The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, small and large in size. I happened to visit the islands of Palawan and Cebu (also known as provinces) during my trip and explored many places on the islands as well as much smaller items that were just a boat or ferry ride away. If you’re thinking about a trip to the Philippines and see yourself traveling Cebu then check out my Cebu travel tips below.
I spent three wonderful weeks in the Philippines and 8 days were spent in Cebu. I’ll talk about my stay in Cebu City, where I landed as well as Moalboal, Kawasan Falls, and Bohol. Cebu is made up of the main island and 167 neighboring islands so there are lots of options. I’ll also mention options for visiting the islands of Siquijor, Bantayan, and Malapascua, as well as the city of Oslob which is on Cebu’s main island.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click my link, I make a small percentage (at no extra cost to you). This helps me keep the travel blog running.
To get to any of the places I just mentioned above you’ll more than likely going to fly into Mactan–Cebu International Airport in Cebu City. I visited my friend Justine and when she told me there was crazy traffic I really underestimated it since I’m used to the traffic in Los Angeles but wow, Cebu City traffic is insane! It’s heavy during rush hour as this is a metropolitan city. It was very different from any of the other cities in the Philippines I had visited. There were tons of cars on the road opposed to mostly motorbikes. There were tall buildings, bright lights, and a lot of Jolibees.
The city might be a stopover for some wanting more of the beach, scuba, swim, tan, chase waterfalls kind of travel but staying in the city was so much fun and there’s definitely plenty to do in Cebu.
Things to do in Cebu City:
• Temple of Leah – A landmark built as a symbol of love to a man’s wife, Leah. It’s a great place to enjoy the views of the city!
• Rent a boat – Gather some friends and rent a boat for a few hours!
• Boodle fight – It’s a style of eating in the Filipino Army where food is served on long tables and placed on top of banana leaves.
• Tops Lookout – Panoramic lookout point of Cebu City, located next to Top of Cebu restaurant
• Shop the malls! – Filipinos love shopping and they love malls, there are a few different malls in the city including the SM Mall.
• House of Lechon – Lechon is the Spanish word for roasted suckling pig. It’s delicious and very popular in the Philippines.
• Sugbo Mercado – Open-air food market open Thursday – Sunday
• Top of Cebu – Fine dining restaurant with one of the best views of Cebu.
• La Vie Parisienne – Sit down for wine and food at this bakery and deli that also has a fabulous selection of wine.
Other things to do:
• Hike Mount Babag
• Terrazas De Flores Botanical Garden
• Fort San Pedro
• Taoist Temple
• Celosia Flower Farm
From Cebu City, you can easily get to Bohol and Moalboal in under four hours. In about 5-6 hours you can get to Malapascua and Bantayan. If you’d like to visit Oslob you can take a bus from Cebu City or bus from Moalboal. And if you’re looking to head to Siquijor, I’d recommend going from Oslob or Bohol.
After a couple of days in Cebu City, I headed to Moalboal…
Things to do Moalboal:
• Scuba Diving – From lessons to getting PADI certified, there’s a variety of ways to get in the water.
• Snorkeling – Don’t have time for scuba? Snorkel instead!
• Sardine Run – The sardine run is when a school of sardines gather together, usually to protect themselves from larger prey. It’s possible to see the sardine run by snorkeling.
• Panagsama Beach – There are a few beaches that are an easy walk to get to in Moalboal and this is one of them.
• Cooking lesson – Learn to cook a local dish!
• Café Cebuano – has a mix of Filipino food and western dishes… I had pizza here. Please don’t judge me, it was my first pizza in months!
• The French Coffee Shop – great breakfast and coffee!
Cebu City to Moalboal via bus
You’ll take a Ceres or Librando bus departing from Cebu South Bus Station heading to Moalboal. It takes just over 3 hours, and depending on traffic, it can be closer to 4. And the buses heading that way run often.
After two nights in Moalboal, I headed back to Cebu City to catch a ferry to Bohol. Bohol is known for it’s Chocolate Hills which I didn’t visit because I really wanted to see waterfalls during my short two-night stay.
Things to do in Bohol:
• Camugao Falls – Balilihan
• Mag-Aso Falls – Bilar
• Kawasan Falls – San Isidro Trinidad (not to be confused with the Kawasan Falls in Badian
• Dimiao Twin Waterfalls
• Momo Beach, Panglao – chill, pretty local
• Alona Beach – Want to party a bit? the nightlife is pretty happening at Alona Beach!
Other things to do in Bohol:
• Chocolate Hills
• Tarsier Conservatory
• Cambuyo Rice Terraces
• Hinagdanan Cave
• Island hopping and other boat tours
Cebu City to Bohol via ferry
Go to Cebu City’s port, pier 1. Buy a ticket in person for the best price. You can buy the day of or in advance. I bought mine just before I left. You’ll need your passport so have it handy. Ocean Jet is one of the ferry companies, they have boats leaving frequently. You can check the times online but I do recommend purchasing your ticket in person because it’s cheaper.
Bohol to your hotel/hostel
• You can take a tricycle or taxi – they’ll be available as you get off the boat.
• You can do a day tour and get dropped off at your hotel when it ends – tour guides are also available right outside the port.
• Take a tricycle to the bus station and take a Jeepney to your hotel/hostel – most budget-friendly way
Bohol to Cebu City
Go to the New Tagbilaran port, buy a ticket for your ferry. I took Supercat ferry back since that was the next available ferry. When you arrive in Cebu City there are taxis that line up just outside the port but if you keep walking you can skip that line since taxis come and go constantly from that general area.
Other cities and islands to visit in Cebu…
Many people are drawn to Oslob so they can swim with whale sharks. However, the practices are a bit unethical in my opinion. The sharks are fed so they can stay in the area and tour companies can make money off the sharks consistently being there. Why is it wrong to feed the sharks? It’s basically messing with mother nature. If you’d like more information on why it’s bad to swim with whale sharks in Oslob, Dive Bohol and Save the Philippine Sea can give you more details.
I chose not to swim with the whale sharks because I don’t agree that they should be fed by humans and I want to do my part by helping our oceans. This was my personal choice and I’m not telling anyone what to do or not to do but rather just let my readers know and make an informed decision.
Anyway, now back to Oslob! Besides whale sharks, there are waterfalls, beautiful beaches, and more!
Things to do in Oslob:
• Tumalog Falls
• Binalayan Hidden Waterfalls
• Sumilon Island – 20-minute boat ride from Oslob
• Sightseeing – Churches, ruins, museums and, more!
You can continue onto Dumaguete, via bus and then boat, and from there you can take another ferry to Bohol or Siquijor. Smaller boat options may be available from Oslob to take you directly to Bohol. This is something that can be organized through a tour company based in Oslob. Also, ask your hostel or hotel. This type of boat would be a much faster alternative.
I really wanted to visit Siquijor on my last trip but didn’t have much time. The island is supposed to be enchanting and there is a history of witchcraft. Sounds spookier than it probably is and more intriguing anyway.
Things to do in Siquijor:
• Cambugahay Falls
• Lugnason Falls
• Old Enchanted Balete Tree
• Beaches! – Salagdoong Beach, Kagusuan Beach, San Juan Beach, and Paliton Beach are recommended
• Enjoy the view from Restaurant Saki
• Cantabon Cave
How to get to Siquijor
The island of Siquijor can be reached via Dumaguete from Oslob and possibly a private boat or arranged a tour from Oslob. The easiest way, in my opinion, would be via ferry from Bohol.
Things to do in Bantayan:
• Beaches – there are tons all over the island and you can get to them if you rent a motorbike, hire a habal-habal, tricycle, or go by Jeepney.
• Scuba diving
• Ogtong Cave
• Obo-ob Mangrove Garden
• Virgin Island – 45-minute boat ride
Cebu City to Bantayan
You’ll take a 4-hour Ceres bus departing from Cebu North Bus Station bound to Hagnaya Port. The bus will terminate at Hagnaya Port and from there you’ll take a boat to Santa Fe Port in Bantayan Island. Travel time is about an hour. The first boat leaves Hagnaya Port at 3am and the last boat leaving Santa Fe Port.
Things to do in Malapascua:
Lapus Lapus Cliff
Beaches – there are many and you can walk or take a bike almost anywhere
Day trip to Kalanggaman Island – much smaller island
Cebu City to Malapascua
You’ll take a 4 to 5-hour Ceres bus departing from Cebu North Bus Station bound to Maya Port in Daanbantayan. The bus will terminate at Maya Port and from Maya Port, you’ll take a boat to Malapascua. Travel time is about 45 minutes. The first boat leaves Maya Port at 7am and the last boat leaving Malapascua, going back to Maya Port is at 2pm.
I hope you enjoyed my guide! Check out my journey through the Philippines on my Instragam story highlights.