Cebu offers a lot to local and foreign tourists, not only through its white beaches and turquoise waters, but for the numerous historical sites and places in the province.
Even if you have a limited time, you can still find a number of things to do.
The following are the recommended places to visit in Cebu.
Cultural Places to Visit in Cebu City
Magellan’s Cross. This cross was planted by Ferdinand Magellan in the shore of Cebu when he arrived in the Philippines in 1521. The cross today is enclosed in a glass case, and is open for viewing in downtown Cebu.
Fort San Pedro. This is a triangular military defense structure built by the Spanish Government. It is now a museum where legacies of that era could be found inside, including documents, paintings, and weapons for war.
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. This church was built in the 16th century supposedly on the spot where Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi found a sculpture of the Santo Niño, the same one given by Magellan in the 1500s to Queen Juana as a sign of friendship between their tribe and Spain. The Santo Niño is honored annually every third Sunday of January in a festival called the Sinulog.
Museo Sugbo. This is the old Cebu provincial detention and rehabilitation center (the current one is famous worldwide for the dancing inmates of Cebu). It has been converted to a museum showcasing the four major eras shaping Cebu to what it has become now.
Waterfalls and Eco-Tourism in Cebu
The Bugasok Falls in Argao is well known for its beauty. Nature lovers can choose to take the 6-hour trek, or hire local transportation called the habal-habal (motorcycle). Argao is a two-hour bus ride from Cebu City.
Another natural wonder is the Mantayupan Falls in Campangga, Barili which also serves as a hydroelectric plant for the town. It is the highest waterfalls in the province and it is only an hour and a half from Cebu.
Kawasan Waterfalls is another very popular destination for nature lovers. Located in a small village of Badian, three hours from Cebu, visitors still have to trek for 20 to 30 minutes before reaching the falls. The terrain however, has some very nice views, and well worth the walk. What makes it different is that visitors can actually go under the falls by riding a bamboo raft.
For the eco-tourists, the Kan-irag Nature Park is the perfect place to visit. It is a 71 hectare eco-tourism park with indigenous trees, flowers, and plants. It had been previously a bald spot on the mountain, until a big conglomerate undertook its development to become a functioning watershed and a natural laboratory with native bird species and various fauna and flora.
Beaches, Diving, and Snorkeling in Cebu
Cebu, however, is best known for its beaches.
Approximately four to five hours from the city is Bantayan Island. Called the Island Paradise of the Philippines, it attracts a lot of tourists, local and foreign alike. The clear blue waters and the magnificent coral reefs are best for diving and snorkeling. At night, the place is also filled with music from bars suitable for group outings.
Another popular island off Cebu is Malapascua, which is very near Bantayan Island. Malapascua is best known for its diving spots comparable to the reefs of Bantayan, and divers have seen thresher sharks and manta rays here, among other marine life.
For world-class divers, Moalboal is the place to go. It is best as well for snorkeling and freediving. The drop off is near the shore and it goes down up to 40 meters. Moalboal is located in the southern part of Cebu, about 4 hours from the city.
It is a relaxed and serene town, with none of the party atmosphere the other places have. Night time entertainment is laid back and quiet. It is also possible to camp out in a tent in the shores of Moalboal.
Traveling around Cebu City and the neighboring islands is cheap. Food is fresh and delicious, and one can find affordable accommodations as well that would fit any budget.
Truly, with all its splendors, Cebu deserves to be called a queen, and one visit is never enough.
Have you been to Cebu? Which places did you visit?
(This article was first published on October 1, 2010.)