Paul Chai

The island of Cebu, known in the Philippines as the “Queen of the South”, offers unique marine life and a creative atmosphere; plus it’s cheap to get there!

Book your clients a more interesting Asian holiday with a trip to Cebu, the southern hub of the Philippines. Cebu is getting ready for Australian visitors now that Cebu Pacific Air has started flying out of Melbourne; Sydney flights began earlier in the year and have already doubled capacity to Manila from the Harbour City.

Now, just a short flight from Manila, is Cebu itself and here are some key reasons you should visit:


Do the “sardine run”

On the southern tip of the island, in a small town called Moalboal, there is a unique diving opportunity. Take an island-hopping tour and you will visit the tiny island of Pescador where you will see the usual marine suspects, plus some friendly dolphins swimming beside your small local boat.

But the tour concludes with the “sardine run” where you plunge off the side of the boat and see beneath your feet tens of thousands of sardines, so thick you cannot see the shallow seabed. You float above the school of fish as they form various shapes – including an almost perfect circle on our visit – and occasionally flip on their silvery sides, scales catching the light like a shooting star.


Tour Cebu city

The bustling hub of Cebu city has at its heart Magellan’s Cross, the wooden crucifix brought to the island by Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish explorer whose death at the hand of Mactan chief Lapu-Lapu of Cebu lead to the conquering of the Philippines by the Spanish.

Next door is the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino which holds the ornate, doll-like icon that is at the heart of the island’s Catholicism; and be sure to try the island delicacy of lechon, crisp fried pork.


Get creative

Cebu is a manufacturing hub, but it is also a proud home to some of the Philippines finest artisans. The island is famous for its guitar making and you can view the whole process plus sample the finely crafted instruments at Alegre Guitar Factor that hosts visits – but does not sell its guitars online. Buy at the factor or miss out!

Filipino furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue is also a Cebu resident and his local-inspired designs are now world famous, thanks to customers like Angelina Jolie.


Have an Argentinean party feast


The Ibiza Beach Club at the Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu combines a 15-course churrasco dinner with a live show featuring amazing dance routines and some of the island’s finest voices.

There are baby back ribs, Angus rib eye and rock lobsters all served up on silver skewers, while a cast of shirtless dancers spin umbrellas to “It’s Raining Men”; if it sounds nuts, that’s because it is but it is also a great night out – and the resort makes a great base for exploring Cebu.


Have you ever dived with a school of sardines?