Island hopping is a great way to visit the best places in North Cebu, because most of the tourist destinations in North Cebu are islands close to the main island. This in contrary to all the cool things to do in South Cebu where you can find whale sharks, waterfalls, viewpoints and great hikes all on Cebu mainland. Up North there are three main Cebu tourist spots that are the top destinations and a perfect escape to unwind. Get the real island feeling on either Malapascua, Bantayan or Kalanggaman.
How to get around Cebu
When I was traveling to Cebu the first time, I flew in from Manila and booked my busses up north and south directly at the bus station. It was kind of gambling which bus was going at which time. Nowadays things changed and since I discovered the search engine of 12Go Asia I always book my e-tickets online. Their search engine will give you time tables, trip durations and of course prices for boats, busses, trains and even planes. Within a couple clicks you get your seat confirmed.
Through the above search engine I did not only find my bus from Cebu City to Hagnaya, I also found a cheap domestic flight from Cebu to El Nido and a couple days later I was island hopping those gorgeous islands, one of the best things to do in El Nido. Before my adventures in El Nido I first took a trip to Siquijor Island to discover its witchcraft.
1. Bantayan Island Cebu
A laid-back island that is more for the exploring type of traveller. Rent a scooter on Bantayan Island Cebu and drive around the island to find some awesome cliff jumping spots and hidden beaches. Check out the Kota Point the most northern tip of the island. Or take a boat tour to the gorgeous nearby Virgin Island. For me drinking a Red Horse beer on the beach and simply enjoying the most incredible clear waters around the island was my highlight.
Where to stay in Bantayan Island
Resorts in Bantayan are clustered around the Santa Fe, there is where the beautiful beaches are and you will find some restaurants. Kota Beach Resort Bantayan is among the most upscale beach resorts in Bantayan Island, but there is more around. Cheap accommodation in Bantayan is not hard to find, rooms with AC for €25 per night can be arranged when you arrive. Most places won't show up in a Cebu travel guide or Lonelyplanet as they are small local businesses. Walk-in rates are way better than booking in advance.
How to get to Bantayan Island
From Cebu to Bantayan Island is fairly easy as there is a direct bus from North Bus Terminal in Cebu direct to the island. It will set you back 380 PHP ($8). Or take a bus from Cebu to Hagnaya like I did and then arrange the boat yourself. This will save you 80 PHP ($2). The journey is about 6 hours in total and the Ceres Busses have Wi-Fi on board. How to get from Bantayan Island from Malapascua read down below.
See this YouTube video of me explaining how to get to Bantayan Island by bus and ferry.
How to get from Bantayan to Malapascua
Keep in mind that although the islands are not too far apart, travelling from one to another will take you at least about 6 hours. So what is the best way to get from Bantayan to Malapascua? The fastest option is how to get to Malapascua is a direct boat from Bantayan to Malapascua. This private shuttle will cost around 2,000 – 3,000 PHP (40 – 65 USD) but if you can split it with a bunch of people it is not too bad.
Though if you choose to use public transport it will only cost you about 400 PHP ($9). Take a ferry from Bantayan to Hagnaya for 170 PHP, they run every hour until 5pm. Then take a tricycle to Don Pedro to the highway crossing (30 PHP). Here you wait for a bus to pass by that goes North to the Maya Malapascua Ferry Terminal (40 PHP). From here you take the first available boat to Malapascua for 100 PHP.
Island hopping your thing then you should definitely check out my El Nido Island Hopping Guide with incredible drone photos, just like this one.
2. Scuba diving in Malapascua Island
This is a great island if you are searching for the real Filipino islandlife. One of those beautiful places in Cebu that you cannot miss. There are no cars on the island, but locals will be happy to drive you around on their motorbikes. In fact you can do everything on foot, as the island is small enough to walk around. A walk from South to North is about 40 minutes. Relaxing on the beautiful Malapascua beach is a must do in Cebu.
Thresher Shark diving Malapascua
There are regular sightings of the Thresher Shark, a rare shark specie that catches his prey by knocking them unconscious with his 2m long tail. This is the number one reason why you should go scuba diving in Malapascua Island. What to do in Malapascua just became an easy question to answer: Scuba Diving and relaxing.
Where to stay in Malapascua
Exotic Island Dive Resort is a lovely place on a great location. It is a 5* PADI Dive Resort with high standards and actually the first resort that found out about diving with Thresher Sharks in Malapascua. Their diving options are endless as they have 8 boats and in the high season they go to the Thresher Shark dive sites every day. Groups are small and their helpful and skilled staff arranges everything for you. You only have to tell them your sizes and they bring all the necessary equipment on board.
The hotel is one of the more luxurious resorts on the island, but also offer budget rooms for walk-in guests. The rooms are spotless, spacious and clean and come with AC and a huge cable television flat screen. The location right on the beach is simply fantastic and the hotel has its own private stretch of white sand so there are no boats parked on to the beach. Security is around all day at the entrance and on the beach, ensuring that only hotel guests are allowed in the resort. The restaurant of the resort is one of a kind. The menu is like a book, their choice of international dishes is huge and the staff is lovely.
3. Camping Kalanggaman Island
If you Google beautiful spots in the Philippines for sure you will stumble on this amazing island. The moment I arrived on Kalanggaman Island I fell in love. This fantastic sand island is only a 2-hour boat ride away from Malapascua and a must do in Cebu. Bring Islandhopping to another level and stay overnight on Kalanggaman, the best island in Cebu, but may be among the lesser-known tourist destinations in Cebu. I only find out about this when I arrived, but camping on Kalanggaman is among the best things to do in Cebu. The island is famous for its long sandbar and palm trees. There are toilet facilities on the island but that’s it. You have to bring your own tent and food, but you can easily arrange that on for example Malapascua. If you are coming from Leyte it is even a shorter trip. The island is popular for daytrips, but when all the tourists leave around 3pm only a few adventurous people stay. Some day I will be back, staying here overnight is on my bucketlist now!
This sounds already lovely right? Check out my blog about this little paradise and get to know more Kalanggaman Island Leyte travel tips. Or for more info about Cebu read this Southern Cebu tourist destinations blog.
For more island hopping vibes check out the following articles:
- 10 Most Beautiful Tropical Islands I Have Been To
- El Nido Island Hopping | Things To Do In El Nido
- Siquijor Island Guide | Best Things To Do In Siquijor
- Thailand vs Philippines
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