Known for its white sandy beaches, scuba diving and Spanish colonial architecture, Cebu is one of the Philippine’s most densely populated islands. A major commercial hub, it’s home to the bustling port of Cebu City, while more than 150 islands and islets scatter the surrounding seas.
Things to do
Fort San Pedro is a good starting point to gain an insight into Cebu’s history, built under the rule of Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565. Take a step back in time as you wander its historic fortifications filled with well-preserved Spanish artefacts.
You can admire the beauty at nearby Basilica del Santo Niño which is believed to be the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. The small adjacent chapel is where the Magellan Cross is housed, having been planted on the island’s soil by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521.
Make sure to take in the sweeping views from Cebu City’s hilltop Taoist Temple, or head south to soak in the naturally heated waters of the Guadalupe Mabugnao Mainit Hot Spring National Park. Feeling energetic? Then why not go trekking to the magnificent Kawasan Falls on the south-west coast of Cebu Island or the Tumalog Falls in the far south.
Just off the northern tip of Cebu is Malapascua Island, one of the Philippines’ most popular scuba diving destinations with the rare opportunity to come face-to-face with thresher sharks. It’s here that you can delve below the water’s surface in the Olango Island Group to encounter its steep walls, soft coral gardens and whale sharks.
Most visitors to Cebu arrive into Mactan Airport, around 30 minutes’drive from Cebu City. Long-distance buses travel both north and south from here, while colourful jeepneys are the best option for short journeys around the city or between nearby towns.