After a steep two-kilometer climb that had the smell of burnt rubber wafting in the air as we got out of the parking area and a harrowing motorcycle ride of less than a kilometer of bad and steep road, we found ourselves in the breathtaking, almost ethereal Tumalog Falls in Oslob, southern Cebu.
We were there only to view the falls and did not bring a change of clothes but the temptation to jump into the pool and take a shower was so strong we had to console and restrain ourselves with the thought that we would be coming back and very soon.
Tumalog Falls comes at you like a scene out of a fantasy movie set. If you were to think of paradise, part of that montage in your head will contain scenes you’ll see in Tumalog: luscious greenery and a gentle shower of cascading fresh water. It almost feels like an elf or fairy will peek from one of its cluster of bamboos.
If you ever find yourself in Oslob or are planning to be there for whale-watching, you should make time, say an entire afternoon, to visit Tumalog Falls. It’s worth 10 times the effort and time to be there.
Getting to Tumalog Falls
Oslob is about three hours away from Cebu City. If you’re driving your own vehicle, getting to Tumalog is straightforward. Just head to the intersection marked with a large billboard. It is a steep road. If you’re coming from Cebu City, Tumalog Falls is several kilometers past the town center but before the whale shark-watching center in the town.
If you plan to commute, you can take a bus at the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City and ask to be dropped in Tumalog Falls. There are habal-habal units or motorcycles for hire at the highway that will bring you to the parking area at the falls for P30 per person.
From the highway, Tumalog Falls is about 2 kilometers of steep and winding road that ends in a parking area. You can no longer drive a 4-wheel vehicle to the falls from there.
Entrance to the falls is P20 per person, which is collected at the parking area by barangay attendants.
Habal-habal drivers will offer to drive you to the falls for P50 each roundtrip. If you’re up to a short walk of less than a kilometer, I suggest you walk rather than ride a motorcycle. The road is steep and bad and the trip can be scary for those not used to riding a motorbike. In fairness to the drivers, however, they traverse this span multiple times a day and are adept at navigating it. Walking, especially if you’re part of a large group, is enjoyable and allows you to slowly take in the magnificent vista of Tumalog.
Crowded on weekends, holidays
We were there late afternoon on a weekday and were lucky there were less than 10 people around. On weekends and holidays, however, the place can get crowded and several visitors have reported littering by tourists.
A tourist guide friend of ours, Ka Bino Guerrero, posted photos of the trash left behind by tourists during the Holy Week rush. He said he found litter enough to fill 10 large garbage bags. Guerrero posted the photos on Facebook and called on people to be responsible visitors.
When we were there, however, the place was generally clean except for a bottle and a junkfood plastic wrapper near a makeshift bench.
If you have the chance, visit the Tumalog Falls before it is ruined by boorish tourists.
Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since 1999 and twice won the Philippine Blog Awards for technology and sports. He co-founded the new media start-up InnoPub Media.