A very happening island destination in Asia and the Pacific, Cebu offers idyllic beach getaways and popular diving spots, thrilling eco-adventures and extreme sports, heart-stopping Instagram-worthy festivals, and state-of-the-art shopping and nightlife.
This island-province throbs with history, too. Its capital, Cebu City, is the oldest city in the Philippines. Said to be the “cradle of Christianity in Asia,” it takes pride in its homegrown saint, San Pedro Calungsod.
Today, Cebu is a global hub for business and design. International luxury magazines turn the spotlight on Kenneth Cobonpue’s cutting-edge bamboo furniture and Monique Lhuillier’s intimate fashion apparel. Phone calls from around the world are processed in Cebu’s thriving BPOs, better known locally as call centers, staffed by highly educated graduates from Cebu City’s top-caliber schools and universities.
And we haven’t even mentioned all the culinary feasting to be had.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the bustling gateway to the Philippines’ Queen City of the South.
The island-province’s strategic central location ensures that the ports teem with 24-hour traffic, welcoming people from the nearby islands as well as goods and services from all over the world. Seize this opportunity: You can hop on fast-craft water vessels to hie off to neighboring island destinations.
In Cebu City, take the jeepney, a vernacular minivan dubbed the king of the road. You have to know where you want to go, though, since the jeepneys have set routes, aside from a set fare tariff. Jeepneys require cash payments.
To go outside the main city, there are many buses ready to take you to wondrous travel surprises in the provincial route.
Go to Oslob town and dive with whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world
For extreme sports enthusiasts, strap yourself up and walk on the see-through glass floor at the edge of the 38th floor of the Crown Regency in downtown Cebu City, some 127 meters up the street. Or take the zip line that swings you 500 feet up in the air.
Have a beer at the Tops Lookout above Lahug district. It has a breathtaking view of the city, the sea and the neighboring islands.
Do some island hopping! Try the twin Camotes Islands or Bantayan Island, whose fiesta is on Good Friday.
Try scuba diving at, say, the marine sanctuaries at Hilutungan and Nalusuan, and get up close and personal with thresher sharks and mandarin fish, among others.
Magellan’s Cross, planted on the site upon the orders of Ferdinand Magellan, whose “discovery” of the Philippine Islands brought 300 years of Spanish colonization. Even the Pope dropped by for a look-see at this singular symbol of the Catholic faith in all of Asia.
Lapu-Lapu Shrine. A 20-meter bronze statue of the local leader who killed Magellan.
Fort San Pedro, the stronghold of Hispanic rule in the central Philippine islands
The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, better known as the Santo Niño Church, home of Cebu’s world-famous ivory Infant Jesus. The city comes to a standstill on the third Sunday of January for colorful and noisy street parades and other merry-making to celebrate the feast of the miraculous Baby Jesus.
Taoist Temple. The influential Chinese-Filipino community troop to this temple-with-a-fab-view atop the upscale Beverly Hills.
Colon Street, the first street in the Philippines
Masareal, the legendary Cebu delicacy, is a sweet peanut bar that melts in your mouth sinfully. Eat it right away!
Titay’s Rosquillos, those crispy donut-shaped flat cookies with jagged edges, are beloved favorites.
Shamrock’s Otap is a tongue of crunchy goodness that breaks up into its delicious flaky layers in your mouth.
There simply is nothing like Lola Pureza’s Peanut Browas. To die for!
Grab all sorts of dried fish at the Taboan Market.
If you must, you can bring a Cebu lechon, or roast pig, on your flight back.
Try the famous Cebu lechon at Zubuchon and Rico’s Original Lechon
Experience a “Sutukil” meal – short for Sugba (grill), Tula (stew), and Kilawin (to cook in vinegar, i.e. a local version of sashimi)
Other signature dished to try: humba (braised pork), Ngohiong (deep fried spring roll made of ubod or bamboo shoots and ground pork)
Cebu pastries and sweets are perfect gifts and souvenirs
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly from the US (Nonstop from LAX, SFO, HNL, GUM, SPN) to Manila (MNL)
Fly from Canada (Nonstop from YVR and YYZ) to Manila (MNL)
Shangri-laMactan for romantic getaway, shop/dine at SM Seaside City
Must Try Activity:
Snorkelling/Diving/Para-sailing/Golf at ShangrilaMactan
Must Try Food/Drinks:
Lechonat Rico’s Lechon, Baked Scallops/Grilled Squid/Seafoodat STK ta Bai and AA Barbeque, Shark’s Finat Dimsum Break and Harbour City
Best place to ride to tour spots downtown is SM City Cebu.
The best shopping and dining is at SM SEASIDE CITY CEBU. Dress casually. Put plenty of sunblock and wear a baseball cap/visorduring the day to protect yourself from the sun. Always have bottled water in hand. Cebu is the best starting point to locations like Bohol, Leyte and even Palawan.
Professional Photographer, Film Maker and Blogger
Where To Go:
Malapascua, Moalboal, Mactan, Bantayan , Oslob, etc.
Must Try Activity:
Diving with harmless thresher sharks, whale sharks, massive schools of sardines