1 Virgin Island, Bantayan
Virgin Island, also known as Silion, is a privately owned island located off the coast of Bantayan, roughly 140 kilometers from Cebu City. It's a favorite of our Cebu insider Jay Aldeguer, owner of Islands Group of Companies. Virgin beach is fringed by white sand made up of crushed corals. A colorful coral reef sits just a few meters from shore, a perfect spot for snorkeling. There are cottages for rent along the shore. Entrance fee to the island is P500 (less than $11) for the first two people in a group, and P100 for each succeeding person.
Basic open thatched cottages on the beach costs P1,500 for two people. Contact +63920 746 6053.
Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Cebu City. From Cebu City, head to the North Bus Terminal to get on a Ceres Liner bus bound for Hagnaya port in San Remigio Cebu. The trip takes about two and a half to three hours. At Hagnaya port, catch a ferry bound for Sta. Fe port in Bantayan island, about a one hour travel. At Bantayan there are outrigger boats you could hire to take you to Virgin island, a trip that should take less than 30 minutes. A boat hire costs about P1,000 a day.
2 Sugar Beach, Bantayan Island
A choice of Cebu blogger Aris Mape, Sugar Beach has one of the widest areas of white sand in Bantayan, its texture as fine as sugar, hence the name. The idyllic beach and the variety of affordable accommodation available in the area make this beach a favorite of locals. To avoid the crowds, time your visit during the off peak months of September to October. Visitors can rent thatched huts by the sea for day trips or pitch a tent in the area for the night. Activities include beach volleyball and badminton.
A room night at Kota Beach Resort located nearby at Santa Fe, starts at P900 for a non-airconditioned room and P1,400 for an air-conditioned room. Sugar Beach Resort located right on Sugar Beach is also ideal but is under renovation as of press time. Call +63921 775 5058 for updates.
Amihan Beach Cabanas located at the center of nearby Santa Fe was voted by the Guardian Travel as one of the top 10 beachside stays in Asia. Amihan's thatched roof and bamboo beach cabanas open out to the sea and cost from P2,500.
To get to Sugar Beach from Cebu City, head to Bantayan Island (see directions in this story's Virgin Beach entry), and from there flag down a tricycle or a habal-habal, motorcycle taxi with a sidecar for passengers, to Sugar Beach.
3 Cancuaay Resort, Oslob
Tan-awan, Oslob, about three hours by car from Cebu City, is wildly popular for its whale shark encounter tours, but not many know of its sandy beaches such as Cancuaay Private Beach along South National Road in Oslob. The nicer portion of the beach is at the foot of Villa Modern Deluxe Resort, fringed by creamy sand and crystal clear waters, and huge rocks jutting out of the sea. The view of the ocean is spectacular with Sumilon Island in the distance. The beach, a favorite of blogger Mape, attracts locals on day trips and young people staying the night in tents, so it's best to avoid the weekends and holidays.
A room night at Villa Modern Deluxe Resort, which sits on top of a hill, some 200 or so steps from the beach cove, has three rooms available, from P3,500. Day rate is P120 per person.
Tan-awan, Oslob is roughly three hours away from Cebu City. Get there by riding a Ceres Liner bus bound for Bato via Oslob. Tell the conductor to drop you off just outside the Cancuaay Private Beach Resort.
4 Lambug Beach, Badian
About 105 kilometers from Cebu City, the often deserted Lambug Beach, a favorite of blogger Mape, feels like a cliche: white sand, crystal blue waters and the absence of developments along the coast. Although a public beach, it's quieter and calmer than other beaches in the province, especially during weekdays. Resorts here are simple and basic. Camping is also allowed on the stretch. If you'd like challenging activities, try canyoneering at the nearby Matutinao River passing through beautiful blue lagoons. More canyoneering could be had at the Kawasan Falls and at Kanlaob.
Magic Beach Resort has fan rooms, from P1,500 for five to six people. Airconditioned rooms are P2,500 for four to five people. Call +63906 307 7210. Contact Albert Aspacio for canyoneering at +63935 925 4769. To get to Lambug Beach take a taxi to Cebu City South Bus Terminal. Hop on a Ceres Liner bus bound for Badian and alight at the main town center. Travel time is about three hours. From the center, take a tricycle to Lambug Beach.
5 Santiago Public Beach, Camotes
Santiago Beach is a favorite beach of Cebu Tourism Officer Beverly Ibarola and travel blogger Estan Cabigas. It's easy to see why. It has a postcard pretty wide expanse of milky white sand and turquoise waters. Shallow and clean waters make the beach a safe swimming area for children and the expansive shoreline provides plenty of space to play. Other activities include karaoke, kayaking, skim boarding and beach volleyball. There are small huts for rent for the day. Nearby tourist attractions are cliff jumping at Buho Rock and the enchanting waters of Timubo Cave.
Santiago Bay Garden and Resort offers rooms starting at P1,000.
To get to Santiago, ride a cab from Cebu City to Pier 1 or Pier Uno for a fast craft to Poro, Camotes. Travel time by boat is about two hours. From the pier, take a habal-habal to the resort or Santiago Beach.
6 Nalusuan Island, Cordova
Tourists often overlook Nalusuan Island and Marine Sanctuary when planning a trip to Cebu, but it's one of the province's best-kept secrets and a favorite of our insider Jay Aldeguer. Diving and snorkeling are the main lure, but you could also rent jet-skis, banana boats, kayaks and paddle boats, or you could just stroll along the kilometer-wide beach. Nalusuan is 30 minutes from Mactan Island. Most visitors here are day trippers, so expect the crowds to thin out towards the end of the afternoon. There's no electricity supply on the island and most people rely on generators. Lights are turned on from dusk till early morning.
A night at Nalusuan Island Resort is from P3,500. The resort can arrange round-trip transfers.
Islands Banca Cruises arranges tours to Nalusuan and other islands in the area including Pandanon Island and the Talima Fish Sanctuary.
7 Hidden Beach, Aloguinsan
Hidden beach, about 60 kilometers from Cebu City, is largely undiscovered by tourists. You have to walk through a rich thicket of trees and bushes before finding this idyllic white-sand beach fringed by coconut trees. The beach looks over the dolphin-rich waters of Tañon Strait and is home to a healthy marine life, including hermit crabs and starfish. There are cottages and tables available for rent on the beach. Coconut trees provide plenty of shade. Basic rooms can be rented for the night and camping is allowed. Beach entrance fee is P70 per person.
Hidden Beach Resort has fan rooms for two, from P600, tel +63939 476 9012.
Take a cab to Cebu City South Bus Terminal and board a bus to Aloguinsan, about a two-hour travel. Get off the bus at the Aloguinsan Public Market and flag down a habal-habal or motorized taxi to take you to Hidden Beach, about half an hour away.
8 Panagsama Beach, Moalboal
Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, roughly 92 kilometers from Cebu City, does not have much of a beach to speak of, with locals saying that most of the sand was swept away in a typhoon in 1984. Diving is its main draw. It has a healthy house reef close to shore where you're likely to spot sea turtles, schools of sardines and even the occasional thresher shark. Those who want to see the famous sardine run can take a boat to Pescador Island just 15 minutes away. Panagsama's beach trip is lined by dive shops, restaurants and bars, hotels, and outrigger boats mostly catering to divers.
Quo Vadis Beach Resort has rooms from P1,650, and has a dive shop and swimming pool. The resort also arranges transfers from the airport for about P2,900.
To get to Panagsama Beach, ride a taxi from Mactan airport to Cebu City South Bus Terminal. From there, get on a Ceres Liner bus bound for Moalboal. Get off near the City Hall and take a tricycle to Panagsama.
Malapascua Island, about 80 kilometers north of Cebu City, is one of the country's top dive sites and a popular destination for beach lovers. It's famous for thresher sharks at Monad Shoal and home to Manta rays, sea horses and thick coral gardens. Those who want a traditional white sand beach can head to the serene Logon Beach for a day or two of rest.
Tepanee Beach Resort is nestled on a hill overlooking Logon Beach with rooms from P2,600.
Ride a cab to the Cebu City North Bus Terminal and get on a Ceres Liner bus going to Maya, Cebu. Travel time is roughly four hours. At Maya Port, get on a boat to Malapascua.
10 Sumilon Island
This 24-hectare coral island is another popular getaway in Cebu province. It's white-sand beach is a huge draw to tourists looking for an idyllic tropical island, surrounded by lush mangroves and crystalline waters.
Nearby Bluewater Sumilon resort has rooms, villas and glamping within the grounds, from P15,000. Glamping for two costs about P9,800. Day tour packages are from P1,500.
In Cebu City, take a taxi to the South Bus Terminal for a Ceres Liner bus bound for Bato via Liloan and Oslob. Tell the driver to drop you off at the Puerto Sumilon. From there, Sumilon Island is only a 15-minute outrigger boat ride away.
About our insiders
Jay Aldeguer is the owner of the Cebu-based Islands Group of Companies, which operares Isands Souvenirs, Islands Banca Cruises and Islands Stay Hotels.
Aris Mape is a travel blogger from Cebu. Follow him on D'yan lang.
Estan Cabigas is an award-winning travel blogger from Cebu. Follow his journeys on Langyaw.
Beverly Ibarola is a tourism officer for the Cebu Provincial Government.
Cover photo by Vera Tandog.
Published August 2016