The Philippines is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Today, I’m going to share my Cebu itinerary which I’ve planned for Joanne’s surprise birthday trip last December. I was contemplating between Boracay and Cebu, and I chose Cebu for its exclusivity. Not only it is not as commercialised as Boracay but it’s also full of hidden gems.
A direct flight to Cebu is only 2h 50min from Hong Kong or 3h 45min from Singapore.
Our travel style is a mix of luxury and local. We believe in pampering ourselves during our holidays and at the same time, we want to experience what the locals do/eat. Whenever I plan our travel itinerary, I always have an objective in mind.
This trip was all about beautiful beaches and unwinding. While we love the beaches, we’d be so bored if we lay on the beach and do nothing for days. So if you’re someone who appreciates pristine beaches and enjoys some fun activities in between, our Cebu itinerary is perfect for you.
We skipped the whole city experience and went all out for the beach experiences in Cebu. We spent 4D4N in various parts of Cebu – I’ll blog about our experiences at each place separately. This blog post is focused on our Cebu itinerary.
Cebu Itinerary Day 1:
We took a late morning flight to Cebu via Cebu Pacific and settled our Cebu mobile SIM cards at the airport.
Shangri-La Mactan is one of the must stay hotels when you visit Cebu. It is less than 15 minutes away from the Mactan–Cebu International Airport and you can easily grab a taxi there. We did not opt for the airport transfer as it was not necessary.
You can try to negotiate when you are approached by people who can help you to skip the long taxi queues at the airport. There were many other taxis who can send you to your hotel at a slightly higher price – it was still reasonable for us at under 350php. The 15min taxi journey was an enjoyable experience for us. The taxi driver was warm and helpful, knowing that we were visiting Cebu for the first time.
When we first arrived at Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort & Spa, we were greeted by their cheerful hotel ambassadors and had our welcome drinks. We checked in to our Ocean Wing Premier Garden View Room and we loved it. The Ocean Wing is more private compared to the Main Wing. The Ocean Wing’s beach and the swimming pool are also more exclusive within the hotel.
Once you’re done settling in, grab your snorkeling gear and spend an afternoon at the private beach located at the Ocean Wing!
Check out how clear and beautiful the water is!
Don’t you worry about the fishes, they won’t come close to you. A little boy was feeding the fishes nearby so there were a lot of fishes in this photo below (really cute fishes):
We spent an afternoon frolicking in the water and getting a good tan at the lounge chairs. There were only 2-3 couples at this beach. There were more than enough privacy and facilities for everyone to enjoy. We absolutely love the exclusivity.
Dinner at Cowrie Cove
Book your dinner at Cowrie Cove slightly before sunset to enjoy the beautiful sunset view. If you’re lucky, you could even score a reservation at the one and only gazebo’s table at Cowrie Cove. I’d recommend you to book this as early as you book your hotel. It’ll be a very romantic and special experience.
Cebu Itinerary Day 2:
We’re Going to Oslob Today!
We checked out the hotel and hired a private driver through our Airbnb host. It cost us 5,500php (one way) which is still way cheaper than the luxury car rides that our hotel has offered us (We also found a cheaper deal at 4,000php when we came back and even heard of 3,500php deals. To be fair, our Airbnb driver drove us everywhere we wanted during our stay without extra cost. They were trustworthy, efficient, and took care of our belongings though we were also very careful with our belongings).
The private drivers usually drive a decent MPV van/car and charge per trip, so it’s more economical to carpool with more friends, or you can stretch your legs and sleep if you’re travelling as a couple like us.
To travel from Mactan to Oslob, you can either take a public bus, take a taxi, or hire a private driver. There is no Uber in Cebu currently.
The car journey from Shangri-la Mactan to Oslob is about 4 hours depending on traffic. We made sure that we had a heavy breakfast at the hotel before we set out. The driver can stop for toilet breaks or meal breaks whenever you wish. There are plenty of drive throughs along the way.
This private accommodation that we booked on Airbnb is run by a lovely Filippino lady. I booked it not for its bedroom nor the huge landed property, but for its private beach and infinity sea view.
It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Oslob.
Throughout our stay, there was only another Caucasian couple whom we rarely saw. We had the whole private beach to ourselves.
It was PARADISE.
We even tried cliff jumping by ourselves.
It was terrifying for us at first but it was absolutely safe and we got addicted to the adrenalin. We were famished by sunset and our driver (provided by the host) sent us to a nearby afresco restaurant for some really delicious and local Filipino food. I had 2 servings at one go.
Cebu Itinerary Day 3:
Swimming with Whale Sharks & Sumilon Island
We woke up at 7am to swim with the whale sharks. This activity is only possible early in the morning. You can register and pay on the spot so don’t worry about booking this online prior to your trip.
I don’t usually enjoy waking up early during holidays but when I was in Cebu, I got up early naturally and I was so excited to make full use of my day out in the sun.
Our airbnb host always has a driver available. The driver sent us to a nearby whale shark swimming centre within 10 minutes without additional cost. He also took great care of our belongings and waited for us before sending us back to our accommodation. The whole experience took about 1 hour.
Swimming with the whale sharks is a must-try experience when you’re in Oslob.
Our airbnb accommodation at Oslob has this beautiful view right from the balcony. Our host is known for her generous breakfast spread and it was perfect as we were famished after the swim.
During breakfast, our host suggested us to check out the nearby Tumalog Falls. The journey will take about 3-4hr return but due to time constraints, we decided to take it easy and chill at the private beach instead. After all, we’ll be going to the famous Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort once we check out.
The boat ride to Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort was amazing. This resort also offers day tour packages at very attractive prices for visitors to explore this island – it’s a great option if you’re on a budget.
Honeymoon Villa at Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort
We stayed at the Honeymoon Villa at Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort and we loved it.
You can choose to go trekking at Sumilon Island – there are trails available for different difficulty level. We didn’t go for it as it was a little late for us.
We walked to the Sand Bar at the other side of Sumilon Island to watch the sunset instead.
Every night, there is an evening dinner party at Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. Dinner is served in a buffet style and there is a wide variety of choices.
Cebu Itinerary Day 4:
Sumilon Island & Back to Cebu City
We woke up early to enjoy bottom glass kayaking.
As there were only 2 bottom glass kayaks at this resort, we pre-booked them the night before. The rental is 300php for 2, regardless of the duration. We had so much fun! And because we did this at 8am, there was literally nobody on the beach except the resort staff.
You can also choose to kayak, paddle or fish at the lagoon for free. (The free-to-use kayak at the lagoon is not a bottom glass kayak.)
After which, we head off for breakfast at the resort and checked out its infinity pool.
By this time, the people who are here for a day tour or check-ins started to stream in. Everyone was very considerate. We took turns to take beautiful pictures so that nobody gets photobombed. Such a pleasure. All in all, you can still relax and swim in the pool too.
If one infinity pool is not enough, there are also other Jacuzzi pools around the main pool. There are actually a lot more activities that you can do in Sumilon Island. If you have more time, you should consider staying at Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort for 3 days.
After we checked out, the resort arranged a private driver for us at 4,000php for a single trip from Oslob to Cebu city. The journey was about 4 hours. There was enough space for us to lie down and sleep as it was a huge and comfortable MPV van. The sun was setting when we were leaving Oslob and even the view from the van was stunning. It was nature at its best.
We bought Jolibee – the famous fried chicken from the Philippines – at one of the many drive throughs. We highly recommend you to try the authentic Jolibee when you’re in Philippines!
It was past dinner time when we arrived at the last accommodation in Cebu city. I booked this accommodation on Airbnb. Its location is 15min near the Mactan–Cebu International Airport and this value for money accommodation is proper and clean for a rest-and-go-airport experience. As there was no lift in the building, our luggage was carried to the room by a butler. The receptionist also helped us to book our taxi at 3am.
It seems to me that it doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a budget accommodation or a 5-star hotel – the hospitality in Cebu is fantastic and everyone in the service industry speaks good English.
Cebu is definitely a place to visit if you appreciate pristine beaches with clear water, white sands, have some fun, and on top of all, its exclusivity and great hospitality.