How to Climb Osmena Peak Cebu Philippines for Beginners
Osmeña Peak is the highest mountain on Cebu island, Philippines, with an elevation of around 1,000 meters from sea level. It is part of the Mantalongon mountain range and boasts the most beautiful viewpoint on Cebu.
From the top, you’ll get to see a spectacular 360-degree view of the entire island, as well as interesting rock formations that aren’t too different from the famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about climbing Osmeña Peak, including how to get there, what to bring, what to expect, and more.
The best time to hike Osmeña Peak depends on what time of the year you visit. In the warmer summer months, hiking for sunrise is ideal. But during the cold months of December and January, it can be very foggy in the morning, so it’s better to go before sunset instead.
Bear in mind that sunrise and sunset are the most popular times for any hiking activity anywhere in the world. So, expect to be joined by other hikers, especially in the peak season, when the number of visitors could reach up to 1,000 per day.
To avoid crowds, try not to go on weekends. You can also hike during the day, but remember to dress accordingly as it could get pretty hot, particularly in the summer months.
Best Time to Visit Cebu Island
The island of Cebu experiences a tropical climate with hot, humid summers and heavy monsoons. The best time to visit Cebu is during the winter season (December to February), when the days are sunny, the nights are cool, and there is less humidity.
The summer season (March to May) is very hot and humid, much like the rest of Southeast Asia. If you don’t mind heat, this is a good time to visit.
The rainy season, which falls between June and August, usually sees heavy downpours and typhoons. Some destinations may not be reachable at this time and it’s best to check with the local hotels or travel agents before you book anything.
I visited in July (because airfares were incredibly low during the rainy season), but only after confirming with the hotel that most attractions were open. It didn’t rain much during my stay except on Osmeña Peak, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the view from up there.
How to Go to Osmeña Peak
Osmeña Peak is located in Dalaguete — about two hours’ drive away from the municipality of Moalboal. There are several modes of transportation to choose from:
You can hire a private car with a driver to take you from Moalboal to Osmeña Peak and back for about PHP 3,000. The package usually includes side trips to waterfalls along the way. This is a great option if you’re traveling in a small group as you can split the cost among your group members, but expensive if you’re traveling solo.
Renting a scooter is a popular option on Cebu island. Scooter rental costs around PHP 200 per day for a manual scooter and double that for an automatic one. But please be aware that the road to Osmeña Peak is a bumpy one with a lot of sharp turns, so only attempt this if you’re confident on a scooter.
Bus & Habal-habal
Another option is to take a bus bound for Oslob and tell the conductor or driver to drop you off at Dalaguete junction for Osmeña Peak. Once you reach the Dalaguete junction, you will see several habal-habals (motorbike taxis) waiting for customers.
You may have to negotiate the price, but it should cost you around PHP 200 per way. The habal-habal can accommodate up to two passengers, so most solo travelers usually partner up with another traveler to split the cost. Otherwise, you’d still have to pay for the whole trip.
It takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour from Dalaguete junction to the registration office at Osmeña Peak. This was the option I chose and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive that took me through villages, mountains, and farming fields. My only complaint was a sore back (and bum).
Note: Most motorbike riders on Cebu island do not wear helmets. To be on the safe side, please request for one.
Most hotels/hostels offer private and group tour packages to Osmeña Peak. Alternatively, you can check out this package on KLOOK that will take you to both Osmeña Peak and the beautiful aquamarine water of Kawasan Falls:
How Much Does It Cost to Climb Osmeña Peak?
The entrance fee to hike Osmeña Peak is PHP 30 (approximately USD 0.60). This is to be paid at the registration office upon arrival.
Guides are also available for hire if you need one. There’s no fixed price for a guide; you pay what you see fit, but usually PHP 150 is enough. If you’re not sure, your driver should be able to advise you how much is appropriate.
Is it necessary to hire a guide?
You don’t really need a guide for this short hike. The trail is well-marked and easy to navigate; there’s no way you’ll get lost, especially if you go in the morning when there are many other hikers around.
But if you’re a totally inexperienced hiker and need that extra sense of security, it may be wise to get one. The guides are very eager to help you out — I’ve heard of them even helping to carry hikers’ bags to the top. Most of the guides also speak decent English and could tell you a thing or two about the area.
As my visit was during the low season, I was the only hiker there. The guide seemed so happy to see me arrive that I didn’t have the heart to turn him down. And I’m glad I got him to come with me because he took great photos despite the rain.
Anyway, it’s not that much money and is a good way to help the local community.
How Difficult is Osmeña Peak?
Osmeña Peak is a fairly easy hike that can be attempted by people of all fitness levels. There will be a few parts that are quite steep and may require you to climb over some rocks, but nothing too intense or technical.
For a fit person, Osmeña Peak can be conquered in about 15 minutes. Even if you’re as slow as I am and need to make frequent stops to catch your breath, it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to get to the top.
For those wish to spend more time on Osmeña Peak, it’s possible to camp onsite for a small fee. And if a 15-minute climb is not enough of a workout for you, you can also hike from Osmeña Peak to Kawasan Falls.
What to Bring to Osmeña Peak
Since Osmeña Peak is only a short and easy hike, you won’t be needing too many items with you. Hiking poles are not necessary.
- Hiking shoes with good traction would make your life easier on Osmeña Peak, but if you don’t have them, any comfortable pair of shoes would do. Just take extra care if you hike during or after rain, as the rock surfaces can be slippery.
- Take into account the weather. If it’s hot and sunny, it’s a good idea to bring a cap and sunglasses. Otherwise, bring a raincoat. Osmeña Peak can get a little chilly in the morning, so if you’re climbing before sunrise, wear a light jacket.
- If you plan on visiting waterfalls along the way, don’t forget to bring your swimsuits and towel too.
- As always, when you’re on a higher altitude, especially when there are no trees to provide shade, you are more exposed to the harmful UV rays. Make sure you pack a sunscreen lotion with you.
- Although Osmeña Peak is a relatively easy hike, it’s always important to stay hydrated, so be sure to bring plenty of water, and maybe some snacks for refueling.
Final Thoughts on Climbing Osmeña Peak
Is Osmeña Peak worth visiting?
Absolutely yes. For such a short and easy hike, the reward is immensely gratifying. It’s definitely worth waking up at 3 a.m. for. On a good day, you should be able to see Moalboal quite clearly from the top.
I unfortunately only got a glimpse of the precious view. As soon as I stepped foot on the peak, I saw heavy clouds racing towards me and within the few seconds it took me to get my camera out of my bag, they had already obscured everything.
With the clouds came the downpour and winds so strong I almost got knocked over. But my guide acted quickly and tried his best to get as many shots as possible in less than a few minutes. We then rushed down and waited out the rain at the office before making our way back to Dalaguete junction.
If only I had arrived several minutes earlier or hadn’t taken that many breaks during the hike! It was still a satisfying experience, but I know I’m not going to rest easy until I get to visit it again and get the view that I want.