White sand, bustling streets, fantastic food choices and activities aplenty. The Philippines has so much to offer and Cebu should be on your list of places to visit.
Recently traveling to Cebu, I was amazed at how diverse it was and the possibilities to do as little or as much as you wanted. From relaxing on a beach where the water is so crystal clear, it really is as the images you see on Social Media, to adventure activities Zip Lining off buildings and canyoneering down rivers and jumping off waterfalls.
Cebu is perfect as the next destination for Australian Travellers. Not only are flights competitive with traveling to somewhere like Thailand, sure it takes about 10 hours to get to, but it doesn't feel like it is any longer than some other places in Asia. The cost can be as cheap as you want or you can stay in complete luxury.
Whilst in Cebu, I was fortunate to have my family with me. My husband is a huge Scuba Diving fanatic and underwater photographer in his spare time, so to be able to let him run free was like seeing a puppy play with a hose for the first time. Smiles all round. I also had my 18month old son with me and the babysitting and nanny services were like we were in Fiji. The care of the nanny we had was amazing. She was a qualified and practising nurse and in her spare time was a nanny at our resort. She went swimming (in the toddler splash area – at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa) with Jackson and also took him to the kids club and restaurants for fruit. All care was taken and she became part of the family. I can’t wait to see her again on our next trip.
The resort itself – the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu is just incredible. You don't need to leave the place. Several restaurants, tennis courts, 2 pools including a water play and slides for the kids, an adventure kids zone and kids club to bars and the best beach in the area with a marine sanctuary right off the shore with regular snorkelling tours that you do right from the beach! Something different every day and the CHI SPA is amazing. It is the perfect place to unwind and relax. Take some time out for yourself. This is only a few of the things there. It also includes a pitch and putt golf course, a mini putt putt golf course, a full service Dive Shop, a gym and full teenage area. Plus a Karaoke room!
To get anywhere in Cebu, you need to be aware of the traveling times. Coming from Australia, it is nothing to get in the car for an hour to get somewhere. The same is true for Cebu, though the traffic at times just doesn't move. 2 activities that we undertook were, Canyoneering in the south of Cebu (Badian) which as a full day activity is so much fun. Jumping off cliffs into the bluest water ever and sliding down rock faces into the water, under caves and then waterfalls, which you think, are only in postcards. It is adventure plus. Starting with a motorbike ride up into the mountain, as you can’t get cars in there. This isn’t something for those that are afraid of heights or don't like the adrenaline rush. This is certainly worth the day trip. Be prepared to be tired and sleep on the mini van on the way there or back :)
Whale Sharks. I know this can be a controversial topic and Oslob is renowned for the Whale Sharks in the area. The history of the region and these gentle giants is like a full circle, previously hunted for food, they have now become a tourist attraction. I went in with an open mind and couldn't believe we would be able to see these creatures, let alone swim with them. It was something that as a ‘tourist’ you need to be aware of a few things. Don't expect it to be all smooth sailing and organised. It is pretty full on and a total assault on the senses upon arrival. We even got there at 8am and it was PACKED! The Whale sharks are fed and there are several boats out in the water on ‘lines’ so the whale sharks are taken up and down the lines and fed as they go. This has bought much needed funds injected into the local communities as tourists are flocking, but there isn’t much security for these gentle giants and tourists are often wanting to touch and get up close, which isn’t what these animals need. However for those that snorkel next to the boats you can view these precious animals in all their greatness. It is quite a short experience so the 3-hour each way bus trip can seem excessive. I would probably recommend staying in Oslob if you wanted to do this experience and see some of the other local sites including waterfalls and having some quieter time in the area. Saying that, my experience was still amazing as a day trip from Mactan and now I know what to expect can advise my clients and also do things slightly differently next year when returning.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling are perfect in Cebu. There are plenty of dive sites for those that want things close to shore as well as caves and more macro objects to photograph deeper down. The snorkelling straight off the beach from the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa was ideal for learner snorkelers or those that wanted to stay within the resort. You can hire gear from the beach shack and head straight in, or undertake the guided snorkelling tours, which go every day. The sanctuary was beautiful and a real highlight, as it was unexpected as to how good it was and I received numerous comments on the exceptional visibility and also the fish feeding and quality of the activity and marine life on the reef. One to certainly add to your list when staying at this property.
2017 will see myself return to Cebu and undertake much more in town as well as further afield escorting a group to Malapascua Island to go scuba diving with the Thresher Sharks and some more adventure based activities.
I can highly recommend a trip to Cebu and believe you can spend at least a couple of weeks here as there is so much to see and do even before venturing to local islands and other destinations within the Philippines.
If you would like more information or have any questions about Cebu, please don't hesitate to contact me.