Travel Guide to Cebu Province: Urban Zones With Tropical Tones Edit

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Michelle Tobias  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Cover photo by Quin Schrock. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

At a Glance

Cebu is famous for its mouthwatering lechon, stunning white beaches and resorts, and the much awaited Sinulog Festival. Cebu province is also home to key historical sites and impressive island adventures such as spotting giant sea turtles, swimming with whale sharks, and freediving among millions of sardines.


Composed of one long island and 167 surrounding islands and islets, the island province of Cebu combines highly urbanized centers and rustic beach towns. This perfect mix makes it easy to have the luxuries of city life while being just a short distance away to sandy coasts and exquisite islands.

Cebu’s most wonderful beach destinations are found in the islands of Malapascua, Mactan, Bantayan, Badian, and Camotes. Meanwhile, its capital, Cebu City, is known for its sumptuous food scene and three pivotal sites that mark the province’s great history—Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, and Fort San Pedro.

The best experiences in Cebu, however, are found at the south. Here, you can swim with the world’s largest fish, the butanding or whale sharks, in Oslob; go canyoneering, waterfall jumping, and swimming down the rapids in Badian; try sea turtle watching in Pescador Island, and; freedive among millions sardines in Moalboal.

The northern part of Cebu is also noteworthy for its various activities. At Bantayan Island, you can go beach hopping, learn kitesurfing, or try skydiving from a height of 10,000 feet. At Malapascua Island, you can dive and swim among thresher sharks, the natural deep dwellers of the sea, or hunt for WWII wrecks of ships and planes.

Those who like to experience Cebu’s loveliest nature sites can head over Buwakan ni Alejandra in Balamban, Terrazas de Flowers in Busay, or the famous flower farms in Sirao. Two other worthwhile places to see are the Temple of Leah in Cebu City and the Taoist Temple in Lahug.

Never to be missed is the Philippines’ best tasting lechon in the old Spanish town of Carcar. The pigs are roasted to a golden brown, having crispy skin and flavorful meat down to the last fiber.

Every January, one to two million people travel to Cebu to celebrate one of the country’s grandest events, the Sinulog Festival. This is the time when locals celebrate the Sto. Niño, or the child Jesus, and perform elaborate dance rituals.

Cebu Province’s 8 Best Island Experiences

Words by Colleen Cabili

Malapascua Island

Contrary to its name, Malapascua is an idyllic island destination located at the northernmost tip of Cebu. It is a haven both for beach lovers who yearn for picturesque coasts and scuba divers looking to explore the seas with friendly thresher sharks.

Photo by Stephanie Redman.


Moalboal is a renowned diving and snorkeling destination further south of Cebu City. Its shores are lined with restaurants and bars guaranteed to refill your energy tank after a tiring yet exciting underwater session!

Photo from cebucitytour.com.

Kawasan Falls

This scenic trio of teal cascades located in Badian is one of Cebu’s emerging tourist destination. All three are accessible via the 10-minute jungle trail from the jump-off point. Good news for adventurers: the 2nd waterfall is perfect for canyoneering!

Photo by Galina Jahns.
Photo from journeyera.com.

Bantayan Island

Standing out from the vast emptiness of the Visayan Sea is the wilderness sanctuary and white sand paradise known as Bantayan Island. The island, shaded by towering coconut and palm trees and carpeted by sand as fine as sugar, is also a government-protected area since the 1980s. 

Photo from instagram.com/backpackdiariez.

Osmeña Peak

Osmena Peak, located in Badian, is the highest point in Cebu. It stands at 1,013 MASL and offers a scenic view of the nearby crags hugging the shoreline. 

Photo from instagram.com/the_wandering_tourist.

Cebu Lechon

A trip to Cebu wouldn’t be complete without feasting on its world-famous lechon. Filled with herbs and spices and roasted to golden brown perfection, each finger-licking bite is guaranteed to be an explosion of textures and flavors. 

Photo from Rico's Lechon.

Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden

You’ll surely whip out your camera once you step foot in the first and only flower terraces in the country. This literally colorful attraction has over 120 varying species of plants and flowers. The overlooking cafe offers a stunning view of the vibrant landscape, a sight truly more beautiful than a fairy tale. 

Photo by Rob Ferguson.

Sinulog Festival

Flight tickets to Cebu for January are always the quickest to run out during seat sales—no wonder, since the province’s grandest celebration takes place every 3rd Sunday of the month. Partygoers, both local and foreign, flock the streets to be part of the festivities, which are all in honor of the Sto. Nino.


Photo from Spectrum Philippines.


Photo from Cebu Tours.

Where is Cebu

Cebu is part of the Central Visayas Region located in the southern portion of the Philippines. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

How to get to Cebu

From Metro Manila or Davao, the fastest way to get to Cebu is by taking a plane to Mactan-Cebu International Airport through Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, or Air Asia. If you want to enjoy the sea, you might prefer taking a ferry to Cebu via 2Go Travel or Sulpicio Lines. In Cebu, you can go around by jeepneys and tricycles. You may also opt to get a cab if you prefer to travel with air-conditioning. These modes of transport may also be rented out for a day’s service. If you’re heading to an island, just make sure to know the boat schedule ahead of time.

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