With a full three days on the Philippine island of Cebu, you’ll have plenty of time to tour Cebu City, explore the island’s spectacular natural attractions, and head farther afield to other stunning spots in the archipelago. Here are some ideas for how to spend an unforgettable 72 hours in Cebu and beyond.
Day 1: City and Sea
Take your first day on the island to get oriented with everything Cebu has to offer. Kick things off with a guided tour of Cebu City, hitting top attractions like the Santo Niño Basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño), Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and the Casa Gorordo Museum. Book a private tour to customize your itinerary with all the sights you want to see, or combine a tour of Cebu City with a visit to neighboring Mactan, where you can check out a local guitar factory where instruments are made by hand. After lunch, partake in one of the many water sports Mactan is known for; options include jet-skiing, parasailing, and scuba diving just off the coast. Head up to Tops Lookout to watch the sunset over Cebu, or join an evening tour that includes a Filipino-Spanish dinner at a restaurant in the Busay Hills.
Day 2: Outdoor Adventure
Cebu is a veritable outdoor playground, so there are myriad options for how to take advantage of the island’s abundant natural attractions. Head to the southwestern part of the island to spend the day canyoneering along the Canlaob River and swimming in the multitiered pools of Kawasan Falls, or take a boat just offshore from Oslob to see whale sharks in their natural habitat. Some tours let you don snorkeling gear to observe the majestic animals from the water. If you’re interested in Cebu’s underwater world, opt for a day of scuba diving. Embark on a 3-dive tour—or, if you’re new to the sport, get a taste and learn some basic skills with a Discover Scuba Diving course led by a PADI professional.
Day 3: Island-Hopping
Now that you’ve seen Cebu, it’s time to explore some of the area’s other islands. One of the most popular day trips from Cebu takes you to Bohol, famous for the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Chocolate Hills and the tiny tarsier primates that live on the banks of the Loboc River. Alternatively, take a motorized outrigger from Cebu to Olango Island, home to the largest concentration of migratory birds in the Philippines. For a true VIP experience, charter your own private boat for a day of island-hopping, with plenty of stops to snorkel and swim. Choose the islands that interest you most, such as Caohagan, known for its snorkeling, or Nalusuan, home of the mangrove-filled San Vicente Marine Sanctuary.