Cebu Island, Philippines, is one of the larger islands in the Philippines so be prepared for some long bus journeys. Despite this I had the best time exploring all the nature here so I would definitely recommend adding Cebu to your Philippines Itinerary. I will be outlining my top 5 things to do on Cebu Island, Philippines. However I only had 5 nights here so if you have longer then be sure to check out some of the waterfalls in the South of the island too. At the end I will also show you where I stayed on Cebu and where are good places to eat. If you’re planning a Philippines, trip, also check out my guides on Siargao and Coron!
Where to stay on Cebu Island, Philippines?
The main area that people stay in is Moalboal. This is about a 4 hour bus ride from the main bus station in Cebu. To get to the bus station from the airport it’s about a 20 minute journey by taxi. You shouldn’t pay more than 250 Peso although they will try everything to make you pay extra. We were told that due to traffic we would pay extra and due to toll roads it would be extra. I also had an awkward experience whereby the taxi driver asked me how much money I earned and where I was from. He then proceeded to tell me that since I lived in London I should still pay more. Top tip- don’t say you live in London if you do as a lot of people immediately assume you have lots of money!
How to get around Cebu:
For longer trips, the best way to get around is to hire a car and a driver for the day. They are a bit reluctant as they prefer you to do the tours. If you want to be ahead of the crowds I would recommend getting a car! It was about 4,000 Peso for the car to go to 3 destinations. We had the car for about 12 hours in total in the end. A lot of the most popular destinations get so busy, not only with tourists but also Filipino people who go for day trips. If you don’t want a sea of orange life jackets in your photo then be sure to go early.
Top 5 things to do on Cebu Island, Philippines
My favourite thing I did on Cebu was definitely canyoning!
Cost: 1,500 Peso which is about £20
Location: Kawasan Falls
What you need: GoPro, Swimwear, Shorts and shoes that can get wet
I organised it through our hostel – MoHo. Breakfast was included and the bus with about 10 people set off at 8am. The drive to where to canyoning starts is about 30 minutes and it picks up other people along the way. Once you get there, there are lockers where you can leave any valuables but all you need is your go pro and yourself! Some people took waterproof pouches to put phones or money in. You can buy snacks and drinks along the way. I didn’t drink anything and was fine for the few hours canyoning. You’re not in the sun much due to being surrounded by trees!
What to wear canyoning?
The first part is a walk from the canyoning centre where you get a life jacket and a helmet. You can also hire shoes for about 100 Peso. Make sure you wear some sturdy shoes that can handle being in water for a while! You can either just wear a bikini and the life jacket or like me a pair of shorts as well! After the 20 minute walk you get to the top of the waterfall path. Then after this you begin the descent.
There are plenty of opportunities to jump in and the jumps get higher and higher. However, there is always an option to not jump in if you don’t want to! The last jump is the highest and you even have to do a small run up before you get to it!
The waterfall gets more and more blue and the last part is the most beautiful. What I would say is go as early as you can as the bottom of the waterfall gets so busy. I didn’t get any photos in my life jacket so I decided to come back another day early to get some photos.
Lunch is then back at the start where you get your life jacket. It was such a fun day, for sure do it if you can while you’re in Cebu!
Top 5 things to do on Cebu Island, Philippines
Number 2 – Experience the Sardine Run
The sardines are so easy to see! When you go down the main road to the beach, go to Seaquest diving centre and rent a snorkel if you need one. Then you literally just get into the water and swim out to the edge of the reef where the water gets deeper and you will see sardines. I was told that they are mainly here in the morning but I went in the middle of the day and there were plenty.
Swim with turtles
In the same place where the sardines are, there are also amazing turtles swimming around! At one point I got into the water not even fully submerged and I had already seen a huge turtle! They are very calm and lovely to swim with.
Visit Kawasan Falls
Make sure you go as early as you can! It gets busy with tourists but also Filipino people who come here to hang out for the day! I think we got here at about 7am, the sun was still very low and there were already a few people there. We managed to get some photos without anyone else in them at the bottom of the waterfall. Then as you walk up the steps at the side of the waterfall there are plenty of other mini waterfalls to see!
As you come down if you are hungry for some breakfast after an early start there are people selling lots of snacks. I had a banana and some sticky rice but there are also doughnuts and all sorts!
Hike Osmeña Peak
To arrive for sunset: 4am start
Trip duration: 20-25 minute hike up
You can hike Osmeña Peak at either sunrise or sunset. In the middle of the day it is boiling hot and the light makes it make look even better at sunrise and sunset. You will be asked if you need a guide but the hike is really very easy with a well marked trail so I would say a guide is not necessary.
Sunrise at Osmeña Peak
Unfortunately, the day I decided to hike Osmeña Peak there wasn’t a sunrise! This is one risk you take at sunrise. After a 4am start and a very bumpy road to the peak (2 of us were sick on the way) we were met by some thick cloud at the top! It takes only about 20 minutes to hike up. It’s not a hard hike but the clouds at the top and the wind meant we were too cold to even wait and see if the sun was going to come out!
We went again at midday and it was a very sweaty hike but we had to go while on Cebu and give it another try! The views were incredible.
On the way down if you get hungry there are people selling roast sweet potato on a stick and I can recommend it, it’s delicious!
Other things to do on Cebu
White beach –
As the beaches on Cebu are quite small, everyone says to go to White beach for a bigger beach and some more sand. I personally preferred the smaller beaches where you can have your own little area on the beach and where it was very peaceful.
White beach was full of tourists and Filipino people. The water was busy and it was super noisy. I would say give it a miss if you can! Unless you go very early. You also have to pay an entrance fee for the beach. However, if you walk up from where they ask you for money you can walk right into the beach without paying. Not sure they are actually allowed to take your money or if it’s a scam!
Go Diving –
There are lots of places where you can go diving. There are loads of people as you snorkel you can see all the bubbles coming up from people diving down below!
See the Whale sharks at Oslob –
A lot of people come to Cebu Island, Philippines to see and swim with the whale sharks at Oslob. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this and I would say do your research before you go. Slowly the Philippines is making progress to make this experience more ethical but essentially the boats corner the sharks and feed them so they stay near to the boats. One major problem with this is that the migration of the whale sharks has been affected. These are all natural processes that have been affected by the sharks coming to the boats to feed. There is now a limit to how many boats can go out to see the whale sharks at one time. It still it looks very crowded from what in have seen in photos.
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