When you have got a free day in Cebu, where do you go? You can choose to go around the city or choose to explore the nearby destinations to enjoy the sights and sounds of the province. In my case, I decided to head south to explore a town that has become a tourism icon for its animal interaction. Only this time, I am exploring the town for a quick shower, walk through its history, and a quick saltwater swim. This is Oslob!
Just a 4-hour bus ride away from the Queen City of the South, Oslob is a small coastal municipality facing the Bohol Sea. This destination is known as the home of one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country and for its collection of historical structures. However, it was the controversial “taming” of the whale sharks that eventually paved the way for this small town to become a tourism icon of Cebu. This blog will not feature “tamed” sea creatures but it is about going back to what Oslob has long been known for.
Tucked along the mountains of Oslob is one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have ever visited and seen - Tumalog Falls. Getting there is quite easy as you can hire a “habal-habal” to get to the jump-off point from the main highway. At the jump-off point, you can go for a 15-minute downhill leisure walk or ride another “habal-habal” to get to the entrance of the park. We chose to go for the faster and more thrilling ride downhill.
The nature park has basic facilities like a restroom and picnic huts for its guests. A Php50 entrance fee is charged by the LGU at the gate. Dirt trails lead up to the base of the falls. There are a lot of good vantage points to see the full beauty of Tumalog. Of course, there’s the popular view spot that you have seen on socmed but you need to line up (a really long one) and give a tip for that human drone shot. In my case, I chose to own my view point rather than go for the usual, giving me more time to enjoy the view and the waters.
Two things that will immediately catch your attention when you come face-to-face with Tumalog Falls are the shower-like cascade and its turquoise waters. What makes Tumalog unique is its shower cascade unlike others that have a strong single cascade. You can literally stand at the base and enjoy a very cold shower as its spring waters cascade along its umbrella-like rock formations. It is like taking a quick shower under a strong rain. It shocks your body with very cold water while giving you a hard and soothing shoulder and back massage.
The waters of Tumalog Falls cascade from a height of about 80 meters into a small and shallow basin. One can swim and enjoy the waist-deep turquoise waters of the falls while enjoying the views of its surrounding forests. Word of caution, though, because of Oslob’s popularity, this nature destination can draw a crowd on a weekend so make sure that you bring a lot of patience when visiting Tumalog Falls during the peak days.
Habal-Habal Rate: Php150 per head roundtrip from main highway to Tumalog Falls Jump-off to Cangcua-ay Private Beach Resort. Make sure to arrange the time you want to be picked up at the jump-off.
Tumalog Jump off Habal-Habal Rate: Php50 per head roundtrip.
Tumalog Falls Entrance Fee: Php50 per head. You can rent out a cabana at Php300 if you plan to stay longer than usual.
Beach Spot: Cangcua-ay Private Beach
With the exception of Sumilon Island’s white sandbar, Oslob’s coastline is composed of a mix of rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. It does not have a a long beach strip where beach bums like me can just relax and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. The beach strip that they have does not allow swimming as its “tamed” whale sharks are just a few meters away from the shore. In fact, my habal-habal driver cannot recommend any beach spots when I asked him where we can swim and enjoy beach bumming. BUT… the beach person in me wouldn’t go home without getting tanned and salty so, from a suggestion of a traveler friend, we discovered and explored the Cangcua-ay Private Beach in Barangay Tan-awan.
Expect to walk down the 254 steps from the entrance to the private beach enclave. You get to enjoy the views of the Bohol Sea, Sumilon Island, and Siquijor as you traverse down the steep steps to the beach. Cancua-ay is a perfect spot to beach chill. We got to enjoy the waters of Oslob without the crowd even if it was a Sunday. It was rocky cove with portions of white sand shores that gave me a much-needed beach break. You can enjoy lazing around on the hammock while immersed in saltwater, go for a quick swim, or challenge your fear of heights by jumping off the platform.
The entrance fee of Php150 allows you a day trip access to the beach where you can us the cabanas without extra charge. You just have to make sure that you have everything with you when you go down as you don’t want to tire yourself up traversing the steps. I must agree Cancau-ay is a perfect spot for beacb day trip to disconnect and recharge your mind and body.
Entrance fee: Php150 per head for a day trip
Daanglungsod Baluarte Ruins
Baranggay Daanglungsod holds a historical treasure that is often overlooked by visitors of Oslob. Reading through the town’s history, the present-day location of the town center was not the first location. In fact, it was at Daanglungsod where the first community was established hence the name of the barangay that roughly translates to “old town/city”. This location stands about a kilometer south of the present-day town center.
Just like any old Spanish town, watch towers or “baluartes” were built to protect and warn the town and its people from attacks of Moro pirates. The ruins of a huge baluarte stands as the only mute witness to the original community of Oslob. It hides conspicuously behind trees, vegetations, and modern structures along the highway. If you are not aware of its existence, you would probably miss out on it. I just hope that the LGU would also give ample attention to its preservation for its historical value.
Church of the Immaculate Conception
Completed in 1847, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, or more popularly known as Oslob Church, is one of the heritage structures around the towns historical core. The church is made coral stones and reinforced by lime cement. A 30-meter bell tower stands adjacent to the church that was built in 1858 under Father Apolinar Alvarez. Natural and man-made disasters have damaged the church but the faith of the locals of Oslob would always rise above to rebuild and restore their beloved church.
The Oslob Church is a dominant structure in town. The simple and yet imposing facade exude a vibe of protection over the town of Oslob. The interior of the church exudes the same simplicity with only the image of the Immaculate Conception as the centerpiece of its altar. The church is simple and elegant as if telling us that faith need not be complicated. All it takes is for us to simply believe.
The church complex is home to a number of historical structures. The church wall and gates are being re-constructed to complement the church. The walls served as the church’s protection from pirates. A small coral chapel stands just right across church while an old Spanish well can also be found within the church grounds.
Trike fare from Cancua-ay Beach: Php50 per head
Running along the left side of the church is the oldest street in Oslob - Calle Aragones. The street served as the main processional route of the church. A historical marker was mounted by the LGU that recognizes the historical value of the street.
It still serves as a vital link of the main highway to the adjacent streets and the businesses in the area. This is where you would find the Oslob Municipal Hall and its community center. It still serves as the main access to the town’s historical attractions from the national highway.
The Cuartel Ruins stands at the end of Calle Aragones. The construction of the cuartel or barracks started in the 1860s and were suppose to be the residence of Spanish troops. However, the arrival of the Americans halted the construction of the cuartel leaving it at its current state.
The cuartel is made up of thick coral stones from the ruins of the bell tower. The foundations were built strong that it has withstood time and natural calamities. It is the most photographed historical structure in Oslob. The structure is dramatic and walking along the corridors of the Spanish ruins challenges your creativity as you try to capture the drama the unfinished Spanish structure in your photos.
Cuartel Beach and Baluarte Ruins
Cuartel Beach is the “baywalk” area of the town. Located at the back of the Cuartel Ruins, this reclaimed area was converted into a sprawling open park that gives one a calm view of the Bohol Sea. What makes this bay park really unique is the clear and clean waters of its beach which makes it quite tempting to jump into. You can even enjoy watching schools of fish lounge around its breakwaters.
You can also find the ruins of a Baluarte or watch tower on one end of the park. The Baluarte is one of the 12 watch towers built in Oslob to protect the town from pirates. A monument honors Father Julian Bermejo who spearheaded the construction of these baluartes which totaled to 40 and ran the length from Carcar to Santander. His biggest contribution was the construction of the Oslob Church which he completed in 1847.
The park is a perfect way to slow you down after a day of exploring nature and history in Oslob. You can take a seat in one of the benches and just breathe in the view of the sea and enjoy the breeze. I seldom get this kind of views in metro so I really took it in. It was calming and recharging. Oslob was perfect in its simple state.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
My day trip to Oslob was definitely a much needed pause and recharge for me. It gave me a cold freshwater shower and a quick saltwater dip. It gave me the opportunity to commune with nature while appreciating history. It was like getting the best of two worlds at the same time. It was refreshing and recharging. Oslob, at its basic, is OsLove!
Exploring a place, for what it is, is an exciting adventure. You get to see the real beauty of the destination and not what it is trying to adopt. It makes you fall in love for what it truly is. Destinations need not re-invent its wheel to gain tourism traction. All it needs to do is to look within and uncover what they have to offer that they can truly say is uniquely their own.
Getting there: Major local and international airlines have direct flights to Cebu. You can take a cab from the airport to the Cebu South Bus Terminal where you can take a bus to Bato via Oslob. You just tell the ticket seller and the bus conductor to drop you off at the stop going to Tumalog Falls or at the Oslob town proper.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.