If you’ve ever spent a little time scrolling through travel photos on Instagram, you’ll recognize the Insta-famous Kawasan Falls. With big bamboo rafts and water so vibrant and teal, you’d think it is photoshopped (but we can vouch that it’s not!).
Tip: Skip the pricey canyoneering tour! Tour guides will try to sell you canyoneering trips to Kawasan Falls – but this is not necessary! If you’re a backpacker on a budget (like us) we recommend skipping canyoneering and doing it on your own. You can visit the falls without a guide and also climb/cliff jump as you would in a canyoneering tour. Watch as tours come through, and jump where they jump from (to make sure you are in safe location).
Tip: Get there early to beat the crowds! This is true for most tourist hotspots around the world (as is avoiding visiting on weekends). The falls open at 6am, which is when most people advise going if you don’t want flocks of people in your photos. We however ended up arriving around 8:30am and found the falls nearly empty. It helps that we visited on a weekday in November, which is low season for tourists. We were the first people to take a raft ride (at least that we saw when we were there) and we had one all to ourselves!
We used Maps.me (an offline map app) to get to the falls, but it didn’t direct us to the main entrance. We ended up above the falls, leaving behind the paved road for a bumpy dirt (and muddy) road, which nearly caused a few wipeouts. We came to a dead end in a group of small huts, overlooking a gorgeous jungle and the ocean in the distance. We could hear running water below us and a local woman told us she could take us down to the falls.
We offered to pay 50 php to leave our scooter and helmets on the property (since we heard that is the cost in the official parking area) but the woman wouldn’t budge on taking less than 100 php. Without another option, we gave her 100 php ($2 USD) and followed another woman into the jungle. I was wearing flip flops, which were not ideal footwear for the steep dirt trek through thick foliage. She left us at a watering hole where it appeared she would be doing laundry with other locals, and pointed for us to keep heading down.
We ended up arriving in the middle of Kawasan Falls (stepping over a big pipe – quite the grand entrance) between the first main (Insta-famous) waterfall and the second level of falls. At least we managed to avoid the entrance fee (albeit unintentionally!). Since it was after 8am we feared there would already by crowds of people at the main waterfall, we so hurried down to it and were elated to see it was virtually empty. We savored the beauty of the falls, took some epic shots, and then went on a ride into the waterfalls.
Tip: Negotiate on the raft price. A raft ride is not necessary, but we enjoyed it and would recommend it! We offered one of the guides 600 php for both a raft and a table to keep our stuff on and he accepted our price. The raft ride was a lot of fun and you get a “Filipino massage” (aka the waterfall beating down on your back), so if you have the extra cash – go for it!
What we paid: (rough conversion is 50php to $1 USD)
- Entry Fee – 0 php (because we accidentally entered in the middle of falls through the jungle) but it is normally 40 php per person
- Raft Ride – 600 php private raft for two with a table to keep our belongings including a 100 php tip to our raft driver
- Motorbike Parking – 100 php, parking in private property
- Our Total = 900 php (~$18 USD)
There are even more gorgeous waterfalls in Cebu than just Kawasan Falls!