Metro Manila · 12 Reasons To Visit Cebu Island This Summer
The island province of Cebu is composed of 167 islands and islets surrounding a larger land mass where the capital Cebu City is located. If you are planning to visit Cebu this summer, take a look at this Megacitizen guide.
The island province of Cebu is composed of 167 islands and islets surrounding a larger land mass where the capital, Cebu City, is located. This metropolitan area is the oldest city in the country and was the first seat of power when the Spanish reached Philippine shores. Cebu City served as the position of power for six years before the conquest of Manila. Today, the metropolitan area includes nearby cities -Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Talisay. These bustling cities have mountains and rolling hills in the north as their backdrop.
Cebu Island stretches 196 km (122 mi) from north to south and is 32 km (20 mi) at its widest point. Like the rest of the country, the province has a tropical climate with sunny days for most part of the year.
From NAIA, our team touched down at Mactan-Cebu International Airport on Mactan Island. We were greeted by sunny weather and hordes of holidaymakers from different parts of the world. From there, we got on a cab to our hotel. We spent a few days in Cebu to see the sights and experience life in this Philippine Megacity and its nearby islands. The following are a few of the most interesting places we saw in the Philippine province. We must note though that these places are not arranged by rank.
1. Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro is the oldest triangular bastion fort in the Philippines. This beautiful bastion fort is located at Plaza Independencia near the city’s pier area. It served as the very first Spanish settlement in the country and features the bastion San Miguel in the northeast facing land, and bastions named Ignacio de Loyola in the southeast and La Concepcion in the southwest. The south sides are both facing the sea.
Made from stone mortar, the site brings one back to 17th century Cebu where the Spanish settlement had to fight off Muslim raiders who frequently went to the area during those times. Although there are lots of visitors who go to Fort San Pedro daily, it is quite peaceful in this part of the city.
2. Basilica de Santo Nino
The Basilica is a beautiful structure founded in the year 1565. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country and stands on the very spot where the image of the Holy Child was found in the 1500s. Right in front of the church is another structure where large masses are held. Beside it is a fountain surrounded by candleholders where devotees light candles for loved ones.
On Sundays, the atmosphere at the Basilica is quite festive and like on regular days, you’d find vendors outside the church selling anything from bottled water to images of the Holy Child.
3. Heritage of Cebu Monument
The Heritage monument depicts a number of historical events in Cebu. This includes the Battle of Mactan, Rajah Humabon’s baptism, and the like. This monument is placed in an obscure part of Cebu City but can easily be reached by riding a cab. Just tell the cab driver to get you to the Parian District.
4. Yap-San Diego Ancestral House
Just a few steps away from the Heritage of Cebu Monument on Lopez-Jaena corner Mabini, the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House is an interesting stop for Megacitizens who would like to see what Filipino-Chinese homes were like during the late 1600s.
Built between 1675 and 1700, the home showcases old art and a number of statues. It even has its own banca (small boat) now used as a flower pot. The banca is still attached to the house and must have been put there in preparation for flooding in the area. This is a very interesting home with interesting pieces of furniture. The dirt floor on the ground floor is covered with pebbles. The ground floor also comes with a rather low ceiling.
Upstairs, you would see a formal dining table overlooking the yard. The dining area has antique plates and a table cloth reminiscent of 1700s Philippines.
5. Colon Street
Colon Street is the oldest street in the whole country and is among Cebu City's busiest streets. To get to Colon Street, you can ride a jeepney headed for the area. You’d be able to see these jeepneys right away because they have their destinations painted on each side. While there is not much to see on Colon Street, being there is quite special because of its age. Be careful of pickpockets though.
6. Magellan’s Cross
Magellan’s Cross, housed next to the Basilica, is the very spot where Portuguese and Spanish explorers planted a Christian cross upon their arrival in the island. This is one of the most visited places in Cebu City. While we were able to go to the place, the small structure that houses the cross was under renovation. Murals were being repainted at the time.
7. Temple Visits: Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple & Cebu Taoist Temple
Located near the city center, Fo Guang Shan Chu Un is a place for meditation and serenity. While you’re there, be sure to light some incense.
Another temple to go to is the Cebu Taoist Temple. It sits 33 meters (980 feet) above sea level making it a towering structure located in the mountainous parts of the island. There is another temple nearby called Phu Sian but it is not open to the public.
The Taoist Temple has a wishing well and several prayer areas.
8. Museo de Sugbu
Museo de Sugbu is a small museum in Cebu City that showcases the Visayan capital’s history. It also houses a number of artifacts before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It is an educational experience to go there and you would also see old newspaper clippings and guerilla currency among other things.
9. SM Seaside
SM Seaside is the third largest mall in the Philippines and 8th largest in the world. It opened in November of 2015 but by the time we went there, there were still very few stores open. This mall is a beautiful structure that integrates the beauty of its surroundings. It has a city wing that faces the city that offers a beautiful sight at night. It also has a wing one that faces the sea where one can see ships and boats, and another that faces the mountains.
SM Seaside has a number of restaurants and a skating rink.
10. Punta Engaño
Located in Lapu-Lapu City, this beach town has an undisturbed fishing community and a number of beach resorts. If you would like to do some scuba diving or parasailing, this is the place to be.
If you are planning to just stay near the beach, be warned that this area does not have an open shoreline concept like most beaches. Most of the beach resorts in the area are fenced prohibiting beachgoers to go from one resort to another.
Just a few minutes away from where the beach resorts are located, you would find a small dock where the ferries are. The ferries can bring you to another one of Cebu Province’s smaller islands. Just be sure to go there early because the last trip coming from the nearby island is scheduled right before sunset.
11. Kanlaob River Canyon And Kawasan Falls
The adventure-seeker will love this place. It involves a lot of energy and will require lots of water because right after your trip coming from Cebu City, you will have to climb uphill slopes, trek the river, and jump off waterfalls. You might need to rappel too from time to time so be ready.
Our team went to the Cebu South Bus Terminal and got on one going to Bato via Barili. We told the driver we are going to Kawasan Falls and he said he will gladly drop us off Barangay Malabago, Badian. The three-hour-long bus ride was spent for sleeping and listening to music but by the time we got off on the highway, we were roaring to go. We had to ride a motorcycle to reach the falls.
If you decide to go to Kawasan Falls, be sure to get a guide.
12. Oslob, Cebu
Oslob, Cebu is a sleepy town about 4 hours away from Cebu City. Apart from being able to swim with whale sharks for a fee, the church and other structures are just breathtaking. This is one of the highlights of our trip.
Guide For Megacitizens
Asking For Directions
There is a language barrier. Locals from other Philippine provinces even have difficulties communicating with folks from Cebu Province because they usually answer back in Cebuano. The locals speak English though so communicating in English is a much better idea than trying to communicate in Filipino.
Asking for directions proved to be difficult for us so Megacitizens must plan their itineraries well. The first thing to do is to write down all the addresses of each tourist spot as well as jot down information on how to get to these places before even boarding the plane. The cab drivers in Cebu City usually ask for the exact address of the place you are going to so be prepared to have this information with you. If you are lucky, there are cab drivers who know the place really well but it is best not to rely on this.
Be Sure To Take Note Of Travel Times
Cebu Island is a large land mass so getting from one place to the next, especially if you are going to the islands surrounding it, will take a bit of time. We spent most of our time traveling from one tourist destination to the next while we were in Cebu. Traveling to Oslob to see whale sharks can mean 4 to 5 hours of bus travel from Cebu City for example.
Bring Sunglasses And Sun Protection
Cebu Province is possibly one of the sunniest places in the Philippines. It gets very hot during the day so be sure to bring sunglasses and sun protection. It is easy to get a tan in this part of the country especially if you walk around in the sun all day or at the beach all day.
Cebu City’s traffic is moderate during the day but if you are trying to catch an evening flight, be sure to get there earlier because traffic on the way to the airport is heavy in the afternoon.