The most populated of all the islands in the Philippine Archipelago, Cebu was the first of the Spanish settlements. The founding, in 1565, of the archipelago's earliest church, the Basilica Minore del Santa Niño, would spearhead the colonial takeover of the islands and later give rise to Cebu City.


The nearby ruin of Fort San Pedro dates from the same year. An interesting account of the island’s local history from pre-colonial days to the Second World War is provided by the Museo Sugbo-Cebu.

The city’s most famous landmark is the Magellan Cross, said to contain remnants of the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, shortly before he was killed by natives on the neighbouring islet of Mactan (Lapu Lapu), on which Cebu’s airport now stands, and where the Mactan Shrine stands to his memory.

For birdwatchers, the nearby island of Olango is an area of mangroves and sand flats, the country’s most important migratory bird sanctuary and includes the Chinese Egret and Asiatic Dowitcher among its denizens. Birdwatching is at its best between September and April.

Another good bird watching site can be found inland from Cebu City at the Central Cebu National Park, the home of the endangered Cebu Flowerpecker, among many other interesting species found here.


Off the northern coast of Cebu Island, Malapascua Island is the hotspot for diving in Cebu, renowned for its Manta Rays and Thresher Sharks. Beaches, the best of which are found around its southern point, surround the island.

Other favourite dive locations, on the southwest coast of Cebu, are at Moalboal and the offshore island of Pescador.