A holiday to the Philippines province of Cebu is guaranteed to cast a sun-kissed spell, whether you’ve never visited before or have explored the archipelago extensively. Teeming with beautiful beaches, coral reefs and world-class hotels, Cebu is also one of the most convenient seaside getaways in the Philippines and we offer direct flights to Cebu International Airport.
Attractions for nature-lovers include whale shark encounters in Oslob and hikes up the moss-covered Osmeña Mountain, where you’ll pass jaw-dropping waterfalls. Meanwhile, Cebu City, the Philippines’ oldest city and former capital, is steeped in history and culture. Its multiple churches and museums are usually packed with admirers drawn to their beautiful colonial Spanish architecture.
We’ve found some of the best hotels in Cebu for you to discover this stunning part of the world.
The view: Ocean sunrises and endless horizons
Seek out the palm tree-flanked Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel and you’ll be instantly charmed by the property’s lemon-yellow decor and terracotta roof. Located on Mactan Island, this private beachfront resort has been a haven for sun seekers for three decades and serves as an ideal base from which to explore Mactan’s coral-filled water and meet its famed whale sharks.
The airy design of the rooms is inspired by both the Philippines’ Spanish heritage and local traditions – book the Sunrise Corner Junior Suite to see the sun break over the horizon from your terrace. And whenever you’re feeling peckish, grab a table at Luna , the resort’s tapas bar, or at , where you can try Filipino classics like sisig, kare kare and kinilaw – the latter being the Philippines’ coconut milk-based take on ceviche.
The view: Private beach glamour and turquoise waters
Located on Lapu-Lapu Island, the Shangri-La Mactan is one of Cebu’s crown jewels, with its own private beach, a six-hectare marine sanctuary, and a white sand beach lapped by crystal blue waters. There’s little need for you to leave the luxury of this hotel’s confines: it has four restaurants and offers a host of water sports activities from scuba diving to banana boating.
While you’re enjoying a traditional banana leaf massage at Chi, The Spa, the kids can splash about in the resort’s Aquaplay area, a mini waterpark with a child-friendly slide. In the evenings, venture onto the beach, where you’ll find Cowrie Cove, an al fresco grill specialising in all things surf and turf. Later, DJs keep the night going over at Breeze, the hotel’s beachfront club.
The view: Bay-side seclusion and rolling green hills
Withdraw from the world and embrace a digital detox on Badian Island, where the Badian Wellness Resort will help you find peace of mind. While the resort offers yoga and meditation sessions, the view of emerald hills from its pool villas and Filipino-inspired suites alone is simply enough to have you feeling restored.
You’d miss out if you didn’t book a treatment at the resort’s Spa Village, a network of wellness-oriented lodges. Experience the indulgence of a four-hand massage, or soak in an oceanside bath brimming with native flowers. The resort’s Thalasso waterfall infinity pools are as healing as they are photogenic – they are filled with ionised seawater purported to “rebalance the body’s mineral deficiencies”.
The view: White sand beaches and tranquil waves
Leave the bustle of Cebu City behind for a stay on Malapascua Island, reachable by a four-hour drive north of the city followed by a 30- to 60-minute boat journey. Once there, look no further for your sleeping quarters than the thatched rooves of Blanco Beach Resort , a luxury complex nestled between two private white sandy beaches and surrounded by magenta bougainvilleas and lush. The resort’s rooms offer rolling ocean views, while nearby dive shops are a gateway to swimming with the area’s famed Thresher Sharks. From the comfort of one of the property’s waterside cabanas and loungers, it’ll be hard to resist snapping the perfect Instagram vacation shot.
The view: Southern Cebu coastline panoramas
This adults-only beach resort offers a vast programme of unforgettable experiences, thanks to its proximity to the whale shark-filled waters of Oslob and the mossy slopes of Osmeña Peak, Cebu’s highest mountain. Situated along the pristine white coastline of Boljoon, Granada Beach Resort is a three-hour drive south of Cebu City – but the journey is worth it for the seclusion and views over the Bohol Sea.
From the resort’s cosy rooms equipped with rainfall showers and two onsite swimming pools to scheduled tours to see neighbouring waterfalls, a love of the water is clear at Granada. There are also more adventurous activities like canyoneering in Kawasan, hiking up Osmeña or waking up at dawn to swim with 12-metre-long whale sharks. Given that Granada has a private beach and shallow ‘house reef’, it’s a snorkeller’s dream.
The view: Vantage points over the city and ocean
If you want to explore the best that Cebu City has to offer, the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu gives visitors both sophistication and convenience. Its location in Nivel Hills affords its 329 rooms incredible panoramic views over skyscrapers and Cebu Island’s cerulean waters.
The hotel houses a range of bars and restaurants, but for the best vantage point to take in the city, head up to rooftop eatery BLU Bar & Grill . If you're only passing through, prioritise a visit to the mango-shaped pool and unwind with an Aperol Spritz at the poolside Italian restaurant and bar.