You’ve heard of Palawan and Boracay’s stunning beaches. The only snag is, so have thousands of other travellers. So for your dose of sand, sea, and sun, without the crowds of El Nido and Coron, why not head to Cebu, where dazzling white-sand beaches sit waiting all across the Visayan province.
In the municipality of Badian, some three hours from Cebu City, is the quiet white sand beach of Lambug. Being a public beach, it hasn’t undergone much commercialization aside from local business shacks and modest accommodations. Rarely crowded, it’s the perfect beach for anyone in search of a simple, relaxing (and affordable) getaway. Enjoy being left alone with your thoughts as you lay under the hot sun, within this secret tranquil paradise. A bonus is the beautiful Kawasan Falls not too far away, which is in fact Badian’s more popular attraction. Wade in its calm blue waters or opt to go canyoneering for the thrill-seeker in you.
This next beach is not all that exceptional in itself. You won’t see people sunbathing or pitching tents for a beach camp out. But what makes it spectacular awaits you beyond the shore. Right before reaching Badian from Cebu City, there’s the municipality of Moalboal. And it is here you get the chance to get caught amidst an enormous school of sardines. The sensational Moalboal sardine run can be witnessed just 50 meters from the Panagsama Beach shore. You can bring your own snorkelling gear and watch from above or dive to place yourself in the middle of the frenzy. For the complete Moalboal under sea experience, book a tour at one of the many dive and tour agencies in town and make stops at Pescador Island and Turtle Point, where snorkelers and divers can witness Moalboal’s vibrant marine life. Get caught in a shoal of a million sardines, swim with turtles, and if you’re lucky, you might even see dolphins out and about.
Taking a little over two hours to travel to, Hermit’s Cove is one of the easier-to-reach beach escapes from the city. Because it is managed by the local government, some rules are strictly implemented to keep the cove in good condition. They don’t allow alcoholic beverages on site and overnight stays are also not allowed. But the views are beautiful and it makes for a great day trip from the city for an instant tropical refresher. Make sure to have some good food to barbecue in tow and visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Those looking for a more pampered seaside vacation don’t have to stray far from the city at all. On the island of Mactan, where Cebu’s international airport is located and which is connected to mainland Cebu by bridge, Shangri-La’s Mactan resort boasts of exquisite amenities and a lovely beachfront to boot. If you’re looking to splurge a little for a more luxurious experience, check-in or grab a day pass at the resort and spend an afternoon sipping cocktails by the shore or trying your hand at some of their many water sports and activities.
Heading northwards from Cebu City, several islands can be found off the province’s northern coast. And these islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the province. One of these is the island of Bantayan, which takes a bus ride from the capital and then a ferry ride from Hagnaya Port to reach. Though it calls for a bit of an effort to get to, the peaceful island’s laid-back vibe and serene beaches make it perfect for travellers itching to get away from busy Cebu. And Paradise beach in the island’s municipality of Santa Fe is simply idyllic. A tricycle ride and a short trek away from the town center is a beach that lives up to its name. No modern developments disrupt the tropical atmosphere, and there are hardly ever more than a few visitors at a time. It’s definitely one to enjoy before the secret gets out.