Right in the heart of the Visayas, nearly 600km south of Manila, the island of Cebu is the ninth largest in the Philippines and site of the second largest city, Cebu City, an important transport hub with ferry and air connections to the rest of the Philippines. Cebu is a long, narrow island – 300km from top to bottom and only 40km wide at its thickest point – with a mountainous and rugged spine. Most tourists spend little time in the towns, heading off as soon as possible to the beaches and islands of the north or west. The closest beaches to Cebu City are on Mactan Island just to the southeast, although they are by no means the best. Head north instead to the marvellous island of Malapascua, where the sand is as fine as Boracay’s, to tranquil Bantayan off the northwest coast, or to really get away from it all, to the isolated Camotes Islands. To the south of Cebu City, you can take a bus along the coast through the old Spanish town of Carcar and across the island to the diving haven of Moalboal and its nearby beaches.
Getting to Cebu is simple. There are dozens of flights daily from Manila and less frequent flights from a number of other key destinations in the Philippines and Asia. Cebu’s position in the middle of the country makes it an excellent place to journey onwards by ferry, with sailings to Luzon, Mindanao and elsewhere in the Visayas.