The Visayas group of islands is frequented by tourists from around the world. These islands boast white sand beaches, serene lakes, and rich histories. Instead of heading straight to the party island of Boracay in Western Visayas, explore Central Visayas for a thrilling tropical experience.
Central Visayas is made up of the provinces Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. The highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue are great places to stay in for their central locations give you easy access to the other islands of Central Visayas. This is where you’ll find shopping centers and luxury hotels as well.
The island of Mactan is perfect for lazy days on the beach, or for venturing the underwater world. Dive into Mactan’s waters and spot hundreds of marine creatures like puffer fish, butterfly fish, and the occasional eagle ray.
If there’s one thing Visayans do best, it’s partying. Cebu City is the venue for the Sinulog Festival, where locals (even from Manila) dance on the streets in celebration of the city’s patron saint, the Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus). It’s a participative fiesta, meaning all visitors can join in on the dancing and parading around town.
Visit the rolling Chocolate Hills in Bohol, or get up close to the wide-eyed tarsier, one of the smallest primates in the world. For diving, snorkeling, or other water activities, head to any of Bohol’s white sand beaches.
Central Visayas is where you can trek to lakes and waterfalls. The secluded Lake Danao is the biggest natural lake in Cebu, and is a great place to enjoy picnics, boat rides, and hiking with a loved one. The freshwater Lake Balanan in Negros Oriental is where you can go kayaking, boating, or swimming while surrounded by lush and green forests.
Plan your sweet escape to the Camotes Islands. “Camotes” means “sweet potato,” a root crop that is grown on the islands. Sit back and relax on the unspoiled beaches of Santiago Bay and Mangodlong. For a dose of excitement, go cave hopping to the many subterranean wonders on the islands. Bukilat Cave and Timubo Cave have freshwater pools for swimming, and the Tangub Cave leads you to the Buho rock formation where you can go cliff diving.
Learn about Central Visayas’ rich culture and history by touring Cebu’s churches, temples, and museums. The provincial-jail-turned-museum, Museo Sugbo, houses ancient artifacts and photo galleries. Visit the Basilica del Santo Niño and see an image of the Sto. Niño, which is the oldest religious relic in the country.
Go through the Cebu Taoist Temple, which was built by the Chinese community in Cebu. Visitors can climb up the temple’s many steps to see a view of Cebu City, or meet a Taoist priest for some guidance. The temple gift shop sells unique handmade souvenirs. The temple has a strict dress code, so dress accordingly if you want to see all that the temple has to offer.
Scuba divers will enjoy a trip to the tiny island of Pescador, which in Spanish means “fisherman.” The island, located in Tañon Strait off the coast of Moalboal in Cebu province, features a huge rock wall teeming with corals and fish. You can also swim through an open-top underwater cave called The Cathedral, nicknamed so because of the grotto-shaped formations.
Monad Shoal in Malapascua is a popular dive spot where you can spot thresher sharks, devil rays, and moray eels. The Monad Shoal is home to the Shark Wall, where thresher sharks are often sighted.