Summer surprises in Cebu

Roads, rivers and seas less traveled on this beautiful island

By Marian C. Baring

AS SOON as April started, Facebook walls got flooded with posts of your friends’ summer vacation destinations.

Don’t get me wrong. Traveling is good. It’s amazing. In fact, please do travel. But going to places so far away without checking out what’s in your own backyard just to earn the right to be called well-travelled is absolute rubbish.

So don’t be such a snob and take time to explore your own beloved Cebu, which is blessed with amazing spots, some of which are rarely visited.

This amazing island hides pure beauty from coast to coast, so pack your bags and enjoy what it has to offer.

Capitancillo. A mystical island up north. (Foto by Jan Sahilan)
Capitancillo. A mystical island up north. (Foto by Jan Sahilan)

Capitancillo Islet, Bogo

Capitancillo is a mystical islet off Bogo City. It suffered the brunt of Yolanda, which destroyed all the open-air cottages except one. Still, the islet has retained its take-your-breath-away kind of charm and magnificence with the white, coral-beach, the towering solar-powered lighthouse, and crystal clear waters against the bluest of skies. Its mystique stems from the folklore behind the island’s name or how the island came to be. Stories have it that a Datu from Mactan, Bugtopasan, cursed the Spanish galleon of Captain Basilio after the latter disrespected the datu. Curses and magic spells eventually brought forth this islet.

How to get there:

* Hop on a bus bound for Bogo.

* Get off the city proper.

* Ask around on how to get to Nailon Wharf where the boats for the islet abound.

* Boatmen can overprice so either turn on those trusty haggling powers or bring as many friends as you can to minimize cost.

Reminders:

* Make sure you bring lots of food, water and, of course, sunblock (note: there are no stores on the island).

* Please feed your boatmen. They will wait for you until you are through frolicking and diving.

* Watch out for sea snakes. They kinda like to take a rest on the nooks in between rocks.

* The guy who secures the island is a government-installed guard, so you’ll feel safe.

What you can do in Capitancillo:

* Enjoy the beach
* Snorkel
* Scuba dive

What you can’t do:

* You can’t fish on the island because it is a protected marine sanctuary.

* You can’t find room accommodations on the islet, which means you’ll have to return to the mainland for that.

BOJO RIVER. Try this cruise with a purpose. (Foto by Creselda Valiente)
BOJO RIVER. Try this cruise with a purpose. (Foto by Creselda Valiente)

Bojo River Cruise and Hidden Beach in Aloguinsan

You’ve seen photos of boats about to go through an opening in between two mountains formations toward the open arms of the sea, so you ask, “Is this Palawan?” And your friends won’t reply because they want you to think that they are in Palawan. Well, this one is much closer to home – in Aloguinsan.

What you can do:

Hit two birds with one stone in Aloguinsan, as you can enjoy its Bojo River Eco-Cultural Tour, and later, for the more adventurous ones, take a side trip to a little-known and unspoiled paradise called the Hidden Beach. The river tour has gained popularity among tourists and is a regular fare for visitors.

How to get there:

Driving to Aloguinsan is more convenient. You just head toward Toledo City and just ask around from there. Signs are also all over the place, so it is easier to find.

Or, you can take the public utility vehicle taking the V-hire from Citilink to the Toledo Terminal, and from Toledo, you can take a jeepney to Aloguinsan. You can trust the good people of Aloguinsan to point you to the right direction leading to the Bojo River Eco-Cultural Tour.

As for the hidden beach, you could access it by habal-habal. It is approximately 30 minutes from Bojo River. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride, as you have to go through rough roads.

SANDBAR. This little patch of paradise disappears during high tide. (Foto by Jan Sahilan)
SANDBAR. This little patch of paradise disappears during high tide. (Foto by Jan Sahilan)

South Sandbar or Bagonbanwa

I am torn as to whether this is still part of Cebu or Bohol. But either way, you can reach this stretch of white sand beach from Mactan on a one-hour-and-a-half boat ride.

How to get there:

* Contract a boatman who could take you to the area from Mactan Island, but make sure you go during low tide because the sandbar disappears during high tide.

* You can hit two birds with one stone in Aloguinsan as you can enjoy its Bojo River Eco-Cultural Tour, and later, for the more adventurous ones, take a side trip to a little-known and unspoiled paradise called the Hidden Beach.

* The river tour has gained popularity among tourists and is a regular fare for visitors.

LAMBUG BEACH. Half the fun is finding this beach in Badian. (Foto by Yan Baring)
LAMBUG BEACH. Half the fun is finding this beach in Badian. (Foto by Yan Baring)

Lambug Beach, Badian

How to get there:

* Bring a car or take the bus

* Just remember to look for signs and get off or stop at Badian proper.

* If you’re commuting, ask for a multicab or tricycle that would take you to Lambug.

* If you can’t find the place, ask around because it is so easy to get lost.

* You could drive a little further south and look for a sign that DOES NOT say “To Lambug Beach,” but one that says “Cebu International Golf and Resort.” Turn right and drive past the golf course and into a dirt road that goes straight to the beach.

Accommodations:

* There are no resorts here, just some locals opening small inns for travelers at very affordable rates.

* If you stay at a nearby resort, Terra Manna, you could go down the cliff to the beach and ask local fisherfolk to rent a banca that would take you to Lambug.

What you can do in Lambug:

* Soak in the sun and dip in the clear waters for hours until you are burnt to a crisp.

ESOY SPRING. The pool that catches the hot, sulfuric water of esoy’s hotspring. (Foto by Yan Baring)
ESOY SPRING. The pool that catches the hot, sulfuric water of esoy’s hotspring. (Foto by Yan Baring)

Esoy Hot Spring, Catmon

After the earthquake, the hot spring is no longer as hot as before, they say. But it is still worth visiting. The hot spring is named after a councilor, who started developing the place by himself. It is advisable to book in advance because the small hot spring pool could only accommodate a few people.

HANGING BRIDGE. River trek, anyone? (Foto by Yan Baring)
HANGING BRIDGE. River trek, anyone? (Foto by Yan Baring)

How to get there:

* Drive to Catmon up north and go to Barangay Duyan. There’s a sign that says Esoy Hot Spring and turn left and take the dirt road going up to the mountains. The hot spring is about five kilometers from the highway

* Ride the habal-habal.

* You pay for the entrance fees and take a short downhill trek to the spring.

* The guide will then tell you the benefits of soaking in the warm, sulfuric waters, health-wise.

Guided tours for a fee:

* Crossing the hanging bridge

* River trekking through huge rocks and spelunking towards a waterfall hidden in between boulders. You will be made to wear a life vest as the trail includes deep parts of the river, where the currents are sometimes strong. The waterfall is not too high, but the pool of water beneath it is believed to be at least 100 feet deep.

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