If Cebu is not yet on your travel bucket list, now is the time to include it. The Queen city of the South is the center for tourism, commerce and trade in Southern Philippines and naturally there are numerous things to see and do. The history, the people, the food, the beach, the culture and traditions, the vibrant and laidback ambiance…all these make Cebu a great travel destination and home.
So whether it is your first or tenth time traveling to Cebu, there are still a lot of things to do. Let us explore some of the best ones.
- Go on a historical journey
Cebu, as a historic capital is the oldest city in the country. It is older than its sister Manila but less intimidating and therefore more interesting. There are numerous historical museums, churches, ancestral homes and monuments scattered in the city all waiting to be explored. This activity is fairly easy to do on your own as well!
Some of the best spots to visit are: Yap San Diego Ancestral House (one of the oldest and most preserved houses in Cebu built in 1675); Magellan’s Cross (where the real cross is believed to be encased inside the huge cross found inside the Spanish pavilion); Fort San Pedro (built in 1738 by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi- a Spanish conquistador); Cebu Heritage Monument (built in the center of the city with its own story to tell) and the Jesuit House Museum (which houses a collection of interesting historical and archaeological artifacts).
- Have a taste of Cebu’s Delicacies
Food is always high on people’s list in terms of travel. Cebu is not only about history and nature, it is also about culture and you can taste it in their food. Cebuanos are proud of their heritage and their food mirror that pride. Cebu’s lechon (roasted whole pig stuffed with herbs, lemongrass, onion and garlic skewered on a bamboo pole and cooked over charcoal) is the best in the country and sought by all tourists local and international. The heavenly goodness of the sweet Philippine mango is preserved in their incredible Cebu’s Dried Mango (trust me, I’ve been to other parts of the world and nothing beats Cebu’s Dried Mangoes).
Then there’s the Filipino favorite breakfast item, Danggit (dried rabbitfish with salty taste and best paired with vinegar and chili). Finally, every Filipino tourist in Cebu never goes home without “pasalubong” composed of Rosquillos (typical Cebuano pastry), Otap (another original Cebuano pastry), chorizo de Cebu (sweet and spicy sausage), and puso (delicacy made of sticky rice wrapped in young coconut leaves).
- Experience unmatched adventure in Cebu Island
Cebu is a city but it is also a part of a bigger mainland rich in natural resources. If the city starts to bore your adventurous soul, venture further and you will be rewarded with great adventures. Greater Cebu Island offers myriads of adrenaline-pumping activities for the brave ones. Join canyoneering tours where you will have to hike, climb huge boulders, rappel, jump on a cliff, swim against the current and dive from the top of numerous waterfalls. If that is not enough, visit Meddelin and jump from a cliff 3-storey high, and for the ultimate breath-taking moment, hop on a plane and skydive with or without a tandem. This will make your head swirl and the experience will surely keep you coming for more.
- Explore different churches in Cebu
Filipinos are religious people but Cebuanos are on a different level. If you visit some of the well-known churches in the city and attend a traditional Catholic Holy Mass, you will discover how religious Cebuanos are. One of the most notable churches to visit in Cebu is the Metropolitan Cathedral. This church is a reflection of the history of religion in the historic city. Previously, Cebu had ties with Buddhism and Hinduism and the church architecture demonstrates that.
Another must-visit church is the Basilica del Santo Nino. It is the oldest church in Cebu and 3rd in the whole country. In this church, sits the oldest religious icon which is the Señor Sto Niño (Holy Child Jesus). Lastly, for a different experience, head to the Beverly Hills Subdivision in Cebu and participate in a Taoist ritual of taking two blocks of wood into the temple and dropping them in front of the shrine. This colorful temple is a refreshing sight from catholic churches and it certainly gives a different vibe.
- Keep your kids entertained and beat the heat at Cebu’s waterparks
Cebu is the most kid-friendly destination in the South. It has everything the kids would love especially in the tropical heat of the country. Whatever the age, Cebu’s waterparks offer refreshing fun and activities that kids and young at heart will enjoy. Some of the most recommended waterparks in Cebu are: Cebu Westown Lagoon (available for a day tour with water slides, Jacuzzis, fountains, gazebos and swimming pools); Mountain View Nature Park (a jungle-themed park with incredible views, shallow pools and play grounds); JPark Island Resort and Waterpark (a 5-star luxury resort and waterpark with state-of-the-art facilities including 6 different types of swimming pools and 3 giant water slides for kids); and Skywater Park (located on the 6th floor of Jcentre Mall).
- Join island-hopping tours
Your journey in Cebu won’t be complete without touring the nearby islands. Cebu is blessed with white sandy shores and shimmering turquoise blue waters. Amplify your experience by going on a private tour with your family and friends or you can go solo and hire your own boat and explore the beautiful islands.
There are a lot of tourists everywhere, but if you arrange a private tour Cebu’s islands, you can enjoy all of them at your own pace without the crowd gathering around you. You can also plan for a customized itinerary and include islands that are not normally included in standard tours so this way you get more of the nearby islands and you get to enjoy it all by yourself. Nothing beats that kind of luxury experience.
- Dive with the thresher sharks and explore rich marine life
Cebu is home to some of the best diving spots in the country. The teeming marine life is rich with tropical corals. Some of the best dive sites are: Hilutungan Marine Santuary and Nalusuan Sanctuary. For an amazing experience, head to Malapascua and dive to see the island’s regular visitor…a thresher shark. For an even better experience, dive at Pescador Island and swim with the sardines and barracudas.
- Shop till you drop
As mentioned earlier, Cebu is the center for trade and commerce. It is no surprising then that the city is home to some of the biggest mall chains in the country. Ayala Mall and SM Mall can be found in Cebu and here you can buy all popular brands for affordable prices. The malls are a favorite hang-out for Filipinos with their families and friends. It is the best place to meet and greet.
- Tour off-the-beaten paths on a motorbike
If you are not on a boat or on a trike, try to hop on a motorbike and see more of Cebu Island. There are motorcycle rentals everywhere in the city and hotels and resorts also arrange transport rentals whenever necessary. With a motorcycle, you can explore more rural areas and dirt roads that could lead you to your own piece of paradise.
- Laze around and relax on a beach
When all is said and done, just do nothing or read a book and relax on a beach. Cebu’s fine white sands will tickle your feet and relax your mind. Just enjoy the idyllic goodness while sipping your favorite drink. Being lazy has never been more pampering than this.