Basic Travel Guide to Cebu for First-Time Travelers

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Due to the many beautiful beaches in Cebu, island hopping has become an essential.

Searching for the best travel deals and destinations in Cebu? If this is your first time traveling to the island, it helps to have a travel guide in hand.

Though several places in Cebu are within close distance of each other, you’ll want a quick need-to-know on which ones are worth visiting and which ones are worth skipping. But more importantly, you’ll want to know how you can get around these places.

That being said, here’s a quick and easy travel guide to Cebu – from the moment you take your first step off the plane until you get to visit some of the best Cebu tourist spots.

But First, Here's How to Get to Cebu Island

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila is not the only entry point to the Philippines. Cebu is accessible via international and domestic flights through the Mactan Cebu International Airport. 

The airport is located on Mactan Island, about an hour away from Cebu City. 

For International Travelers

You can book a direct flight from a number of international gateways. Instead of booking connecting flights through Manila, you can maximize your vacation time by booking a flight directly to Cebu. 

For travelers coming from the U.S. (i.e., the West Coast in particular), Philippine Airlines is now operating non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Cebu three times a week. 

Note: Mactan Cebu International Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is for domestic arrivals and departures, while Terminal 2 services are for international flights.

How to Get Around Between Cebu Airport Terminals

At the Mactan Cebu International Airport, you can take a complimentary shuttle service via the Premium Airport Bus. It’s a free shuttle service available 24/7 to all passengers who need to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 and vice versa. 

If you want to avail the Premium Airport Bus, all you need to do is secure a coupon from the arrivals or information counter and present it to the bus dispatcher before boarding. 

Transportation to and from Cebu Airport

  • White and Yellow Taxis

Cebu airport taxis are the ones in yellow. These taxis are accredited by the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority and operated by the Cebu Association of Tour Operators, Inc. 

Take a regular taxi from Mactan Cebu International Airport if you want to pay less for your fare.

Note that these taxis have a higher base fare, so if you want to pay less, you can hail an ordinary white taxi. These locally metered taxis cater to both departing and arriving passengers from the airport to the city and vice versa. 

  • Hotel Shuttles
    These are operated by or on behalf of the hotels for the purpose of picking up and/or discharging hotel guests at the respective hotel or airport.
  • Cebu Airport Transfers
    You can book an airport transfer in advance, especially when you’re commuting to and from the airport with heavy luggage. These pre-booked services typically include a cozy, air-conditioned private car and a uniformed driver who will also be your expert local guide. 

Download ride hailing apps to get around the best Cebu tourist spots with ease.

  • Ride Hailing Apps
    Using an app like Grab is another way to get to and from Cebu airport. You can install the app on your phone and book a ride when you need to. 

Note: Peak hours might have fewer car options, so have a backup plan in case you’re unable to book a Grab car. 

Where to Stay in Cebu

No idea which hotel to book in Cebu? Here are some of the recommended hotels in the city. 

  • Bayfront Hotel 
  • Lex Hotel 
  • Radisson Blu 
  • Bai Hotel
  • Red Doorz Cebu Century Plaza 

Related read: Cheap Hotels in Cebu to Help You Maximize Your Travel Budget

Now that you know how to get around Cebu from the airport and where to stay, it’s time to get ready and explore some of the top tourist attractions and diverse activities that you shouldn’t miss during your trip. 

With so many tourist spots available in Cebu, where do you start? 

Here’s a quick travel guide to the top destinations you can visit:

A Travel Guide to the Top Tourist Spots in Cebu

1. Kawasan Falls

Enjoy swimming and hiking at Kawasan Falls.

Kawasan Falls is a beautiful attraction located in the mountains of Barangay Matutinao in Badian. Enjoy the many waterfalls of natural spring water that’s famous for its turquoise blue color. 

Most tourists choose to take part in the Badian canyoneering experience at Kawasan Falls. It’s an activity where you traverse and explore the canyons by walking, cliff jumping, swimming, or climbing. 

After several hours of jumping and swimming downriver, there’s no better feeling than spending your vacation in the magical setting of Kawasan Falls. 

How to Get There:

From Cebu City, you can get to Kawasan Falls by taking a bus going south. Make your way to the Cebu South Bus Terminal and take the bus going to Bato via Barili.


2. Moalboal Sardine Run

The best time to witness the Moalboal Sardine Run is during the dry season.

The Moalboal Sardine Run is one of the most popular diving destinations in Cebu and in the country. It’s located just off the coast of the main strip of Moalboal. 

When you dive underwater, you’ll see millions of sardines dancing around the surface. 

How to Get There:

You can head to the Cebu South Bus Terminal and ride a bus bound for Bato via Barili. In around 2.5 to 4 hours, you’ll reach the municipality of Moalboal (depending on the traffic). 

But if you’re using a private car, set your destination to Panagsama Beach Resort. 


3. Bantayan Island

Experience the white, sandy beaches of Bantayan Island.

Bantayan Island is an excellent spot for relaxation. It has clear blue waters, a tranquil atmosphere, and a beautiful landscape. 

Although Bantayan Island is a little less than 100 square miles in size, it has powdery white sand and clean shorelines. Bantayan Island also offers pristine beaches, where you can wander and explore their magnificence under a burst of adoring sunshine. 

So if you’re in search of sun, sea, and sand, Bantayan Island is definitely worth checking out. 

How to Get There:

If you want to take a direct bus from Cebu City, board one at the North Bus Terminal. You will be dropped off at Hagnaya Port (San Remigio, Cebu). When you arrive at the port, you need to ride a RoRo (shuttle ferry) heading to Sta. Fe (the starting point for your Bantayan Island exploration). 

Note: As of writing, you need to pay PHP 30 for the green fee charged to all visitors and non-residents.

Traveling for the first time in Cebu is an exciting experience for anyone. As you browse through the many stunning beaches and attractions found all over the island, you know that you’ll hardly run out of things to do.

Keep this travel guide handy and get ready to pack your beach attire and diving gear to make the most of your trip to Cebu!

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