Osmeña Peak is the highest point in the island of Cebu, a province in the Philippines. Standing 1,013 meters above sea level, this stunning site offers a dramatic view of jagged cliffs with a view of the sea in the distance. Locals often liken the view to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. But instead of rolling curved mounds, the hills here have sharp protruding peaks. Set amidst the limestone cliffs, the hills resemble a field of gigantic green Hershey’s Kisses. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen during previous hikes.
Admittedly, the trail going to Osmeña Peak is one of the easiest hikes I’ve done. The 700-meter climb from the entrance in Mantalongon, Dalaguete, which is now reachable by 4 x 4 vehicles and habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) can be done in 15-20 minutes. But the view is really special. The scenery reminded me of Batanes while the climate was as crisp and cool as the highlands of Benguet and Baguio.
In fact, Mantalongon in Dalaguete is considered the “Little Baguio of Cebu” with its fertile land, cooler climate and vegetable fields. Along the way, we saw farmers carrying large baskets of freshly harvested vegetables. The Mantalongan vegetable market is the bagsakan or wholesale trading post for cabbages, carrots, bell pepper and other vegetables. It’s also the most common starting point for treks, if you don’t want to hire a habal-habal driver to go up to the base camp.
There are different entry points to Osmeña Peak. Ours was Badian, which is 98 km southwest of Cebu City. From here, Dalaguete is on the eastern side of the island. After joining a barkada Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls, I tagged along on their visit to Osmena Peak later that day.
Our journey to Osmeña Peak started with a very scenic motorcycle ride. There were three of us behind the habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) driver ferrying us to the peak. The ride was bumpy, but it passed through some beautiful twisty mountain roads in the barangay roads of Alegria, with stunning views of fields and hills along the way before reaching Mantolongon.
After a somewhat steep ascent through a rough road, we eventually reached the base/hiker’s registration area, where local children all clamored to help guide us up the peak for a fee.
You don’t actually need a guide because it’s a very easy hike, but it wouldn’t hurt to give the locals an additional source of income. The older guides also double as photographers and seem to know all the best angles for your souvenir photos. In fact, Marky, our guide took so many group photos with all our smartphones and cameras and even directed us where to look, how to stand and framed photos carefully with plants and rocks in the foreground, resulting in some very nice pics.
While the hike itself is pretty easy, for Manila-based travelers, getting here entails some planning and costs (mainly airfare). You need to fly to Cebu City, then travel by land to the South of the province roughly three hours away. But if you’re in Cebu City already and have time to spare, you can squeeze a visit to Osmena Peak in a half-day trip. If you have more time or want an extra challenge, you can also traverse through Badian, which requires an 8km route to the peak or traverse to Kawasan Falls on the way back. Some mountaineers opt to camp out overnight so they catch the sunrise early in the morning.
Osmeña Peak is located in Barangay Mantalongon, in the Municipality of Dalaguete, Cebu, Philippines. Dalaguete is about 85 kilometers from Cebu City (2.5 – 3 hours away). The South Bus terminal is about 30 mins to 1 hour away (depending on traffic) from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
HOW TO GET THERE: (the easy way)
- From Cebu City, go to the South Bus Terminal.
- Ride a bus going to Oslob or Bato (fare is about P170+) and ask to be dropped off at the Dalaguete junction. Travel time is roughly 2.5 – 3 hours.
- Hire a motorcycle (habal-habal) going to the wet market in Mantalongon (20 minutes). From there, you can either:
- Trek from the market to the peak for about 2 plus hours, or
- Hire another motorcycle going to the peak (30 minutes). Fare is P200 per person (round trip). Walk up the rest of the way for about 15-20 minutes.
- Go back the same way. Most motorcycles wait for you.
- Alternatively, if you’re coming from Badian, you can get to Osmena Peak directly from there by habal-habal. Rate costs P500 per person. Travel time to the base is about 1 hour.
- There’s an option to traverse back to Kawasan Falls in Badian instead of riding a habal-habal back. The hike can take 5-6 hours. (Here’s an itinerary if you want to traverse)
WHAT TO WEAR:
It’s a minor hike, so any type of outdoor clothes will do. For the motorcycle ride, it’s best to be wearing shorts or pants. I saw other women hiking up in dresses though :p For footwear, wear closed shoes or outdoor sandals. The trail can be a bit muddy or slippery, so rubber slippers are not really recommended.
WHAT TO BRING: (for daytrip)
- Camera and smartphone
- Drinking water (you can buy water at the base/sari-sari store when you register)
- A cap/headware
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- Registration Fee at the tourist assistance center in Dalaguete is P20 per person.
- It’s customary to give a small token or tip of appreciation to your guides.
- It can get very foggy and misty at Osmena Peak in the mornings. To get a clear view, schedule your visit in the afternoon. We left after canyoneering in the morning and got back to Badian in time for sunset at the beach, so it’s very doable.
- While going up the trail, travel on durable surfaces. Walk single file in the middle of an established trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find. Leave plants, rocks and other natural objects as you find them.
- For those camping, avoid building campfires. Use portable stove/burners instead since dry grass catches fire easily and fire can easily spread through any dry vegetation.
- Respect wildlife. Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed animals.
- Store food securely. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Be considerate of other visitors. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience by avoiding loud voices and breaks away from other visitors.
- Camp on durable surface. These include established campsites, rocks, gravel and dry grasses.