Authored by Diane Wuthrich (Contributor)
Cebu is a popular choice for travellers looking for an abundance in tropical travel experiences. The city centre can get hectic and is plagued by traffic, but there are several excellent beaches around the island. Cebu is well-known for being one of the best destinations in the Philippines (and in Asia) for diving, but there are ample opportunities for snorkelling and relaxing too.
While in Cebu, be prepared to indulge in some of the freshest, most delicious seafood. Cebu is known for its beaches just as much as the local cuisine, and you’ll find fresh seafood in all the beach destinations. No one does pork better than the Cebuanos – so don’t leave without trying lechon, or roast suckling pick hailed by Anthony Bourdain as the best pig in the world.
These are the 5 beaches of Cebu that you shouldn’t miss.
Just minutes away from the Cebu city centre is Mactan beach, separated from the main island by two bridges. Mactan’s coast is dotted with resorts big and small, from five-star accommodations to smaller dive resorts.
Mactan beach is accessible from the city via a taxi or Uber, and if you aren’t booked at one of the beachfront hotels, you may enjoy the private beaches of a resort by paying a small entrance fee since there are no public beaches nearby.
Bantayan Island is home to some of Cebu’s most beautiful white sand beaches and clear azure waters. The island, which spans 51 square miles, has several beaches but the most popular choice for travellers in Santa Fe. If you had to choose just one island in Cebu to visit, make it Bantayan Island – you won’t regret it! The vibe is much more laid back, and you’ll rarely see droves of tourists except during Easter.
It’s perfect for a romantic or soul-searching holiday where most of your time will be spent lazing around the beach or reading a book. There are no luxurious hotels in Bantayan island; most of them are in the budget and mid-range category so it’s highly recommended for price-conscious travellers. There is also the option of taking a day trip to Virgin island, a 30-minute outrigger boat ride away from Bantayan island whose postcard-picture beaches will just blow you away.
Malapascua is an island in Cebu that is famous in the international diving community for the thresher shark dives in Monad Shoal. Divers from all over the world come to Malapasuca to experience this once in a lifetime event. Gato Island is also another popular dive spot, known for the white tip sharks, an amazing underground tunnel However, Malapascua also has much more to offer even if you don’t dive.
Head over to Bounty Beach, a white-sand beach with turquoise waters and coconut trees lining the shore. Bounty Beach has several resorts to choose from, as well as small bars and restaurants that are perfect for enjoying an ice-cold San Miguel beer while taking in the views. Lighthouse Beach in Malapascua is great for snorkelling; the main attraction here is the shallow Japanese wrecks featuring remains of a ship that has turned into an artificial reef.
Kalanggaman Island is definitely worthy of a day trip from Malapascua; just 2 hours away by boat is a stunning, bright white sandbar where there’s nothing else but a patch of coconut trees. Many consider Kalanggaman Island to be one of the most beautiful in all the Philippines, but due to the complete absence of any tourist accommodations or facilities, make sure to bring your own food and spend a day relishing the sea and sun.
Moalboal is another great choice for divers, as well as travellers who enjoy the occasional snorkel. If you’re lucky you’ll come across an elusive sea turtle, but the marine life in Moalboal is just too good that it would be a big mistake not to go on at least one snorkelling trip. From colourful corals to fish of all sizes, you’ll be captivated by what you’ll find underwater. The two main areas of Moalboal are White Beach and Panagsama Beach. White Beach is quiet and relaxing; there is no nightlife, but the beaches and sunsets are spectacular.
If you’re looking for a tropical paradise to truly disconnect and get away from it all, White Beach is a good option. On the other hand, Panagsama Beach is a little busier, dotted with several dive shops, bars, restaurants, and small resorts. Enjoy a cocktail at Panagsama while watching the sun go down from one of the many beachfront bars. But one of the most exciting attractions in Panagsama Beach is the famed sardine run, where millions of tiny sardines form a big cluster. You don’t need to dive to experience the sardine run – the best part is that it’s not too far from the shore, so snorkelling will do.
The Camotes Islands are made up of four islands: Ponson, Poro, Pacjian, and Tulang. Considered a little more off-the-beaten track, the Camotes Islands are pristine but require some effort in terms of getting around. These islands are well-loved among travellers for their unspoiled beauty, sparkling blue waters, and fine white sand.
The quiet shorelines invite you to sunbathe and enjoy some R&R with a cold beer in hand. Among these four islands, there many beaches to see; some of the most beautiful are the Bakhaw Beach and the Santiago Bay. If you’re visiting Pacjian, take an afternoon trip to see the tranquil emerald waters of Lake Danao, a 700-hectare body of water whose romantic ambiance makes it a favourite destination of lovers.