Found in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu holidays offer it all. From a rich history, beautiful beaches, incredible diving and exciting cities, the island is guaranteed to keep you entertained.
For a taste of Filipino city life, explore the large and busy Cebu City, which resembles a mini Manila. Here you’ll find plenty of large malls for shopping, including items from all the big brands. You’ll also discover the distinct warmth and hospitality of the Cebuano people who are known for their friendliness and deep love of their country and culture.
Cebu is home to Mactan–Cebu International Airport, the Philippines’ only other main international airport outside of Manila. This means the island offers easy connections to the rest of the Philippines’ tropical islands, making it ideal for an island-hopping holiday.
Island-hopping during your Cebu holidays
Away from the city, there are plenty of dazzling islands to explore on your Cebu holidays. The most well-known is Mactan Island. The island is connected to Cebu City by road bridges, making travel easy and convenient. Mactan island is known for its luxury hotels, stunning sandy beaches and impressive dive sites. It’s the perfect place to while away the days relaxing on the beach.
For quieter islands that are perfect for snorkelling and diving, consider embarking on an island-hopping cruise from Cebu that stops off at several islands throughout the day. If you’re lucky, you may spot wild dolphins dancing and performing across the waters too.
Popular offshore islands to discover include Gilutungan Island, Caohagan Island and Olango Island. These islands all surround Mactan Island and are easy to access by boat. Each island is home to underwater marine sanctuaries where you can explore and observe colourful corals and hundreds of glittering tropical fish species.
Great sample itineraries
Here's a selection of popular itineraries to give you some ideas. But almost anything's possible so call us now and we'll create an amazing holiday just for you.
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Our favorite hotels
Our favourite places to stay are below. We know everyone is different, so if you can’t see something you like, we'd be more than happy to help.
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa
Let’s talk about Cebu, an idyllic island that’s going to wow you with its palm-fringed beaches, Spanish colonial settlements and glorious island-hopping opportunities. In its capital of Cebu City, nicknamed the ‘Queen City of the South’, you’ll discover Fort San Pedro, the oldest fort in The Philippines, commissioned by Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi. Beyond its intriguing history, you’ll find a wonderful annual Sinulog festival and experience a genuine warmth from the Cebuanos people.
If you’re serious about diving, you’ll want to take a diving trip to Malapascua. This island off the northern coast of Cebu is famed for being one of the only habitats of the elusive thresher shark. You’ll know when you’ve seen it – it has a mysterious, scythe-like tail.
In Cebu city, you’ll want to experience Colon Street, named after the explorer Christopher Columbus. Although it’s a modern-day thoroughfare today, it’s the first and oldest street in the Philippines so look for the plaques detailing its layered colonial history.
“You have to try the fresh mango here. Although mango is delicious across the Philippines, Cebu is home to the best, sweetest mango.”
“Step aboard a motorised outrigger for an island-hopping adventure. You can snorkel off the coast of Cebu to see the spectacular underwater attractions and then enjoy lunch on one of the nearby islands.”
Events & Festivals
Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Cebu holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.
Held annually on the third Sunday of January in the centre of Cebu City, Sinulog Festival is a traditional celebration that tells the story of the Filipino culture’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity, all of which is performed through dance rituals. Each year millions flock to admire the dazzling vibrant colours and flamboyant routines.
Kadaugan sa Mactan
Kadaugan sa Mactan takes place in April and is a celebratory re-enactment of the victory of the Mactan people during the Battle of Mactan, which took place during the 16th century. Drawing locals and visitors alike, the re-enactment often features famous Filipino actors or other well-known personalities, making it a big deal among locals.
Taking place in Cebu City on 12th June each year, Tartanilla Festival pays homage to the horse-drawn carriage mode of transport called calesa. This was historically used for travelling around Cebu City’s streets. Coinciding with the country’s Independence Day, highlights of the parade include a horse-racing competition and a shopping bazaar and flea market.
Semana Santa sa Bantayan
On 29th June every year, the Semana Santa sa Bantayan celebration is held on Cebu’s island of Bantayan. Otherwise known as Holy Week, the religious commemoration involves a procession on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Huge, life-size images attached to floats portray different tableaus of the Passion of Christ. The event welcomes plenty of visitors and locals, so expect it to be busy.
Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Cebu holiday. Here are a few of our favourite dishes.
While fresh mango is delicious all over the country, it’s in Cebu that you can expect to sample some of the best mango you’ve ever tasted. Whether you prefer your mango raw and juicy straight from the fruit, or dried as a snack, be sure to pick some local mango up and enjoy the sweet and sour taste of this zesty fruit.
Torta is another delicious dish commonly served in Cebu, and it’s a local’s favourite as it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cooked with affordable and easy-to-find ingredients, a torta is a circular omelette made of ground pork, onions and potatoes. It’s perfect as a main meal, or as an on-the-go snack.
Throughout the Philippines, lechon is a popular dish and Cebu comes as no exception. It's often served at festivals, events, parties and special occasions. Lechon is a whole-cooked pig that provides tasty, flavoursome meat, and crispy cooked skin. Often the insides are removed and are packed full of fragrant spices and vegetables, such as lemongrass, onions, leeks, garlic and salt.
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