Cebu was our favorite part of the Philippines, and the area I'd most recommend. From cool mountains to gorgeous blue water beaches, there's something for everyone. Like all of the Philippines, I wouldn't say it's easy holidaying -- it's more "travel" vs. vacation, where you're fully immersed in the culture, small village life, and outdoorsy, backpacker-style traveling. Below, I'm sharing my guide to 4 days in Cebu, Philippines with you which walks you through the best locations, places to stay, and more.
Cebu is actually a big island, so you'll need to plan out where you want to be and how you plan to get around. We'd recommend getting a driver if you're traveling between regions. You can use Grab only within Cebu City, but the drivers won't really take you beyond that.
In terms of attire, don't bother dressing to the nines. In general, the country as a whole is very impoverished and, while beautiful, mainly run down villages. Nobody will be wondering whether you're dressed well, and it's too hot and humid to give a f**k anyways! Plan to roam around in comfy, lightweight clothes with a swim suit underneath on most days!
Cebu City is nothing to write home about, in my opinion. It's very crowded and there's not a ton of touristy things to do. For that reason, I'd recommend just a half day or skipping it all together to get yourselves to the beautiful beaches instead.
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HERE'S HOW WE SPENT OUR 4 DAYS IN CEBU:
OSLOB - 1 NIGHT
We wanted to swim with the whale sharks. You can dive with them too. Unfortunately, I was actually really let down by this activity and not sure I'd recommend it for the sake of the beautiful animals. On Instagram you'll definitely see gorgeous shots of these amazing animals and they really are so damn amazing (see above), but in reality it was a hectic Disneyland-like scenario where there are hundreds of tourists waiting to get their turn. I assumed you'd go out to sea in an area known for spotting them, but it was only about 300 meters off the shore and the boats were feeding them so they'd stay around. While it was SO cool to see such large animals up close and in the open water, I don't feel like it was a very environmentally friendly way to swim with whale sharks and made me a little sad for the poor guys. Typically I'm only posting about things I recommend, but I wanted to be 100% honest about this experience which is why a lot of people go to Oslob. If you do decide to check it out, you need to arrive at spot (map is here) the around 5:30 AM. There's nowhere to leave your stuff, so come empty handed or with a waterproof bag.
That being said, there are other awesome things to do in Oslob, like check out the Heritage Park Building, visit Tumalog Falls, see the monkeys in the wild, and spend time at the beach on the gorgeous sand bar island of Sumilon! Tumalog falls was gorgeous and I hands down recommend it! You'll either need to hop on one of their little trisikads (Cebu's version of a Thailand tuk-tuk/shuttle) or rent a motorbike to get there. It'
s a pretty steep incline up but you'll definitely be fine on a scooter. Bring a swimsuit to the falls if you want to hop in. We also liked just wandering around the villages and meeting the locals. We even tried some street foods here. For Sumilon, you take a little boat over to the island (it's about a 5-10 minute ride only) and we spent a few hours laying out and snorkeling. There's no food or drink available, it's just beach; so bring your own or eat before!
MOALBOAL - 3 NIGHTS
Moalboal was the highlight of Cebu for me! The scuba diving & snorkeling are pretty top notch, and comparable to some of my favorite diving locations like Bali, Fiji, and Honduras! I loved our dives here. They have this really famous "sardine run" which is essentially swimming with a bunch of little sardines all around you. It was just off the beach we were staying on & pretty awesome! There are tons of cute bars and beach front restaurants to watch the sunset at too .
One day, we took motorbikes to Osmeña peak, the highest point in Cebu. It has pretty amazing views with these gorgeous rolling hills & a 360 degree view of the entire island. One of my favorite things, although it was TREACHEROUS to get there. We took motorbikes, and Google maps will say one thing, but it does take about 3 hours each way. The roads are rough too, from street, to dirt paths, and we hit rain, sun, and all the seasons in one day. That being said, I'd get a driver.
We had lunch at this gorgeous little resort called Cuestas Beach Resort on the way back & the food was delicious and met the owner. I would LOVE here stay if I go back & wish I knew about it when booking! Highly recommend it with such a gorgeous view from the villas to the private beach.
We also visited Kasawan Falls - the most popular falls in Cebu. The blue water under the waterfall is pretty unreal. You can also sign up for canyoning and jump down a dozen or so waterfalls. This seemed like fun but we didn't have the time! Another notable spot in Moalboal is White Beach (for a sunset drink or beach day).
CEBU CITY - 1/2 DAY
Again, not worth spending much time in Cebu City, but if you do have time to kill on the way to the airport, you can swing by to see a few of the main sites. Visit the Top of Cebu for lunch with views overlooking the island, visit the Basilica, and Cebu Taoist Temple.
Enjoy your travels & let me know if you have any trip planing questions!