Cebu is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. In fact, it was named one of the best islands in the world by Travel + Leisure (T+L) magazine. While many of the tourist destinations in the island cater to international travelers, there are also some places that are affordable for local tourists. For a relaxing and budget-friendly vacation in Cebu, check out the places in our roundup below.
A diver swims with a school of sardines in Moalboal (Image: Moalboal Backpacker Lodge)
Home to one of the best diving spots in the island, Moalboal hosts a bustling community of foreigners. While most resorts here cater to foreigners and high-paying guests, there are affordable places to stay for local tourists.
For swimming and snorkeling in Moalboal, most people head to Basdaku, a long stretch of white sand beach popular among locals. The name of the beach comes from the Cebuano words bas (sand) and dako (big).
Local tourists usually bring a tent along and set it up on Basdaku or White Sand Beach. There are also some resorts offering accommodations at reasonable prices such as Barefoot White Sand Beach Resort and Club Serena Resort .
One of the cottages at Club Serena Resort (Image: Club Serena Resort)
Rates at Barefoot start at PhP2,500 for super deluxe rooms, while cottages at Club Serena start at PhP3,000 per night.
Exterior of Barefoot White Beach Resort (Image: Barefoot White Beach Resort)
For those who want to go diving, Basdiot is the jump-off point for scuba diving activities. Diot is a Cebuano word meaning small. The name describes the beach since it does not have much sand left after a typhoon blew away part of the shoreline in 1984.
Basdiot or Panagsama Beach is the jump-off point to diving sites in Moalboal. (Image: Moalboal Backpacker Lodge)
Reasonably priced resorts in Basdiot include Ivonne’s Apartelle and Moalboal Backpacker Lodge. Rates at Ivonne’s Apartelle start at PhP800 while the lowest-priced room at Moalboal Backpacker Lodge is at PhP300.
The Moalboal Backpacker Lodge offers affordable accommodations. (Image: Moalboal Backpacker Lodge)
One of the things that attracts tourists to Moalboal is diving. It is considered as among the best places to dive in the Philippines. Visitors can also go swimming at White Sand Beach.
Moalboal has carinderias
(local eateries) with affordable food
compared to the usual fare in resorts. One can have a meal complete with one viand, rice, and drinks for PhP100.
Ride a bus from Cebu South Bus Terminal. Once you reach the town proper, hire a motorcycle or a tricycle to either Panagsama Beach or White Beach. The bus and motorcycle ride costs PhP120 and PhP50, respectively. Tricycle fare is around PhP100.
2. Malapascua Island
Relaxing beachfront view in Malapascua (Image: Leomar Monteclar)
Malapascua Island is famous for thresher sharks found in the area. Aside from drawing foreign tourists, the island also has its share of local tourists who spend some time off from work. The white sand beaches of Malapascua Island can even rival the best beaches in the country.
Reasonably-priced resorts at Malapascua include Malapascua Budget Inn and White Sand Bungalows. Rates at Malapascua Budget Inn starts at PhP400, while rates at White Sand starts at PhP500.
Beachfront of Malapascua Budget Inn (Image: Malapascua Budget Inn)
Visitors go to Malapascua Island for diving. The place is home to some of the best corals in the country. They can also watch cleaner wrasses get rid of external parasites from thresher sharks at Monad Shoal. Additionally, visitors can frolic in the beaches of the island.
While in Malapascua Island, one can eat at Ging Ging’s Restaurant where one can buy a main dish at PhP60 per serving.
Ride a bus to Maya Port from Cebu North Bus Terminal. Travel time is approximately four hours. Bus fare is at PhP150 for non-air-conditioned buses and PhP190 for air-conditioned buses. From Maya Port, travelers can take a boat to the island. Boat fare costs PhP80 per person.
3. Camotes Islands
The Camotes Island group is also known as the “Lost Horizon of the South” and is made up of four islands: Pacijan, Tulang Diot, Poro, and Ponson. Camotes was even mentioned in the 2015 annual readers’ poll of Conde Nast.
The pristine beach and clear waters of Camotes Islands (Image: Santiago Bay Garden and Resort)
The sand in some beaches in Camotes is white, and with a fine grain. The most popular beach among local and foreign tourists is Santiago White Beach, located in the town of San Francisco. A number of resorts are lined up along the beach where visitors can spend the night. Visitors can save more by pitching a tent near the beach.
Santiago Bay Garden and Resort lights up the night. (Image: Santiago Bay Garden and Resort)
Rates at Santiago Bay start at PhP1,000 per night, while rates at Mangodlong start at PhP2,200 per night.
The sun sets over the horizon at Mangodlong Rock Resort.
The beaches are the main tourist drawers of Camotes Islands, particularly in Santiago White Beach. In addition, visitors can also explore Bukilat Cave, which was once the hiding place of residents during World War 2.
Visitors have a good selection of restaurants to choose from in Camotes. Many of these restaurants are quite pricey for an ordinary traveler. However, there are food joints where one can have a full meal at PhP150.
Take a fast craft from Pier 1 in Cebu City to Poro Island, or ride a jeepney to Danao Port. From Danao Port, travelers can take boat ride to Poro Port in Camotes. Fare from Pier 1 to Camotes is at PhP500. Fare from Cebu City to Danao Port is at PhP35, while jeepney fare from Danao Port to Poro Port is at PhP200.
Many of the tourist destinations in Cebu cater mainly to foreign tourists and high rollers. Despite this, average travelers can still have fun under the sun without breaking the bank. All they need to do is to know where to look and to do as Romans do when visiting Cebu.