Dao (Dau) Falls in Samboan
Dao (Dau) Falls, Samboan

Waterfalls hopping in Samboan: Dao, Aguinid, and Binalayan Hidden Falls

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The sky was perfect. It wasn’t all blue. The blinding-white clouds formed interesting figures and were moving at slow pace. It provided a minute shade every time it hovered above our smoothly-moving fast craft. The sea, on the other hand, was completely placid, reflecting the exact copies of the figures above it. The minor distortions created by the surface swimmers are very evident – I could see the finest ripple.

It was our fast craft’s horn that woke me from that real daydream. We were approaching Liloan Pier in Santander, so I had to get myself ready. In a moment, we were all allowed to disembark. I alighted last to avoid troublesome passengers rushing their way out of the boat.

When I stepped on the port, the squeaky-clean water below reminded me of my fantasies. I was thinking for an adventure. Since it was too early to return to the city, I decided to spend a good time nearby.

Waterfalls in Samboan: Dao Falls, Aguinid Falls, and Binalayan Hidden Falls

Samboan suddenly came to mind. I heard they had a lot of great waterfalls. Without any hesitation, I rented a habal-habal to Bato Terminal. From Bato, I boarded a Cebu-bound bus with via Barili route to Samboan.

Way to Dao Falls
Way to Dao Falls

I reached Samboan town proper in less than 30 minutes. I was walking under the scorch when Kuya Arnold approached me, and then offered a ride to 4 waterfalls including Ponong Lake for ₱500. I asked other drivers too, and it seemed that they had standardized the rate. That wasn’t a bad price. The downside, however, is that I was alone. It would be perfect if I had someone with me to share the expenses with, as well as the experience.

Dao (Dau) Falls Experience

I went back to Kuya Arnold, and then started our ride to Dao Falls.

We still had to travel more than 10 minutes from the highway to reach the drop off point of Dao Falls. Caretakers asked ₱20 for entrance fee and assigned every guest a mandatory guide. I asked if it okay not to get a guide, but they insisted that I should get one.

Before reaching Dao Falls, this blue pool graces every traveller
Before reaching Dao Falls, this blue pool graces every traveller

Since I got no other option, I accepted the guide who was assigned to me. I did not let him carry my backpack because I knew I could not give him a decent amount. I just followed him in a very obvious pathway. Kuya Arnold, by the way, was left in the drop off area.

We crossed a river, trekked along a muddy slope, and shook our way across a bamboo-made hanging bridge.

I was completely awed when I finally had the glimpse of the waterfalls. The water slides peacefully through the slanting ravine, thus the plunge pool is shallow and calm. There wasn’t enough flat space for picnickers though. However, with just a little tactic, you can find a good place under any shade.

The main Cascade of Dao Falls
The main Cascade of Dao Falls

After taking some photos, getting a quick dip, and munching for a snack, I headed to my next stop

A Tough Trek Against Aguinid Falls

We headed to Aguinid Falls next. Locals boasted about five waterfalls. Falls number 1 isn’t actually a waterfall, falls number 2 is quite nice, falls number 3 is up for a challenge, falls number 4 features an interesting drop and small caverns, while falls number 5 is pretty cool for a photo shoot backdrop.

Trekking against the waterfall current at Aguinid
Trekking against the waterfall current at Aguinid Falls number 3

You need a little work out at falls number 3. You have to climbed against the rolling waters to get to falls number 4. Since this is a one-way climbed, you have to wait until a batch of those going down is done with their descent.

Entrance at Aguinid Falls for locals is also ₱20. The guide fee depends on how much you can shell out.

Getting a waterfall massage at Aguinid Falls no. 4
Getting a waterfall massage at Aguinid Falls no. 4

Finding our Way to Binalayan Hidden Falls

After Aguinid, Kuya Arnold brought me to Binalayan Hidden Falls. I paid the standard ₱20 entrance fee, and then followed my lady guide to the waterfalls.

A small falls greets you before seeing the hidden falls of Binalayan
A small falls greets you before seeing the hidden falls of Binalayan

Before reaching the main cascade of Binalayan, a not-so-high falls greeted us.

The was water was cold as expected. The breezy surrounding complimented well, and gave me gooseflesh.

Similar to that of Dao Falls, the plunge pool of Binalayan Hidden Falls is also not that deep, so be extra careful when doing an undaunting stunt. I almost broke my heel bone here when I jumped.

Binalayan Hidden Falls
Binalayan Hidden Falls

A Noteworthy Moment at Ponong Lake

We had some relaxing snack at the floating hut in Ponong lake. The caretakers collect ₱20. It was good deal since the fee includes the use of the paddle boat. You can also bring some snacks to share with.

Ponong Lake
Ponong Lake

Samboan Travel Expenses

Fare: The bus ride from Cebu City to Samboan costs around ₱160 per way. Double that to calculate the two-way fare.

Habal-habal (Motorcycle Rental with driver): You can rent a motorcycle to bring you to all four waterfalls including Ponong Lake. It will cost you ₱500 for the entire day. The fare is good for two individuals. Make sure that you don’t travel alone to save. Learn from me.

Entrance Fees: You have to shell out ₱20 as entry fee to every waterfalls. There are four, so you need to allocate ₱80 in total. They will issue official receipts.

Guide Fees: For safety purposes, the local government assigns a mandatory guide to visitors. Again, if you travel alone, you are not excused of getting one. If you travel in a group, you can divide the guide fee and then pay less. There is no fixed guide rate so make sure you give a reasonable amount. For a solo and quickie traveler like me, ₱70 is acceptable. For a group of 5 or less, ₱150 would be great.

Tips, Notes, and Reminders

  • There are no ATMs in the town, so make sure that you bring enough cash for the entire trip.
  • Bring swimming attires to experience the cold and pampering pool below the cascades.
  • Mobile signal reception is decent in the town proper but is poor in remote areas like the waterfall vicinity.
  • To fully explore Aguinid Falls, you need to climb against some steep rocks with running water. Make sure that you always follow your guide’s direction.
  • You can do picnic at the floating raft in Ponong Lake. Bring food to share.
  • Waterproof your gadgets.
  • Travel in group to save on transport and guide fees.
  • Closest accommodations are available in Badian and Oslob.
  • You may also consider spending a beach camp in Moalboal or getting enough adrenaline rush by joining the Canyoneering in Badian.

Suggested Itinerary

04:00AM   Leave Cebu City. Take a Bato-bound bus with via-Barili route at Cebu South Terminal.

07:30AM   Arrival in Samboan town proper, and then have your breakfast.

08:30AM   Proceed with waterfall hopping. You may start at Dao Falls, then Agunid Falls, and then Binalayan Hidden Falls.

12:00PM   Have your lunch. You can bring your own lunch or buy something at the town. You can have your lunch at any waterfall you feel to. Just don’t leave your trash.

02:00PM   Proceed to Bonbon Falls.

03:00PM   Rest or relax at the floating cottage at Ponong Lake.

04:30PM   Take a bus back to the city.

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