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Cebu itinerary: How to see all the highlights on Cebu Island

Our Cebu itinerary is carefully designed to give you the best feel for one of the cutest islands in the Philippines. In total, we spent 1 full week traveling in Cebu Island and we managed to see a lot. From exploring the breathtaking beaches of Kalanggaman Island, diving with whale and thresher sharks, to canyoneering at the world-famous Kawasan Falls and much more.

We are very confident that you will fall in love with Cebu as much as we did. And even if you are coming from diverse Bohol Island, we are sure that Cebu will not disappoint you. Many people spent only 5 days in Cebu, which is possible, but with this travel guide, we will show you more places you can choose from. Ready?

Perfect trip to Cebu in the Philippines
a girl running in the blue water and white sand on Kalanggaman island which needs to be in your Cebu itinerary
Running into the paradise

CEBU 1 – WEEK ITINERARY

The Cebu archipelago consists of the main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. There is a lot to see and our Cebu itinerary will cover all the highlights you shouldn’t miss out on.

CEBU CITY (1 DAY)

If you are flying from another country or a different island in the Philippines, you will land in Cebu City, which is in the capital of Cebu. Cebu City has a much more laid back atmosphere than crazy and chaotic Manila. However, it still has some rough areas mostly at night. 

So if you are looking for accommodation, look for places in uptown. You don’t need to reserve many days for Cebu City. You can easily walk around Cebu City in 1 day and enjoy the oldest street, university and the oldest harbor of the Philippines. If you are into museums, check out Casa Gorordo Museum or Museo Sugbo. If you wonder why you should check these old buildings, Cebu city is the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines.

MOALBOAL (2 DAYS)

Moalboal is an underrated small town just 90 km (which still takes around 3 hours by bus) south from Cebu City. Ceres buses go to and depart from Cebu City’s South Bus Station (around P120).

The biggest attraction at Moalboal is free diving into sardine balls, a collection of thousands of sardines. But, you don’t need to take any tour, as you can dance on your own with the sardines, just 30 meters from shore.

A ball of fish in front of a wreck.
a collection of thousands of sardines

For scuba dive lovers head to Pescador Island, which is just a 10 min boat ride from the mainland Cebu. If you are not into diving then you must go to White Beach. As the creative name indicates, it is a white sandy beach just 5 km from Moalboal. We took a tricycle for P120 to get there or just rent a scooter.

On the other hand, if you need a break from scuba diving, snorkeling, and beaches, you can enjoy the mountains. Get a scooter and explore. We are sure you will find some waterfalls and do some canyoneering there.

KAWASAN FALLS (1 DAY)

There are more than 100 waterfalls in Cebu. But the Kawasan Falls near Moalboal is definitely a must-visit. In addition, many people say that this is one of the best waterfalls in the Philippines or let’s say the most instagramable place in Cebu. We understand why the water has clear and turquoise colors.

girl standing on a wooden raft in front of Kasawan falls in Cebu, a must see in any Cebu itinerary
Enjoying beautiful Kasawan Falls

If you are into adventures, then you need to do canyoneering through the blue waters all the way down into the Kawasan Falls. You can book your canyoneering trip to make sure to not to waste time looking for credible tours.

OUR TIP: If you like to visit the Kawasan Falls without the crowds, make sure to come here really early to have pictures without hundreds of people.

OTHER INCREDIBLE FALLS

The Kawasan Falls is not the only waterfall with turquoise waters. There are many beautiful falls in Cebu and just to name few: Inambakan Falls, Dao Falls or Kabutongan Falls, Aguinid Falls, which have one big advantage. You might enjoy them on your own.

Osmeña peak (1 DAY)

When you are around the Kawasan Falls, you can go to Osmeña Peak and enjoy beautiful sunrise and sunset views.

Osmeña Peak is the highest mountain in Cebu and from there you can get 360-degree views of Cebu. From the peak, you can see breathtaking rock formations which will remind you of the famous chocolate hills of Bohol. And let’s not forget about the view of the sea. If you like to learn more, read the full guide on Osmeña Peak here.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK ITINERARY AROUND CEBU

MALAPASCUA ISLAND (3 DAYS)

Even 7 days in Cebu is not enough and if you don’t want to follow a tourist trail then you need to check this island. This beautiful picturesque island is famous for its laid back beach vibes. But even more for its scuba diving. If you follow our Cebu itinerary, it will lead you to the most beautiful islands in the Philippines: Malapascua island.

pin colours at the sunset in Malapascua with boats in the harbour
Breathtaking sunset on Malapascua Island

Malapascua is such an idyllic place and a paradise for scuba divers and beach lovers. Every day we enjoyed a stary sky where you can clearly see the milky way. Malapascua is a perfect island where you can also get your open water certification and let’s not forget about spotting thresher sharks.

We stayed in Malapascua for 3 days due to our tight schedule. However, next time we would definitely stay longer. So make sure to add Malapascua to your Cebu itinerary.

HOW TO GET TO MALAPASCUA ISLAND

Malapascua Island is located in the north of Cebu and you can easily get there by a combination of bus and boat. 

From Cebu, you would need to take a bus (North Bus Terminal) to a harbor called Maya. From there the boat to Malapascua leaves almost every hour (or when the boat is full) until 5.30 PM. However, if you miss the last boat, then you need to pay more to get a private transfer.

Once you arrive, you will need to pay P20 for a small boat to get you from the main boat to the shore, so prepare some 20 notes or coins, as the boat guys ‘tend to’ have no change.

SEE THRESHER SHARKS

We wrote a whole article about our diving experience in Malapascua and the best sites. The most famous dive spot is called Monad Shoal and it’s the place where thresher sharks come to 25 m to have breakfast and clean themselves. Luckily they don’t really dig humans. 😀

A thresher shark swimming in the blue ocean
Baby Shark, do do do do do do do do, Baby Shark

However, you are not guaranteed to see sharks (nature, right!), but chances are pretty good (people say 75%). We did see a tail though but no entire shark, which was still amazing. In addition, this is where we completed our advance deep diver course to 30 meters. 

RELAX ON WHITE SAND BEACHES

Malapascua Island’s main beach called Bounty Beach is a beautiful stretch of powdery white sand. And you can find some cute restaurants, dive shops and even try to ride a bicycle on the beach if you like 😀 Look, it’s possible.

a boy riding a bicycle on the white sand beach
Have you ever tried riding a bike on the beach?

A TRIP TO KALANGGAMAN ISLAND

This is one of the best islands we have seen in the Philippines. If you are thinking about the Philippines and crazy turquoise waters and white sand, this is it. We wrote a full guide to Kalanggaman Island, so make sure to check it out to plan your trip.

visiting long sand bar and blue water mentioned in our Cebu travel itinerary.
Kalanggaman Island

CHECK OUT OUR SHORT VIDEO FROM KALANGGAMAN ISLAND

As you can see Kalanggaman Island needs to be on your itinerary once you decide to visit Cebu.

This is where we took one of the best drone shots during our travels in Southeast Asia. Kalanggaman Island has the longest sand bar in the Philippines. The boat takes around 2,5 hours from Malapascua and the tour cost us in 2018 P2.500 (“per pax” as they like to say in the Philippines). Supposedly, some of it is a marine fee (we hope it does help to protect marine life).

a girl walking on the white sand beach on Kalanggaman Island, a must see in any Cebu itinerary
Kalanggaman’s sandbank with heavenly blue water

WHERE TO STAY IN MALAPASCUA ISLAND

There are many places you can choose from. From some budget dive hostels to fancier hotels. We stayed in Slam’s Garden Resort.

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Once you come back to Maya port you can go down south Cebu change via Grab to the South Bus Terminal in Cebu and take a Ceres bus to Oslob.

READ MORE: YOUR GUIDE TO PERFECT 2 WEEKS IN THE PHILIPPINES

OSLOB (1-2 DAYS)

DIVING OR SNORKELING WITH WHALE SHARKS

Oslob is a small town and getaway to amazing diving and snorkeling with whale sharks. Some people criticize the attraction, while others have positive things to say. That is why we wanted to see it for ourselves.

Whale shark surrounded by fish
A magnificent (living) whale shark in Oslob

It will take you 8-10 hours by bus to get from Malapascua to Oslob (if you want to save time this is the way to go). From Cebu City, it should be around 4 hours. We cannot really tell as our bus broke down somewhere in Cebu City and we had to wait for the next bus.

Make sure to find a hotel where it’s stated that they will take you to the whale shark site. We stayed in Angler’s Hub and Resort and the owner organized everything for us. Also, the place is the perfect place to crash for one or two nights. We arrived late and still got everything ready to go snorkeling with the whale sharks the next morning thanks to our wonderful hosts.

OUR TIP: If you don’t wanna gamble with a hotel organised tours (some of them could really suck) or just want to have everything prepared before, book a credible tour.

WHALE SHARK SNORKELING

Be prepared to wake up before sunrise. Once you arrive at the main place you will be waiting for a boat to take you to the whale sharks.

People who worked there were very professional and explained all the rules. We had a short presentation regarding whale shark conservation and the dos and don’ts such as:

  • PUT NO SUN LOTION ON
  • DON’T COME TO CLOSE TO ANY WHALE SHARKS
  • DON’T FEED THE SHARKS (YOURSELF)

We were on a small boat with 4 others. You will only have 20-30 minutes to snorkel and be next to the whale sharks. You are not allowed to touch them or come too close. Touching the sharks is a criminal offense and will result in a huge fine or even prison. Every time you come too close, you will be warned by the staff and at some point called out to come back to the boat. We have been too many places with “rules” usually they are not enforced. In Oslob, it was very different and that is a good thing.

OUR TIP: The place gets really busy and the last boat goes out there around 8-9 right before the whale sharks finish their breakfast. Make sure to be one of the first boats otherwise you need to wait in a line for some time.

TO SNORKEL OR NOT TO SNORKEL WITH WHALE SHARKS THAT ARE FED

Some people (mostly Westerners) criticize the site for one reason: They don’t like that the whale sharks are being fed as it is unnatural and makes the animals dependent on humans or might even stop them from migrating. Matter of fact that doesn’t sound good at all. We get it and this is why we didn’t want to visit Oslob at first. We wrote the whole article about this controversial topic with all 10 facts to know before you go to Oslob. Surprisingly there are not only negative facts but also many positive ones.

VISIT SUMILON ISLAND

Only a 15 minutes boat ride from Oslob and you are at a paradise called Sumilon. Enjoy crystal clear waters and a white sand beach.

HOW TO GET TO CEBU ISLAND AND/OR WHERE TO GO AFTER?

An easy way to arrive in Cebu is by boat from Tagbilaran in Bohol (a company called Oceanjet). Usually, you can just go to the jetty and get tickets there. It took us around 2 hours (P400-500). You can also fly to Cebu City Airport. And because Cebu is more or less in the heart of the Philippines it is a great connecting point to most islands in the Philippines such as Palawan, Siargao, Luzon, etc. Furthermore, you can reach international destinations. If you need a hotel near the airport check Leope Hotel.

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After Cebu, you need to head to another wonderful Filipino island called Bohol.

READ MORE: The ultimate Bohol itinerary, Philippines with all amazing places to see.

WHEN TO VISIT CEBU?

The best time to visit Cebu is from late November to February in the dry season.

As you can see there are plenty of things to do and even 1 week in Cebu is not enough. We hope that our Cebu itinerary will help you out to plan your trip. And keep in mind, if you can’t see it all, just come back again.

Have a great time exploring this cute Filipino island.

Gigi and Nico signature in pink
Perfect trip to Cebu in the Philippines

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About the author
Since I was little I always wanted to see the world. Travel to new places, get to know new cultures, see how other people live. I love beaches and I love discovering tropical destinations. That is why, together with my partner Nico, we created this blog to share with you the most beautiful beaches and stunning holiday destinations which we visited during our travels.

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