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This long, narrow island has a spine made up of a range of picturesque mountains, from which you can take in all manner of spectacular views down over the many fishing villages, beautiful beaches, seascapes and Cebu City itself. The city is known as the Queen City of the South, and it provides all the noise and energy of a mini-Manila, with shopping malls, museums, markets, restaurants and bars. On the rest of Cebu Island there is a huge range of things to do and see, from mountain trekking and scuba diving, to simply basking in the sun on one of its many fabulous beaches.
Cebu City — The Queen City of the South is one of the most visited places in the Philippines. Whilst on the surface it may seem predominantly defined by its booming modernity - it is the fastest growing city in the country - look a little deeper and you’ll find a rich cosmopolitan culture, and plenty of sites rich with colonial heritage.
Lapu Lapu - This town, to be found on Mactan Island, is a beach-lover’s nirvana. Not only is it regarded as one of the finest dive sites in all of the Philippines, but here you can also get your PADI Open Water diver certification, which will set you up for confident diving at a variety of more challenging sites.
Bantayan — A short hop across the water, Bantayan is a small neighbouring island that forms part of Cebu province, and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a bit of time out. Kota Park used to be a Spanish fort that was used as a watchtower for pirates but today it is an evocative reminder of olden times.
Malapascua — This is where you want to head for an adrenaline-fuelled dive. With the opportunity to swim with thresher sharks and manta rays, as well as the chance to explore a shipwreck, this is sea adventuring for more experienced divers.
One of Cebu’s favourite attractions is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the area’s holiest church and the oldest in the Philippines. Head there on Friday or Sunday and you will find the street outside closed off to traffic to welcome the sheer volume of worshippers and tourists alike. If you want to learn more about the history of the area then the University of San Carlos Museum is well known for its anthropological and archaeological exhibits. Other attractions include the hustle and bustle of the sprawling Carbon Market, and one of the country's oldest wooden houses, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.
If all the watersports available at the beach aren’t quite as heart-pumping as you’d like, then be sure to check out Danasan Eco Adventure Park, where you can throw yourself over 50ft ravines on a zip wire, or rappel over waterfalls. No less challenging is the six hour climb to the top of Mount Kan-Irag, that will see you river trekking, waterfall peeking, and even bouldering your way to one of the best views in the land. But if heritage is what you’re here for then you really should try your hand at the various locally taught craft workshops available in Cebu.