Cebu is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines (behind only Boracay and Palawan), and is often voted as one of the best islands in the world. While I may take issue with that opinion, there are some cool things to see and do when you’re in Cebu.
Here are our top 6:
1. Stay the hell away from Cebu City.
Wait, you’re saying that one of the BEST things to do on the island of Cebu is to stay AWAY from the city? Yup, as it’s nothing but concrete, traffic, crowds, and not a lot of redeeming nightlife, restaurants, or culture as even Manila has. In fact, Cebu’s airport is on the man-made island of Mactan adjacent to the main metropolitan area, so if you need to fly in or out of Cebu (very likely), I recommend you stay at a nice hotel or resort there and don’t even waste your time sitting in traffic and coming into the city.
2. Whale sharks in Oslob
At the very southern tip of Cebu Island sits the small town of Oslob, which is the jumping off point for one of the most unique experiences you’ll find in the world: swimming with whale sharks. Yes, you can actually swim in the same ocean waters with these huge, majestic beasts. But don’t worry – they don’t bite, nor would they ever harm humans. However, the whale shark excursion has become so inundated with nonstop tourists that I highly doubt it’s ecologically responsible, although they claim otherwise.
3. Sumilon Island.
Other than swimming with whale sharks (which only takes an hour or so), there is nothing to do in Oslob or the southern tip of Cebu, as it has a rocky coastline and the towns are actually pretty ugly. But the saving grace is Sumilon Island, a private resort sitting on a small island only a 15-minute ferry ride from Oslob. There, you can eat, drink, chill on a nice beach, swim in their infinity pool, hike around, and hang out at one of the nicest sandbars in the region.
Sumilon Island is also perfect for your day trip as you start very early with the whale sharks and then the rest of the day on Sumilon Island.
On the Western coast of Cebu Island sits Moalboal, a stretch of beach that’s probably the nicest you’ll find in all of Cebu (other than smaller strips of beach in Mactan, Bantayan, etc.). Moalboal is a popular vacation spot for locals and tourists, and also has tons of bars, restaurants, and nightlife for visitors, giving it more of a party and festive vibe. However, there still are some less crowded and more pristine natural spots along the coastline on either side of Moalboal.
5. Kawasan Falls
This natural waterfall and swimming pool area is super popular, with vans and buses of tourists heading there every day. It will take you a good 3-4 hours to get there from Cebu city, not because it’s so far but because of the inevitable traffic. But it’s worth seeing, as you can splash in the crystal blue waters, lounge on a bamboo float, cliff job, go canyoneering, and eat at the restaurant right by the side of the falls.
6. North to Bantayan
One of my favorite places to go in all of the Philippines is the island of Bantayan, which lies not far off the northern shores of Cebu Island. It offers uncrowded nice (but not perfect) beaches, a chill vibe, a surprisingly fun little food and drink avenue, and an amazing island hopping experience at Virgin Island. You can get there by taking a 5-hour bus ride from Cebu City and then a 1-hour ferry OR just hop a charter flight with AirJuan, Royhle Air, or Island Air Tours.