8 unique ways to enjoy Cebu City’s highlands

By focusing on the mountainous areas of Cebu City local tourists get to see a different side of the Queen of the South

horseback riding in Cebu

Big Q Farm in Barangay Tabunan lets you find your inner cowboy with its horse-riding activity.

With Cebu province slowly opening up to domestic tourism, now is a good time to plan your next visit to the Queen of the South. You don’t even need to venture beyond the capital city, thanks to the Cebu Tourism Commission’s “Highland Blooms and Ecotourism” project.

“Many don’t know that 70% of Cebu City’s land is mountainous,” says Cebu Tourism Commission chairperson Jocelyn Pesquera. The relaunched tourism campaign is meant to take place across 34 barangays in the highlands of Cebu City, although only 10 are currently participating.

Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Cebu, these highlands offer safe and open spaces to eat, hike, camp, swim or literally chill.

“At its highest point, specifically in Tabunan, temperatures can go as low as 18 degrees Celsius,” Pesquera says, adding that all the participating barangays, whether located to the north or south of Cebu City, are on average a 30-minute to an hour’s drive from Ayala Center.

Highland Blooms and Ecotourism currently offers seven one-day packages available, all of them involve wellness activities, flower and game farm visits, as well as mountain, eco-cultural and historical tours.

A typical package combines several activities in two to three nearby barangays. The Blooms and Wellness Experience tour, for example, starts with a visit to several flower farms in Malubog at 9am and is followed by lunch at Soul Sierra, a garden and wellness retreat place located in Busay. The rest of the afternoon is dedicated to experiencing the different wellness offerings of Soul Sierra until the tour ends at around 5 pm.

According to Pesquera, all activities can be tailored depending on what guests would like to do and for how many days. If you’re going for a customized itinerary, here are eight which we think should be included.

Saddle up

Big Q Farm in Tabunan will help you find your inner cowboy with its horse-riding activities. You can start with a “cowboy breakfast” and end with a barbeque dinner. Sandwiched between these two meals are galloping along uphill and downhill trails, visiting lush farms, cantering through rivers and pausing for a swim if you wish.

Chase waterfalls

Spread out in many highland barangays are little-known waterfall destinations. Himbabawud Waterfalls in Bonbon, Liki Falls in Sacsac and Mangasang Falls in Tagbao are just three that offer easy to difficult level hiking trails to tourists. Walk through rocky terrains, hills, shallow rivers, and lush plantations to reach the cool and clear waters of these falls.

Soak in some fresh blooms

Cebu City may have a thriving local flower farm market, but nothing beats seeing these beautiful works of God at the source. Blooms and Greens Farm, Terrazas De Flores, Lakeview de Jardin and Tieza Botanical Garden are located in different barangays and offer visitors views of rows and rows of roses, orchids, anthuriums, sunflowers, celosias and more. Plantitos and plantitas will surely have a field day.

Cold weather in Cebu City
Have a grand time in one of Cebu’s cold-weather retreat, the House of Gwapa.

Camp out

Chill in the morning fog, bask in the sunrise or sunset, lie underneath the stars, or simply enjoy sweeping views of hills and mountains in the many camping and glamping sites of Cebu’s highlands. Have a grand time surrounded by nature at the House of Gwapa, Soul Sierra, or the Sudlon campsite.

Pick strawberries and veggies

At the Strawberry Farm de Catinpla in Tabunan you can pick your own strawberries and eat it, too. You can also order their strawberry-infused specialties such as shakes, pancakes and – get ready for this – burgers. Now if you would rather have veggies on your burger, hie off to Sudlon where several vegetable farms allow you to pick your own lettuce and more.

Soul Sierra Cebu
Soul Sierra is a garden and wellness retreat center in Barangay Busay.

Restore your soul

Go on full wellness mode at Soul Sierra in Busay. They offer a whole range of wellness activities such as yoga, reiki as well as sound and crystal healing. Quite intriguing is their Cacao Ceremony where individuals and groups “sit in a sacred space and drink ceremonial cacao to reconnect with the heart and soul.” End your activity by trying their plant-based dishes or spending the night at their glampsite.

Explore hidden caves

Cebu City’s highlands are home to numerous cave systems that can be explored in a few minutes or a few hours. Among those worth checking out are Batuhan, Bombahan and Sagubanan in Sudlon that feature easy descents, underground rivers, bat dwellings and amazing stalactites and stalagmites.

Aerial view of Lakeview in Cebu
Soak in the view of hills and mountains while having a cup of coffee and French toast at Lakeview de Jardin in Barangay Tabunan.

Dine surrounded by nature

If you love restaurants and picnic spots overlooking beautiful views: Have your coffee and French toast with a view of hills and mountains at Lakeview de Jardin in Tabunan; partake in native delicacies surrounded by mountain forest plants at Lava Mountain River Farm in Busay; or dine among pines at the al fresco restaurant of Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden in Malubog.

To book a tour, contact Cebu Tourism Office (+63 917 5010438, +63 35 3502961; Facebook).

Written by

Dahl Bennett

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