I haven’t been to a hot spring before, which was why when I found out that there’s a hot spring unknown yet to many people in the northern part of Cebu, I immediately asked Randy if we could go there. He agreed but we hadn’t decided on a date then. When the day came for us to visit this place, everything was all worth it.
It all started when I purchased an Ensogo voucher for a 2-days and 1-night stay at Huna Huna Beach Resort in Catmon, Cebu last October 2011. I almost forgot about it but came January 2012, I stumbled upon the printed voucher when I was trying to clean up the papers inserted in my notebook. Realizing that the voucher will expire by the end of February, I then searched for wonderful places that we can go to in Catmon. From Wikipedia, Catmon is a 5th class municipality in the northern part of Cebu, about 57 km from Cebu City. It is bounded on the north by the town of Sogod, on the south by the town of Carmen, on the west by the town of Tuburan, and on the east by the Camotes Sea. It is approximately a 2-hour ride from Cebu City.
During my search for places to visit in Catmon, I found out that there’s a hot spring there, the Esoy Hot Spring, which was also known as Mainit Hot Spring. I searched about this hot spring and found out good reviews and feedback from local and foreign tourists alike who have visited this place. I got more information about this place through their Facebook account, which was actually good because I then found out that they have a “No booking, no entry” policy. According to the information from their FB account, they follow this policy because the place is just really enough for only a handful of people, and so that they can accommodate and tend to their guests properly. I searched for pictures of their place and I was just amazed at what I saw. I can’t wait for us to see the place personally! I then contacted the owner’s daughter, Bea Bustamante, and a date was set, February 19, 2012.
From Cebu City, I rode a jeep going to Danao City for about an hour. Randy is currently based in Danao City and we decided to just meet up there before going to Catmon. From the Danao City terminal, we rode on another jeep that is bound for the town of Sogod. We stopped by the JM Poultry store, and then hopped on a habal2 to take us to Esoy Hot Spring.
It was a 5-km ride from the highway and during the ride, I can’t help but notice how beautiful the hillside areas were. This part of Catmon is abundant with lots of trees and of course, fresh air. When we reached the gates of Esoy Hot Spring, we were greeted by a smiling Ate (who was in her late 40s or early 50s maybe). She welcomed us and asked if we were able to book prior to coming there. I said yes and then paid for our entrance fees and cottage. All visitors are required to take a cottage to secure their things.
She then told us to go down the steps to reach the hot spring. There were about a hundred steps to take in going down to the hot spring.
When we reached the hot spring area, there were only two groups of visitors who were already there. Then we saw the beautiful pool. It was just amazing to look at. No one was swimming when we arrived so we took some pictures of it. We then got ready to swim. It took me a while to submerge myself in the pool because it was really, really hot! My first time, right? :) One of the workers said that during that time of the day, the water coming from the spring tends to be really hot. It can't burn you but you just can't submerge in an instant, because your body has to adapt to the new temperature surrounding it so it would be best to take your time in the pool. It wouldn't be a problem, too, since there are only a few people in the area - congestion doesn't usually happen there.
After almost an hour of having fun in the pool, we took our lunch, then prepared for the trekking towards the waterfalls. I wasn't able to ask what the name of the falls is, but I'm guessing it's Esoy Falls, hehe. Josie (I hope I got her name right) was our tour guide. I was excited to go to the falls, the second falls ever that I would have visited. Poor me. Haha! In order to go there, we first have to walk on a hanging bridge, where only one person can pass at a time.
It was a bit scary, but it wasn't really that high. If you ever fall from it, you'd land on the waters, and you have a life vest on you, so it will be okay, unless there are some snakes or crocs down there, but there aren't, so it's just really, really okay. Hehe. :) After crossing the hanging bridge, I asked Josie if the falls is far from where we were, and she said it's just a few meters from there, but the path going to the falls makes it seem like it's too far. Along the way, I had to brave big, big rocks. We were barefoot, as suggested by Josie since some rocks are slippery. So aside from having to brave all those big, big rocks, I also had to suffer the itsy bitsy teeny tiny sharp rocks along the way.
I wanted to give up and go back to the hot waters of the pool, but in my mind, if Josie could do it, why can't I? (so highschool-ish.. haha!) So there, up and down the rocks I braved, not to mention the waist-deep river with its strong current. The closer we were to the falls, the stronger the current was, so we had to swim or walk at the sides. I had to hold hands with Josie because no matter how fat I am, I ain't strong enough for the current. Haha! Randy, on the other hand, no matter how thin he is, is strong enough for the current. He didn't need to hold hands or even ask assistance even if he had to carry our camera. Such a strong boyfriend, haha! :)
For a time, we had to leave the camera behind (among the bushes, actually) because Josie said the waters near the falls are already deep and we have to swim, but unless our camera is water-proof or it has some sort of protection from getting wet, we have to leave it behind. But then again, it means we were almost there! Yehey!
After a few swims (dog style because I was wearing my glasses, I can't leave it behind, else I won't be able to see the beauty of the falls that I had been so excited to see), we reached the falls.
Both Randy and I were really amazed! And I had to say Randy doesn't get amazed too often. I knew right then and there that we made the perfect choice of coming there, despite the uncertainty of what we would really see. You can also see some fishes there, which were the size of your palms. They were waiting for us to feed them, but we forgot to bring some food, partly because we got too excited before the trek. Randy attempted to go near the falls, which by the way was a little bit difficult to do because the falls' current is too strong. For a time I thought I lost him, but then he emerged from the waters grinning from ear to ear. :D
After a few swims and some pulling and tugging (I almost got carried away by the current a few times that Randy had to pull me), we headed back to the hot spring. The trek back seemed surprisingly short but we managed to take pictures along the way. :)
When we reached the hanging bridge, Randy couldn't stop himself from jumping towards the waters below. There is a small cave found just below the bridge, and water from the hot spring falls down towards the cave and the waters below the bridge. A few locals were also there enjoying a few jumps.
Before we left the place, I thanked Josie and Ate (who greeted us at the gate when we arrived) for such a wonderful experience during our stay there. I knew I had to tell people about this place because it just so beautiful, it could make for a wonderful weekend getaway with family or friends.
Randy and I had been together for almost 6 years and this was the first trip that we took as a couple, just the two of us. Imagine that! Haha! Mostly it was with a group of friends, co-workers, or family members. So this trip was really special for both of us. We had real fun, and a few years from now, when we'd remember this trip, we'll have only good memories. :)
- daidai -
Directions in going to Esoy Hot Spring:
In the Cebu North Bus Terminal, you may ride a bus or mini bus bound for Catmon, or you can ride a bus that would pass the Catmon town. I am not sure of the fare but it would be around 60 - 100 pesos. In my case, I rode a jeep going to Danao City and paid 30 pesos for it, then from Danao City to Catmon, the fare was 20 pesos.
Tell the driver to drop you off at the JM Poulty Store in Catmon. Once you arrive there, you have to ride a habal-habal to go to Esoy Hot Spring. Fare is 25 pesos. It is a 5-km stretch from the highway so don't even bother or attempt to walk it.
Entrance fee - 100 pesos per head (for local tourists; they have a different rate for foreigners and I wasn't able to ask them about it)
Cottage rental - 500 pesos (they require you to take a cottage to secure your things; unlimited number of people is allowed as long as you're comfortable with it)
Life vest - 50 pesos per head (this is required during the trek to the waterfalls)
They don't have a restaurant there so you should bring your own food. Or, you can also ask them to cook for you, but call them a few days before your visit. And since they don't accept visitors who didn't book before going there, you have to contact them either through their Facebook account or through their phone number.
Esoy Hot Spring