Countless tourists love to visit the Queen City of Cebu because it’s got something for everyone. It has numerous heritage sites and museums for people who are interested in history and culture. Not to mention, there are nearby beaches and islands that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving enthusiasts. If you’re wondering where the best islands in Cebu are, then read on to discover what makes it a tropical island paradise.
The Best Island Hopping Destinations in Cebu
Cebu is an excellent place to start your tropical adventure since it has numerous islands that you can choose from. So brace yourself as we check out some of the famous island hopping destinations:
It’s one of the most popular island hopping destinations in Cebu. If you visit on a good day, you’ll see a pristine sandbar that’s located near where the boats are usually docked. You can also opt to chill on the island or enjoy a delicious lunch while soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air. There’s also a restaurant on the island that serves fresh and mouth watering seafood dishes. Do note that since it’s a famous tourist spot, you can expect the prices to be more expensive than usual. It’s not unusual to see many people roaming around since almost all of the boats regularly swing by the island.
However, it’s all worth it because you not only get to indulge in delectable food but you also get to witness the beauty of Caohagan Island.
This tropical paradise is famous for its colorful marine life and various inland activities. Although it’s a popular swimming and snorkeling spot, Olango Island also features an eco-tourism park complete with several floating cottages and picnic huts. It also has a wildlife sanctuary and fish sanctuary that visitors can explore for a minimal fee. There are also numerous resorts and floating restaurants that are worth a visit.
Nalusuan Island is part of the Olango Group of Islands and it’s a diving haven since it has a rich and diverse marine ecosystem. Visitors can also engage in snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, and even parasailing. Nalusuan Island is also an island resort so they are quite strict when it comes to bringing in food and beverages. You can also book an overnight stay in this inexpensive island resort. As a guest, you’ll have access to a private stilt cottage that stands right on the sea so you get to enjoy a 180-degree view of the coastline. Other perks include discounted rates on water sports fees and recreational equipment rentals.
Gilutungan or Hilutungan Island is another top destination if you’re into diving and island activities. This island is a dedicated marine sanctuary that has diverse marine life making it a favorite among divers. Aside from vibrant tropical fishes, there are also turtles, corals, and other extraordinary marine life which makes it perfect for snorkeling. Make sure to bring an underwater camera and take countless pictures during your visit.
This captivating coastal town is just a couple of hours away from Cebu City. One of the popular tourist spots in Moalboal is Panagsama beach and many people visit it to engage in snorkeling and diving. It’s highly recommended that you try out the sardine run activity since the area is home to numerous sardines which makes it a snorkeling haven. Visitors who don’t own snorkeling gear can rent snorkel sets and fins from the dive shops located around the beach.
Island Hopping in Moalboal
Moalboal is ideal for people who want to explore the underwater world. Usually, island hopping tour operators take visitors to exciting destinations such as Pescador Island, Panagsama Beach, and Turtle Spot.
This tiny, rocky island is located in the southern part of Tanon Strait – one of the richest marine habitats in the region. Pescador Island’s reefs can reach up to 15 feet in depth, making it an excellent area for snorkeling and freediving. Moalboal also has various dive sites such as Panagsama Reef, Dolphin House, Tongo Point, and Umbrella. Expect to see different types of corals and marine creatures like tropical fishes, sea turtles, thresher sharks, and white-tip sharks.
Basdaku White Beach
As the name implies, this charming public beach features fine, white sand. It’s also a great place to sample local food and refreshing beverages or participate in an impromptu karaoke session. You may also do some snorkeling and check out the vibrant reefs and coral walls. However, since numerous people flock to this area, it can get pretty crowded, especially during weekends and holidays. If you prefer a more relaxing atmosphere, then Lambug Beach or Zaragossa Beach in Green Island is your best bet.
Sumilon Island is considered the first marine protected area in the country and it has been such since 1974. So, there’s no doubt that it’s a great spot for swimming, island hopping, diving, and snorkeling. The area has a diverse marine life and it’s also famous for its crystal clear waters.
Fun Facts About Sumilon Island
- Location: It’s located in the southeastern tip of Oslob, Cebu.
- Size: Sumilon Island has an area of about 24 hectares and despite its size; it’s still one of the most stunning places in Cebu.
- Lighthouse: It has a historic lighthouse offering panoramic views of the gorgeous ocean.
- Sandbar: It’s known for its shifting sandbar which changes location and shape depending on the tide and the season.
- Wildlife: Sumilon Island also has a wide variety of bird species, making it a perfect spot for birdwatchers.
- Cave: Sumilon Island features a natural cave that was also used as a shelter during the second World War.
You’ll also find the only resort on the island – the Blue Water Sumilon Island Resort, which is famous for its fabulous accommodations and exciting activities. Do try out paddleboarding, scuba diving, and snorkeling while you’re on the island.
- Coral Landscape
- Nikk’s Wall
- Julie’s Rock
- Garden Eel Plaza
The island’s diving spots are well known for their excellent visibility and diverse marine life. Make sure to look out for a black tip reef shark or maybe even a whale shark during your underwater adventure. You can also check out the natural lagoon, mangrove trees, and mesmerizing lake.
Several years ago, Bantayan Island was an idyllic fishing village before it became a popular tropical island destination. It’s located off the coast of Northern Cebu and it’s divided into 3 municipalities: Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe. Bantayan Island’s beaches are blessed with super white sands. It also has over 40 resorts, guesthouses, and inns so finding a place to stay won’t be a problem.
Top Places to Visit in Bantayan Island
The following are the places and attractions that you must visit during your vacation in Bantayan Island:
This secluded beach is located in Santa Fe. It’s open from 9 am to 5 pm. If you want a chill and relaxing vibe, then Paradise Beach is the place to be. Other nearby beaches you can visit are: Sugar Beach, Alice Beach, and Maricaban Beach.
Ogtong Cave is located inside the Santa Fe Beach Club Resort. This tiny cave features a natural shallow pool. You have to pay an entrance fee to access the cave and the pools within the resort.
Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park
You can explore this fascinating mangrove forest on foot, by boat, or by kayak. The kayaks and boats are available to rent at reasonable prices. It also has an elevated boardwalk where you can stroll around.
Kota Park in Madridejos
This tourist spot is located in Madridejos. Kota is a local term for “fort” because there used to be one where this park was built. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 1790s and natural forces have wreaked havoc on it over time.
Kota Beach and Sandbar
Kota Beach is popular among beach lovers. Expect to witness a huge crowd especially during the summer when locals and tourists alike flock to enjoy the beach and the stunning sandbar.
Bantayan Island is also an ideal jump-off point for nearby islands such as Virgin Island (Silion Island), Hilantagaan Island, Kinatarkan Island, and Malpascua Island. Do note that you have to pay an entrance fee if you want to experience Virgin Island since it’s privately owned.
This gorgeous island is located approximately 7km off the northernmost tip of Cebu. Scuba diving enthusiasts would surely have a blast on Malapascua Island because it’s home to the Thresher Shark. These sharks can grow up to four meters long and it also has a long whip-like tail. Not to mention, Malapascua Island is the only area where you can encounter Thresher Sharks in the entire country. If you want to experience this unique opportunity, then you can inquire with one of the several dive shops located on the island.
Island Hopping Tips for Biginners
Island hopping can be challenging especially if you haven’t done it before. Don’t worry because we have some vital tips to help you enjoy your island hopping adventure better:
- Although there are several boats in the port, it pays to be early so you’ll get the best boats at good prices. Do note that even if there are standard rates, it’s still possible that you might be taken advantage of. You also get to maximize your time on the islands if you get to the port early.
- Cebu is a tropical island and you must protect yourself from the heat of the sun. Make sure to bring a bottle of sunscreen with you to avoid getting annoying sunburns. It can be difficult to find sunblock being sold on the different islands. You may also bring towels, hats, or sunglasses to keep you well protected because it can get quite hot during your journey.
- Since you’ll be sailing to areas far from the main island of Cebu, it’s wise to bring enough food and drinks during your trip. Typically, food and beverages available on the islands can cost up to three times more. Do bring your own stash because eating and drinking on the boat is permitted. You can also bring some alcoholic beverages with you such as beer, wine, or rum. Bring enough ice so your drinks stay cold for hours.
- Most businesses in the Philippines only accept cash payments. Before you hit the ports, do check if you have enough money with you. You need it to pay for souvenirs, water sports and recreational activity fees, and equipment rentals.
Remember, there are several ports to take off from if you want to go island hopping around Cebu. From the ports near Mactan Airport, you can reach an island via motorized boat in just 30 minutes. There are also various Cebu businesses offering island tour services so you can easily go island hopping anytime you want. What are you waiting for? Come visit Cebu now and fulfill your island life fantasy.