When my brother and cousin booked to join me on my recent trip to the Philippines, I had a hard time figuring out where to take them. Boracay was an obvious choice because it was a guaranteed party. But I had done it, many times. I had been to Cebu as well, but I hadn’t really been beyond the Mactan Island area, other than to island hop. I’d also started seeing so many pictures of people going to Kawasan Falls, a place I hadn’t even heard of when I was living in the Philippines, but was now so popular. So it was decided; an island I was familiar with, but an attraction I’d never been to and wanted to see.
A friend of mine introduced me to Brad Travels, a company that offers canyoneering trips to Kawasan Falls. They picked us up from our hotel and we journeyed southwest to the city of Moalboal, home to the falls. One of the coolest things we did actually wasn’t even on the itinerary. Karsten, our guide, asked if we’d like to stop at Carcar Market to check out the lechon, or suckling pig. I’ve been to many markets in the Philippines and had seen a lot of lechon being cooked over the years, but this had to be the lechon capital of the Philippines. It was everywhere! Ladies chopped and bagged pieces of pork while customers walked leisurely from stall to stall with such a variety to choose from. This was not for the faint of heart. Clearly if you’re Muslim or an animal activist this is not the place for you, but if you’re even slightly curious about seeing the culture and preparation of the lechon, it’s definitely worth a visit.
We journeyed on to Moalboal, arriving just in time to gear up and hit the falls. Even from the sidewalk we could tell we were in for a breathtaking adventure. The falls ended in a river that ran through the town. It was shaded by tall palm trees and thick green foliage, making for a beautiful preview of what was to come. But to get there we had to take a 15-minute motorcycle ride up a mountain and through a couple of villages. The ride itself could have been a tour, with ocean and jungle views that went on for days. Once we arrived at the end of the road, we had to hike a bit to get down to the river.
The falls were one plunge into the frigid water after another, with each jump getting higher and higher. On the very first jump there were a couple of girls who couldn’t make the plunge. It must have been a long day for them. From the first baby fall we eventually graduated to a 30 then 40ft drop. It was fantastic. In between the jumps we had the most amazing views of the river and the cave-like structures. There were times when we just floated along, letting the current guide us and letting our heads fall back to enjoy the glimpse of blue sky peaking through the canopy. There were also some natural slides along the way and rope swings, making the maybe 4-hour trip adventure filled from start to finish.
At the very end was the actual namesake, Kawasan Falls. And while people are no longer allowed to jump from there, we had a thrilling stop directly underneath the falls, which had to be the strongest massage I’ve ever experienced. Once you arrive at Kawasan Falls the adventure is over, but the party has only just begun. The area is jam packed with picnic tables, food vendors, music and locals thoroughly enjoying themselves. This trip was quite different from anything I’ve experienced and I highly recommend it.