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Aguinid Falls: A Stunning Mystical Natural Wonder in Samboan

Aguinid Falls

Cebu’s lovely waterfalls may not be as immense, tall, or imposing as those in other parts of the country. But that does not mean that they are less mystical. Indeed, our humble island’s waterfalls all feature a plethora of mysterious rock formations, amazing water compositions, and magical surrounding environments. Aguinid Falls in the quiet municipality of Samboan, which is 150 kilometers away from Cebu City, is one of these natural wonders.

Aguinid Falls is unique because it is not a single waterfall. Rather it is a system of waterfalls that runs for a couple of kilometers along Tangbo River. Since it was promoted as an eco-tourism destination, locals and foreigners have witnessed this one-of-a-kind, multi-tiered waterfall system.

We had the chance to visit Aguinid Falls when FUNtastic Philippines—a nature, tourism, and heritage photography group of which we are a part of—invited us to take part of their Cebu South Photo Tour. After meeting the rest of the FUNtastic Philippines members at the Cebu City Hall and a brief pre-dawn stopover in Carcar, we arrived at the town of Moalboal, a South Cebu paradise renowned for its magnificent dive sites.

We took a simple but hot and filling breakfast before proceeding to Samboan, which was still more than an hour from Moalboal.

South Cebu

The highway to Samboan runs directly along the west coast of Cebu island. We stopped at several points to admire the view. For members of FUNtastic Philippines who are mostly composed of professional photographers, this was a great opportunity to take magnificent nature and landscape photos.

South Cebu

No group travel is ever complete without the mandatory group photos, fun shots, modeling poses, and wacky images.

FunTastic Philippines tour

Being on the road since 3:30 in the morning can surely make anyone’s butt throb. Thankfully, at around 8AM, we finally arrived at Barangay Tangbo where our destination, Aguinid Falls, awaits us.

Parking lot

While our van drivers looked for a place to park, Sweetie and I decided to disembark and take a few photos of the area. This dirt road leads to the Registration Area and Public Assistance Center.

Along the way, we found snippets of peaceful rural life such as this group of young men having an early morning tagay (drinking) session and singing their hearts out.

Parking lot

Cockfighting is a national pastime in the Philippines. Fighting roosters are bred, taken care of, and fed nutritious food and high-quality vitamins. Those triangular structures are shelters for the roosters.

Once their owners determine they’re ready, the birds are then sent into a sabongan so they could duel with other roosters to death. Bets ranging from hundreds and thousands to millions of pesos are lost or won in cockfighting.

Cockfighting

Aguinid Falls is fast becoming an eco-tourism attraction in Samboan. Thus, it is not surprising that micro-businesses and small enterprises such as souvenir shops, sari-sari stores, and carenderias are sprouting in the area. Don’t forget to buy their budbud (sticky cassava wrapped in palm leaves); they’re one of a kind!

For those who need to answer the call of nature, worry not because there is a clean restroom where they can do their personal stuff.

Stalls near the entrance

To avoid contaminating the Tangbo River, eating and drinking in the waterfalls is not allowed. Guests who wish to grab a bite may take their food in designated picnic areas far from the river.

Picnic tables away from the river

Before proceeding to the river, visitors have to register and pay the entrance fee. The fee is used for the maintenance of the area.

Visitors may also acquire a guide here. Now, here’s an important thing to note. Guideship service in Aguinid Falls is purely voluntary; as a result, they don’t have fixed rates. We even heard some horror stories of guides not being paid! So, be kindhearted and pay your guide the amount he or she deserves.

Cool guides

After changing to our rash guards and putting our stuff in our dry bag, we were ready to start this cool and relaxing river adventure. Trails were carved into the riverbanks to make it easy for non-adventurous visitors to enjoy Aguinid Waterfalls.

Sir Ruel, a small group of mountaineers, and I first visited Aguinid Falls in 2012. When we came here, this place was really wild, covered with thick vegetation, and characterized by slippery mud banks.

Let's start the tour

After a slight decline, we arrived at the foot of Tangbo river. Even though we were still at the start of our adventure, we already marveled at the beauty of the place. Just check out that clear, cool water. Don’t you just want to jump in?

The LGU has taken very good care of this natural treasure as first-generation forest trees were still plentiful.

Aguinid Falls

That’s the downstream side of the river, which eventually flows to the sea. We are not sure if there are waterfalls or other geological wonders beyond that point.

Aguinid Falls

A little farther from the jump-off point, we arrived at this beautiful waterfall. Just imagine how many millions of years Mother Nature carved this convoluted slide.

Aguinid Falls

Don’t you just want to take off your shoes and immerse your feet here? Or lie down and just let the fresh water flow all over your body to cool you off from the tropical heat?

Aguinid Falls

Along the trail, visitors can see plastic-laminated signs like these. Please take heed; they are for your safety. Remember that in outdoor environments, you can’t win against Mother Nature. Being complacent in the wild has no room in adventuring.

The signs are also there to remind you to protect the river for future generations. Don’t throw trash, and bring your garbage with you.

Read the signages

In some places, specifically on the way to the first waterfall, rocks and sacks filled with sand are laid across the waterway. These structures fulfill two purposes. One, they serve as bridges so hikers can cross to the other bank. Second, it regulates the flow of water, creating a series of shallow, flowing pools for children and non-swimmers.

Man-made pools

Directional signs like these are placed in various places along the trail. They also display generic but interesting information about the waterfalls.

Signages

Bamboo benches where trekkers can take a rest are placed at several points.

Resting area

This strong and aesthetic bamboo bridge allows people to safely cross a gap in the riverbank. Notice how the bridge perfectly compliments the view of the riverscape.

Bamboo bridge

After about 20 minutes of walking and taking photos, we came to the first tier, simply called Level 1 Waterfall. Just check out how lovely that waterfall is! Below is a relatively deep pool that is safe for swimmers to dive and play around. The size of the person standing on the lip gives you an idea on the size of Level 1 Waterfall.

To get to the higher waterfalls, we needed to walk up that slippery, ramp-like rock on the right.

Aguinid Falls

On top of the first waterfall, we followed a shallow river that is bordered by tall, forest-covered unclimbable cliffs. Sans the sounds of human chatter and laughter, the rushing waters and the chirping birds all sing to a relaxing, enchanting melody of Mother Nature.

Aguinid Falls

Rounding the bend, we came across the massive Level 2 waterfall, which is almost 100 feet high, we reckon. Cool and refreshing water flows down like a fast-creeping carpet.

When we first visited Aguinid Waterfalls in 2012, this was as far as we—and most people—can go. Without the right equipment and necessary skill, climbing the Level 2 waterfall is extremely risky. Adventurers have to contend with the strong and consistent force of flowing water and slippery rock. One slip could send someone careening into the shallow, stone-bed pool below the waterfall, which could cause serious injuries.

Presently, locals painstakingly hacked small makeshift handholds and footholds on the rock face to make the ascent and descent easier. For us, these artificial modifications are unsightly and damaging; anchoring a fixed line on top of the waterfall would be better. However, we also understand the LGU’s decision on these modifications; it would have been dangerous and taxing for non-adventurers to ascend the waterfall with a fixed line.

Aguinid Falls

Reaching the top of the Level 2 waterfall, we found these lovely cascades that seem to form natural steps to farther waterfalls. All we needed to do was to follow the river upstream.

At this point, man-made structures and modifications are almost non-existent save for directional and information signs.

Aguinid Falls

Here’s a tributary that leads to another part of the jungle. Local guides tell us that this tributary circles back to the 5th and highest waterfall.

Aguinid Falls

The water has a very slight greenish color and is noticeably warmer than other rivers we’ve swam or waded in. That’s because Tangbo River’s water is very rich in calcium and is alkaline in nature.

Aguinid Falls

Since we were way ahead of our group, we arrived at the small but nevertheless remarkable Level 3 Waterfall first. It has a tiny, rocky cavern where one can tuck in to see a blurred world behind a curtain of water.

Aguinid Falls

As we mentioned before, the river sits in the middle an unclimbable canyon. Why unclimbable? Well, most of the canyon is made of soft, moisture-saturated soil. In fact, in many parts of the canyon, the roots of the trees break through.

Tree roots

Level 3 Waterfall seemed to be a dead end. However, there is a small channel beside it that leads to the upper falls.

Aguinid Falls

And to proceed, you need to climb it! Don’t worry though. Locals have hacked small, inconspicuous hand holds that allow you to ascend the waterfall easily.

A great adventure

That’s the view from the top of the third waterfall. The edge where the guys are standing on is actually the lip of the waterfall.

Aguinid Falls

Here’s a type of wild fungus/mushroom we found along the canyon. Calcium deposits from the water spray are embedded underneath the organism.

Crystalized fungi?

We silently scrambled amidst the rushing water, withholding any conversation and enjoying the music and the touch of Mother Nature.

Can you imagine how skillful her hands are in carving this natural wonder?

Aguinid Falls

Unlike the other lower tiers, Level 4 Waterfall was comparatively unremarkable; in fact, we didn’t know it was part of Aguinid’s tiers until we saw the sign that it was the Level 4 waterfall.

It has a nice pool where people can swim or soak around. Talk about Mother Nature’s very own jacuzzi!

Aguinid Falls

This section was destroyed by a landslide a few months ago. That is how soft the soil is. Water saturation, probably from heavy rains, was determined to be the cause of this landslide.

Remains of a landslide

We waded through more of the cascades, enjoying the feeling of the water’s rush around our legs. Remember that these are all natural steps.

Terraced falls

Suddenly, it was there in all its glory, right in front of us. That’s the imposing Level 5 Waterfall of the series of Aguind falls. Just check out that stunning rock formation. We wouldn’t be surprised if we could see a beautiful enkanto (nymph or fairy) frolicking in the waters here. The place truly exudes magic!

The greenish pool below the waterfall is only waist deep at its deepest. Needless to say, diving is not allowed.

Aguinid Falls

Together with a friendly female local who happened to be there, I climbed the waterfall to give you an idea of its size. It was a fairly easy climb since the rocks were, surprisingly, not that slippery.

The cavern where I’m in has many interesting rock formations.

What's inside here?

Soon, more people arrived at the Level 5 Waterfalls; it was time for them to enjoy the sights and sounds in this area. We went back the same way we came in.

Going down the Level 2 Waterfall was pretty tricky. We couldn’t see the handholds and footholds due to the foam. We had to feel around for the holds with our hands and feet. Indeed, descending, not ascending, was the most challenging part of the adventure.

From the bottom of the waterfall, it was then an easy wade and trek back to the registration area.

Aguinid Falls

Samboan’s Aguinid Falls is truly a wonder of nature and a great venue for a respite from the summer heat, city stress, and life’s problems. Mother Nature has several ways of healing, and one of them is enjoying the feeling of cool, clear, rushing water around you. And we are quite lucky to have that balm in our own mainland.

We would like to give special thanks to FUNtastic Philippines for inviting us. You, guys, are awesome photographers. Keep those photos coming, and promote the immense beauty of our country. You can check out their stunning photos in the FUNtastic Philippines Facebook page.

Estimated Budget*

  • P 175 – bus fare (non-air-conditioned) from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Samboan (same rate applies on the return trip)
  • P 20** – entrance fee for Filipinos
  • P 40** – entrance fee for foreigners
  • P 50 – garbage bond if you decide to bring something that is considered potential garbage (e.g. bottled water, snack packets, etc.). Your deposit is returned to you after showing the custodian the garbage you brought back.

* We did not include our expenses for meals, snacks, souvenirs, tips, and other fees in this rate sheet as you may have different needs, preferences, itineraries, and sharing scheme from us. Note that all figures are subject to change without prior notice.

** According to the tarpaulin signage at the entrance, the difference in rate is “not a form of discrimination but an exercise of valid classification based on citizenship.” Personally, we find this justification bewildering.

Tips

1. For the LGU’s rules and regulations, please check the photo below:

Read the rules

2. Please follow these safety rules:

Warning!

3. For a map of Aguinid Falls, please check the photo below:

Map

4. Except for water, trail snacks, or energy bars, do not bring drinks or meals during your river adventure. There are designated places and stores at the staging area outside the river where you can enjoy your meals. There are plenty of eateries in the area, so you don’t need to worry if you didn’t bring any food.

5. For those with private vehicles, know that parking fees vary because the parking lots are actually yards, lawns, and clearings owned by residents. Be prepared to pay at least P25 for four-wheel vehicles and P10 for motorcycles.

6. Watch your step as you wade and trek on the river or climb up waterfalls. In many places, the rocks are slippery. Don’t hesitate to crawl or grab on to handholds. If possible, bring a trekking pole so you can probe pools, cracks, crevices, etc.

7. Prepare to get wet! No amount of maneuvering will let you escape the water. But that is definitely part of having fun.

8. For safety, we advise you hire a guide if you plan to climb and explore the river beyond the Level 2 Falls. During our visit, local guideship services there were purely voluntary. We are not sure if they have implemented fees. If they haven’t, please have the heart to give your guide a fee. P100 per person for a group of five or more is a good benchmark.

9. Don’t forget to bring the following:

  • water (at least one liter)
  • trekking sandals or aqua shoes
  • rash guard
  • sunblock
  • trail snack
  • extra clothes
  • extra money for emergencies

10. Be sure to waterproof your things. Place them inside dry bags or dry sacks.

11. Respect Mother Nature by not littering the area and vandalizing the rocks. Keep voices down and avoid unruly behavior.

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About Gian and Sheila

Rock climbers. Mountaineers. Sweethearts on adventure. Adrenaline Romance is a photoblog that belongs to a loving couple who has an eternal lust for adventure. The blog contains experiences, tips, itineraries, and other useful information regarding adventuring in the Philippines and beyond.

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52 comments on “Aguinid Falls: A Stunning Mystical Natural Wonder in Samboan

  1. I cannot wait for when my kids are older so I can drag them to adventures like this! Our bucket list is growing each year. 😀

  2. I’ve never been here. I know I”l visit the place very soon 🙂

  3. Dugay na kaayo ni sa akong to-go list…hangtod karon naa ra gihapon didto. Haha. Sulod nalang ko sa inyong backpack sunod 😀

  4. Another great experience of yours.

  5. Wow! Grabe ka nindot na falls. Lamia i-ligo diha. Thanks for sharing this bai!

  6. […] Cebu’s lovely waterfalls may not be as immense, tall, or imposing as those in other parts of the country. But that does not mean that they are less mystical. Indeed, our humble island’s waterfalls …  […]

  7. Falls, rocks and the upstream walk…should have been fun ☺

  8. I like that it has multiple levels so you have more choices and people don’t pack in one place. Another one on my chasing waterfalls bucketlist. Great travel guide as usual. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Emjae. Most people stop at the 2nd waterfall, but after steps and handholds were hacked into the rock, many have been trooping to the third and fifth waterfall. Being there early or on weekdays will give you the best chances of having the waterfall by yourself.

  9. Yeah I agree that t’was a long distance travel from the city, a 3.5 hour travel is timely via ARGAO route. But I think it’s a place of relaxation after all and that was a great pay in this beautiful Kang Aguinid Falls as what the locals in Tangbo, Samboan call it. Pero my first travel there turns terrible, first I experienced nga ila mi nga e-briefing for 5 mins. kay first timer in the area, well, that was for safety as they say. Okey, secondly, payment kay maka-libog, entrance fee is 20 pesos, so with the kids, half-payment apply lang sa bata below 2- years old, beyte pesos ra bitaw hmmmmm, okey who the hell mag dala ug bata didto below 2 years old (never mind). Third, ila mi assignan ug guide, which is wala silay rate ug how much kay nila pa, kami ra daw mag-buot, okey. Fourth, in our case, according to the personnel in the registration booth, kailangan namo kay duha ka guide kay naa me two kids of minor age (8 and 13 years old kids) together, Hahaay pahimus man sad sa bisita don’t tell me nga modawat ang masig usa ka guide ug 20 pesos, wala gani silay I.D, kapoy ninyo. We decided nga mama-uli ug dili unta hapit e-refund ang among fee for 7 persons, didto nalang mi sa Tumalog Falls, Oslob Cebu nag outing sa akong family. What a terrible experience.
    I WELL NEVER GO THERE BACK AGAIN, PROMISS even how beautiful it is!

  10. Sorry for the bad experience. It is a shame. I am a resident of that barangay (village) and one of the guides in Aguinid during weekends. Anyway, our staff members and guides are not perfect but they try their best to handle their guests even with their limited level of education and understanding. They are mostly high school level/graduates who work as volunteers in the area in maintaining our precious Aguinid as natural as it can be for our visitors to enjoy. With an average of 150 daily arrival of guests, i can not really tell that 100% of them enjoyed their trek. Reasons like crowd issue, water volume, weather or even bad guides among others can really affect your experience in Aguinid Falls. Sometimes, guest’s behavior also affect the quality of their stay in Aguinid also. I observed that guests who don’t follow rules and regulations in the area tends to enjoy less because they go inside the valley under negative emotion already when in fact they can proceed and react later. In Aguinid, you can never get the wet experience (the Aguinid experience) when guests only halt at Level Zero. We have five (5) levels full of potentials for some good experience. Going back to Aguinid for those who did not finish the 5th level is a must. And i hope, the experience that we want every guest must enjoy will be there for you the second time around. But personally, i will join in the next weekly guide meeting so i can tell a terrible experience like we have here and hopefully a good resolution can be had for the betterment of Aguinid site in general. Again, im very sorry for your bad and terrible experience there.
    AS TO AGUIND RULES, let me tell our almost a million readers of AdrenalineRomance here and future Aguinid guests of the following:
    1. Entrance Fee of P40. Filipinos can enjoy 50% discount rate. Kids are not free nor enjoy half fee except two (2) year olds and below.
    2. Two guides rule is mandatory for safety and regulation purposes. They are volunteers hence as a rule they can’t ask for a specific amount as Tips. A good smile and thanks can do. (This is a rule that we chose versus other “major waterfalls” experience where guests are afraid of guides due to high guide fees). But suggestions like standardization of guide fee is present but it is up to the LGU to adopt on it.
    3. No eating and drinking inside the Aguinid River Area. Designated areas for it is provided.
    4. Registration of guests is required for the Dept. of Tourism required data for monthly visitor arrivals.
    5. No vandalism in the area.
    6. No collection of flora and fauna in the area.
    These are some of the major rules in the Aguinid area. These rules are mandated under the Aguinid Waterfalls Ordinance. The rule exists with this legal mandate. Other minor rules come to exists only upon agreement of the guide organization and the local government in every weekly meetings that they have for the improvement of their services and Aguinid in general. Tnx.

  11. very nice place can make happy if you want go there contact 032-347-1667
    032-513-7348 local 0916-568-3812/090-9726-5987 Rent A car with driver

  12. Good morning! I was browsing images for tumalog falls and your photo caught my attention. I would like to ask permission to use the image for our travel agency flyer. Thank you in advance and have a great day.

  13. Thanks for posting this. Hope to visit this and other waterfalls in So. Cebu on one of our visits to Dumaguete.

    • Hi Shoestringdiary,

      You’re welcome! There are beautiful waterfalls in Samboan, and the town is actually scenic.

      If you’re coming from Dumaguete, we suggest you take a ferry to Santander. From there, it is only a 30-minute bus ride to Samboan. 🙂

  14. […] took Alexa and Mama Dinah to the cascades of Aguinid Falls. After an exhilarating river adventure, we headed to the well-hidden Ponong Lake, which is just a […]

  15. […] 3:00 pm (MOAL BOAL) Go canyoneering but if you’re pressed for time, you can also try out Aguinid falls (SAMBOAN) and 3 other falls located in that […]

  16. […] More details on Aguinid Falls here. […]

  17. nearby amazing beach resort see my facebook page and book direct by owner
    http://www.facebook.com/mdfresort

  18. Great blog. I am definitely going here in October.

  19. Good Day! Where can we get data of visitors about aguinid, dau and aguinid falls sir?

    • Hi Paul,

      You can probably get statistical data from their tourism office. Please contact Samboan Tourism Officer Irwin P. Gamallo at 0925-5061879. You can also search his name on Facebook.

      Hope this helps. Thank you.

    • Yes, Samboan Tourism Office have monthly arrival data including a separate foreign arrival data. The office is willing to share on request. Thanks,

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