Cebu is one of the main islands of the Philippines, full of things to do and a must-see. Hiking in nature, waterfalls, diving, snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, shopping, culture, in short, there is something for everyone.
In this article we go to the discovery of the island of Cebu and in particular we see what is the best area to stay according to your needs and according to what you want to do.
The island is approximately 225 kilometers long and it can be difficult to choose where to stay overnight. Luckily you have arrived on my blog, so enjoy the detailed guide to organize a vacation in Cebu.
Where to Stay in Cebu
Cebu is a perfect destination for every need, truly offering everything from historical sites, waterfalls, diving to white beaches.
The important thing is to understand what you are looking for, what your preferences are and how many days you want to dedicate to the island.
So let's see in detail the best areas to sleep in Cebu.
Cebu City, once the country's capital, is the largest city in the Philippines and the second most populated; a mix of history, culture and entertainment.
The Philippine metropolis is full of clubs, bars, restaurants and shops, but also offers several historical and cultural attractions, such as: The Basilica Del Santo Nino, il Cebu Heritage Monument, the Taoist Temple and Colon Street.
Cebu City is a good starting point for touring the island and its surroundings. From here you can visit other islands or organize day trips to the waterfalls.
However, consider that the island is large, travel times are long and especially in the city the traffic is crazy. Just getting out of Cebu City could take over an hour.
If you have decided to dedicate only a few days to the island of Cebu, the capital can be a good solution to stay, especially if you are looking for a bit of evening life, if you love shopping and cultural visits.
However, if you hate traffic and consequently city pollution, if you are looking for a place to spend a few days out of the chaos and surrounded by nature, if you want wonderful beaches, then Cebu City is not for you.
Mactan is an island connected to Cebu by two bridges, where the international airport is located.
There are several reasons to choose the Mactan area for a stay in Cebu.
First of all it is the most convenient solution if you are in transit for just one night before taking a flight to other destinations. There are several hotels located near the airport, some of which offer free shuttle service.
For example, we have chosen l’Appleton Boutique Hotel Cebu. The hotel is nice, good value for money, offers breakfast and airport shuttle included in the rate.
Mactan Island can also be a good choice for those who want to stay close to the beach, for those looking for a starting point for excursions to nearby islands or for snorkeling and diving.
Keep in mind, however, that the coast is mostly rocky and the beaches are mostly for the exclusive use of the resorts.
If you are looking for the best beaches you will have to move to the south or to other islands, such as Bantayan the Malapascua.
Also calculate that outside the hotels in Mactan there are few, a few shopping centers or outlet shops and a few restaurants.
South of Cebu Island: Where to Go
If you have come to Cebu Island to admire its natural beauty, incredible snorkeling and white sand beaches, then you should choose the south of the island.
There are some tourist resorts that are still very quiet, such as Moalboal and Oslob, perfect for admiring the wonderful backdrops or for setting out to discover the many waterfalls. The southern coast of Cebu is ideal for lovers of beaches, extreme sports, canyoning, diving, trekking and nature excursions.
Consider that from Cebu City it takes at least 3 hours by car to reach the south of the island.
Moalboal is in my opinion the perfect base for exploring the south of Cebu, in fact it was my choice for a wonderful 4 days stay.
In particular, the best area to sleep is that of Panagsama Beach about 5 km from the city. It is the tourist heart of Moalboal, a village with a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, where you will find most of the hotels, bars and restaurants and diving centers.
It is particularly suitable for those who love diving but also for those who practice snorkeling. There are several points accessible directly from the shore where you can swim with the turtles.
We stayed all'Anekha's Guest Room, never choice was more appropriate. Directly on the sea, at a wonderful point for snorkeling among incredible seabeds, giant starfish, tropical fish and turtles, in one day I saw three of them.
Then in the evening you can admire the starry sky and relax to contemplate the sea listening to the sounds of nature.
The staff is very kind, the value for money is excellent and it is possible to rent the scooter directly from them.
Anekha's Guest Room is located about 10/15 minutes walk from the village center, reachable by sea during the day and at low tide. In the evening you can take a tricycle or cross the village, the road leading to the center is a bit dark but safe.
Panagsama is famous for the Sardina Run, or the Sardine race. You don't have to buy organized tours or rent a boat, you can snorkel with sardines just a few meters from the shore.
The best spot is in front of the small beach which is next to the diving center Seaquest Dive Center, in the center of Panagsama. It was a wonderful experience, as soon as I dived I saw millions of sardines swimming quickly compact together to protect themselves and build strength. Beyond the school of fish a splendid sea turtle was waiting for me.
Panagsama Beach is paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers, but it only offers a small beach.
At about 5 km there is however White Beach, reachable in about 15 minutes by scooter or tricycle.
As the name suggests, the beach is sandy and very white, the waters are crystal clear and it is the perfect place to relax in the sun, but also to swim with a mask and snorkel. You will also find a number of resorts here and can be an alternative to Panagama Beach.
Another good reason for choosing to stay in Moalboal is the proximity to Falls area, one of the main attractions of the island. The falls are easily reached from Moalboal, the best thing is to rent a scooter, it takes just over 30 minutes, admiring an incredible landscape.
Other waterfalls not to be missed are the Mantayupan Falls in Barili, 28 km north of Moalboal, the highest on the island. They can be reached in about an hour by scooter.
If you are an adventure lover, among the various excursions to do in the area there is Canyoning: paths (on foot) between waterfalls and streams to do with a helmet and life jacket.
The best place for diving near Moalboal is fisherman isand, also here you will find the famous schools of sardines, fish of all kinds, turtles and many corals.
Moalboal can be reached by bus from the South Bus Terminal, or you can rely on taxis or driver services; it's at least 3 hours by car and a little more by public transport. If you choose the bus, get off at Moalboal and take a tricycle to Panagsama or White Beach.
Oslob is one of the best known tourist destinations on the island of Cebu. The reason is mainly one: the whale shark. In fact, in Oslob, more precisely in Tanawan, you can snorkel with the whale shark.
This was initially the reason why I had chosen the island of Cebu, as so many tourists do. Swimming with whale sharks is an incredible thrill and I have been dreaming of diving with these marine giants for years.
You know what? In the end I gave it up, I researched more about this tour and I decided to avoid it. And I'll explain why.
Compared to other places, the chance of seeing sharks in Oslob is 100%. Which aroused my first doubts.
Every day the fishermen feed the whale sharks, always bringing them to the same spot and making them rise to the surface.
This means you will share the experience with an exaggerated number of tourists. There are usually 3 to 8 whale sharks and hundreds of tourists.
Then there is the ethical aspect to consider. Reading through the various sites, I read that sharks, attracted by easy food, are changing their habits and migratory patterns.
They are also getting used to approaching boats and may be in danger as unfortunately there are also those who hunt them.
Although it is forbidden to touch them while snorkeling, it is difficult to control all the people and there is always someone who does not follow the rules.
This is not to say whether it is right or wrong to go to Oslob to see the sharks, it is up to you to choose.
I myself thought about it until the end and in the end I made my evaluations. As much as I would have loved swimming with these wonderful creatures so much I decided not to. I prefer to do this experience in an ethical way and without the presence of hordes of tourists.
The best thing would be to organize these trips in a more eco-sustainable way, for example by limiting the number of tourists per day.
If you still decide to go shark watching, your best bet is to stay in Oslob. If you want, you can also organize tours from Moalboal or Cebu City but be prepared for a good upset.
Oslob in addition to sharks offers the opportunity to participate in some of the best excursions, such as Sumilon Island or Tumalog Falls.
The North of Cebu
In the northern part of Cebu there are a number of islands not to be missed.
Among these we cannot fail to mention Malapascua and Bantayan. The first is a small island, an undisputed diving paradise and famous for the thresher shark. The second is a quiet oasis with white beaches ideal for relaxation.
We have seen in detail every possibility to better enjoy this island. To tell the truth at the beginning I had a lot of confusion too, I didn't understand if it was worth it and what could be the best place to stay in Cebu.
Also because I could not find information. In the end, after a thousand searches, I worked out my choice and I was enthusiastic about it. I hope this guide will make it easy for you to plan your trip and find the best solution.
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