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Cebu Island's Must See Tourist Attractions
There is a reason why over two million live in Cebu City on Cebu: it has so much going for it. As a tourist, you try to cram in as much as you can into a vacation and there is no better place than on this island.
Cebu Island is about one hour south of Manila by air. Most international flights from the USA stop and Manila and then go to Cebu. You can fly from LA directly to Cebu, however. Allow for one day to adjust to jet lag. Cebu island offers all of the following to experience, while other islands in the Philippines are less endowed:
- Cebu City - a vibrant urban entity with many large shopping malls with international stores. Some beautiful beaches on Mactan island across the channel and some snorkeling. Its International airport is nice, better than in Manila. From the hills far away, the city is a gem but crazy to drive a car in! Taxis are cheap ( 300 peso from airport to downtown Cebu).
- Osmena Peak - a 3000 ft. altitude that offers the best views across the narrow island and maybe Cebu city. Getting there is an experience you will never forget for it is into the remote highlands in the Dalaquete area. By car, it is not difficult to find with Google GPS, but only to the town hall where you pay 200 peso. From there, you must pay for a motorcycle ride to the base of the peak because the dirt road is horrendous and narrow. There are no signs off the main road and only locals know. Once at the base, you pay again and hike to the top in 20-30 min.
- Tumalog Falls - when there is plenty of water, a beautiful waterfall and pool to swim in. Almost angelic as the water comes over the cliff. Only 15 min from the Oslob area, there is a sign off the main road. Parking is limited. Once you pay, you walk down a short distance to see it. Most visit this after whale watching.
- Whale Watching - by far, a very popular international attraction you must experience. Crowded. Little parking. Foreigners are charged 1000 peso, locals just 500. You can rent an underwater camera for 500 p. I suggest you take your smartphone and let the boatman take photos of you as you swim with huge shark whales as they are being fed. You have 30 min. of this and once you are taken off shore in a small boat, you jump in the 80F water at 8 am. It is an amazing, unforgettable experience for those above 10 yrs. old. You will within 3 ft. of these huge creatures. Speechless. Just go to Oslob area (about 3 hrs from Cebu city by car).
- Aguinid Adventure Falls - By far, the most fun of all waterfalls on the island because you climb through five levels and by level 3, soaking wet. This is located nearly off the main road (huge sign) in the Samboan sector of the island. This means from Oslob, you drive to around the end to the other side. Parking is limited, 50 peso. Entrance fee is around 100 peso and two guides are assigned, one to show you how to climb and the other to take photos. Make sure you wear water shoes. Plenty of jungle and pools to swim in. Give yourself at least one hour to do. There are places to buy food there.
- Kawasan Falls - Again, a popular spot. This is further up the scenic 2-lane highway in the Badien sector. Like Aguinid, there is a huge sign and you cannot miss it. You park right off the main road at the church and a guide is offered. The trail to the falls is to the right of the church and wide. The walk to the falls is equally beautiful for 20 minutes. A stream is next to you and palms and banana trees are predominant.You pass through a small settlement until reaching the falls, gushing with tons of water. This has a large pool of water to swim in. Everything costs: a raft under the falls is 300 peso, use the restroom, 10 peso, table-300 peso, using the bamboo raft- 300 peso. You can stand on the raft and swim for free. There is a small place place to eat there. Give yourself one hour or more.
- Lambug Public Beach - Cebu island's secret. Equal to any beach on Boracay, El Nido, this long and wide white sand-powder like beach is usually vacant. The reason is because access is obscure. You only can get there by car or motorbike. From the main road to Badien, take the one road to Cebu International Golf Course. You will pass the entrance to this and stay to your left onto a rocky, dirt road. The pier is in disrepair and you can just park. From there, the beach stretches out for a long time. I hated to leave. Spend the day there for sure, maybe more. Serene and peaceful. Water is clear and 80F. You can see islands on the horizon. There are two 2 star hotels there and a nice 3.5 star (Lambug Homestay owned by a Swede).
- Moalboal - the town offers nothing and not along the shoreline. But, staying at any of the hotels there near the coast offer good snorkeling adventures and is a favorite for this. This is 30 minutes from Lambug.
- Driving from Moalboal to Cebu city is around 3 hours time. Be careful when using google for the best route. While most of the time, Google GPS was good at finding our route, just know it does not know what condition the road is in! So, we found this out the hard way going back. The road started as good paved for a long time, then, turned into a single dirt lane road in remote areas! This made for an adventure. It eventually returned to a paved road after about 30 minutes.
- Just off the coast of Cebu island is Bantanyan, a wanna-be Boracay resort area. Much cheaper for sure, from Cebu City, by bus, the route takes you to the northern part of the island. The trip from the city to the ferry, is a good 5-6 hours and a few hundred pesos. The ferry takes 1 hour to cross. Bantanyan offers some nice 3 star hotels in the Santa Fe area, but the town itself, is nothing. It offers nothing. People go for the beaches and ocean. But to be truthful, just go to Lambug for the same!
Lastly, rent a car for $60 a day especially if you plan to go around this stunning island to visit the remote areas outside Cebu city. If you plan to stay in the city, taxis are fine for the most part. But, taking a bus to Oslob and other places, is just more hassle and less flexible because of bus schedules.