Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines and the country’s first capital, so it is definitely worth visiting. With landmarks from Spanish colonization starting in the 16th century and world-renowned dive sites, there is something for everyone in this area. There are also beautiful beaches where you can spend the day. Cebu is a hub for ferry and plane travel to smaller islands, so it is a good place to start your trip.
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the Cebu area are on Mactan Island, which is where the airport is located. It is easy to get off the plane and head straight to the beach from here. Check out the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, where you can spend a day on the secluded beach even if you are not a guest. The hotel offers an incredible massage package which is the perfect way to unwind after a long trip. You can also dive along the Mactan coast and see beautiful reefs. Check out Scotty’s Dive Center and Kontiki Divers, two of the more popular dive centers in the area. In Cebu City, head to Tops Lookout for a beautiful view of the city, and Fort San Pedro, which was built by the Spanish in the 17th century. Cebu Mountain Bike Adventures offers great bike tours of the city and the surroundings, which is a fun way to get to know the city. Shoppers will enjoy Ayala Center and SM City. Head to Golden Cowrie Native Restaurant and Cafe Laguna to try traditional Filipino dishes!
A great activity during your stay in Cebu is to get your SCUBA diving certification. Once you have that, plan a half-day trip to the San Vicente Marine Sanctuary on Olango Island to see gorgeous corals and vibrant fish in an unspoiled area. Dive centers can take you there and you can relax on the deck of an outrigger boat between dives.
Cebu Island is large, so there is a lot to explore out of the water, too. Southwest of Cebu, you can see the stunning waterfalls of Mantayupan and Kawasan. It’s a two-hour drive each way, and there are tour operators that will take you there. Or head to Oslob, three hours south of Cebu City, where you can go whale shark watching and take in spectacular ocean views. From there, head to Sumilon Island, just 20 minutes by boat off the coast of Oslob, where you can swim in brilliant blue water and enjoy unspoiled scenery!
If you’d like to be as close to the beach as possible, consider staying on Mactan Island, where great beaches and diving are within easy access. If you’d like to get to know Cebu City better, stay in the center of the action. The central area of Cebu City has two parts: uptown and downtown. If you’re looking for a quieter part of the city, head uptown, while nightlife lovers will enjoy the Fuente Osmena area, which is the main center of action in Cebu City. The islands of Bantayan and Malapascua are popular places to go for pristine beaches, but are in the far north of Cebu island and take some time to get there.
Cebu City does not have local buses - instead, it has jeepneys, which are an inexpensive and efficient way to cover distance in the city. A ride costs only 8 Pesos, and if you want to really act like a local, ping your peso coins on the metal bars of the jeepney to signal to the driver that you’d like to get off. Alternatively, you can take a taxi, which is also relatively inexpensive. From the airport, you can take a taxi to downtown Cebu City for about 200 pesos.
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