An international tourism campaign labeled it as an island in the Pacific. Investors call it the business and tourism hub in Visayas in Mindanao. Visitors call it a tropical paradise where everything is within reach.
This place is Cebu, a 225-kilometer island in the middle of the Visayas cluster. With an area of almost 5,000 square kilometers (it’s actually bigger than it looks on the map), Cebu is a haven for people who love outdoor adventure.
That is why recently, Cebu has become a hiker’s paradise. Every weekend, the island’s various established and wild trails are treaded upon by hikers who want a dose of fresh air, amazing vistas, and doses of adrenaline. Check out why hiking in Cebu should be on your weekend must-do list.
1. Spectacular views
Most of Cebu’s hiking trails follow ridges and mountainsides. Such exposed trail locations offer unimpeded and breathtaking views of valleys, gorges, farmlands, and mountain ranges.
On the western side of the island, you will see the cerulean beauty of Tañon Strait and the mountainous Negros Island.
On a clear day, you might even have a glimpse of the majestic Mt. Kanlaon, the highest peak in Visayas, across the strait. If you’re looking east, be ready for a visual treat when you see the amazing cityscape of Metro Cebu. The city view becomes even more beautiful at night when the city’s lights are switched on. Everything glitters!
In remote places, it takes you days or weeks to reach civilization. But in Cebu, hiking trails are just a few minutes or hours away from a village, town, or road thanks to the island’s thin geographical profile.
This means you can easily access food, water, or modern conveniences. You might be walking along a remote trail when suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, you see a small store selling ice-cold drinks!
More importantly, the ease of access means you can exit the trails easily in case of emergency and emergency workers can easily access trails to rescue stranded or injured hikers.
3. Easy access to transportation
Several of Cebu’s hiking trails connect to paved roads and major highways. Many begin and finish in towns, villages, and even component cities. With such accessibility, transportation is conveniently available.
Motorcycles for hire, jeepneys, buses, vans, and other forms of transportation can readily take you where you want to go before or after your hike. Want a fun challenge? Try hitchhiking!
4. Helpful residents
Cebu’s locals, especially those living in the hinterlands, are a hospitable, smiling, and friendly lot. Don’t be surprised if they invite you for a cup of hot traditional coffee, a filling meal , or a shot of rum when you pass by them. And don’t forget, they do these to total strangers like you!
Locals are always ready to lend a hand during dire times. Lost in the mountains? A local farmer may show you the way back, let you camp or rest in his hut, or even accompany you until you get a ride back to the city!
There are easy and hard trails. There are trails that are relatively level with the ground and trails that ascend almost 90 degrees up a mountain.
Loose rocks may characterize one trail while wet mud and tall grass cover another. Some trails lead deep inside the dark jungle while others follow a busy highway. There are trails that require you to crawl under fallen trees, climb over boulders, wade in a shallow stream, or go inside a cave. There’s always a trail that fits your hiking style in Cebu.
6. Secret wonders
At the end or along Cebu’s hiking trails are secret places and wild wonders that truly spark your interest. It might lead you to a waterfall which is technically in the middle of the city!
Or a dark cave with a waterfall at the center. Or a strange grove of trees that look utterly alien. Or a massive man-made lake in the middle of a forest. Or rocky limestone karst formations that is starkly different from the surrounding farmlands. Cebu does not run out of wonders!
7. Long-distance challenge
Last February 22, a bushcraft enthusiast, survivalist, and avid outdoorsman named Jing Lavilles completed the first thru-hike of the Cebu Highlands Trail, or the CHT. The grand brainchild of Mr. Lavilles, the CHT is a long-distance trail, the first of its kind in the Visayas patterned after international long-distance hiking trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail in the US.
At almost 400 kilometers long including its curves and elevation changes, the CHT snakes from the southern tip in Liloan, Santander to the northern tip of Cebu in Daan Bantayan. You can push yourself to the limits by doing a thru-hike like Sir Jing did—trekking on the spine of Cebu for roughly a month. Or you can do it segment by segment if your schedule does not allow a month off work or school.
Needless to say, the CHT takes hiking to the next level. It also takes you to natural attractions rarely seen by city dwellers or even highland locals. Accomplishing the CHT could be your ultimate hiking goal.
So what are you waiting for? Step into your trekking shoes, pack your energy food, and tighten your backpack straps. Come on, let’s hike!