Jun 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Scenes from Shangri-la: the rice terraces of the Philipinnes.

Cebu island, a 20-by-140-mile strip of mountains and coral-sand beaches an hour's flight south of Manila, offers diving at dozens of world-class sites, rappelling down misty river canyons, and hiking through mountains arrayed like a verdant sheet of bubble wrap.
Moalboal, a quaint one-dirt-road hamlet on the Ta–on Strait, is at the epicenter of outdoor activity here, especially diving. Expel the air from your BCD at the House Reef, a coral shelf 200 feet straight off the town beach—swim out and sink into a world of pulsating sea clams and nudibranchs radiating in nuclear hues. On Pescador Island, a federally protected marine park a ten-minute boat ride from Moalboal, walls of sheer coral plummet more than 100 feet.

Pass the time purging all that residual nitrogen by heading into the hills east of Moalboal. Here, several gorges await, including Tison Canyon. Spend a day working your way down the Tison River by jumping off 25-foot-high limestone cliffs into azure pools and rappelling down 100-foot waterfalls. Or avoid the water altogether and hike five miles through valleys of coconut palms and guava-laden jungles to Osmena Peak, at 2,300 feet the highest on the island. When you return, dine at one of Moalboal's dozen open-air seaside restaurants, where $5 will get you a feast of fresh lapu-lapu, sweet-and-sour shrimp, and a couple bottles of San Miguel beer.
The Savedra-Great White Dive Center (011-63-32-474-0014; in Moalboal is a PADI five-star outfit that offers at least three dives a day, including night dives, to sites like the House Reef and Pescador Island for $25 per dive including transportation and equipment. Karl Epp, Savedra's 37-year-old German owner, will also arrange canyoneering and hiking trips and will send someone to pick you up in Cebu City for the one-hour ride to Moalboal ($42 one-way). He can reserve rooms for you at places like the Cabana Beach Club Resort, where seaside doubles overlooking the House Reef and boils of jacks cost $70 a night.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!