Kawasan Falls are located about 130 km south of Cebu City and only 20 km from the popular town of Moalboal. Most people base themselves in the beachside resort of Panagsama, where the street is lined with dive shops and tour agencies encouraging you to join a canyoning tour.
SHOULD YOU SUCCUMB?
The answer to this question in a resounding ‘Yes’! Kawasan Falls and the surrounding landscape are incredibly scenic and you’d really be missing out if you didn’t check them out. As for the tour itself, it’s a huge amount of fun. If you’re the adventurous type, you can fling yourself from cliffs as high as 15 m, but there’s also no requirement for you to jump more than about 5 m. Aside from jumps, there are plenty of more relaxing natural obstacles to play around on, from vine swings and rock slides to caves and tunnels. For parts of the roughly 5 km journey, you’ll simply be floating on your back staring up at the incredible rock formations. It’s definitely a tour you can take at your own pace and involve yourself in as much or as little as you like.
WHO TO BOOK WITH
For most people, the decision of whether or not to go canyoning at Kawasan Falls is a no brainer, but you shouldn’t just book the first tour you hear about. There are loads of companies offering a similar trip, but only a small number of them are licensed. Prices generally range from about 1000 to 2800 Php, but the quite significant price difference is justified. Cyan Adventures is a licensed tour operator that draws in the crowds on a daily basis despite being one of the pricier options, and below are a few reasons why.
Most of the agencies in town provide very little in the way of equipment. The bare minimum is a helmet and life vest. At Cyan, the equipment is very good quality and they have plenty of sizes to fit eveyone. The helmets feel secure and the life vests have handy pockets for when you don’t want to risk dropping your waterproof camera as you jump. They also provide the following:
The water is actually quite cold and you’re floating around in it for the best part of six hours.
Non-slip canyoning shoes
Not only do these protect your feet, but they also prevent you from having to use your own shoes, which might not dry out in time for you to pack them in your luggage.
Wearing shorts over your wetsuit means you can move around more freely on the rocks without worrying so much about damaging the wetsuit.
The staff at Cyan are really friendly. They put in a huge effort to make sure you enjoy your day. They learn your names and ask about your background and they have plenty of interesting stories to tell about their own lives too. Our guides provided constant entertainment throughout the tour.
You can take your own waterproof camera or GoPro, but the Cyan guides spend the day snapping photos too. They don’t just take a series of jumping shots either. You might find yourself joining a human floating star, holding your head under a waterfall as your helmet creates an air bubble, sliding through tunnels or leaping in unison. After the tour, the staff at Cyan upload all of the images to a Dropbox account and share the album with your group so you can download them and use them to your heart’s content. All of the images in this post with the Cyan logo were taken by our guides.
In addition to the equipment they provide, Cyan have a number of procedures to ensure your safety. They only lead small groups (11 max) and they take great care to advise you on each of the jumps. Usually, there will be one guide to demonstrate and one to remain behind and talk you through what you need to do. They point out the best landing spots and techniques and they will prevent you from doing the larger jumps if they sense from the smaller ones that your jumping style could put you at risk of injury. There’s absolutely no pressure to do the bigger jumps and they’re always happy to give you a hand when you feel unsteady. Each set of guides will only run one tour a day, which means you can take your time when you feel nervous. Other operators try to herd their groups through like cattle, which can ruin your enjoyment.
Not many tour operators include food in your ticket price. At Cyan, they provide a really delicious buffet-style Filipino lunch, served in a restaurant beside the beach at the end of your tour. There are also toilets and showers here so you can freshen up and get more comfortable before you eat. The food includes rice, spring rolls, chicken, noodles, fried seafood, fruit and a free soft drink or beer. It’s a really great opportunity to reflect on the day and get to know your new friends even better before the jeepney ride back to Moalboal.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR DAY
HAVE A BIG BREAKFAST
The tour departs at 9 am but you might not be at the restaurant until 4 pm. Your guides will bring some bottled water and snacks (usually bananas and sticky rice in banana leaves), but you’ll want to fuel up before setting off. If you get breakfast at the coffee shop next to Cyan and tell them you’re on the tour, they’ll give you a 10% discount.
DON’T TAKE VALUABLES
There’s nowhere secure to leave your belongings while you’re in the canyon, and people have been known to have things stolen. There’s no need to take anything with you except perhaps a towel and some clothes to change into afterwards. If you have to bring anything with you into the canyon, such as medical supplies, the guides can add this to their dry bags. Be aware that they throw these bags off some pretty big waterfalls, so check before setting off if any items you intend to give them will survive the battering!
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
Some of the jumps are pretty hairy, but you won’t know if you can handle them unless you try. Give the smaller ones a go first and work your way up. If you’re not sure, there’s no harm in walking to the platform and taking a look. You can always go back down if you can’t face it, and while you’re up there you can volunteer to be an additional cameraman.