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Bask In Cebu's Treasures

Cebu, Philippines, Magellan, beach, tourist attractions

Cebu, the country’s fastest growing economy and home to a thriving metropolis, is for most people a premier tourist destination. Its strategic location also makes it the perfect gateway to more exotic and remote spots of the central and southern Philippines. But as any experienced tourist would say, Cebu—with its physical beauty and cultural allure—will already eat up so much of your time for you to even think of going elsewhere.
Even its geographical trait somehow contributes to Cebu’s tourist-friendliness. A thin sliver of an island, many of the best beaches are not more than an hour’s drive from the center. You can go snorkeling all day and still have ample time to go back to the city and dress up for a cocktail at night.
So where does a first-time tourist go to in Cebu? Visiting its famous landmarks is a good starting point as this is a great way to swing around the city and meet Cebuanos who can offer you information on other interesting places. A 3-hour tour within a 20-km radius will transport you through time where houses, churches and municipal buildings date back to the first settlements established by the Spaniards in the 16th century.
You may start your trip at Fort San Pedro, the first Spanish fort built on Philippine soil, which now houses the regional office of the National Museum. Currently on exhibit is a miniature replica of the San Diego, a 16th century Spanish galleon which sunk 20 miles south of Manila Bay in 1600. The sunken galleon, recovered 5 years ago, yielded one of the richest finds in history with vast amount of gold and silverware, ivories, stoneware, earthenware, porcelain and many other artifacts.
From Fort San Pedro, you may walk over to Magallañes street where you will find Magellan's cross and the only Catholic Basilica in East Asia—the Sto. Niño Basilica. It is the center of devotion and religious pilgrimage throughout the Visayas and home to the original statue of the Sto. Niño or the infant Jesus. It was given by Magellan to Queen Juana, the wife of Cebu's King Humabon.
Passing over the shadows of the old buildings along Osmeña boulevard is Colon street—the oldest street in the Philippines which is now a subject of a major restoration effort by the Women's International League. A side trip at the famed Carbon Market is also highly suggested. This is where the rich harvest of fresh fruits of Cebu and neighboring islands first go on sale. You may then proceed on a trek to the Beverly Hills where the Taoist Temple rises to a commanding view of the city.
Another 2-3 hour route brings you to significant historical spots in Lapulapu City and Mactan. From the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge, turn right towards the market plaza and Opon Church, the center of local commerce in Mactan Island. From there you may proceed towards Abuno, where many of Cebu's famed guitar factories are located. You may continue east towards the resort areas for beachside fun and sightseeing and then end your trek northwest at the Lapu-lapu shrine at Punta Engaño, the spot where the Battle of Mactan took place.
When you had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city, the beaches offer a different kind of tourist fare. Cebu has dozens of international-standard resorts where you can swim, snorkel, windsurf or dive.
Mactan Island offers topnotch resort facilities and some of the best diving spots in the country. It is a huge coral island that's only a short distance from the mainland and is equally famous for rope and guitar-making. At the eastern coast, a virtual paradise for residents and tourists, are some of the best white beaches, many of which have been developed as top-rate resorts. Best bets: Shangri-la's Mactan Island Resort, Coral Reef, Tambuli, Maribago Bluewaters, etc. All of them offer adequate facilities for tourists.
Tucked away in Sogod in the north is the Cebu Club Pacific, a resort far from the maddening crowd and already famous for its nude beach. Down south, try the Tourist Seaside Hotel in Talisay, which is a short 15-km drive from the city. Badian Island Resort at Badian is a must-see, as well as Pescador Island Resort off the town of Moalboal, a famous coastal town along the southwest end of the island. Argao Beach Club on the southeastern coast is popular among divers and windsurfers.
For those who want to rough it up, there are other beach resorts near the city, including Duawon, Tongo, Aquarius, Beachline, etc., all on the Mactan east coast. Good beaches can also be found in the coastal towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Compostela, Danao and Carmen in the north, and in the Talisay towns of Tanke, Pook and Dumlog.
Already famous as the diving center of the Philippines, Cebu offers excellent dive sites of up to 150 feet deep, where the spectacular underwater scenery never fails to leave divers enchanted. Sogod, near the northern tip of the island, is excellent for cliff diving. So are Buyong in Mactan island, where night diving is the latest craze. Moalboal is the diving capital where coral formations and marine life are breathtaking.
More adventurous divers will proceed further south where Cebu juts out towards Bohol island. Here the underwater precipices of Panglao and Balicasag and the Sumilon island marine sanctuary, off the town of Oslob on the southern tip of the island, offer great views. Farther on, Pamilican Island offers a rare sight of huge manta rays during mating rituals.
After all these tempting description of Cebu, are you still not itching to pack up your stuff and fly en pronto? Summer is not far away but why wait for the tourist rush? Now is a good time. Any time is a good time because—and this is the best piece of information you can get—Cebu has fine weather all year long!
Published: 2006-04-29
Author: Royce Ambrocio

About the author or the publisher
The author has been writing professionally for 10 years now across various industries: TV, print, advertising, and online commerce. He has done scripts for TV, feature articles in magazines and newspapers and copywriting for consumer, tranport and service companies.

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