Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Cebu Island

  • Recently Updated: November 2022

Considering about visiting Cebu Island in the Philippines? This Spanish-colonial influenced oasis is still a popular and welcoming beach destination.

A recently Netflix film called “Street Food” also featured Cebu’s unique and sumptuous Filipino food.

Though there are many stunning beach vacations such as Phuket Island that are worth visiting, Cebu Island is a charming tropical holiday due to its beautiful less crowded beaches, stunning waterfalls, Canyoneering and the famous Lapu Lapu city. 

The thing is; Cebu is also a pretty sophisticated city, amenities like mobile service, internet access and local commuting (Grab Taxi app) are all easily accessible.

Where is Cebu Island?

Cebu is the largest island city in Central Visayas region and the second-most populous province with a total of 2,377,588 inhabitants.

Both domestic and foreign airlines frequently overlap at the Mactan International Airport. As a result, Cebu is pretty easy to access than many other regions in the nation.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located in Lapu-Lapu City on the island of Mactan and this is probably where your vacation begins.

Cebu islands map
Location Map Of Cebu

The international airport is pretty modern with spectacular high ceilings and electronic passport processing. Its domestic terminal which is not as avant-garde yet, is the airport you’ll touchdown if you’re coming from Manila.

when is the best time to visit Cebu Island?

Before you start picking your beachwear tucked away somewhere in your cabinet or practicing your swan-dive, here’s some essential stuff you need to take into consideration.  

Cebu 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.

The monsoon season lasts from June through August, whereby severe rain and typhoons occasionally occur. 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 beach vacations may come to mind when thinking about spending Winter in South East Asia, it’s also a pretty immense time for outdoor adventures.

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

How to get around Cebu Island?

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.

Where to stay in Cebu island?

Majority of the hotels on Cebu Island are quiet, cozy and welcoming places to stay for couples and families. As the hotels are mostly run by in-house hosts, it has an easygoing ambiance that makes you feel more at home than a guest in a holiday beach resort.

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

Where are the best beaches in Cebu island?

If you don’t have much time, Mactan Island, where the airport is located, is a good start. The beaches at Mactan, on the other hand, are primarily reclaimed territory controlled by high-end International resorts.

Bantayan Island is renowned for its white sandy beaches and azure waters. Additionally, they have abundant of local Filipino food establishments that offer a wide range of mouthwatering seafood meals at affordable prices.

In addition to its attractive white-sand beaches and caves, this island received much interest for its plethora of religious relics, culture for history buffs.

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

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 much more.

North of Cebu

Because Cebu is an island destination, beaches are plentiful. Some of the best, on the other hand, will need a 6-hour car/bus trip.

The affordable beaches in North Cebu are well-known, making island hopping, diving, and snorkeling the most favorable activities.

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 Island gets more extensive and exhausting, but the less travel route conceals the island’s natural beauty 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, diving services and beautiful beach resorts

Tepanee Beach Resort in Malapascua is a charming small paradise location where you can spend a peaceful and quiet vacation stay, enhanced by a delectable local and western cuisine.

Top things to do

  • Sunset at Ocean Vida Bar and Restaurant
  • Swan-dive at Lapus Lapus cliff
  • Diving with Thresher Sharks
  • Dance away at Saturday Night Disco

South of Cebu

Among the most well-liked municipalities in South Cebu Island 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.

Top things to do

  • Dive and snorkel at Moalboal
  • Hike to Osmena Peak in Dalaguete
  • Canyoneering and Ziplining at Badian
  • Nightlife by the Beach

What is the best Local Food To try?

Filipinos love meat, especially pork and chicken, and this is especially true in Cebu Island. 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.

Which is the 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.

Resource for next trip to cebu

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