island. After collecting out bags and doing our best haggling, we took a trike to our hostel where we could be staying for the next 3 nights, called Flying Fish Eco Hostel. The rooms were quaint and the showers and toilets were outdoors, and aside from the fact that there was no insulation in the dorms whatsoever, we liked this hostel. It had charm and the staff were very helpful when it came to giving us guidance and direction on how to get to other islands. We really didn’t see much of actual Dumaguete city during our stay here, since the purpose of coming here was to have easier access to much smaller, beautiful islands.
We had heard great things about how stunning Apo Island was, so we knew we wanted to see it for ourselves. On our first morning in Dumaguete, we hopped on a trike, that took us about 40 minutes to a port, where we couldn’t get on a boat unless the boat was full… and we did our best to once again haggle and get a good price for the ride over to Apo. We met a group of Filipinos who were also here on holiday and split the cost of the return (round trip) boat ride with them.
We arrived about 45 minutes later on Apo Island, paid the tourist fee, and made our way over to a private beach in front of a resort (the only one on this island), where we paid about 2 USD each in order to enjoy the beach for the next few hours. We worked on our tans, but it was blazing hot, so we spent a lot of the morning and early afternoon beached in the water’s edge. We did a little bit of snorkeling and reading and just soaked in the stunning views that Apo Island is known for.
Apparently we were the only ones who didn’t get the memo to bring your own lunch or else have food arranged on the island, because there was no place to eat besides the resort, who told us all they had available was “fish”… no explanations involved. So, we tried to ignore our hunger pains and started planning on where we would eat dinner as soon as we got back to the main island. Use that word loosely, because this dinner would be taking place around 4:30pm! We met back up with our boat buddies and posed for some photos with the Apo Island sign, then boarded the boat to start the journey back to Dumaguete.
We shared transportation with our new friends all the way back to the main part of the city, where we were dropped off at an Italian restaurant and we feasted on some delightful food and smoothies and then went home to our hostel to relax for the evening.
We had heard good things about Siquijor Island from our buddy Ludo, so we decided to do another day trip the following morning. We took a trike to the harbor, then set off on a ferry bound for a new island! One can say that we have become quite the Island Hoppers! We had read about a beach on Siquijor that not a lot of people went to, and even then, it’s typically just locals. We decided to take a trike to this beach, called Paliton Beach. We hung out here for the day, and there were very few tourists, but actually a decent amount of locals. Turns out, the Monday we went was Independence Day for the Philippines, and kids were out of school. This made for some hilarious encounters every time one of us would go into the water to cool off. The kids would flock in our direction and smother us in the water! They clearly were not exposed to many Americans and were very interested in us. It made for some great laughs between the 2 of us. Once again we were amazed with the beauty that surrounded us, the ability to see multiple islands nearby, and the crystal clear water was just stunning!
Eventually we made the journey back to our hostel, enjoyed a dinner along the way, then relaxed for the evening after a long couple of days of traveling around the islands. We would be heading out the next morning for Cebu Island.
Around 9 am, we left our hostel for a journey to Cebu that would consist of a trike ride, a ferry ride, another trike ride, a 2.5 hour public bus ride (that lucky for us was air conditioned and had wifi! – score!), and one more trike ride…all with zero plans or tickets booked… completely winging it, which is what you have to do here on this island.
We were bound for the town of Moalboal, and arrived at our Airbnb around 1:30pm after a completely smooth-sailing morning of travel. We got settled in and immediately went to the pool area, which overlooks the ocean. We scored bigtime with this booking!
Jenny was back on more antibiotics from the ear infection that just would not quit, so we decided to hang out and snorkel, tan, relax and also get up to some adventures until Jenny had the all clear to dive again! The next couple of days we ate amazing breakfast overlooking the ocean, relaxed by the pool, went snorkeling straight from our Airbnb for hours each day, shared amazing early dinners and watched incredible sunsets from lounge chairs by our pool with a beer in hand. It was glorious!
Jenny had heard from so many other travelers that canyoning was the thing to do in Moalboal, so she signed up with a highly rated (Trip Advisor) company to go on Thursday. Kerry opted to keep it low key and hang by the pool for the day to soak up the sun. Jenny showed up to the Cyan Adventures shop that morning, and was immediately ushered to the other location where they kept all the gear, via a motorbike. Once she got all set with loads of gear, she learned that she was the only person signed up for that day to go, so it became a private guided tour (with a personal GoPro photographer since this service is offered by the company in the price)! She met her guide, Mark, who is a local guy the age of 25. It was an hour long ride to Kawasan Falls, where the adventure took place. Jenny and Mark got to know each other and chatted about the Philippines and what it is like for him to live here. She knew it would be a great day! It all started with a hike up the mountain to get to the top of the first set of falls where the canyoning starts. Then it was time for the first jump, a “short” 5 meters plunge into the water. It was an immediate adrenaline rush and the rest of the day just got better and better. It was about 3 hours of climbing, swimming and jumping off of cliffs into the waterfalls anywhere from 5 meters to the final jump of 12.5 meters!!! The excursion ended with lunch by the ocean, sharing a beer with Mark and cheersing over a relaxed, yet adrenaline pumping adventure with a great guide and student!
On Saturday, Jenny was once again cleared to dive, so we made it to our dive shop, Cebu Dive Center and met Cameron, the owner, and Bro, our local divemaster who would be guiding us on our 6 dives over the next 2 days! We loved the laid back atmosphere of the dive shop, yet you knew it was run professionally and with our safety in mind. We can not recommend this dive shop enough.
We went mostly on wall dives, looking for fish and nudibranch, and were successful every time! We also saw loads of turtles on many of the dives! The one thing that Moalboal diving is known for are the sardines. Millions and millions of them swimming in schools right off shore, so one dive, we literally walked out from the dive shop and went straight into the water for a shore dive to see this spectacular sight. It was so cool!
After spending a week in Moalboal, winding down our tour of Southeast Asia, we were sad and depressed on our final day, knowing we had to leave this amazing country and part of the world the next day. We headed to Cebu City via public buses and chilled out at our hostel for the night before boarding an early morning flight to our next and final destination in Asia… Tokyo, Japan.
We have thoroughly enjoyed every single day here and will be back in the Philippines, without a doubt. There are so many more islands to explore and dive sites to see!
~ Jenny & Kerry