Cebu island is a province located in the Central Visayas. Known for its countless waterfalls, viewpoints and turquoise oceans surrounding them. Not to forget the extremely kind and friendly locals.
Besides the treasure of activities the island has to offer, Cebu also serves as a gateway to the nearby islands Siquijor and Bohol, which are a perfect fit to add to your visit to Cebu.
When adding these Islands to your itinerary, we recommend planning at least 14 days for this trip around the 3 islands Cebu, Siquijor and Bohol.
See here an amazing Cebu itinerary for 7 days + 3 days Siquijor and 3 days Bohol:
Cebu Itinerary overview, combined with Siquijr and Bohol (& Malapascua)
Cebu itinerary in 7 days
Moalboal (4 nights)
- Day 1: Cebu Airport to Moalboal
- Day 2: Snorkel or dive with Sardines, turtles and thousands of fish
- Day 3: Canyoneering trip to Kawasan Falls, Badian
- Day 4: Casino and Osmena Peak viewpoints
South of Cebu (3 nights)
- Day 5: Travel from Moalboal to the South of Cebu & chill
- Day 6: Exploring waterfalls in the South of Cebu (Inambakan Falls, Dao Falls, Aguinid Falls)
- Day 7: Cruise around the highlands of Cebu, go snorkelling or read a book
*Note that we didn’t include Oslob, as we don’t want to encourage the unethical snorkelling with Whalesharks
Siquijor and Bohol in 6 days
Siquijor itinerary (3 nights)
- Day 8: Morning ferry to Siquijor & snorkelling and beach time at Tubod marine sanctuary in the afternoon
- Day 9: Driving around the island chasing waterfalls
- Day 10: Daytrip to Apo Island
Bohol itinerary (3 nights)
- Day 11: Ferry to Bohol & chill
- Day 12: Rent a mountain bike and explore Bohol (Chocolate chills, Tarsier monkey)
- Day 13: SUP boarding at Loboc river and explore the underwater world or beach life on Panglao
- Day 14: Return to Cebu city
Optional: Malapascua in 2 days
- Day 14: Ferry to Cebu city and continue to Malapascua
- Day 15: Dive with thresher shark and chill on the beach
- Day 16 Return to Cebu city
First things first: Where to Stay in Cebu?
When travellers mention Cebu, they mostly refer to Cebu island, but it could also refer to Cebu City, which is the most populated city in the Visayas.
Cebu is also often an entry point to the Philippines for international travellers as Cebu City hosts the second most popular airport in the Philippines. And if you are not entering from here, you will likely have a stopover or arrive here to explore the other islands in the south of the Philippines or nearby islands Bohol and Siquijor.
Personally, we don’t recommend spending a long time in Cebu city. It’s a busy city and hasn’t much interesting to offer to tourists. Because of that, we recommend travelling straight to your first destination on the day of arrival.
Destination #1: Moalboal or Algeria?
Top activities: Snorkelling & diving, Canoyenoring, waterfalls, nightlife and restaurants
Journey from Cebu to Moalboal: 3 hours
– The relaxing, but lively vibes of Moalboal
For most travellers, Moalboal is the first stop after arriving in Cebu city. Thanks to Moalboal’s location on the west coast of Cebu island, you’ll be able to witness gorgeous sunsets with the large neighbor island Negros in the background.
But that’s not the main reason why Moalboal became so popular. It’s the millions of sardines swimming just 10meter from the coast in Moalboal. Also will you find tens of dive shops offering dive trips to one of the many dive spots and agencies offering canyoneering tours to closeby Kawasan falls in Badian.
Restaurants and nightlife in Moalboal
Moalboal offers a wide choice of restaurants. From local restaurants with classic plastic chairs to Ven’z Kitchen which offers a large variety of Vegan meals.
At the end of the night, you might be exhausted from the Canyoneering or diving trip, but if you have still some energy left, you can party all night long at Chili bar. This is the one and only bar where all travellers and backpackers gather and party until the end of the night.
How to get to Moalboal
Travelling around on Cebu island is very easy thanks to the buses that run every 20-30 minutes in a loop around the island. If you are coming from Cebu city, you can easily take a van or bus from the Southern Bus terminal in Cebu city.
Even better, when coming from the airport book a taxi that brings you straight from the airport to Moalboal in about 3 hours. Y ou can already book a private van transfer from Cebu (airport) to MoalBoal for 1,500 PHP ($26.50) online with Klook.
Read here our complete guide with all options on How to get to Moalboal.
– Staying in Algeria to escape the crowds
Although Moalboal is not overly touristic, you will see lots of travellers strolling around the beach and main street. For those who seek more quietness, Algeria is a great alternative to stay.
Located just below Baidan, Algeria is only a short 20minute drive away from the Kawasan Falls and it only takes half the time to get to Casino and Osmena peak from Algeria. However, if you want to visit Moalboal for a day (what we certainly recommend), you will need to prepare for a one-hour drive.
See here a short overview of the distances from both locations to top things to do in Cebu:
Algeria to top things to do in Cebu
- Kawasan Falls – 20 minutes
- Osmena/Casino peak – Only about 1 hour
- Moalboal: about 1 hour
- Cebu city: 4 hours
Moalbaol to top things to do in Cebu
- Kawasan Falls – 40 minutes
- Osmena/Casino peak – Close to 2 hours
- Cebu city: 3 hours
However, don’t expect to find a large choice of restaurants and neither bars or nightlife. Moalboal is probably one of the only tourist destinations on Cebu, offering a broad choice of restaurants and nightlife.
TIP: Some travellers also choose to stay in Algeria to explore the waterfalls in the South of Cebu. If you only want to stay in one destination in Cebu, this is a perfect base. However, if spending 5 days in Cebu fits in your itinerary, we recommend booking another stay more down south in Cebu (Samboan or Santander).
Destination #2: Samboan or Santander in the Southern tip of Cebu
Top activities: Exploring waterfalls and enjoying stunning sunsets with Negros or Siquijor in the far background
Journey from Moalboal: 2-3 hours
Exploring waterfalls without the large crowds of the Kawasan falls
The southern part of Cebu island is often overlooked by many travellers. Because this area isn’t so popular with travellers yet, it’s one of the gems where you can cruise along beautiful ocean roads and explore many waterfalls without running into large crowds of tourists.
To explore the Southern part of Cebu Island, we recommend staying on the Southeast coast in Samboan or at the southern tip of Cebu in Santander.
Note that we are not talking about staying in Oslob, which is also in the South of Cebu. However, all activity around Oslob is centreed on swimming with whale sharks and this is something we want to discourage because of ecological reasons.
Witness stunning sunsets with Negros in the far distance when staying in Samboan
During the outbreak of COVID-19, I ended up staying for 2 weeks in Samboan, where I had still had the chance to visit several waterfalls and explore the area by bike.
The area is perfect if you are not looking to party, but want to explore the nearby waterfalls, enjoy the stunning ocean roads or snorkel at the nearby marine sanctuary.
PRO TIP: Drive up to the mountains to enjoy the breathtaking views overlooking the ocean with Negros and Siquijor in the far distance.
What made our visit to Samboan extra special, was our stay at Fantasy Ecolodge. I think this Ecolodge is a destination on itself and offers tremendous value for the price you pay.
The gorgeous ocean views and sunsets were truly like a Fantasy becoming a reality.
It offered one of the best sunsets you can imagine (especially form the hot tub), has access to the ocean, a refreshing pool and extremely friendly staff. And then I haven’t even mentioned the unique designs of the lodges.
Staying close to the port in Santander
Santander province offers a few more accommodations than Sambuan and covers the most Southern tip of Cebu Island. The views on Siquijor Island are stunning and ordering a meal at this Italian restaurant will be an enlightenment for your taste buds.
Although beautiful the area is slightly more busy than Samboan as Santander ferry ports serve as a gateway to Siquijor and Dammuegette City at Negros Island.
Highlights of Cebu Itinerary
- Canyoneering at Kawasan falls in Badian
- Swimming with Sardines and giant turtles in Moalboal
- Diving trip to Pescador Island
- Osmena Peak and Casino Hike Trail
- Exploring waterfalls in the South of Cebu
- Watching stunning sunsets
Day #1: Travelling straight from Cebu Airport to Moalboal
Cebu Airport is located in Lapu-Lapu which is bounded to Cebu City via a bridge. The distance to the city centre isn’t far, but due to the busy traffic, it will already take 1 hour to travel from the airport to the city centre.
To save yourself from the time and effort to travel the city centre, check-in and check-out the next day, we recommend travelling straight to your next destination from the airport.
The time it takes to travel from Cebu to Moalboal, takes only about 3 hours by taxi or bus. If you stay in Cebu City for the first night, you will already lose the same amount of time with the taxi drive from Cebu Airport to the centre and the check-in and check-out time.
Remember, each extra day spend in a city is one day less on a stunning beach…
It might require some extra energy on the day of arrival, but I can assure you that you will be happy when you wake up the next morning without having to worry about moving again.
If you prefer to stay the first night(s) in Cebu city, you can check out this Cebu Airport guide to find out how to find transportation from the airport.
Day #2: Swim with millions of sardines and gigantic turtles
When you wake up the next morning, enjoy a delicious smoothy bowl and coffee at Shaka or one of the other authentic cafes and restaurants.
After this energizing breakfast, you can walk in a few minutes to coast where you can snorkel with millions of sardines and gigantic turtles. We recommend going in the water just before Chili Bar, which is the bar where all travellers gather at night.
The great thing about Moalboal is that you don’t need a boat or far walk to experience the gorgeous underwater life. Snorkel sets are readily available for rent along the main street which goes parallel to the ocean and within a few minutes, you can witness the school of thousands of Sardines, giant turtles and swim along a wall filled with coral gardens.
Optional: Make a diving trip to explore Moalboals’ coral gardens
If you want to explore more underwater life, you can also book a diving trip at one of the +20 dive schools along the waterfront. Shore dives already start from 1,100 PHP ($19.50) and a boat dives to nearby diving spots like Pescador Island costs about 1,300 PHP ($23.00).
Day #3: Canyoneering trip to the Kawasan falls in Badian
This is probably the best canyoneering activity you can book in entire Southeast Asia. I’ve done amazing canyoneering trips in Da Lat (Vietnam) and Batu Karas (Java), but they still didn’t beat the adventure of Badian.
The popularity has grown quickly in the last years and tens of tour agencies popped up around Badian and Moalboal. The average price from Moalboal is around 1,500 PHP ($26.50) including transport to Badian, while you might be able to find it a bit cheaper (1,000 PHP ($17.50) – 1,200 PHP) ($1,200.00) if you organise your own transport. To get to Badian from Moalboal, you can rent a motorbike, or hop on a Ceres bus for just 25 PHP ($0.40) which runs every 20 minutes.
PRO TIP: After this 4 hour during the Canyoneering trip, you will likely be pretty exhausted from all the adrenaline rushing your body. Luckily Moalboal offers several massage salon’s where you can get a very good massage at Heavenly Sauna Sparadise 350 PHP ($6.00) or go more upscale at Moalbola Spa And Massage studio.
Evening: Watch the sunset at White Beach while zipping from a coconut
On a short 15-min drive from Moalboal centre, you’ll find White Beach, which is a large sand strip that is perfect to relax for a day or watch the sun setting behind the mountains of neighbour Island Negros.
Thanks to the large size of the beach, this place is more ideal to sunbath than the small beach strips that you find along the coast of Moalboal main street.
Day #4: Exploring the chocolate hills of Cebu: Osmena and Casino peak
Casino and Osmena peak are often compared to the chocolate hills in Bohol, but then better.
Both viewpoints offer stunning views, overlooking the complete island and both coasts on each side of the island thanks to the location in the middle of the hills.
Surprisingly, these viewpoints are much less popular than the famous chocolate hills in Bohol, which is probably because it isn’t that easy to reach. If you are coming from Moalboal, it will take about 2 hours by motorbike to reach these peaks, which are located next to each other.
Most parts of the road are ion fairly good condition, but also be prepared for some unpaved roads with wholes on the way. However, this adventure will be more than worth it. The views are stunning and if you are lucky, there will only be a few people around.
PRO TIP: If you prefer to stay closer to these viewpoints and don’t need to be in the middle of the epicentre of tourism, you can also stay in Algeria instead of Moalboal. Restaurants and bars will be very limited, but the drive to Badian and the viewpoints will be a lot closer.
Should I visit Osmena peak or Casino peak?
If time allows, we recommend visiting both. It only takes a short 20-30 minute hike to reach the top of the hills and the drive-in between them isn’t more than 10 minutes.
While Casino Peak gives you a beautiful 360-degree view, Osmena peak will give you a stunning view of the ocean, with the hills dotted all over the landscape. If you get the chance to visit both, let us know which you liked more. We honestly couldn’t make up our minds about it!
South of Cebu Itinerary
Day #5: Travel from Moalboal to the South of Cebu & chill
This is the day you will travel on to your next destination, where more waterfalls and stunning sunset will be waiting for you.
Of course, you can leave early and plan your day full with activities again, but after a few busy days it’s probably a good idea to take it a bit more easy.
Not planning your day full of activities on your day of travel is the magic trick to a stress-less trip. If your bus or taxi drive takes longer than expected, you don’t meet to worry about not having the time to finish all your activities.
Make use of the last opportunity to get have breakfast at Shaka, pack your bags, and get a taxi or hop on the regular buses to the south of Cebu. The journey from Moalboal takes roughly 2 hours to Samboan and about 30 minutes more if you booked your stay in Santander.
Once you arrive around lunchtime, you can unpack your bag, have a nice conversation with the staff at the new guesthouse and try out their kitchen.
If you stay at a place with a pool (check out Fantasy Ecolodge) you can take a refreshing dive and relax with a book next to the pool, before seeing the sun setting behind the mountains of Negros or Siquijor in the distance.
Still enough energy to venture out? Rent a motorbike and explore the local towns or take a trip through the mountains of the south of Cebu.
Day 6: Exploring waterfalls in the South of Cebu (Inambakan Falls, Dao Falls, Aguinid Falls)
The second day of your stay in the south of Cebu is one
Day 7: Go snorkelling at the marine sanctuary, cruise around the highlands of south Cebu and Chill
Destination #3: Siqjuior Island (3-4 days)
Siquijor island could be straight out of a fairytale. Its golden beaches, crystal clear waters, waterfalls, mangrove forest, and age-old “enchanted” balete tree are well-scattered around the island.
Luckily, the island isn’t that well-known with all tourists, leaving this gem to be explored for the more adventurous travellers. You won’t be the only one, but it will certainly not be as busy as an island like Boracay.
Exploring waterfalls in Siqjuijor
One of the highlights is the 3-tired Cambugahay Falls in the Southeast of the Island, which you’ve undoubtedly seen in your Instagram feed when searching for the Philippines. It’s not without a reason that the Cambugahay Falls are often called one of the best waterfalls in the Philippines. The three different tiers, the crisp and clean water, and the multiple rope swings make it a waterfall not to miss when in Siqjuior.
Although the Cambugahay falls are arguably the best ones on Siquijor, there are several more to explore. If you start your day early, you can combine your visit to Cambugahay falls with Lagaan and Lugnason fall too.
Driving around the island: Exploring beaches and marine sanctuaries
Siquijor is a relatively small island and is easily explored by using the coastal road that goes around the entire island. The total distance of this road is about 80 km, making the journey from the one to the other side of the island only take about an hour. No reason to worry if you couldn’t make all the stops. Just go back the next day if you didn’t finish the complete round.
Exploring waterfalls around Cebu is something that can keep you busy for many many days. Luckily there are some beautiful beaches around the island, where you can relax, sunbathe and even snorkel with turtles at one of the five marine sanctuaries that are scattered around the island.
One of the secret gems of the island used to be Kagusuan Beach, but this is unfortunately closed until further notice. Other beaches like Paliton Beach, which is one of the most popular one, are fairly good, but don’t expect to find the dreamy beaches of El Nido.
Better yet, make it your mission to find the best snorkel spots instead of chasing for the best beach. Our personal favourite is Tubod marine sanctuary, which is located in front of Coco Grove resort.
Tubod Marine Sanctuary is located in front of a decent beach and asks a small entrance fee of 50 PHP ($0.80) and you can already rent a snorkel set for 100 PHP ($1.70). Expect to see tons of fish swimming around the coral gardens
Destination #4: Bohol (3-4 days)
Bohol is a beautiful destination with a lush, jungle feel. Visit the famous Chocolate Hills, go SUP boarding in the Loboc River, experience the thrill of zip-lining or explore Bohol’s waterfalls and caves. When lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Philippine tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primates, which is indigenous to the island.
Besides these adventures on Bohol, the connected island of Panglao, is also very popular for snorkelling and scuba diving because of its coral reefs.
Visiting the chocolate hills
How to get there, the entrance fee, you can mention that they are not as spectacular as the Osmena and Casino Peak on Cebu
Exploring the island by Mountainbike
Bilar Man-Made Forest, symmetric forest
tarsier monkey where to spot
SUP boarding on Loboc river
Where to rent, costs
Optional: Malapasqua Island (2 days)
Malapascua is an island located about 10 km from the northern tip of Cebu.
Famous for diving with the thresher shark.
Size of the island: You can walk in half an hour from the south to the north of the island. Most travellers leave after diving as there is not much more to do here.
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Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.