Cebu offers world-class diving, waterfalls and wildlife that wows – not to mention hundreds of powder-white beaches, turquoise-blue waters and colourful reefs. There are also dozens of smaller islands worth visiting, including the wildlife-rich Malapascua and Bantayan. Here’s our pick of the best hotels and thatch-covered hideaways that will help you make the most of your beach holiday – bookable on Culture Trip.
Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort
4/5 (651 Reviews)
Courtesy of Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort / Expedia
The Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort is an island hideaway set in a quiet cove. Suites come with garden or beach views, and if you choose the royal bungalow at this retreat on Mactan Island, you can step out of your front door onto the sand. There are three lagoon-shaped swimming pools to make a splash in, including one with plume slides. However, if you are looking for more of an escape, swim to the private island offshore, where you’ll find thatched cabana huts under palm trees.
The Mövenpick is an elegant 245-room hotel on Mactan Island. The airy double and family suites in these Mediterranean-inspired towers will make you feel right at home, but those who want to celebrate should book the two-storey Ibiza loft room overlooking the ocean. Your airport transfer will be via a Porsche Cayenne, and your three-bedroom suite features a lounge with a whirlpool. Party in your room, or go to the hotel’s famed Ibiza Beach Club, complete with an outdoor DJ booth.
Start your island-hopping adventure by catching a ferry from Cebu to Bantayan Island. Here, you’ll find the Kota Beach Resort on a natural sandbar surrounded by pristine blue waters. Find double rooms, cottages and suites on or within a short walk of the beach. Parents who are concerned about their kids’ screen time will be delighted to know that the suites don’t have TVs. There is wifi, but your kids will be too busy playing beach volleyball, riding cruiser bikes or stand-up paddleboarding to notice.
Spoil yourself or a loved one by travelling to the Kandaya Resort in Daanbantayan. This beach resort, at the northernmost tip of Cebu Island, is the last word in luxury. Go for a horseback ride through coconut plantations, scuba dive with thresher sharks and manta rays and enjoy a muscle-relieving massage using cowrie shells at the spa. This chic retreat features suites and villas, including the beach pool villa, complete with a private pool overlooking the beach.
Badian Island Wellness Resort
Resort, Spa Hotel
4/5 (130 Reviews)
Courtesy of Badian Island Wellness Resort / Expedia
This resort is serious about pampering. Badian Island Wellness Resort, on the island of Zaragosa, comes with a tiered waterfall of healing ionised-water-filled thalasso pools clinging to the clifftops. You can go dolphin and whale shark watching and island-hopping. The most wanted accommodation is the thalasso pool villa, complete with a private ionised pool and a marble bathtub under a glass ceiling perfect for stargazing.
This hillside resort on Malapascua Island has not just one but two private beaches to discover, and the chic suites blend island vibes with Italian flair. Think bamboo headboards and thatched roofs, wood balconies and dove-grey furnishings. The in-house coffee shop serves shots of espresso coffee and toasted Italian flatbread sandwiches filled with juicy tomatoes, ham and melted cheese.
The tiny coral island of Sumilon has so much to offer, including a 19th-century historic watchtower and the Philippines’ first marine sanctuary. It’s also home to Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, where the double suites offer ocean views, and the villas have private pools. But those who want to get even closer to nature can book one of the glamping tents – each one has a minibar.
Mactan Island has one of the largest spas in Asia – Chi, the Spa at the Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu – and you can even stay in it. The Manumbalik villa features a private steam room, an outdoor tub and a vitality pool and comes with unlimited spa treatments, a dedicated butler and organic bathroom products. It’s just one of the 500-plus rooms and suites found at this family-friendly resort, which lies next to a sweeping white-sand beach dotted with thatched cabanas.
An island hotel with a private palm-fringed beach – what more could you ask for? Well, how about two outdoor pools and a two-bedroom seafront suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean? During the day, enjoy a stroll along this tranquil beach on Mactan Island or go whale shark watching, island-hopping and trekking to waterfalls. Tiny travellers will love the Kiddie Korner, a kids’ club that comes with a popcorn machine.
Holidaymakers big and small will love this beachside retreat on Mactan Island – it features a waterpark. Parents who want to score some points can book the cartoon character-themed Pororo suite, complete with a slide, a trampoline and a ball pit in the living room. But there are 556 rooms to choose from, including some overlooking the white-sand beach, which you’ll want to explore as soon as you’ve dropped your suitcases.