A good place to start any adventure across the Philippines is on the island of Cebu. Its main city is a smaller, more manageable version of Manila, yet it has a similar dynamic energy. In addition, the island has an important history – it’s there that European explorer Ferdinand Magellan first arrived in 1521. Details of his conquest as well of the Spanish Colonial Era are well documented and there are museums, churches (Basilica Minore del Santo Nino – above – is beautiful) and forts (Fort San Pedro is a must-see) that are all worth visiting to learn about the island’s rich past.
Lahug, an upscale district, is where to go at night for its restaurants, bars and clubs. And just across a connecting bridge lies Mactan Island, where you’ll find a number of all-inclusive resorts and hotels lining the shores. Ranging from high-end abodes such as the luxury Bluewater Mairbago that offers huge rooms, suites and bungalows, to family-friendly spots such as Jpark Island Resort & Waterpark (below) – home to five swimming pools, there’s a place to suit any traveller’s need.
There are also a number of renowned diving spots off Cebu. Mactan Island is the closest area to the airport, but Bantayan and the Malapascua islands, as well as at Moalboal (below) on the south-east coast, all have their own appeal.