Top 10 Tourist attractions in Cebu
Cebu is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Philippines. Rich in history, amazing beaches, luxury resorts, terrific diving and not forgetting the friendly Cebuano people. Tourism in Cebu has been outpacing the rest of Asia as more and more people are discovering the amazing attractions Cebu has to offer.
If you have never been to Cebu before, please check out my blog on first time to Cebu for travellers or visit the main page of BeyondCebu which you can view in more details on all these wonderful places and things to do in Cebu.
1. Bantayan Island
Cebu is famous for its beaches and nothing beats the gorgeous beaches in Bantayan Island. With names like Sugar Beach and Paradise Beach you know it’s something special. Bantayan has some of the best beaches in the Philippines. With the exception of Holy week when the island transforms into a crowded tent city, Bantayan is an idyllic tropical island that you expect to find on postcards. There are plenty of low key resorts in Bantayan to relax and enjoy paradise. Time for you to check it out! Read more about this amazing island here.
2. Malapascua Island
Great beaches, superb diving and in fact one of the few places to get the chance to see thresher shark. With a fantastic choice of beach resorts it’s no wonder Malapascua is one of Cebu’s most popular tourist spots. It’s amazing such a small island has so much to offer for the tourist, so much so, even if you’re not a diver, you still will love the place! Check out our guide to Malapascua for more details.
3. Cebu SInulog Festival
It’s the biggest festival in Cebu, full of colour, celebration and nonstop fun! Tourists flock from all over the Philippines as well as from overseas to experience Cebu’s culture at its best. The Filipino’s love their festivals and this no exception – one is not to be missed when in Cebu! Sinulog is held annually on the 3rd Sunday of January. Make sure to book your hotel early!
4. Magellan’s Cross
Nothing defines Cebu’s history or in fact the Philippines is the arrival of the Spanish in 1521 with the religion of Christianity. The first Catholic Mass was held in Cebu and was marked by a wooden cross Magellan brought with him. Thousands of tourists come to Cebu to see Magellan’s Cross in downtown Cebu. Bring your wide lens camera!
5. Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño
Houses the most sacred Christian relics in the Philippines; Sto.Niño de Cebu (the infant Jesus). Small statues of Sto Niño can be found all over Cebu, in taxi dashboards, in people’s homes, hotels, establishments and Cebu’s biggest festival – Sinulog. It truly shows how much Sto Niño is embedded into Cebuano culture.
6. Osmeña Peak
If you thought Top’s Lookout in Cebu City had some great views, then Osmeña Peak will blow your mind! It forms part of the Mantalungon Mountain Range and is the tallest peak in Cebu. From here you get this incredible panoramic view around Cebu. One side you can see Bohol, the other you look over Badian Island towards Negros. Getting there you can do it the easy way by riding a motorbike and then hiking for around 20 minutes to the summit. Or for the more adventurous, you can actually hike back down to Kawasan Falls, which conveniently falls into the number 7 spot in the top 10 tourist spots in Cebu!
7. Kawasan Waterfalls
Cebu has a number of waterfalls dotted around the island, none so more spectacular and as large as Kawasan Falls. It’s around a 20 minute walk to the 1st falls (there are 3 in total) and many tourist don’t go further than the first falls. The natural pools under the falls make a great place for a refreshing swim to escape the tropical heat of Cebu.
8. Olango Wildlife sanctuary
If you’re a bird lover (the feathered kind) then the Wildlife Sanctuary on Olango Island is a must. The birds use the sanctuary as a stopover point when they migrate from and to northern Asia from Australia. There are not many places for bird watching (and not the ones in the bikini bars) in Cebu, so it’s a treat to go see the birds in their natural habitat. Olango Island is a short boat ride from Mactan Island; there is a regular service every 30 minutes or so and around 15 P. A lot of the resorts in Mactan, or some of the touts can offer special trips to see the birds as well. Make sure to bring a camera with a big zoom!
9. Oslob – Whale watching.
One of the most controversial attractions in Cebu in recent times has to be the swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob (in the south of Cebu). The sharks naturally swim past Oslob on their migrating route, but some of the entrepreneurial fisherman starting feeding them, in the hope they would stay, and they did! It all became a huge tourist attraction basically overnight. The fishermen take you out in boats and while they feed them you can swim with the whale sharks. The problem was that it all became a money making racket, and greed became more important than the welfare of the sharks. Fishermen in the area where making more money than fishing! Manila ordered the immediate stop to feeding the whale sharks but the Governor of Cebu ordered more “studies” and delayed the order until this study was completed. It lead to some people detesting the feeding of the sharks, but with all the politics aside, it has to be said swimming with these whale sharks is an amazing experience. Whether the chance to swim with the sharks will be available much longer is anyone’s guess, but if you can it’s well worth the experience!
One of Cebu’s most popular dive spots has to be at Moalboal located around 90 km south of Cebu City. Most action in Moalboal is located at Panagsama Beach (though not much of a beach!), this is where the resorts, dive shops and restaurants are located. Dive around Pescador Island for schools of sardines and tuna as well shallow reefs and caverns to be discovered. Moalboal offers some great snorkeling as well just offshore from Panagsama Beach. For those looking for a white sand beach, just head a few kms north of Panagsama to the surprising named area of White Beach!