In this article I dive into the 9 Essential Tips for Canyoneering Kawasan Falls —I’ve learned from my mistakes and successes on this wild adventure through one of the Philippines’ most beautiful areas, and I want to share that wisdom so you can have an unforgettable adventure here!
Planning a trip to the Philippines is hard. Like, REALLY hard. With 7,107 islands to choose from where does one even start?!
Well, I suggest you start with the island of Cebu.
I chose this idyllic island because it has the best cross-section of the Philippines’ offerings — secluded beaches, diverse marine life, and incredible canyoneering.
It’s the latter that I focus on in this article, because canyoneering through the jungle to a 65 ft. cliff jump into Kawasan Falls is a bucket-list experience to top all others!
Not convinced yet?
Throughout the 3-5 hr. canyoneering adventure you’ll hike through stunning cliff formations and wild jungle paths; jump into rushing streams, lagoons and mini-falls; and swim in some of the most beautiful azure water you’ve ever seen.
This is the perfect half-day activity for the adventurous traveler looking for something more exciting and memorable than another day at the beach.
Before canyoneering, I did tons of research in order to maximize my enjoyment while minimizing the risk of injury. After canyoneering, I noted things I wish I had known that were not covered in the articles I found online.
Below I’ve distilled the most useful info from my research and experience so that you can have a wonderful, safe time canyoneering to Kawasan Falls!
1. Base Yourself in Close Proximity to the Starting Point for Canyoneering to Kawasan Falls
Staying in an area like Moalboal on the west side of Cebu will allow you to get an early start on canyoneering to Kawasan Falls (essential if you want to beat the crowds!).
Moalboal is only 30-45 minutes away from the start of your canyoneering adventure. Plus it as a fabulous beach nearby and the famous Sardine Run is not far off as well.
Or you can do it the budget-travel way and take the bus (~15-20PHP) and pay for the entrance / a local guide when you arrive (~1000PHP).
If you go the DIY route and skipping the guide, the entrance fee will be a mere 45PHP for travelers and 20PHP for locals.
Note that the dollar to PHP conversion is about $1 to 50 PHP.
Pro Tip: Even though the DIY option may be attractive financially (and I’m all for budget travel), where safety is at issue, I suggest spending the extra 1,000-1,500PHP or so for a tour company with a good safety record and experienced guides.
I stayed at the beautiful Blue Orchid Resort about 45 min. from the start of the canyoneering spot in Badian and it was the perfect home base. This serene haven guaranteed solid R&R before a 5am wake up for the tour with Kawasan Canyoneering. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Start Canyoneering as Early as Possible (6am is ideal!)
Canyoneering day is not the day to sleep in! Take it easy the day before (hello beach day), go to sleep early, and wake up with the sun (or even before). The local roosters may help you out with this. Ideally, you’ll start your canyoneering adventure by 6am.
If you snooze, that magical canyoneering experience and the beauty of the area may be ruined by the hoards of tourists clambering to the falls right alongside you.
Pro tip: Before booking a tour, make sure your tour operator is on the same page as you and is willing to guarantee an early start.
3. Wear Tight Athletic Pants
In addition to scrambling along slippery rock formations, if like to go balls to the (canyon) walls, you’ll be doing numerous cliff-jumps on your way to Kawasan Falls. The final jump is a whopping 65 feet!
To save your legs and bum from massive bruising, I highly recommend wearing cropped or longer athletic pants. When you don’t “stick the landing,” you’ll be thankful for the skin-protection and shock-absorption.
I made the mistake of cliff jumping in bikini bottoms and ended up with purple yam-like bruises on my thighs and butt, a souvenir that accompanied me all the way back to the States!
Don’t make the same mistake I did; cover your nether regions!
4. Bring or Rent a Dry Bag
If you want to bring some snacks, Philippine Pesos, your phone, etc., you’re gong to need a reliable dry bag.
Most reputable tour companies provide dry bags with your tour booking but other guides may not. Check in advance, or for peace of mind bring your own.
I brought a dry bag from home since I knew I’d be using it for other water-related activities in the Philippines, and most importantly, I knew it was reliable.
Pro Tip: If you buy a dry bag prior to your trip, make sure to test it out! Put some tissue inside, secure it (usually involves folding it over three times before latching it shut), and throw it into the bath. Then check that the tissue is still dry.
And while we’re on the subject of dry bags, I recommend buying a larger size than you think you’ll need. When it’s properly folded over and closed, there is much less room inside than there initially appears to be.
5. Take Off the Safety Vest for the High Jumps (only if you’re a very strong swimmer and your tour operator consents)
This may be a controversial, but I believe it’s safer to jump off the higher cliffs without a floatation vest (as long as you are a very strong swimmer).
When I moved past the small cliffs and started jumping the 20-30+ ft. cliffs my vest started hitting me in the chin.
My man also experienced the chin-slaps, and informed me that the vest straps (that go around the upper legs) were attacking his crotch. He said it felt as though his balls “were at risk of being ripped off” by the sudden motion of the straps as he hit the water!
Since I was confident in my swimming abilities (I swam competitively in high school), I asked my guide if I could jump without the vest and he agreed.
If your tour operator tells you to keep the vest on, then you should definitely do so. Safety first!
6. Bring a Sturdy Pair of Water Shoes
Remember those slippery rock formations I mentioned above? Yeah, you’re going to need sturdy water shoes for traction. They’ll be the difference between deftly scaling the canyon and clumsily falling down with the current.
If it rained recently, the dirt paths that go along the water’s edge will be muddy and slick. In that case, good water shoes will save you twice over!
Pro Tip: If you book with a reputable tour company, they will most likely offer water shoes, but I suggest bringing your own. This way you will know that they are comfortable, fit well, and provide the traction you need. They’ll also serve you well in other parts of the Philippines, whether you’re exploring rocky beaches or hiking other wet terrain.
7. Choose Your Own Adventure When Canyoneering
Canyoneering to Kawasan Falls doesn’t have to be an adrenaline-fueled cliff jumping bonanza. More cautious adventurers can have a great time here as well!
There are routes to avoid most (if not all) of the cliff jumps. Even at the end, there are routes to get down to the base of Kawasan Falls and enjoy the view without doing the 65 ft. jump.
A reputable guide will be able to customize a path that is suited to your skill and thrill-seeking level!
8. Pause to Take in Your Surroundings
With the water pushing you along and your tour guide deftly maneuvering the canyon, it’s tempting to speed through this adventure. Don’t do it!
Pause. Be mindful and present and you’ll have a much deeper experience at this incredibly powerful place than the tourists rushing toward the falls.
Observe the flow of the water, and remind yourself that it helped create this deep canyon. Notice the plant life, vibrant and green against the dark rock. There is so much to take in when you slow down!
Pro Tip: If you find yourself with a crowd on your heels, let the group go by. There is no prize for completing this route as quickly as possible. By taking your time and letting the crowds pass, you’ll have more of this wondrous place to yourself!
9. Pack Nutritious Snacks and Water
There are a few dining options at the falls (mostly meat on a stick), and the food is typical tourist trap fare — lackluster and overpriced.
I recommend having a hearty breakfast before setting off and packing nutritious snacks like power bars, nut mixes, and dried fruit into your dry bag.
I’m a huge fan of Perfect Bar (the Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter, Maple Almond, and Carob Chip flavors are my favs) and Larabar (especially the Mint Chip Brownie, Banana Bread, and Cherry Pie flavors).
And don’t forget to hydrate!
You may not feel thirsty while you’re canyoneering to Kawasan Falls, but your body will get dehydrated from the physical activity. Bring a water bottle and take frequent sips.
As an easy reference, here’s a summary of the 9 essential things you need to know before canyoneering to Kawasan Falls:
- Base yourself in close proximity to the starting point for canyoneering to Kawasan Falls
- Start canyoneering as early as possible (6am is ideal)
- Wear tight athletic pants
- Bring or rent a dry bag
- Take off the safety vest for the high jumps (only if you’re a very strong swimmer and your tour operator consents)
- Bring a sturdy pair of water shoes
- Choose your own adventure when canyoneering
- Pause to take in your surroundings
- Pack nutritious snacks and water
Follow the above tips and you’re sure to have the adventure of a lifetime!
If you’ve already done this, let me know if there’s any advice that you’d add to the list. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
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