In my younger days when I used to live in Cebu, Philippines, one of our favorite group activities was to go island hopping in Mactan Island. Cebu has many beautiful beaches and islands close by, but most of them are a long drive away from Cebu proper. Leaving the city can be quite horrendous, the traffic is heavy, and has been compared several times to the traffic jams in Metro Manila.
Mactan Island is the most accessible beach trip you can find from Cebu City, so we would make our way to Mactan and just call on a bangka by the pier. Below I would like to share five reasons as to why you should go island hopping with family, friends, or even business partners in Mactan.
1. Visit Different Islands
There are many small to medium size islands around Mactan. Some you can visit for a small fee (e.g. Php 50.00, approx. $1.00) and some you can just snorkel around for free. Our first stop was Caohagan Island, a small private island. We were not allowed to dock close by but we were able to enjoy snorkeling just beside it.
Our second stop was Olanggo Island, where we got to enjoy for a little while. It was low tide so the boat could not dock by the shore, so a few of us braved the swim and made our way to the island.
Other islands you can visit include:
Pandanon Island – if you prefer a beach with okay snorkeling. Perfect for relaxing.
Nalusuan Island – if you prefer diving and snorkeling. Has a pier and restaurant.
Hilutungan Island – if you prefer diving and snorkeling. Lots of fish and restaurants to eat.
Caohagan Island – if you prefer swimming and snorkeling. Nice fish sanctuary.
Olango Island – if you want to see birds (seasonal) and good for swimming.
2. Snorkel to Diverse Coral Reefs
Mactan has clear waters and that is why it attracts tourists from different parts of the world. If you want a change of scene from the snorkeling activities offered in the beach resort where you booked, island hopping would be perfect for you. You get to choose different marine sanctuaries offered from the different islands mentioned above. You just need to tell your boatmen what you want to see. Is it nicer corals? Is it more diverse schools of fish? The different islands around Mactan have it all.
3. Eat Delicious Local Food
There is no better way to eat Cebuano food than by having it by the sea. In our recent trip, we ordered a boodle fight on a banana leaf which consisted of grilled seafood, Cebu lechon, pancit, puso, barbeque, lumpia, and chorizo. It was mouth watering good!
4. Enjoy Time-Off in Nature
Aside from all the delicious food, island hopping is a great way to feel much closer with nature while staying in the city. That is one of the benefits when living in Cebu – nature is just so closeby! You have the beaches, you have the mountains, different picturesque waterfalls, and it is close by to other beautiful island destinations in the Philippines such as Bohol, Leyte, and Negros to name a few. That is why Cebu is called the Queen City of the South.
Below is a video that includes beautiful drone shots while we were island hopping. Have a look!
5. Spend Quality Time with Family & Friends
When you’re on a boat for the whole day, you have no other choice but to mingle and socialize with the people on the boat, so I find it a good opportunity to bond with family, friends and even business partners. It is a very chill experience, and that is why I encourage everyone to go on a boat and go island hopping in Mactan, Cebu!
How to Book Island Hopping Tours
On a weekday when there are not many locals and tourists out and about, I would almost say it is safe to not book a boat and just head straight to the Bangka Port (located on the left side of Movenpick Mactan). Map below:
If you want to stay safe and book ahead, there are a couple of options:
- Book directly from your hotel. This may turn out to be the most expensive option but it can rid off all headaches, and if your hotel is located far from the Bangka Port, normally transportation to and from your hotel is also included.
- Use a local, qualified agent, or tour operator. You can book directly online from a qualified tour operator. We got our boat from Kahuna Island Tours, but there are others such as Fun & Sun, or Islands Banca.
Costs really vary depending on what kind of boat and what kind of package you avail of. Some boats allow a boat booking for half a day tour or full day tour, some charge a per person rate and have food options.
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