Ahhh, the Philippines… Where the sun’s so hot that it hurts and the water’s so clear it looks like the pool. The first choice that comes to mind when people are picking a destination in the Philippines is usually Boracay or Palawan. While Cebu doesn’t have the white sandy beaches of Boracay nor the limestone cliffs and islands of Palawan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this amazing island. With so many things to do in Cebu, you’ll never want to leave once you get there.
1. It’s easily accessible
There are cheap direct flights from many Asian destinations to Cebu via Cebu Pacific. As of March 2016, EVA Air (our favourite airline in the world!) began non-stop routes from Taiwan. You’ll often see flight sales from North America to Cebu and other Southeast Asia destinations, with a stopover in Taiwan. Air Swift began nonstop flight services to El Nido at least five times a week since November 2015. This means you no longer have to take that dreaded 6hr+ bus ride from Puerto Princesa! Bohol is also just a 1.5hr away via a fast ferry (i.e. SuperCat).
2. Indulge in stunning sunsets and sunrises
This is one of our favourite things to do in Cebu: chasing light. Its’ the perfect place! There’s nothing more beautiful than cotton candy skyporn. Other than desserts, maybe. On the east side of the island, we watched an amazing sunrise on Shangri-La Mactan’s private beach one morning. During our stay in Moalboal which is on the east side, we witnessed daily sunsets that were even more stunning. I think we prefer this more than the Santorini sunset!
3. Quench your adrenaline thirst with canyoneering
This one’s for the thrill seekers! We spent a day swimming, sliding, climbing, and cliff jumping in the Canlaob river. I’m terrified of heights but I had loads of fun! You won’t be pressured to do any jumps you’re not comfortable with, but you will have to take the mandatory 20ft leap at the beginning of the trek. AS was brave enough to do all the jumps, including the highest at around 60ft!
It’s around 1800php a pop; life vest, helmet, shoes, guide, and lunch included. This full-day journey ends in Kawasan Falls; you can kill two birds with one stone with this activity!
4. Always go chasing waterfalls
Search on Google for Kawasan Falls. Look familiar? You’ve probably seen this turquoise blue paradise shared on social media millions of times by now. However, this tranquility couldn’t be further from the truth, unfortunately. SAD FACE 🙁 The falls are packed with umbrellas, food vendors, and hoards of tourists! You have to pay to get seating by a picnic table, and dish out more pesos for a raft ride out closer to the waterfall. For a quieter, more serene experience head to Tumalog Falls in Oslob or Aguinid Falls in Samboan.
5. Go swimming with whale sharks
Of all the things to do in Cebu, this activity in Oslob raises eyebrows and is very controversial. We’ve seen both sides of the argument and decided to see this for ourselves, keeping in mind we could opt out if we felt uncomfortable at any time.
Yes, they’re fed krill which means they’re lacking in certain nutrients. Feeding them keeps them in the area year-round, which is unnatural given their migration behaviour. On the other end of the spectrum, the locals we’ve talked to say that keeping the whale sharks here protects them from being hunted. The boost in tourism has also helped the locals tremendously over the years.
At the end of the day, something needs to be done to limit the number of tourists while keeping the whale sharks safe from poachers, and it’s up to the local authorities to lay down the law. So do your research and make an informed decision on whether you want to participate.
6. Word class scuba diving, free diving, and snorkeling sites
Moalboal is said to have some of the best dive sites in the Philippines! Known for its largely untouched marine life, Pescador Island is only 4km off the coast. There’s also a cool airplane wreck you can check out- an artificial reef now teeming with marine life. You will also most likely encounter sardine runs in Moalboal!
We did some snorkeling and free diving instead. For 100php each, we rented snorkel masks and fins, and hopped into the ocean right from our backyard. The house reef along Panagsama Beach is pretty much an aquarium!
7. Witness the sardine run
Imagine swimming in the ocean with millions of sardines. Unreal eh? Moalboal is one of the few places on earth where you can witness this underwater phenomenon. If you can’t make it to South Africa, this quaint little town in western Cebu is your best bet. Forget about the sunsets, this is probably one of the coolest things to do in Cebu!
8. Need more convincing? Watch our video for more things to do in Cebu!
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