Our list of the best things to do in Cebu is apt to satisfy most visitor’s taste in this tropical beach destination in the central part of the Philippines. The province of Cebu belongs to the Visayas region, and features no less than 168 islands and islets that make this area a prime beach holiday destination that pretty much guarantees sun, sea, and sand will be a central feature of your trip.
From stunning waterfalls to historical landmarks, and from religious sites to pristine beaches, Cebu’s most popular attractions will spice up your holiday in this warm and relaxing area of the Philippines. Check them out below!
Scuba diving and snorkelling are two prime activities in the Cebu Province. Most of the islands that compose this area are surrounded by crystal-clear warm waters which house an impressive marine life, including large species such as manta rays, whale sharks, and the rare thresher shark. Dive sites such as Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island, Pescador Island near Moalboal, Kansantik in the Olengo Channel, and many more, have gained an international reputation, and many dive centres in Cebu and nearby islands offer you to discover them.
This is almost stating the obvious: island hopping is one of the most popular things to do in a province that counts 168 islands… Joking aside, whether you stay on Cebu, Mactan, Malapascua, Bantayan, or any other island of the area, there’s always an island-hopping day trip at hand from where you are. Pescador Island is the main day trip destination from Moalboal, while Dakit-Dakit, Biliran, and Kalanggaman islands are three great island-hopping destinations from Malapascua Island. If discovering soft sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters is your idea of a successful holiday, then Cebu Province has it all ready for your visit.
Covering an area of over 4,000 km2, Cebu Island features rugged mountain areas and limestone plateaus to the north and south of Metro Cebu. These reliefs house over 90 waterfalls that give exploration-minded visitors the occasion to hike in thick jungle on their way to find these splendid cascades. A few of them have become famous: Tumalog Falls near Oslob, Kawasan Falls near Moalboal, Aguinid Falls near Samboan, and another Kawasan Falls in Badian Island, near Malapascua Island. Organised tours and guides are available to help you to get to most of these stunning waterfalls.
The long and hectic history of the Philippines started in Cebu, which was the first European settlement in the country. The different nations that occupied or simply visited the country since the 16th century have left a lot of sacred and religious sites in the province of Cebu. From the Basilica del Santo Nino on Osmena Boulevard to the Taoist Temple on Beverly Hills, and from the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Simala to the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod on Cebu South Road, you’ll find a wide range of religious edifices of all confession on Cebu and other islands of the province.
Dolphin and whale watching are very popular attractions in Cebu. Located on the southeastern coast of Cebu Island, Oslob is the prime destination to go whale shark watching, while Moalboal – on the southeast coast of Cebu Island – is famous for its dolphin watching day trips. The Cebu Strait between Cebu and Bohol Islands is home to plenty of large pelagic species. Even though this activity may appear controversial and unethical, the tour companies try to implement strict rules as for the behaviour visitors should have with the animals. In the end, the choice is yours to join or not a dolphin- or whale-watching tour.
Located in Mandaue City, just north of Cebu City, Cebu Westown Lagoon is a resort with a water park settled in a large man-made lagoon, and equipped with giant slides and water fountains. Two large Jacuzzis are also available for adults to take a break while sipping a cocktail. Other leisure amenities include Happy Jacqs Café & Bistro, as well as karaoke with a wide selection of tracks in English and Tagalog. It's the perfect place to spend the day with your family, or as a base for a longer vacation in Cebu. The resort is a pleasant place to stay and remains affordable.
As mentioned above, Cebu is the first island of the Philippines that was colonized by the Spanish, led by the Portuguese Magellan, during the 16th century. This long and tumultuous history has left plenty of landmarks, many of them located in Cebu City. From Fort San Pedro to Yap Sandiego Ancestral House, and from Colon Street – the oldest street in the Philippines named after Christopher Columbus - to Lapu-Lapu Shrine, there’s a great choice of secular historical landmarks to visit in Cebu. Museums also abound in Cebu City.
Cebu Island is rather mountainous, which offers visitors a fair deal of viewpoints and observation deks. For instance, panoramic views of Cebu City can be seen from the Tops Lookout at Busay Hill, and from Mountain View Nature’s Park, also on Busay Hill. Other stunning viewpoints that require serious hiking can be found in the southern part of Cebu. The tallest mountain on the island, Osmena Peak, is located in Dalaguete municipality, some 90 km south of Cebu City, and is 1,030 metres high. Tours to this summit, and many others throughout the island, are readily available.
Opened in 1994, Ayala Center Cebu is a large shopping mall that features all the necessary facilities to spend a pleasant day when it rains in Cebu (please note that it’s also good to visit on sunny days). From Health and beauty centres to sportswear, and from electronics to fashion clothes, you’ll find here mostly anything. With a choice between over 40 restaurants, there’s no chance you'll starve. Ayala Malls Cinema and other leisure entertainment venues are also at hand for some popular any weather activities.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
- Location: Archbishop Reyes Avenue
- Tel: +63 32 888 3777
If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of Cebu City, then Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden is a great place to breathe some fresh air, discover over 120 species of plants and flowers, and enjoy a meal or simply a drink at this quaint venue. Settled on the flank of a mountain in Malubog, a mere 15 minutes’ drive from Cebu City, you are surrounded by a majestic mountainous décor enhanced by the terraces covered with colourful flowers and plants.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 20:00
- Location: Along Cebu Transcentral Highway in Barangay Malubog