One of the most developed provinces in the Philippines; Cebu is the most densely populated island in the country and one of significant economic importance.
As well as being one of the main islands, the destination also boasts a plethora of activities to do, which draws in almost two million tourists a year! From world-class diving and beautiful beaches to fantastic mountains and canyons, it’s no wonder that backpackers and travellers alike are charmed by Cebu and keep coming back for more.
Located in the Central Visayas region, Cebu consists of a main island surrounded by 167 islands and islets. Cebu Island itself is a long and narrow island, full of narrow coastlines, coastal plains and rolling, rugged mountain ranges.
Not to mention that it is home to the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, Cebu City, so this is definitely a spot that you have to visit.
It can be quite unnerving looking at where you can stay in Cebu, but with a little research, you‘ll soon find that the pressure will fall away.
|❤️ Best Area first timers||Mactan Island|
|💸 Best Luxury Hotel||Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu|
|👪 Best Hotel for For Families||Seascape Beach Resort Oslob|
|🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotel||RedDoorz near Maribago Barangay Hall|
|🛏️ Best Budget Hotel||AABANA Beach & Watersport Resort|
|✨ Best Hostel||Nomad’s Hub – Best Value Co-living Hostel|
There are about eight major areas in Cebu that tourists flock to, so depending on your preference. If you want a busy hub, Cebu City is a great option. If you’re looking for high-end resorts or luxurious hotels, look more to the islands of Mactan, Bantayan, Badian, Malapascua and Camotes.
If you want a genuine cultural experience that’s off the beaten track, there are also smaller resorts in fishing villages in the Southern and Northern areas of the island, such as Moalboal.
Regardless of the way you travel, Cebu offers great places to stay that will suit every type of travel budget.
To help you kick off your search for the best place to stay in Cebu, here are the areas that we recommend for a first time visitor. We will cover off all types of accommodation in Cebu from Hostels to luxury hotels that don’t cost the earth!
We will also cover off all types of Cebu accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Cebu hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Cebu Philippines 2024, the best Cebu hotels, best places in Cebu to visit, the best places to stay in Cebu, hotels near Cebu attractions, Cebu neighborhood guide and many more.
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Cebu City – Best place to stay in Cebu for nightlife
Often referred to as the Queen City of the South, Cebu City is the largest and oldest city in the Philippines. The Capital of the Southern Philippines is a seaside metropolis, filled with 16th century history, rich in culture and a vibrant nightlife.
Having an infectious energy, this city is packed with lively bars and clubs with diverse and abundant dining experiences.
The city is also becoming increasingly prosperous, boasting a large English-school industry, well-regarded universities and the Cebu International Airport that offers both domestic and major international flights. If you are wondering where to stay while visiting Cebu Province, Cebu City is the obvious choice.
Experience a museum tour of a 16th Century Basilica, spend the afternoon lounging by the seaside, ending the day with a beautiful dinner at a rooftop restaurant. Trust us when we say Cebu City will be one of your favorite travel destinations.
Why Stay in Cebu City
With an elegant mixture of old Spanish architecture, fabulous shopping, spectacular views and a nightlife vibe that will keep you dancing Cebu City is the place to stay. It is said that Cebu City has the best nightlife on the island.
Feel the energy and dance away at world class nightclubs such as Club Icon and OQtagon by J. Ave. Enjoy a little jazz at Jazz n’ Bluz or relax with a cocktail at Morals & Malice. Whether you enjoy a quiet drink in a quaint little bar or a roaring round of Karaoke you can find it here.
Touring the streets of this bustling city you will find a diverse culture that is both very friendly and affordable. First settled by the spanish in the 16th century you can take a walk back in time and enjoy the beauty of this historic gem.
Historic forts, pristine churches and historical landmarks can be found throughout Cebu City. Take a tour in a “Jeepney” (An American war truck modified into a taxi) to complete that historic feel.
Nature is plentiful in Cebu City. Nestled against the shores of the Camotes Sea avails a plethora of seaside activities. Encounter a Whale Shark, swim with the sardines or scuba dive and witness the beauty under the sea.
Take a walk on the white sandy beaches or go canyoneering in Kawasan Falls. Nature abounds in this beautiful metropolis by the sea.
After watching a beautiful sunset over the sea the vibrancy of the Cebu City nightlife begins to shimmer. With an invigorating energy the city turns up the vibe with its nightlife. From a relaxing dinner in a rooftop restaurant to dancing the night away to live music the city comes alive with energy.
Things to do in Cebu City
- Basilica del Santo Nino
Originally built by Spanish explorers in 1565, then rebuilt in 1735 this church is home to the oldest religous relic in the Philippines. Within its stone walls holds hundreds of years of spiritual archtecture.
Ornate statues and beautifully crafted arts of the Golthic era are spread throughout the Basilica. There is no charge for visiting the Basicila or the Museum below.
- Whale Shark Encounter
Want to get up close and personal with a Whale Shark? This tour allows you to do just that. There are a number of tours that will take you to enjoy the company of these huge, fascinating creatures. Whale Sharks are known as one of the friendliest species of sharks.
Prices vary from 500 pesos ($9.06 USD) for observing the whales from a boat to 1500 pesos ($27.18 USD) for diving with them.
- Tops Lookout
Venture to the top of the mountain for the most spectacular view of Cebu City. An observation deck and picnic area siting at the summit of Mt. Busay overlooking the city of Cebu,Tops Lookout also gives you sweeping views of Mandaue, and Mactan Island.
This observation deck feels as if you are standing in a fortress with its stone walls and fascinating architecture. Bring your own food for a picnic or stop for a beer or a snack at the bar.
Wander the souvenir shops for some wonderful local keepsake. Day or night it is a sight to behold. There is a 100 pesos ($2.00 USD) charge to enter the lookout.
- Cebu City Nightlife
The energy explodes at night in Cebu City. The best areas in the city to enjoy the nightlife are the areas around Arala Mall, Cebu IT Park and Mango Square. There tourists can find a variety of Cebu nightlife experiences.
Dance the night away at any of the many nightclubs or live music venues. Sing your heart out at a Karaoke bar or quietly savor the taste of some of the best whiskey, international beers and spirits at the The Distillery.
Feeling an Irish Jig coming on? Visit Marshall’s Irish Pub in Mango Square for some great pub food and atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Cebu City
Mactan Island – Where to stay in Cebu near beach
If you’re looking for some of the best diving, snorkelling and island hopping in Cebu, Mactan Island (often referred to as Lapu-Lapu) is where you need to go.
Full of white-sand beaches, majestic marine life and all-inclusive resorts, this island is not only a popular tourist destination but one that is also frequented by weekend visitors from Manila, Hong Kong and Korea.
One of the great things about Mactan (as well as the incredible diving and cultural activities) is that it’s so easily accessible. Connected to Cebu City by two bridges, there are no hours-long boat rides into the middle of nowhere to get that unique island feel. Mactan Island is best place to stay in Cebu for beaches.
Being so convenient to get to does make this island a busy one, but when you see this coral island for yourself and indulge in its plethora of water activities that are on offer, you’ll never want to leave.
Why Stay in Mactan Island
Stepping off a plane and into paradise is a tourists dream. Home to the second busiest international airport in the country, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, paradise is only steps away. World class resorts just outside the airport.
You cannot get closer than that! Mactan Island provides many types of accommodations and is well known for its many Luxury Resorts.
This island paradise offers you white sandy beaches to take a stroll and enjoy the crystal clear waters of this coral island. Enjoy a relaxing vacation watching the waves roll into the shore and feeling the cool sea breeze as it touches your skin.
Spectacular diving and snorkeling experiences can be found among the many inlets along its coast. Enjoy the unique marine life that abounds around the island.
Walk through the neighbourhoods of this Filipino culture and discover the friendliness of the people as well the delicious food they have been serving up for centuries. Stop in to the many shops along the way for local trinkets to remember the beautiful island paradise.
Things to do in Mactan Island
- Magellan’s Marker
Located at the Mactan Shrine this historic site marks the spot of one of the world’s greatest explorers in the 16th century. It would be here in Mactan Island that he would meet his death by a Mactan Chiefton by the name of Lapu-Lapu.
The shrine built in 1886 to remember the fallen explorer is the most visited place on Mactan Island. Mactan Shrine is free to enter. Parking at the shrine is 10 pesos ($.54 USD).
- Scuba Diving
It does not matter what your level of scuba diving is, there is a way for everyone to see what is under the sea. If you are a beginner this is a great place to get started. Many diving tours offer lessons and then pair you with a professional to you can safely admire the beauty below.
For the more experienced divers, experience under water caves as well as diving deep into a shipwreck. Mactan is right in the middle of the Golden Coral Triangle giving you a unique experience of observing marine life found nowhere else in the world.
Dive prices can range from 740 pesos ($40.00 USD) to 2800 pesos ($200 USD) depending on experience, dive type and equipment needed.
- Island Hopping
Base your stay in Mactan Island and island hop from there. Visit the small island of Caohagan and experience back to basic island life.
Visit the Caohagan Island Marine Sactuary or just swim in the crystal clear waters surrounding this tiny island. There are several different islands you can visit to get that true tropical island feel.
Visit the local shops or stop by the impressive malls to find what you need. Mactan is known as the guitar capital of the world and is famous for the production of its world famous Ukuleles. You can go right to the factory and choose a handmade instrument to strum away on later that night on the beach.
Best Places to Stay in Mactan Island
Moalboal – Where to stay in Cebu backpackers
Often used as an entry point on the way to the popular Panagsama Beach, Moalboal is a sleepy, beach town located on the South-West side of Cebu Island.
Originally a major attraction for the locals, Moalboal has slowly developed into a destination that tourists love too as it makes for the perfect weekend getaway from the bustle of the city. One of the more developed places outside of Cebu City, Moalboal is divided into two main areas: Panagsama and White Beach (Basdako).
In Panagsama, you’ll find most of the resorts, restaurants, bars and walk-in dive schools as this are the central area, whilst in White Beach, this is where people go who are in search for seclusion and romance. The perfect place for divers of all levels, Moalboal is also home to Pescador Island, a prime diving location famous for its shoals of millions of sardines.
Best known for its stunning beaches, colourful underwater world and lively nightlife scene, you’ll soon see why this town is becoming a major tourist hotspot in its province.
Why Stay in Moalboal
Get ready for some sun, sand and sea in this beautiful little coastal town a few hours away form Cebu City. This affordable seaside village is a favorite for backpackers.
Moalboal is a small town, packed with adventure which makes it easy to get around. Hop on a tricycle and pedal to Lambug Beach to see the starfish. Go on a canyoneering tour at Kawasan Falls or climb to the top of Kandungaw Peak.
Dive and snorkel in the crystal clear waters and enjoy the colour and beauty under the sea.
Stay at any number of accommodations from the Backpacker Lodge where you can have coffee at the VW Hippy Bus Coffee Bar to the Dolphin House Resort and enjoy a spa with your coffee, all at very reasonable rates. Moalboal is the place to go when mixing adventure and affordability.
Things To Do in Moalboal
- Scuba Diving/Snorkling
Tourists from all over the world come to stay in Moalboal to experience the excellent diving and snorkeling on the island. In Moalboal you do not need a boat to go diving. Just walk into the water to enjoy the underwater spectacle.
The coral reefs on the shores of Moalboal are some of the best in the world. Want to snorkel or dive with hundreds of thousands of little silver fish?
30 meters off Panagsama beach you can find the Moalboal Sardine Run. This unique natural event happens all year round. If you are lucky you may even see a Thresher Shark going for his lunch. There are many diving tours in Moalboar for you to explore the world under the sea.
- Relax at the Beach
If your idea of a perfect vacation is lounging on a white sandy beach, Moalboal has that covered. Moalboal is a peninsula with three sides surrounded by water so the beaches are easy to get to and plentiful. Visit Lamburg Beach and swim with the starfish.
Looking for a little quiet with your beach visit Matutinao Beach known for being the quietest beach in Moalboal. Panagsama Beach does not offer white sand but still a wonderful swimming area where you can see sea turtles grazing on the coral.
Get a great meal at the many restaurants or a cold beer at the bar. Stroll the shops for a special trinket to take home. In Moalboal a day at the beach just took on a whole new meaning.
- Visit a Waterfall
There are many waterfalls easily accessible from Moalboal. Inambakan Falls is only an hour from Moalboal by motorbike. You can rent one for as little as $5 a day. Inambakan Falls is a series of waterfalls with a total of 5 different levels.
It is best known for the 100 foot waterfall that pours into a pool of blue water surrounded by the green of the forest. Kabutongan Waterfall Trek is said to be a magical trip through the jungle. Following a small stream that leads you to a magnificent waterfall.
You can even swim under teh falls to find a hidden cave to explore. Warning…This is a trek not a hike and some people could find it difficult. It is best to go with a guide.
- Free Diving
Freediving is the art of scuba diving without diving apparatus and is very popular in Moalboal. Freediving gives you the freedom to move around under the water without the bulkiness of a air apparatus.
Freediving Planet in Moalboal is a certified Freediving school that offers courses from beginner to expert. With the beauty of the undersea world just steps away from the shore, freediving has become the thing to do in Moalboal.
Take a Canyoneering tour with Planet Action Adventures to Tison Canyon. Experience a challenging hike to a remote valley and into Tison Canyon to experience the breathtaking views and countless waterfalls to jump into.
Candungao Peak Trek through Moalboal Adventure Tours will take you through a tropical jungle to the peak of the mountain.
All along the trail are spectacular views and hidden caves to explore. When you reach the top you are greeted with a spectacular view overlooking Baidian, Oesccador and Zaragosa Island. Hiking through the jungle was never more fun.
Best Places to Stay in Moalboal
Oslob – Where to stay in Cebu for tourists
Located right on the South-East tip of Cebu Island, you’ll find a famous destination known as Oslob. One of the most popular destinations for Whale Shark watching in all of the Philippines, Oslob is always teeming with tourists in search of swimming with these giant majestic creatures.
Although heavily criticized for this type of irresponsible tourism, this shouldn’t stop you from coming here altogether.
Oslob itself is a beautiful location, dominated by a variety of landscapes from rolling hills and valleys to lush forests and open grasslands. Wondering best place to stay in Cebu for family, Oslob is a great spot.
As well as the views it provides, Oslob also offers other points of interest and tourist attractions such as the Baluarte (Watchtower), the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Cuartel, and Sumilon Island.
Sumilon Island, in particular, is a spot of exceptional beauty; a marine protected area that boasts stunning dive sites with superb visibility and colourful and preserved reefs with an abundance of life.
Why Stay in Oslob
This once sleepy little town has become a tourist hotspot. Although known for its Whale Shark watching tours there is so much more to do in Oslob for tourists. Swim at the White Sand Bar on Sumilon Island, Kayak in a lagoon with giant mangroves or explore the Baluarte Ruins.
Relax in Mainit Spring or take in the view at Tumalog Falls. There is something for everyone in this beautiful seaside town. Stay at a guest house close to the beach front at the Bangcogon Resort or a Bed & Breakfast at the Ocean View Lodging House.
Comfortable and affordable, just steps away from that beach vacation you have been dreaming about.
Things To Do in Oslob
- Visit the History of Oslob
Take a walk back in time to the 17th century with a visit to Baluartes or the Watchtower. Built in 1788 its purpose was to keep guard over the village from enemies coming from the southern coast. There are seven baluartes left with the easiest one to visit in Heritage Park.
The oldest street in Oslob, Calle Aragones, was built in 1879 and is still there today leading you into Heritage Park. History is everywhere in Oslob.
Even on the street corners. On the corner of Calle Aeternidad and Calle Aragones sits the unfinished coral block building to be used by the spanish soldiers in 1860 but was never finished. There are historical tours available so you do not miss anything.
- Relax and Reguvinate in Mainit Spring
After a busy few days of touristing it is time to rejuvenate and the best place to do that is Mainit Springs. A natural hot spring in the jungle where you can relax and take in the beautiful scenery.
Mainit Spring is a sulphur spring that locals say not only relaxes you but can be very therapeutic.
Located in Malabuyoc, nestled between two mountains this area also has a waterfall nearby to cool off in. There are many tours offered in Oslob to this hidden but well known sanctuary.
- Explore Sumilon Island
Sumilon Island is just off the south shore of Oslob. This tiny Island has become a favorite tourist destination for many. Although it is privately owned by Blue Water Sumilon Resort it is open to all who wish to visit.
Diving and snorkling on this island will give you a view of the magnificent coral that lies just below the sea as well as rich seagrass meadows to view unique marine life.
Hike through the jungle to the watchtower that was built in the 19th century or trek to the lighthouse. Lounge at the sandbar but you should save the sand bar for last because the sunsets will be worth the wait.
Just 15 minutes outside of downtown Oslob is a unique and relatively new arial adventure. Paragliding is becoming the up and coming tourist sport.
Oslob Cebu Paragliding Development gives you the opportunity to see the islads from the air. Enjoy the view as you slowly glide through the air feeling the freedom and exhilaration as you take in the sights.
Paragliding packages are reasonably priced at around 3500 pesos ($66 USD). Never flown before? You can tandem paraglide with a professional so no one can miss out on their chance on this exciting adventure.
Where to Stay in Oslob Cebu
Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in
Way Shack Hostel
Affordable Luxury Hotels in Oslob
Malapascua – Where to stay in Cebu on a budget
If you’re looking for an isolated and quiet island getaway, Malapascua Island will offer you that and more. A small, idyllic island with eight hamlets, you can walk around Malapascua in about three hours.
With so much time to spare, you can spend the rest of your time relaxing on one of the white-sandy beaches such as the most popular Bounty Beach, experiencing some world-class diving with thresher sharks and manta rays, or simply exploring the island from its lush green middle to the gorgeous stretches of sandy bays that grace its edges.
Although most of the islanders derive their livelihood from tourism, you can still see some of the locals fishing and farming for subsistence and the island itself still gives off alluring remote island vibes.
As a beautiful beach destination that provides travellers with an excellent choice of hotels and guesthouses and reefs and marine life that they can only dream of, Malapascua will continue to charm many.
Why Stay in Malapascua
Malapascua Island has something special that nowhere else in the world has. This beautiful island is filled with white sandy beaches, lush green forests and a friendly laidback atmosphere. It is also the only place in the world you can swim with Thresher Sharks.
These majestic creatures are the gentle giants of the sea. Thresher Sharks are found throughout the world but only in Malapascua can you interact with them.
Although Malapascua Island is a relatively small island, approximately 2.5 km long and only a kilometer wide it is packed with adventure and fun.
It is known world wide as a diving and snorkling destination not only for the Thresher Sharks but the pristine coral gardens that surround this beautiful island.
There are so many more treasures on this tiny tropical paradise. Jump from the cliffs in Lapus Lapus or lounge on the beach at Bounty Beach.
Have a drink at Happy Hour HippoCampus and dance the night away at Disco Night. With budget friendly accommodations and reasonably priced attractions it is the perfect tropical island vacation.
Things To Do in Malapascua
- Swim with the Thresher Sharks
These unique creatures can grow up to 3 meters long and weigh up to 70 kg. A non-aggressive and shy creature it is a strong swimmer with a non-shark way of eating.
Using their long unique tail the shark will slap its prey (usually small fish like anchovies or sardines) to stun it before having it as a snack. There are many dive shops in Malapascua Island that provide tours to swim and if they do not swim away interact with these beautiful gentle sea creatures.
- Cliff Jumping at Lapus Lapus
Take a boat to Lapus Lapus and feel the excitement of jumping off a cliff into the crystal clear water of Malapascua. This cliff has 3 different jumping levels starting at just 5 meters to a height of 15 meters. Keep an eye on the tide because high tide is a must.
Although landing there at low tide you can explore the ocean floor and the caves and caverns the water has created. Whichever you wish to di it will be a memory you will treasure.
- Visit Bounty Beach
The most famous beach on Malapapasua Island, not only does Bounty Beach have white sandy beaches and cool blue waters it also a place to go and have lunch at one of the many restaurants or a candle lit dinner as you watch the sun set. Take a stroll for a souvenir at the quaint little shops on the beach or visit the many dive shops on this long stretch of sandy beach that caters to all levels of divers. Plan for a few hours or the whole day, Bounty Beach has what you are looking for.
- Take a Walk Through the Villages
Take a walk down the tree lined paths through the lush green foliage to the different villages spread across the island. Visit with the locals and taste their local cuisine and shop the local markets and experience island life as the locals do.
Note: there are no ATM’s on the island. There only a handful of places that take credit or debit so make sure you take cash when you go.
- Happy Hour and Disco Night
Sit and have a drink at this beach front bar for Happy Hour at the Hippocampaus Beach Resort then enjoy a wonderful meal at the restaurant. There are many bars to visit on the island such as the Tiki Bar or the Sunset Bar.
Saturday night is Disco Night at the community basketball court. A great chance to mix with locals and other travellers as you do the “Hustle” while enjoying the lights and sounds of the disco era.
Best Places to Stay in Malapascua
Affordable Luxury Hotels in Malapascua Island
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