One of the most popular destinations in the Philippines is Cebu and there’s a good reason for that. Located in the Visayas region, Cebu is composed of 168 islands and islets. Its natural wonders offer tons of things to do for tourists and locals alike.
Because of its international airport, Cebu has become one of the prime holiday destinations for its stunning beaches, clear sea waters and white sand.
From historical landmarks to majestic waterfalls and from spectacular beaches to diving spots, Cebu offers a wide variety of experiences and attractions for different types of tourists.
If you’re planning on visiting Cebu anytime soon, check out these epic things to do in Cebu.
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Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses, ferries, taxis or flights for booking online with 12Go Asia.
The most popular waterfalls in Cebu is Kawasan Falls but did you know that there are more than 1000 waterfalls in the province of Cebu? If you love to chase waterfalls, Cebu is a paradise. Here are some of the waterfalls that I’d recommend you to check out.
Cool waters and breathtaking backdrops, what more can you ask for in Kawasan Falls? This waterfall offers adventurers all kinds of adventures including canyoneering, rock climbing, trekking, rappelling, and waterfall jumping.
Boasting of a staggering 100ft height and blue waters by its pool, the Inambakan falls is a sight to see. You’ll find limestone cliffs behind this waterfall. It offers five levels of treks to different waterfalls and pools, too. It’s enough to keep you busy for the whole day.
Several cliff-jumps and a hidden cave? Count me in! Kabutongan Falls requires a 30-minute trek through narrow trails, boulders, and vines but it’s all worth it.
If you don’t like the crowds at Kawasan Falls, you’ll love Dao Falls! This waterfall is around 45 meters in height and offers a crazy large pool which you can swim in.
Swimming and cliff jumping are the two things you’ll be mostly doing at the Cambais Falls. It’s an epic waterfall located in Alegria.
After exploring Osmena Peak, cool off at the Montpellier waterfall and swim for a while before finally calling it a day.
If you’re going to swim with the whale sharks, include Aguinid Falls to your itinerary. If you don’t want to do a DIY, there are tours online that you can book. Take a dip in its refreshing waters and explore the caves inside.
Also known as Hidden Falls, the Binalayan Waterfall isn’t so hidden anymore. You’ll find palm trees all over the trail to the waterfall. Try cliff jumping once you get there.
If you want to visit this waterfall, you’ll most likely find yourself alone in its magnificent beauty. This is one of the off the beaten paths in Cebu but one of the most incredible spots to visit.
Behind this waterfall, you’ll find some caves which you can explore. You can also hike up the top of the waterfall then follow the canyon.
Related Article: 7 Can’t-miss Cebu Waterfalls to Visit
Watch the sunrise at Osmena Peak
Osmena Peak is well-known for its scenic panoramic views of the ocean and the entire Cebu. You can either set up camp for the night or wake up early to hike Osmena Peak for the sunrise. This is a must-visit site when you’re in Cebu. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to catch the sunrise, the view during the daytime is just as stunning. Plus, you can also traverse from Osmena Peak to Kawasan Falls.
Related Article: Osmena Peak Sunrise Hike: 2019 Travel Guide
For a hassle-free trip, book a Cebu Kawasan Waterfalls & Osmena Peak Day Tour.
Try Canyoneering at the Kawasan Falls
I mentioned Kawasan falls above already and I’m putting it here again. If you want to experience adventure, try canyoneering. It’s one of the most popular activities in the area. In fact, you’ll be seeing thousands of tourists here. The activity costs around $20 to $30.
Who wouldn’t want to try skydiving in Cebu? Just imagine the beautiful view of the ocean and the beaches while you soar high in the sky. You can try skydiving at —Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu which costs around 19,000 pesos or around $370.
You can book a skydiving adventure with Skydive Greater Cebu.
Relax at the Mainit Hot Spring in Malabuyoc
I love hotsprings! Do you? If your answer is yes, head now to the Mainit Hot Springs and indulge in its surrounding greeneries and waterfall. You might find the hot springs too hot for your liking but it’s worth a try.
Swim with the Whale Sharks
This is probably the most famous attraction in Cebu. People flock to Oslob to get a chance to swim with whale sharks. While there is a lot of controversy around this tourist attraction, it’s entirely up to you if you want to skip it or not.
You can book an Oslob Whale Shark Watching from Cebu City or Mactan Island here.
If you want a 2-in-1 kind of tour, you can book the Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure.
Visit Sumilon Island
Tropical escape? Get it all here at Sumilon island. After swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, treat yourself and pamper yourself with the wonders of Sumilon. It’s just a 20-minute boat ride from Oslob. Expect that there’s an entrance fee of $1 or 50 pesos. The white sand, clear blue waters, surrounding reefs, and the sandbar will make it hard for you to say goodbye.
Check out the Happy Beach
Love pink and everything magical? You’re going to go gaga over the Happy Beach in Mactan, Cebu. It features the Happy Jungle Lounge™, Pink Bali Lounge, Inflatable Island and of course, the world-renowned Unicorn Island! Now, pack your bags and check this place out!
Get a ticket to the Happy Beach here.
Freedive with Sardines in Moalboal
Just 30 meters away from the shore of Moalboal, you can go on a free dive and watch thousands of sardines swim around you. Just use your goggles, mask, and fins for this.
You can also charter a boat and let the local guides bring you to the best snorkeling spots.
Related Article: 7 Things To Do In Moalboal Cebu That You Can’t Miss
Swim with Turtles
Who wouldn’t want to get the chance to swim with turtles? I’ve only ever seen one when we went snorkeling at Masasa beach in Batangas. But in Moalboal, you can swim with these amazing creatures around Tongo Point or Main beach.
Related Article: Moalboal Island Hopping Travel Guide: A Snorkeling Paradise
Try the Giant Slides at Cebu Westown Lagoon
Large man-made lagoon, water fountains, giant slides and Jacuzzis are just some of the things you’ll see at the Cebu Westown Lagoon. If you have kids with you, this is the best place to bring them and have them enjoy and have fun. But if you’re just a kid at heart, feel free to go all-out and make the most of your vacation.
Filipinos are very fond of karaoke. You’ll find this everywhere you go. So why not go ahead and belt out a tune or two? Don’t worry if you don’t have a good voice. Karaoke is all about having fun!
Visit Historical Landmarks
The Spaniards first colonized Cebu before going to other parts of the Philippines in the 16th century. This long history has left tons of historical landmarks around the city of Cebu. From the Lapu-Lapu Shrine to the Fort San Pedro and the Yap Sandiego Ancestral House to the Colon Street, there’s a lot to choose from.
You can also opt to visit museums such as the Museo Sugbo, Cathedral Museum, Basilica del Santo Nino Museum, Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, Casa Gorordo Museum, Museo De Parian, University of San Carlos Museum, and the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.
There’s also a Cebu & Mactan Twin City Tour.
Conquer Your Fear of Heights at the Crown Regency Hotel
The Crown Regency Hotel isn’t your ordinary hotel. It also caters to thrill seekers. Here, you can find extreme sports one of which is the Ride the Edge Coaster on its 38th floor. You also get to walk along the 126.55 meters high translucent glass floor or try the zip line that’s 473 feet in the air!
You can get a pass to the Sky Experience Adventure of the Crown Regency Hotel here.
Get a 360-degree view of Cebu from Tops Lookout
Don’t have enough time to explore Cebu? Just go to Tops Lookout and get the best view of the city, winding waterways, and lush greenery. Don’t miss the view at night and gaze at the city’s lit up view. Avoid the heat by coming early in the morning or later at night.
Walk the Steep Steps at the Taoist Temple
I know I mentioned steep steps but you’ll hardly notice them when you take in all the surrounding architecture and designs. Just 300 meters above sea level, the Taoist Temple offers one of the most unforgettable views of the island.
You can try the Taoist ritual by taking two blocks of wood and dropping them by the front of the temple shrine. If you see that the blocks fall face up, the gods are allowing you to make a wish. Don’t forget to wash your hands and take off your shoes before entering the temple.
Book the Private Cebu & Mactan Twin City Tour to get a chance to see the Taoist Temple.
Visit the Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden
Escape the busy city and get some fresh air at Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden. You can buy a meal or a drink at the picturesque cafe and check out the 120 species of flowers and plants around the garden.
Just 15 minutes from Cebu City, this garden can be found on Malubog Mountain where you will see beautiful mountain views and colorful flowers all around.
The botanical garden is open from 7 AM to 8 PM only.
Hike to the Kandungaw Peak
In the mountain range of Dalaguete, you will find the ridge of Kandungaw Peak. This is a short 30-minute trek which will take you to the most dramatic drop-offs and beautiful viewpoints. In this location alone, you’ll find four viewpoints and one cave for you to explore.
Go Scuba Diving
The Philippines offers the best diving sites in the world. One of these is located in Cebu. You can expect to see whale sharks, manta rays, and thresher sharks. Dive sites can be found in:
- Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island
- Pescador Island near Moalboal
- Kansantik in the Olango Channel
If it’s your first time, don’t worry. You can get diving lessons from the dive centers and soon you’ll be on your way to exploring the world under the sea.
Try Island Hopping and Enjoy the Beaches
Cebu is surrounded by beautiful islands with crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches. Whether you stay in Cebu, Bantayan, Malapascua or any island around Cebu, you will always find an island-hopping activity. Personally, I’ve been to Malapascua Island and Bantayan Island where Ryk and I stayed at Kandugyap House by the Sea and Kota Beach Resort. They offer great island-hopping destinations from these islands.
You can check out the Pescador Island from Moalboal, while Biliran, Kalanggaman, and Dakit-Dakit are three of the best island-hopping destinations from Malapascua. You won’t be disappointed. You can find white beaches, clear waters and great snorkeling sites on these islands.
And if you don’t want to travel too far, you can opt for a Mactan island hopping.
Here are some tours you can book for an island hopping experience in Cebu.
- Hilutungan, Nalusuan and Pandanon Island Hopping
- Pescador Island Hopping Private Tour with Boat Charter in Moalboal
- Olango Island Hopping Trip
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Canyoneering Experience
- Cebu Smile Hopping Tour by Rakso Travel
- Kalanggaman Island Tour from Cebu
- Cebu Hilutungan, Nalusuan, and Caohagan Island Hopping Day Tour
Go Dolphin Watching
On Cebu’s southeast coast, you will find dolphin watching day trips from Moalboal. This Strait between Bohol and Cebu is home to a lot of pelagic species. You can rest assured that most tour companies have strict rules so as to ensure the well-being and safety of the animals.
During our island hopping trip in Moalboal, we managed to see a few dolphins!
One of the best dishes to try in Cebu is lechon which means suckling pig in Spanish. Most people regard the lechon in Cebu to be the best and tastiest. Try one from Rico’s Lechon or Zubuchon. It’s the juiciest and flavorful pork you’ll ever taste in your whole life. This dish is often served with rice and vinegar.
Try Cebuano Dishes
If you want to explore more of Cebu’s dishes, go on a gastronomic tour. Try the affordable barbeque paired with rice cooked inside coconut leaves at Larsian.
Taste the SuTuKil in local restaurants which is short for sugba, tula and kilaw (grilled, soup and ceviche). Savor the hot pochero or beef stew at Abuhan Restaurant. But that’s not all! There are more Cebuano dishes to try when you book a food tour.
Experience the Sinulog Festival
One of the top festivals that you shouldn’t miss is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. It is held every third Sunday of January to celebrate the devotion of Cebu to the Holy Child Jesus.
What makes this a must-see festival are the colorful street parties and the devotees converging for the Santo Nino. If you don’t mind the crowds, plan your trip around this time of the year.
Enjoy the View at BLU Bar & Grill While You Sip Cocktails
One of the best restaurants in Cebu is the BLU Bar & Grill which is found in the rooftop bar of the Marco Polo Plaza. You can sip on the restaurant’s signature cocktails as you take in the views of the city.
The most recommended cocktails to try here are the Fire Crackers and Vegetable Martini.
Love shopping? Go explore Cebu’s big and beautiful shopping malls. With a mini-park and water features, the Ayala Center Cebu’s The Terraces should be on top of your list. This offers several levels of entertainment, dining, and shopping.
Robinson’s Galleria is also a must visit. You’ll find its centerpiece, a flower-decorated guitar in the mall’s atrium to be one of the favorite photo spots of tourists and locals. Finally, there’s the SM Seaside City Cebu which has a circular shape, a viewing tower and “The Cube”. This is the 8th largest mall across the world.
See the Temple of Leah
If you love beautiful architecture and artistry, you’re going to love the Temple of Leah. This is seen as Cebu’s version of the Taj Mahal as it is an architectural shrine for the memories and treasures of the late Leah Albino-Adarna. Her husband, Teodorico Soriano Adarna, built this grand temple to symbolize his undying love for his late wife.
Drop By the Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary
If you loved the Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden, you will love the Jumalon butterfly sanctuary. Walk through a rainforest filled with tropical flowers, plants, and beautiful butterflies. However, there’s a small entrance fee so be sure to bring some cash with you.
For the best trip, get a tour to the Celosia Flower Farm and Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary here.
I heard Cebu had plenty of snorkeling sites so Ryk and I brought our snorkeling gears when we visited. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. The waters surrounding Cebu is teeming with marine life so you’ll see lots of colorful fishes and corals.
Best site for snorkeling in Cebu would be Moalboal!
Stay in Mactan
If you don’t want to travel far to see a marine sanctuary, corals and white sand beaches, stay in Mactan. This place offers tons of luxury beach resorts for you to choose from. If you have kids with you, bring them to the huge water park or sign up for some island tours.
There are also island hopping trips from Cordova Port.
Related Article: Mactan Island Hopping: 2019 Travel Guide
If you’re in for more adventures, you can go on a tour to Bohol.
And when it’s time to say goodbye to Cebu, wait for your flight in comfort at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at the Plaza Premium Lounge. Here’s why you should get this package.
- Indulge in a variety of unlimited food and beverages, and enjoy local delicacies freshly prepared by the chef
- WiFi and charging stations are available at the desk areas, perfect if you need to catch up on work
- Get real-time updates about your flight even while relaxing inside the lounge
BONUS: If you like to camp, you can opt to camp at Bacalla Woods Campsite. The campsite is famous for its swings, mountain views, and trekking activities.
Note: Before your trip, make sure that you are insured so you are ready for an unexpected event that may or may not happen. It’s best to keep yourself protected.
Where to Stay In Cebu
When planning your trip to Cebu, it’s best that you book months before your travel date. This is to ensure that you have a place to sleep the night in. Here are some that I’d recommend for you to book.
- RedDoorz Plus near Mango Avenue Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Pillows Hotel Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Check Price and Availability
- Escario Central Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Grazie’s Studio Apartment – Check Price and Availability
- Murals Mactan – Check Price and Availability
- Liquid Soul Dive Hostel – Check Price and Availability
- Taro Hometel – Check Price and Availability
- Little Norway Guesthouse – Check Price and Availability
- Acrige Apartelle – Check Price and Availability
- Zhamira Avior’s Condominium – Check Price and Availability
- Beyond Island – Check Price and Availability
- Cebu R Hotel – Mabolo – Check Price and Availability
- One Central Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Mandarin Plaza Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Harolds Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Alpa City Suites Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Allure Hotel & Suites – Check Price and Availability
- Zerenity Hotel and Suites – Check Price and Availability
- Summit Galleria Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- St. Mark Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Cebu Hotel Plus – Check Price and Availability
- Carl‘s Island Inn – Check Price and Availability
- Kota Beach Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Kandugyap House By The Sea – Check Price and Availability
- Carolina del Mar – Check Price and Availability
- AJ Family Vacation Home – Check Price and Availability
- Soderberg – Check Price and Availability
- Ocean Safari Suites – Check Price and Availability
- Bai Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Seda Ayala Center Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Red Planet Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Golden Prince Hotel & Suites – Check Price and Availability
- Bayfront Hotel Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Quest Hotel and Conference Center Cebu – Check Price and Availability
- Diamond Suites & Residences – Check Price and Availability
- Tongo Hill Cottages – Check Price and Availability
- Ravenala Beach Bungalows – Check Price and Availability
- Oceanfront Paradise Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Pearl of Santa Fe – Check Price and Availability
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
You can also opt to stay in a Cebu villa.
Responsible Travel Tips
When traveling to one place, make sure you practice responsible tourism. Here are some tips to do so.
1. Respect the environment
Don’t litter. Please hold onto your trash until you find a garbage can.
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Bring your eco bag and refuse single-use plastic.
3. Shop local
Keep the traditional crafts alive and support local artisans. Buy from them. And try not to haggle, P20 may seem small to you but it can mean a lot to them.
4. Always ask permission
Be sure to ask for permission first when taking photos or videos especially when it comes to children
What to Pack for Cebu
- Eco-friendly Reusable Water Bottle
- Light Rain Jacket (especially from June to November)
- T-shirts, a nice top, and a long-sleeved shirt
- Aqua Shoes
- Day Bag
- Power Adapter
- Universal Waterproof Phone Case
- Packing Cubes
- Microfiber Towel
- Travel Insurance
- Money Belt
- sneakers, hiking shoes (if you’re planning to hike) and some flats
- reusable straw and reusable bag (no to single-use plastic!)
Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
You might also like…
- Moalboal Island Hopping Travel Guide: A Snorkeling Paradise
- Osmena Peak Sunrise Hike: 2019 Travel Guide
- Mactan Island Hopping: 2019 Travel Guide
- Bantayan Island 2019 Travel Guide: All You Need To Know
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Planning on going to Cebu? Save this to Pinterest for the best things to do in Cebu.
Johanes is a digital nomad and a web content writer who loves to go on spontaneous travels. She also likes to go camp under the stars and play with her dog and cats.