Cebu, Philippines may be famous for the sardine run in Moalboal and canyoneering at Kawasan, but it also has many beautiful places to visit.
Feet Do Travel will show you how to get to Montpellier Falls and how to get to Mainit Hot Springs. An easy day trip from Moalboal, are you ready to discover two secrets of Cebu?
Municipality/Town: Alegria and Montaneza
Barangays: Montpellier for the Falls and Malabuyoc for Hot Springs
Montpeller Falls is located in the Municipality/Town of Alegria, Mainit Hot Springs is in the next Municipality down in Monaneza, Malabuyog, Cebu. Both are four hours south of Cebu City. The island of Cebu is one of the major destinations in the Philippines and is easily reached from outside of Asia due to its International airport.
I recommend you stay in Moalboal around Panagsama Beach which is geared up for tourists. Panagsama Beach is 4km from the main Moalboal highway, and is where the world famous sardine run can be found. You will find many backpackers, solo travellers, digital nomads, budget travellers and divers, but there are also a few up-scale resorts for people wishing to stay in a quiet area. Panagsama Beach is where the majority of restaurants, bars, hostels and dive centres are located.
We rented an apartment in Moalboal and have currently been here five months. Moalboal has been our base for all activities in the Philippines, and these two attractions can easily be done as a day trip from Moalboal.
NB. ALWAYS wear a helmet. A study by the World Health Organisation showed that over 90% of motorcycle deaths didn’t wear helmets. Around 53% of all traffic accidents in the Philippines are motorcyclists and their passengers. It’s better to arrive at your destination with helmet hair than not arrive at all.
Fun Fact: The name “Alegria” means cheerful or joy in Spanish.
We parked our scooter on the main road and started walking through the jungle. Following the pipe down, we passed a few houses where local children smiled and said hello. It was a beautiful easy walk, we were surrounded by lush tall trees and green foliage. It was quiet and peaceful then all of a sudden we could hear the falls.
As I stood admiring this gorgeous natural wonder, the sun shone through the trees lighting up the pool, then two butterflies playfully flew around one another. Yes, it was just like a cheesy animated Disney movie!
Keeping our walking shoes on, we stepped over rocks into the rock pool. We didn’t need Sy’s dive computer to tell us the 23°c degree water was fresh.
We spent about an hour at the Falls and didn’t see a single soul.
Now do you see why I say Montpellier Falls is one of the secrets of Cebu?
From Moalboal, head south along the Highway for about an hour. You will drive through Badian, the Municipality for Kawasan Falls and keep an eye out for the next Municipality Alegria.
When you see the large white “Welcome to Alegria” sign on the right, at the next PPF petrol station take a left turning up a hill. Keep on driving for about 10 minutes then on the left you will see a large painted picture and sign for Montpellier Falls.
Take a Ceres Line Bus or jump in a jeepney and tell them you want Monpellier Falls, Alegria.
In Alegria, jump on a habal-habal (back of a motorbike) or trike and get a local to take you. Yes it is too far to walk.
To visit both places, you can get back on a bus/jeepney or take a habal-habal (back of a motorbike) or trike to take you between the two.
Want to learn more about the Philippine Jeepneys? Check out Off the Wall Street Art in Cebu - Unusual Expression of Art in the Philippines
Cost: P10 per person plus P10 parking
Note: Mainit Hot Springs has been officially closed to the public since July 2017, that will be the reason why there are no tourists and why it’s one of Cebu’s secrets!
After parking our scooter, a kind lady informed us that the main entrance to the springs is officially closed, but we can walk through her gate to reach the springs. She walked with us to show us the way, we didn’t ask, she was simply being nice.
At 42.6°c, the first pool was far too hot to sit in. Locals say the hot pools have therapeutic effects on the skin, the nervous system, and other vital organs, it kills harmful germs an eliminates toxins from the body. I can definitely see the benefits of bathing in this pool, but we are both far too soft to be able to withstand the heat.
Sitting in this natural hot spring rock pool surrounded by the jungle, we looked up to see palm trees and listened to the trickling sound of a gentle flowing stream. What a fabulous way to spend our wedding anniversary.
There wasn’t another tourist in site, just locals here for their Saturday morning swim, laughing, splashing and having fun.
Now this was a bit of a surprise, we didn’t know there was a waterfall here. Just a few minutes’ walk from the springs is a small waterfall, and a small milky rock pool with cold water. You can go for a dip if you like, but we chose not to as we wanted warm bath water not a cold plunge pool.
We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting Mainit Hot Springs. For selfish reasons, I would like it to stay closed so it remains one of Cebu’s best kept secrets.
Mainit Hot Springs on a scooter is about 20 minutes away from Montpeller Falls. Come down the hill back onto the highway and continue heading south for a few minutes. When you drive over Montaneza Bridge, look out for a faded blue tourist sign “Mainit Hot Springs” and take the left turning.
Drive for a few minutes up a hill until you reach a fork in the road, take the left turning and drive for a few minutes until you can’t go any further. A lovely lady will pop out of her house, show you where to park and direct you to the springs. Someone may come with you, they like to make sure you are safe.
From Montpeller Falls: The easiest option is to get your driver to take you to Mainit Hot Springs as it’s not too far away. But if you are on a budget or want to explore on your own, get your driver to take you back to the bus stop on the main road.
Take a Ceres Line Bus or jump in a jeepney and tell them you want Mainit Spring in Montañeza, Malabuyoc.
At Montañeza, you can either take a tricycle or habal-habal (back of a motorbike) up the hill, (around P50) or the walk will take about 20 minutes.
Have you visited either of these attractions? Did you enjoy your jungle experience? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Wondering what to pack for your next trip? Let us help you with the essentials in our Ultimate Packing List for Worldwide Travel (tried and tested!)
Panagsama Beach Area
This area is geared up towards holiday makers and backpackers. Accommodation and eateries are cheap and this is where you will find the nightlife. Chili Bar and 7Sins are the two places you will hit after dark.
Island Girl B&B – A new B&B on the main road that's not just for girls! Dorm beds, run by two awesome ladies, located on the main road opposite MoHo and Three Bears Restaurant.
MoHo Hostel - A new hostel on the main road opposite Island Girl just down from Three Bears Restaurant. Large common area with hammocks and great wi-fi.
Smooth Cafe Hostel - Another new hostel behind Smooth Cafe which serves great coffee and amazing vegan falafel (try it, whether you are vegan or not!).
Oceanfront Paradise – A mid-range hotel with fantastic sunset view. Around the corner from Shaka and Ven'z Cafe, close to Cebu Dive Centre.
These options are if you want to be within walking distance of the main area but somewhere quieter. There are a few eateries here, namely Sunrise 2 Sunset and Blue Abyss Restaurant.
Rosita’s Cottages near the Beach – No-frills, private self-catering accommodation with a kitchenette, fan or aircon. We stayed here when we first arrived, long term rentals available from one week to one month or more.
Blue Abyss Resort – Set in a tropical garden, you can get accommodation/dive packages and the restaurant here is excellent. I can personally recommend staying/diving/eating here.
Pescadores Seaview Suites - Dorms and private rooms, swimming pool, gardens overlooking the ocean. Fantastic sunset spot.
Mariana Guesthouse – If you want a home-from-home and a bit of luxury with large spacious rooms, this house overlooks the ocean. Fantastic sunset spot from the terrace.
Further afield – 10 minutes by trike
Archery Asia Nipa Huts & Camping - If you want to be close to nature, this place is perfect. Choose from a private hut or a tent which has a mattress and mosquito net. On site campfire and breakfast available, located in Tuble.
Teobas Homestay - Basic private accommodation in a tropical garden overlooking the beach. Located in Tongo, each room has a balcony.
Blue Orchid Resort – Based in White Beach, this is a dive resort with fantastic sunset spot. It has an on site restaurant, and you can have a massage overlooking the ocean.
Garden Village – Holiday homes, choose from 1 bedroom or 2 bedroomed private homes. The 2-bedroomed homes have a garden, BBQ and living room. We lived here for a few months.
Moalboal T Breeze Coastal Resort – Lovely natural accommodation set on a rocky outcrop overlooking white beach. On site restaurant, kayakas and snorkelling available.
Turtle Bay Dive Resort – A luxury dive resort based in Tongo with large spacious rooms, outdoor pool and private beach area. On-site spa and restaurant.
Kasai Village Dive Resort – A luxury dive resort in Tuble with large spacious rooms, outdoor pool and private beach area.
As you can see, there are a lot of options, but if you don't find what you want here, just search for Moalboal and see what takes your fancy!
By Air: Mactan-Cubu International Airport has daily domestic and international flights.
We have flown to Mactan-Cebu from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) which means you can easily twin a visit to Cebu and another Asian City.
Cebu is long and narrow and there are no main highways, it can therefore take a while to travel around depending on the time of day and traffic, so you need to bear this in mind.
Moalboal is situated south of Cebu City (3-4 hours) and north of Bato if you are coming over from Negros (1.5-2 hours).
By Private Transfer from the Airport – From Mactan-Cebu Airport/Cebu City you can grab a private car to take you door to door. This is the easiest option but the most expensive.
Cost: P2,500 – 3,000.
If you are on a budget:
1. First you need to get from Mactan-Cebu Airport to Cebu City South Bus Terminal
By Bus from Mactan-Cebu Airport – Buses run every 20-30 minutes between 7am-9.30pm. Take myBus to the South Bus Terminal. Cost: P25.
By Taxi from Mactan-Cebu Airport - If you don’t want to take a bus to the bus station, or if you land outside of the above hours, take a WHITE TAXI (the yellow charge more) to Cebu City, Cebu South Bus Terminal (20-30 mins). Cost: P200-300.
2. From Cebu City South Bus Terminal to Moalboal - Look for the yellow Ceres Bus Line (Stand C5 and C6) for BATO via BARILI (Air Con/Ordinary). Buses depart every 30 minutes and it will take between 2.5 hours to 4 hours depending on traffic. Sometimes they make a toilet stop. Cost: One way ticket on air con bus = P140 (£2)
3. From Moalboal to Panagsama. - Get off the bus at 7/11 (a few minutes past McDonalds/Gaisano Grand Mall. If you are diving the sardines you will be heading for Panagsama Beach, look out for the brown tourist sign (NB – Tell the bus driver you want Panagsama and they will let you know). Grab a trike to your accommodation, it will take about 10-20 minutes depending on where you stay. It can be noisy and bumpy, but this is the local way so soak it up and experience Philippine culture.
Cost: P100 – 150 (depending on how tired you are and your haggling skills)
- Language – English is widely spoken to an excellent standard. In this region of the Philippines, the official language is Visayan.
- Currency – Philippine Peso, shown as either P or PHP. £1 = P70
- Plugs & Electricity – 2-pin plugs (same as US/Canada/China/Japan, flat parallel, also known as Type A). Some places are also Type B (same as UK) and Type C (known as the “Euro” plug) Standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
- Wi-Fi – Available everywhere; scuba diving centres, hotels, bars and restaurants
- ATM’s – There is an ATM in Evie’s at Panagsama Beach. In Moalboal there is another inside the Three-Sixty Pharmacy. NB. There is a P10,000 withdrawal limit per transaction with a mandatory country-wide fee of P250
- Driving – Right hand drive
- Visa - A 29 day visa is given at the time of arrival. You can easily extend at a local immigration office for another 29 days, the nearest and quickest is on the neighbouring island of Negros in Dumagete City (you will need to give a Negros address, just pick any dive centre or hotel). You can extend in Cebu City but it’s busier and will take longer.
- Airport – Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City is the nearest domestic and international airport. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly here. NB. Departure tax of P850 is payable for all international departures at all airports.
- Religion - Catholic
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