Article: May Ling Rosito / Topic: Travel
Let’s face it, beaches are kind of overrated nowadays. Half the population of a small city like Cebu are probably out right now swimming in a sea full of people who all thought it would be a good idea to go to the beach to “cool off’’. Little did they know, that’s what everyone else was planning to do. It’s nearly impossible to cool off in this scorching summer heat so why should you spend it with the body heat of 50 other people? My advice is to skip the beach and head for the mountains. Summer time is best spent underneath the shade of a tree or on top of a mountain where the air is crisp and cool. So where in Cebu City should you go to enjoy a view you would normally see in Baguio City? Here are 5 underrated spots you can visit without having to worry about crowds of tourists littering your Instagram shots.
JVR Island in the Sky Resort
Located far from the city, this panoramic and mountainous spot can be found in Barangay Gaas, Balamban which can be accessible through the Transcentral Highway. Imagine an island but instead of it being in the middle of the sea, it’s floating in the sky amongst the clouds. This sky resort is basically built on top of a mountain so guests should expect the atmosphere to be colder—similar to Baguio City’s climate. Guests can enjoy a number of outdoor activities such as walking on a multicolored hanging bridge. This bridge is also a perfect spot to take pictures especially if you need to update your Instagram feed. One of the activities guests can enjoy is a 20 minute cable ride where you can truly be one with nature. Another is an exhilarating zipe line ride that costs only P40. If you wish to stay at the sky resort overnight, you can rent cottages that can accommodate 6 people for P1,500 and 14 people for P2,500.
Terrazas de Flores
Instead of looking for starfishes in the ocean, how about looking at hundreds of flowers arranged in terraces instead? This breathtaking garden of flowers—which is actually the first flower terraces in the Philippines—took 7 years to be built. Found along Cebu Transcentral Highway in Barangay Malubog, Terrazas de Flores is open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. The entrance fee is P100 per person and P50 for children. This is the perfect place for people who just want to relax and rest their eyes through scenic views. You can order iced coffee from their café and chill at one of their comfortable cabanas. They’re so comfortable that you might fall asleep there too. The smell of fresh mountain air and blooming flowers surrounding you is enough to take away all the stress of travelling.
Candongao Peak, Dalaguete
If you’re into trekking, exploring thick jungles, and mountain climbing, then trekking to Candongao Peak is perfect for you. Tourists usually head to Osmeña Peak to trek but expect it to be crawling with people especially this summer vacation. Sometimes, it’s better to take the road less traveled. Candongao Peak is fairly new and only a few reviews and blogs about the trek can be found online. The trail to the peak will transport you to a different land and you would not think that you are still in Cebu. You will surely be disconnected from civilization as the trail gets thicker and thicker the further you go. To get there; take a bus from the Cebu South Terminal to Badian. From Badian, you can commute to Sohoton Elementary School using habal-habal (motorcycles) ; from there, your trek will start. Because this peak isn’t as commercialized as Osmeña Peak, it’s best to hire a guide. Trekkers have always contacted Mr. Sien Kha Hey through his Facebook page Freedom Canyoneering because it was he who actually discovered Candongao peak. It is said to get colder as you ascend the peak so make sure you use proper attire.
West 35 Eco Mountain Park Resort
If you still can’t get enough of the mountains, then head to West 35 Eco Mountain Park Resort. Waking up to the view of mountains wrapped in puffy clouds all around you in the heart of Cebu is indeed something you should experience this summer. This environmental facility can be found in a place called Gaas within a municipality called Balamban. Aside from soaking up the beautiful nature around, West 35 also has a playground for children, a zipline ride, a café, and a game room. The resort has a wide view deck where guests can adore the lush scenery of the Balamban Mountains. They also take their environmental theme to the next level by growing their own organic vegetables that they use in their restaurant.
Bacalla Woods Campsite
This is perhaps the best place to experience a disconnection from civilization and a connection to nature. This fairly new campsite is situated in the mountainous areas of San Fernando found in the south of Cebu. It is a home for artists, environmentalists, explorers, campers, nature lovers, and backpackers so expect to find a fun and eccentric group when you get there. There are tons of activities to be done in Bacalla Woods. You can go river trekking around the 7 falls in the area, go mountain biking or mountain trekking, or just soak up the view in the campsite’s infinity swing. The atmosphere around the campsite is perfect for meeting new friends since it allows campers to bond together through bonfires and jamming. You will literally be forced to make a human connection with other since cellphone and WIFI signal is not available in the campsite. It is highly advisable to reserve before going there since walk-ins are not allowed due to the high number of people who want to stay at Bacalla. You can rent a hammock, a tent, or a cottage if you wish to stay overnight. There are a few meals you can order but if you wish to cook your own food, you can just bring your own cooking utensils.