Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Cebu Philippines

cebu island

Cebu is located in the Central Visayas region in the Philippines and affectionately known as the “Queen City of the South”. The city offers travelers with an abundance of vibrant culture and warm hospitality.

Known for its stunning beaches, rich history and lively festivals, Cebu stands as a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences in the Philippines.

This Spanish-colonial influenced oasis is also a popular and welcoming foodie destination. A recently Netflix film called “Street Food” also featured Cebu’s unique and sumptuous Filipino food.

Where is Cebu

Though there are many stunning beach vacations such as Phuket and Vietnam that are worth visiting, Exploring Cebu is a great experience with its beautiful beaches, natural flower gardens, stunning waterfalls and the famous Lapu Lapu city. 

Cebu is the largest island city in Central Visayas region and the second-most populous province. Its capital, Cebu City, is a thriving metropolitan center known for its historical significance, vibrant culture, and economic prominence. 

The island as a general rule of thumb, is protected from numerous hurricanes and typhoons due to its topography. Because it is in the heart of Central Visayas, hurricanes normally simmer down before reaching the province.

Cebu islands map
Location Map Of Cebu

Best Time To Visit Cebu

The perfect time to visit Cebu Philippines is between December and February (Winter months). From March through May, it’s not extremely hot but the humidity is pretty manageable.

You should avoid arranging your vacation during the monsoon season because not all islands around the Visayas region can be accessible during this period.

While prolonged sunshine and beautiful vacation places may come to mind when thinking about spending winter in South East Asia, it’s also a pretty immense time for outdoor adventures as well.

is Cebu worth visiting

Cebu is a treasure trove of captivating experiences. Uncover the city’s fascinating past through visits to heritage sites, including the Magellan’s Cross and Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

For those seeking educational adventures, Cebu’s museums, such as the Museo Sugbo, provide insight into the island’s history and diverse traditions.

In addition, Cebu nurtures marine conservation, and divers flock to destinations like Malapascua to explore its stunning underwater world, where marine life is carefully protected.

Cebu Island Beaches

Before you start picking your beachwear in your cabinet, here’s some essential stuff you need to take into consideration when planning to visit Cebu island’s stunning beaches. 

Like the hidden gems of Nusa Tenggara provinces, Cebu island beaches are renowned for its white sand and azure waters. Additionally, they have abundant of mouthwatering seafood restaurants at affordable prices.

The Santiago Bay’s exquisite white sand beach is undoubtedly unique. You can also dive off the cliffs of Buho Rock. It’s famous for having natural caverns, lakes and waterfalls that will expose you to nature’s untainted splendor.

Best beaches In Cebu

cebu island

Because Cebu beaches are plentiful, some of the best on the other hand, will need a 6-hour car or bus journey. North Cebu is a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling. 

The two remarkable vacation spots are Malapascua, famous for diving with Thresher Sharks and Bantayan island, noted for its stunning powdery white beaches.

As you venture further, North Cebu gets more extensive and exhausting, but the less travel route conceals the island’s incredible beaches from the influx of tourists.

Malapascua offers much more amazing activities besides diving. Bounty Beach is the definition of paradise with its palm-lined coastline, white powdery sands, turquoise waters and diving activities like most popular beach resorts in Asia.

Best Things To Do in Cebu

canyoneering at kawasan falls

In addition to its attractive white-sand beaches and caves, Cebu received much interest for its plethora of religious relics and cultural places.

There are many activities you can do including hiking, jungle trekking, tons of waterfalls  to visit, learning about the local culture and history, scuba diving and the popular Sirao flower garden.

Among the most well-liked municipalities in South Cebu are Oslob, Moalboal, Dalaguete and Badian. It’s a well-liked tropical places to visit for a range of outdoor pursuits including canyoneering, spelunking (caving), hiking and diving.

In earlier years, watching whale sharks at Oslob has been a hotly contested activity whereas now the island community is more aware of “acceptable visitor standards” as unethical behavior are strictly monitored by marine police.

Since whale sharks only visit the area in the morning from 6am to 12 noon, you must start early if you like to have close encounters with these gentle giants.

A 30-minute encounter with whale sharks including snorkeling gears and life jacket will cost you around Php 1,000.

There are few ways to appreciate Kawasan Falls. Pay the PHP 40 (less than a dollar) entrance fee and take a 15-minute trek to the falls. You can also swim to the falls or travel downstream on a bamboo raft.

A more engaging approach to achieve this feat is through canyoneering. You will need a guide to take part in this activity, which is provided by several tour operators.

Latest update June 2023 on Kawasan Falls and Canyoneering: Cebu Governor, Gwendolyn Garcia had shut down both of this popular activities sites due to safety concern (dated June 2nd 2023) till further notice.

Suggest you divert to Tumalog Waterfalls which will cost PHP 40. Getting to this beautiful waterfall is a breeze from Cebu South Bus Terminal. The journey to Oslob takes around 3 hours and cost PHP 150 (departs hourly)

Or visit the ever popular Sirao Flower Farm about 30 – 45 minutes car ride from Cebu city. 

sirao garden

Unlike the UNESCO World Heritage Botanic Gardens in Singapore, which focus on exotic species of plants, Sirao Garden beckons visitors with its meticulously curated landscapes filled with beds of flowers.

Known as the “Little Amsterdam of Cebu”, Sirao Flower Garden offers a captivating escape into a world of replicas and mimic the world-famous ‘Keukenhof’ garden in Amsterdam.

You literary can get lost in a kaleidoscope of colors as you wander through the rows after rows of curated gardens against the backdrop of picturesque mountain vistas.

Where To Stay In Cebu

The best area in Cebu to book hotels offers a spectrum of choices catering to diverse preferences and budgets.

From luxurious 5-star resorts overlooking the azure waters of the Philippine Sea to cozy boutique hotels nestled in tranquil surroundings.

Alternatively, you can opt for mid-range hotels, often blending modern comfort with a taste of local heritage. For budget-conscious travelers, there are cheap hotels in Cebu that ensure a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

The hotels in Cebu welcomes visitors with a pretty wide range of accommodations. Luxurious hotels in the heart of the town offer an indulgent stay, providing top-notch services and facilities with exquisite dining, rooftop bars and relaxing spas.

Mid-range accommodations in bustling neighborhoods give travelers a taste of Cebuano hospitality. Most of the popular hotels in Cebu are located in the town center and provide easy access to attractions and historical places to visit.

Budget-friendly options make exploring Cebu economically viable. You can stay comfortably without overspending, ensuring you have more to experience the city’s vibrant culture and tasting its delicious local food.

Luxury hotels

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa is a top-tier luxury resort offering stunning sea views, private beaches, upscale amenities and exceptional service. Average price: $200 – $500 per night.
The Henry Hotel Cebu, known for its modern, artsy design and excellent facilities, blending luxurious accommodations with artistic ambiance. Average price: $150 – $300 per night.

Medium Range Hotels

Quest Hotel & Conference Center: A popular choice offering a balance between comfort and cost, with modern amenities and located in a pretty convenient location. Average price: $80 – $150 per night.

Radisson Blu Cebu, combines sophistication with affordability, boasting elegant rooms and a range of dining options. Average price: $100 – $200 per night.

Affordable Hotels

Cebu R Hotel is a pretty great budget-friendly option that provides clean and comfortable rooms in a central location. Average price: $40 – $80 per night.

Sugbutel Family Hotel: Perfect choice for budget travelers, offering dormitory-style accommodations and basic amenities. Average price: $20 – $50 per night.

Beach Resorts in Cebu

Majority of Cebu resorts are quiet, cozy and welcoming places to stay for couples and families. As most of the resorts are mostly run by in-house hosts, it has an easygoing ambiance that makes you feel more at home.

An all-you-can-eat buffet costs around USD$20. For USD$50 per night, you can book a 3-star resort room, a lunch for USD$2 and ten rounds of beer for USD$10 (at this time of writing)

Anika Island Resort in Bantayan island is a charming small paradise location where you can spend a peaceful and quiet vacation, enhanced by a variety of local and western cuisine.

Cebu Travel Tips

Getting Around The City

Transportation in Cebu Island, like everywhere else in the Philippines is a jumbled mess. If you’re staying in the city, the most convenient method to get around is to use the GRAB app to book a ride.

GRAB is similar to Uber and if you wish to go cashless, you can enter your credit card information or pay the driver in cash. Unless it’s rush hour (7am to 9am and 5pm to 8pm), booking a Grabtaxi service is not a good idea.

If you can’t get a Grab for whatever reason, hail a white metered cab. In the city, there are a variety of taxi service, however white taxi are more trustworthy than others. 

How much funds will you require to budget in Cebu Island?

 It actually depends on your travel style, but if you’re thrifty and stick to a budget, you can easily get about Cebu for $50-$75 USD per day.

Everything in Cebu Island is inexpensive especially when compared to other more famous islands in the Philippines. Even their fine dining is reasonably priced.

This is also true for activities. When you’re out and about in the different beach towns, you can negotiate pretty much for anything. Even if you don’t like haggling, ordinary prices are still reasonable.

Cebu’s neighborhoods are small and few, therefore you’ll only find ATMs in the city or in larger towns. The further you travel from the city, the less likely you’ll find an ATM or businesses that accept credit cards.

Ensure you have enough cash in small denominations unless you’ve pre-paid your lodgings or booked activities online. The easiest dollar notes to carry and transact with are Php 20, Php 50 and Php 100 bills.

What is the best Local Food To try?

Filipinos love meat, especially pork and chicken, and this is especially true at the restaurants in Cebu. The most popular local food in the province is lechon, which is a whole roasted pig. Chicharron, a deep-fried pork ribs cuisine is pretty popular too.

Meat meals come in a variety of shapes and sizes – stewed, fried, barbecued and roasted, to name a few. Everything, of course, comes with a side of white rice. Order the “puso,” which is rice cooked in banana leaves, if you truly want to go local.

Vegans, vegetarians and anyone on a specific diet, for example, may find it difficult to sit down for a meal in Cebu Island. There are a growing number of vegan and vegetarian eateries, but you might need sometime to locate them.

Top festival to go

The Sinulog-Santo Niño Festival is a commemoration of the Cebuanos (Islanders) conversion to Roman Catholicism that has its roots in Cebu city.

The largest cultural carnival in Cebu Island dubbed “the grandest festival in the Philippines”, is held every third Sunday of January in the Island. It is a celebration in honor of Santo Niño de Cebú.

Street parties are the main attraction in the extravagant festival. You wouldn’t want to miss this grand Mardi Gras and the most epic festivity in the province. 

I would recommend that you simply be flexible while making your travel arrangements. While the beach may not be ideal during the rainy season, the added benefit of beautiful waterfalls and rapids are worth it.

There are tons of things to do in Cebu Island if you are willing to try new stuff. With this list of top attractions and activities, you can start making your travel plans without a hitch.


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