By the reactions from locals we spoke to on the way to Cebu, it's not as much of a holiday destination as El Nido or Boracay but I loved it!
A lot of people visit this part of the Philippines to swim with whale sharks in Oslob which was the main drawcard for me initially, but after some research I found the ethics to be quite questionable and I decided not to. We found some other really awesome things to do in the area instead!
It's a bit of a journey, but if you keep going south past Oslob and then across the water to Dumaguete, you'll be able to go to Apo Island. The snorkelling there is amazing and from research, it seemed like the only place in the Philippines where you're guaranteed to see sea turtles. It was a bit of a journey but one we were keen to make considering we weren't going to swim with whale sharks.
We arrived too late to make the ferry across on the first night to stay on Apo Island so opted to stay at Harold's Mansion, right next door to where the tours left. "Mansion" is a bit of a stretch, but the place was tidy enough, has air-con and a nice rooftop restaurant with its own vege/herb garden. When we checked in they informed us that we were too late for the Apo Island tour, it was all booked up. They offered us a spot on the snorkelling tour to Dauin instead.
When we got to Dauin the next morning we managed to negotiate spots on the Apo Island tour anyway and we were so happy that they let us! Dauin was just a beach that probably had nice underwater views, but once we got to Apo Island we were rewarded with the most amazing snorkelling, the best we had on the whole trip and we saw so many turtles! We also saw sea snakes, sea slugs, starfish, giant clams and a plethora of different types of tropical fish. I even saw flying fish on the boat ride over.
We were about two swimmers to one guide who showed us around and told us what not to do, but I still saw other tourists try to touch the turtles. Our guide took us to some caves on the shore and we had fun jumping off the boat with the other guides and watching them make bubble rings underwater, it was a wonderful trip.
After the tour, we headed back to Cebu Island via the quick ferry and went to our accommodation in Liloan - Tropara Resort which can be found on Airbnb. We loved it there, it was right on the beach and everything about it was really tropical and relaxed. Our room, the Mermaid Room, had a balcony that opened out to the water which gave us some spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
The next day we were picked up to do the Kawasan Falls, which I will write a full blog post for soon. Let's just say it is highly recommended!
After that, we took another yellow bus up the island back to Cebu City, where we stayed in the Bayfront Hotel Cebu. It was a nice enough hotel just across the SM Cebu City Mall which we took a trip to. The mall itself was pretty standard, there wasn't anything too outrageous and when I visited the supermarket I struggled to find anything weird and wonderful to take home. We were disappointed by the supermarket's lack of Asian fruits like mangosteens or dragonfruit. But I was really happy with my dried mango purchases and wish I had bought more, apparently, Cebu mango is much cheaper in Cebu, who would've thought!
We spent a lot of our time in Cebu travelling (it was 6 hours from Cebu to Liloan on the bus alone) but it was a really cool part of the trip; I feel like we got to experience the less touristy sides of the Philippines like the city centre and the small towns that don't see a lot of foreigners.
Would you give Cebu a try? Or have you been yourself?