On a trip to the Cebu region of the Philippines, Mary Ann Pickford discovers plenty of thrills and spills.
I can’t stop staring at the water below. It’s blue. Turquoise blue. A colour similar to tropical ocean waves lapping against sugary white beaches. Except this isn’t by the sea, this is an emerald lagoon. And I’m about to jump 10 very scary metres into it.
Taking a deep breath, I run towards the sheer drop – and into the air. For a millisecond I register the staggering beauty ahead: verdant trees, craggy rocks, a lake that looks like a huge glittering gem. Then I pierce the water and feel its coolness wash over me before I bob to the surface for air, euphoria igniting my brain.
I’m canyoning in what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – Kawasan Falls. Located in the southern region of Cebu island in the Philippines, this haven abounds with lush greenery, gushing waterfalls and deep pools – with high levels of limestone minerals turning the water a striking blue.
In the run-up to this thrilling moment, my friends and I have been sliding down rocks, splashing through rivers and hiking in forests complete with Jurassic Park-esque hanging vines and gigantic leaves.
One thing clients can count on is that Cebu has epic adventure in bucketfuls. “Cebu is the most visited destination [for British visitors] outside of the capital Manila, followed by Palawan, Boracay and Bohol,” says Gerard Panga, tourism attache to the UK and director for northern and southern Europe at the Philippines Department for Tourism. He stresses that aside from beach holidays and city breaks, Brits enjoy going to the Philippines for nature, adventure and diving.
This is exactly what we experience during our exploration of the central region of the country.
After conquering another terrifying jump, this time from a waterfall at a height of 15 metres (or about three stacked London double-decker buses), we return to our homestay in Santander, an hour’s drive from Kawasan Falls, to snorkel.
Santander, on the south-east coast of the island, is a town that is off the beaten track for typical visitors. We arrived a couple of days before from Cebu City, having hired private transportation to take us the four-hour journey down. Public transport is available but it’s a lengthy trip, often without air con, so clients might find it uncomfortable – especially with the Philippines’ average highs of 30°C.
As lovely as our beach house is, with its gorgeous garden leading to the shore, we know it wouldn’t be wise to get too settled as more exciting activities await us on other islands.