As a Cebuana living away from Cebu City, I still consider this little island my home. There are so many small things that make Cebu the ‘Queen City of the South’, and I would like to cover a few of my favorites in this post. For the past few years, many locals have been getting frustrated about the heavy traffic in Cebu City and Mactan – when what used to be a 30-minute trip can now take 1hr 30.
Aside from the heavy traffic, Cebu City still holds its charm, and will forever be the cozy city I call home no matter how developed and industrialized it will become. I recently went back from a business trip in Cebu, and I would like to share with you 5 reasons as to why I love Cebu.
1: Delicious Food Options
Cebu is known to have the best roasted pig called “lechon”. If you’ve tried it in other parts of the Philippines and you didn’t become a fan, leave your judgment behind and try it again in Cebu. There are a few good lechon stalls you can find in stalls beside the road, and one of the good ones can be found just before you get up the Mactan bridge from Cebu City side. If you prefer to eat it in a restaurant, you can check out House of Lechon, Zubuchon and CnT Lechon.
If you are not a fan of lechon, there’s also a wide range of restaurants that offer local cuisines, fine dining options or cheap eats. My favorites include Maya in Crossroads (Mexican), Manna SuTuKil by Mactan Shrine (Seafood), and La Marea in Crossroads (dessert).
Cebu is also known for their wide range of delicacies including dried mango, da-ing (dried fish), and otap. There are a few assortments and you can find most of them at the airport, which is handy if you plan on bringing pasalubong for your family and friends. The only downside to shopping in the airport is it comes with a slightly higher price tag.
2: Island Hopping & Snorkelling
Do you have a day off and want to escape from the city, but at the same time, you don’t want to travel too far? One of the best ways to enjoy the sunny island is by going on an island hopping trip. There’s a wide range of boating options, from high-end catamarans to the oversized bangka (outrigger) which can hold up to 30 pax. You can rent these boats directly from the resort you are staying at, or you can go straight to the boat terminal and rent a boat on the spot.
The boat terminal can be found to the left side of Movenpick Resort, and the approximate list of boat rental prices can be found in this link.
Boating is more fun than just staying in one of the resorts in Mactan because you get to visit several of the islets and at the same time, get a picturesque view of Cebu City. It’s an option for you to go down to these islets and pay a little extra for the entrance fees, or just chill on the boat and enjoy the different underwater flora and fauna found in the different reefs.
When preparing for a boating trip, don’t forget to bring all the beach necessities to avoid any discomfort. You can check the list of items to prepare in this post: How to Prepare Yourself for a Beach Trip this Summer.
3: Get a Great View of the City
One of my favorite activities is to take my friends or visitors to Tops to get a good view of Cebu City.
There are a few other viewing spots such as MVP, but Tops seems to be my favorite. The best time to visit is either at dusk when it’s not too hot (take note there is barely any shaded spots in the area). At this time of the day, you see the sun rays project a lovely hue of colors over the city. You can stay around, chill and watch the city get lighted just as the sunset disappears behind you.
Another option is visiting Tops just before sunrise – this was something I would enjoy doing during high school (I obviously no longer have the energy to stay up that late nowadays!). If you find yourself in the city on special holidays such as New Year’s Eve, this is a great spot to watch the fireworks envelope the city and you can enjoy the view until the sun rises.
Tops used to be a very isolated area, but recently there are a couple of delicious restaurants close to the overlooking deck and they are open early in the morning for breakfast.
4: Go on an Out of Town Trip
Aside from island hopping to the islets around Mactan, Cebu is an island surrounded by a diverse range of natural wonders which are only a few hours drive away from the city. If you like hiking, there’s Osmena Peak. If you enjoy diving, there’s Moal Boal in the south or Malapascua Island in the north. If you want to try an exotic experience, there are the whale shark tours every morning in Oslob, Cebu. If you want jungles and waterfalls, there’s Kawasan Falls, Tumalog Falls, and Inambakan Falls.
Here’s a vlog on my trip to Cebu for Alexander Watches. We went to the south of Cebu and shot a video and took some photos with the gigantic whale sharks in Oslob. After the shoot, we headed to a serene emerald colored waterfalls called Inambakan Falls. This is located in the municipality in Ginatilan and is one of Cebu’s must-visit natural treasures.
5: Wide Range of Accommodation
Accommodation in Cebu City
When booking accommodation in Cebu, the big hotel brands always come first in mind. But hidden away at the back of one of the Gaisano malls in the city is one of the oldest hotels in Cebu, and also one of the first garden hotels in the country. Built in 1972, Montebello still carries the old-world charm that reflects the Spanish heritage.
This was the first time I’ve stayed in this hotel, it was never a hotel of choice for me for business trips but my client decided to put me here for this trip. My four day stay in this hotel left a good impression on me, and is definitely in my top 5 hotels to stay in when visiting the island. Click here to book your stay.
Montebello is located in Banilad, Cebu. It is an approximately 30-minutes drive from the Mactan Cebu Airport if you do not travel during peak hour.
What stood out compared to other hotels is the 24-meter swimming pool beside a flower garden that has a little pond and a bridge. The picturesque garden makes you feel like you are far from the city, so it is a good place to relax and unwind after a hectic day in the city.
After your swim, you can chill in the head to the Pool Bar or restaurant which is just located beside the pool. For those who just want to unwind by the pool, there is also a kiddie pool located not far from the main pool. When you need to recharge, head to the poolside The Pool Bar or La Terraza Restaurant for snacks and refreshing drinks.
Accommodation by the Beach
Closer to the Mactan Cebu International Airport are the well-known Mactan beach resorts. There is a list of big resort names such as Shangri-la, Plantation Bay Resort & Spa, and JPark Island Resort, to name a few. One of my favorite spots is Movenpick, only because they created a chill outdoor lounge called Ibiza Beach Club which is one of the best places to grab a drink and watch the sunset in Mactan.
Click here to book your stay.
Do you have any other favorite spots you’ve tried in Cebu? Share it by commenting below! We would love to hear what you love most about Cebu.
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