Paradise Beach in Bantayan Island // Photo submitted by Jenne Jimenez
Cebu has been deemed the “Queen City of the South”, and has always been on people’s top list for their travel plans. Both local and international travelers come to the province of Cebu to explore, dine and have fun. What entices people to visit our beautiful island is the vibe, the people, the architecture and the food.
Being the center for trade, commerce, and tourism in the country, one would expect that there is a lot to see and things to do in Cebu. From ancestral structures from the Spanish era to delectable street food, to beautiful underwater marine life, you won’t be able to get enough of this southeast Asian hub.
We’ve come up with a list of Cebu’s top tourist attractions and things to do while on the island:
Cebu Ocean Park
The largest ocean park in the country – Cebu Ocean Park; is one of the top attractions and must-visit on the island. It is a marine themed park owned by SM Supermalls and is triple the size of the Manila Ocean Park.
The Cebu Ocean Park is grouped into different sections, each exhibiting a variety of marine and terrestrial creatures. The Seven Seas featuring aquariums with all kinds of fish and eels; the Jungle Trek featuring river wildlife; and the Creepy Critters section featuring insects and reptiles.
The park also has an oceanarium – the Deep Tank Lagoon; which has a depth of 24 feet and a 360-degree viewing tunnel. Surely the kids and marine lovers would love this place!
Waterworld Cebu Complex
The Waterworld Cebu Complex is a 3-hectare waterpark complex; and is one of the newest water adventure park in Cebu. It’s actually brought to Cebu by the Iloilo-based real estate, hotels, and food manufacturing operator, Eon Group of Companies.
The waterpark’s features include extreme water slides and a 1,500 square meter wave pool. There are also rides for guests to enjoy such as a double loop roller coaster, ferris wheel and more. There’s also a video arcade for the kids and bowling lanes.
Guests can also stay there since the waterpark would also have a hotel and conference center. It’s quality accommodation and a whole lot of fun for your group.
Anjo World Amusement Park
After the success of the Snow World Cebu, people can’t seem to get enough of what Anjo World has in store for us. There is an amusement park coming our way, and is located in Brgy. Calajoan, Minglanilla, Cebu.
Anjo World is the largest theme park in the Visayas and is also a part of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Featuring a number of rides – a gigantic ferris wheel, carousel, roller coaster, drop tower and water bumper boats. As well as a spacious food park, shops, banks and a supermarket.
Enjoy a fun-filled day with your family and friends in Cebu’s newest theme park – Anjo World! Get unlimited access to all the rides inside Anjo World, Snow World Cebu, or both!
Cebu Taoist Temple
Located in Beverly Hills Subdivision, Cebu City is the Taoist Temple. The Chinese Taoism community built this temple in 1972 – exhibiting Chinese architecture. The temple is a popular attraction due to its artistic design. Even those who don’t practice Taoism are welcome to visit the place.
From the Taoist Temple, one can have a striking view of the city as well as Mactan Island. As for the Taoists, the temple is the ideal place for prayer and meditation.
Temple of Leah
The Temple of Leah is along Cebu Transcentral highway. Teodorico Soriano Adarna built this temple in 2012 – as a symbol of his undying love for his wife Leah Villa Albino-Adarna. Making it Cebu’s own version of the Taj Mahal.
The temple has 24 chambers, with a museum, an art gallery, and a library. The structure of the temple was inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. Also, at the temple, you will find Leah’s favorite and personal belongings.
Sirao Flower Garden
Up in the elevated hills of Busay, you will find the Sirao Flower Garden. The tourist attraction is also known as “The Little Amsterdam” because going there is like visiting the Netherlands.
The arrangement of celosia flowers in vibrant colors – purple, red, yellow and orange – is what makes it give you that Amsterdam feels. They’ve also put up a windmill and other areas that make for a great photo backdrop. The cool wind compliments the scenic view, giving people a unique touristy feel.
10,000 Roses of Cebu
Within the island of Mactan, you can check out the 10,000 Roses of Cebu. This picturesque spot that’s situated in Cordova, Mactan, Cebu – has gone viral on social media. Because of the 10,000 artificial LED-powered roses surrounding the Roses Café & more.
The café is a great place to spend a date night with your significant other. Enjoy a sumptuous meal in this romantic place and sip some wine. Guests prefer to come before the sun sets so they can see how pretty that is, and then also witness how the roses light up when it gets dark.
Osmeña Peak is the highest point in Cebu; it can be found in Mantalongon, Dalaguete. It stands a stunning 1,013 meters above sea level. The peak has sharp protruding limestones which are a sight to see, and are great for taking photos.
The peak is actually a part of the Mantalongon mountain range which stretches up to Badian. The Osmeña Peak is considered to be the island’s version of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.
The main activities at the peak are hiking and camping. There are two hiking trails going to Osmeña Peak. The first one starts in Badian, where you will pass by Kawasan Falls – this sounds really good to me. 🙂 And the second one is starting from Dumanjug in Brgy. Liong.
The Kawasan Falls in Badian is probably the most famous waterfall in Cebu – for its breathtaking beauty. Some hikers who visit the Osmeña Peak go back to Kawasan Falls after camping.
The falls has three levels of turquoise water that comes from the mountain springs of Mantalongon mountain range. And one of the most popular tourist activities/attractions in the south of Cebu is the Kawasan Canyoneering.
The canyoneering fun begins at the Canlaob River downstream leading to Kawasan Falls. Local guides are there to accompany tourists and they facilitate the activities.
A few kilometers off the coast of Moalboal, one can go and visit the Pescador Island. The island is in the Tañon Strait and considered to be one of the best diving spots in Cebu. The island reef is a sandy slope covered with soft corals and abundant marine life.
The depth of the reef is ranging from 15 to 35 feet. And when you get further down there is a wall covered with hard corals and the drop is about 40 meters or 130 feet. At the drop are lots of different species of vibrant sea creatures, as well as sharks.
Another attraction at the place is the Sardine Run. Wherein the divers get to swim with millions of Sardines and it’s mesmerizing — flowing and swimming with them.
Oslob Whale Sharks
In the town of Oslob, the most famous attraction is Swimming with the Whale Sharks. The gentle giant is locally known as Tuki. The Oslob Municipality is known by the Cebuanos for its old churches and beautiful beaches but it gained more popularity for the Whale Sharks.
Local fishermen would feed the whale sharks until tourists started coming in the town to witness it. It’s become viral and has become a source of livelihood for many in the town. The tourists snorkel or dive with the Whale Sharks and take photos with them.
Swimming with the Whale Sharks has been on the To-do list of many travelers when they visit the island of Cebu. It’s a rare and wonderful experience for sure. Please note that you aren’t allowed to touch these creatures, so as to protect them.
Also in the Municipality of Oslob, just a few kilometers from the whale shark attraction is the Tumalog Falls. Locally known as the Mag-ambak Falls or the Toslob Falls.
The Tumalog Falls isn’t like Kawasan Falls, the falling water isn’t as heavy. The water falling down at the Tumalog Falls is fairly distributed like a thin curtain covering the rocks. Almost like a slow natural shower which is really nice.
It’s a one-of-a-kind on the island, with its untouched beauty and making it easily one of many favorite natural attractions in Cebu.
Sumilon Island Sandbar
Oooh, everybody’s heard about this beauty for sure! In the little town of Oslob, there’s a lot to explore. Go whale shark watching, check out the amazing Tumalog Falls and visit the Sumilon white sandbar. The sandbar is so pristine and have attracted both locals and foreign tourists and not just during the summer season, but all throughout the year. Sumilon Island is located off the southeast coast of Cebu. It is a 20-minute boat ride from the town of Oslob.
And while there is a resort on Sumilon Island, tourists can get to the sandbar even if they’re not staying or checked-in at the resort. The sandbar is also accessible for the whole day, unlike other sandbars that can only be visited during certain hours during the day.
In another southern town of Cebu – Sibonga, is where you will find the eminent Simala Church. The church welcomes and is visited by Catholic devotees from all over the globe. Its design was inspired by European cathedrals.
The place not only is glorious in its structure, but it also exhibits a culture that is entrenched among Cebuanos – the spirit of Roman Catholicism. Monks who are devoted to the Virgin Mary live inside the church.
Believers often visit the huge statue of the Virgin Mary as they consider it to be miraculous. Also, the various statues of Mary dressed in cultural themes interest those who visit the place.
History. I love anything about ancient history. And the Magellan’s Cross is a great historical site in Cebu. Many people visit the cross because it’s said to be miraculous and grants your prayers. It can be found at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
In the year 1521, Ferdinand Magellan was on his quest to find the “Spice Islands”, which eventually lead him and his people to land on the island of Cebu. Rajah Humabon and his people agreed to embrace Christianity and were baptized.
Magellan planted this cross on April 21, 1521 – to signify this monumental event in history. The propagation of the Roman Catholic in Cebu.
Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño
Cebu’s most famous church, the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño or also known as the Santo Niño Basilica, was built on April 28, 1565. The structure of the church was completed in 1739 to 1740 and holds the relic of the Santo Niño de Cebu – it’s the oldest Christian image in the Philippines.
The Basilica was built right where the image was found by Juan Camus, a Spanish soldier during the expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi. The complex houses the Pilgrim Center where masses and novenas are every Friday. A museum that holds antique relics can also be found at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
The Sto. Niño church is located in Colon Street – the oldest street in the country. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish colonizers who founded the street in 1565. The street got its name from Cristopher Columbus or Cristobal Colon (in Spanish) – he was the Italian explorer and navigator.
The street of Colon was the hub for early trading and near Cebu ports. The first establishments of Cebu were built in this street. Today, it remains a place for schools, businesses, pubs and shopping malls.
For those looking to buy souvenirs or “pasalubong” for your loved ones, we suggest you head on to Colon and shop there. It’s where you’ll find more affordable pasalubong items.
The Heritage of Cebu Monument
Within the streets of Colon, you will find the Heritage of Cebu Monument. The landmark is where we can find monuments/ sculptures of Cebu’s major historic tales and events being depicted. Cebuano artist Eduardo Castrillo built the sculptures using concrete, brass, steel, and bronze.
The building of the Heritage of Cebu Monument or also known as Cebu Heritage Park started in July 1997. It was completed in December 2000, it was funded by donations from private individuals and organizations.
The monuments depict scenes of the baptism of Rajah Humabon, the battle between Magellan and Lapu-Lapu, a Sto. Niño procession. As well as a Spanish Galleon, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Magellan’s Cross, Saint Pedro Calungsod and the late president Sergio Osmeña, Sr.
Yap-SanDiego Ancestral House
Just right across the Cebu Heritage Monument, you will find the Yap-SanDiego Ancestral House. This ancestral house is one of the oldest houses in the Philippines. It was built during the Spanish era (between 1675 – 1700).
The walls are composed of coral stones and egg whites, while molave, balayong, and terracotta join the roof together. The house was inspired by a mix of Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino designs. Native materials make up the furniture of the house.
You will find here at the ancestral house – a lot of interesting and really old things that are fascinating to the eyes. When you get inside the house, you will have some sort of idea of how our ancestors lived – very simply.
Museo de Parian
Also in Parian, you will find the Museo de Parian or also known as the Jesuit House of 1730. The museum used to be the home of the second-highest ranking Jesuit priest in the Philippines.
The house also was a place for transient Jesuit missionaries from various regions. It is a bahay-na-bato turned museum and believed to have been built in the year 1730.
Inside the Museo de Parian is a gallery showing the rich Filipino-Chinese culture. You will also find antiques, pre and post items from the second World War, as well as some religious artifacts.
The owners of the Jesuit House of 1730 are also replicating the structures of the old Colon Street along the area leading to the house from the entrance. So that those who visit the place would get the feels of how it was during the Spanish times.
Casa de Gorordo Museum
About five minutes’ walk from the Jesuit House, you will find the Casa Gorordo Museum. The first Cebuano bishop, Juan Gorordo used to live in this house-turned-museum. It represents the Philippine culture between the 1800s to 1900s.
The house/ museum was built in the 1800s and a Spanish businessman Juan Isidro de Gororde bought the house. In the year 1980, Casa Gorordo became a museum because of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation’s Cultural Heritage Program.
Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro is the oldest fort in the Philippines and dates back to 1738. Spanish leader Miguel Lopez de Legazpi ordered the building of the fort. It was originally made out of wood but later on, it was strengthened with stone to use it against Muslim warriors.
As time went on, the fort was used for many different reasons. The American soldiers used it as their residence and it’s where they educated Cebuanos. Then the Japanese colonizers used the fort as a barrack, a prisoner and a hospital.
Today, the Fort San Pedro is now a historical park with a garden and is a nice quiet area in the chaotic downtown area of Cebu.
The Sugbo Museum or Sugbo Museo is just about four blocks away from the Fort San Pedro. What used to be Cebu’s provincial jail is now a large museum. It was designed by Domingo de Escondrillas in 1869, he was the only architect in Cebu during that period.
Museo Sugbo was used as a prison for Filipino captives during Spanish colonization. After that, in the American period, the place was used by the Americans for their horses. It’s where they put their horses here for their horse racing. And during the Japanese’ time, it was then again used as a prison for the Filipino opponents.
Later on, the place became the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC). However, the provincial jail has relocated and on August 5, 2008, the place was turned into a museum because of its big role in Cebu’s history.
Camotes, oh, Camotes – it’s probably one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever been to. Life here is simple and quiet and it’s filled with beautiful natural attractions.
It only takes about an hour from the city to get to Danao Port – that’s where you will take a boat for 2 hours to get to the island of Camotes. In just a day, you can do so much – visit the scenic lake, explore a cave or simply be a beach bum. The beaches here are gorgeous and blue.
It’s nice to bike around the island. You can bike your way to Santiago Beach and walk through its long, white shoreline. Then to the Mangodlong Rock; and go kayaking on Lake Danao and enjoy the nice view. And many other stops for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy.
Cebu Safari and Adventure Park
Experience the wildlife at the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park – it is less than 30 minutes away from Danao. It is also known to be the largest zoo in the Philippines; you can also find Asia’s longest zip line here.
The zoo exhibits different types of plants and animal species, including exotic birds and tigers. Cebu Safari and Adventure Park also offer lots of fun activities such as hiking and canyoning in the waterfalls, biking, ziplines and more!
Another beautiful island in Cebu is Bantayan Island.. It’s one of the most visited tourist spots in Cebu. A lot of people go there especially to enjoy its glorious fine white-sand beaches.
From Danao, you will have to travel 2 to 3 more hours to get to Hagnaya Port. And from the port, you will take a ferry to Bantayan Island for an hour and a half.
Travelers can enjoy affordable accommodation here. As well as visit Paradise Beach – that’s probably one of the best parts about this island. Just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet in this beautiful island.
Cebu’s top attractions are a mix of historical sites, beautiful white sandy beaches, and fun-filled adventures. I hope you enjoy our list and we hope you get to visit each one of them. Peace!