I found my heart in Cebu - A Philippine Adventure
Updated: Dec 14, 2019
It was like nothing I've ever experienced before...
I'm in the back seat of a taxi, the driver is asking me where I'm from, I tell him and he smiles in the mirror, he's always wanted to go to the UK but here, well here, it's paradise.
Cebu is a breath-taking destination that I just can't get enough of. The sun seems to always be shining and I've never seen smiles so big. This island is in the middle of the Philippines and is famous for it's mango, white sand beaches and delicious aromatic food, but Cebu is more than just your typical tropical get-away, it's an adventure and it's waiting for you to take that leap of faith...
Where to stay in Cebu City
I chose to stay in the bustling Cebu city, just a 20 to 30 minute drive from the airport, in the chic and up-coming IT Park. Otherwise known as a student hub, IT Park is the perfect location to stay there are plenty of taxis and habal habal drivers meandering around. Habal habal is a common and cheap way to get around, like a taxi service except you hop on the back of a motorbike.
There are plenty of eateries close by to IT Park, you're really spoilt for choice and coming soon (December 2019) there will be another Ayala mall opening up. In the centre of IT Park there is a green space, where you can find the instagramable pyramid restaurant, play pool with a cocktail at hand or from Thursday to Sunday, starting at 7pm to the early hours of the morning, feast at the night market. You'll be overwhelmed by the options so I highly recommend you try the mango smoothie with real mango chunks - a delight waiting to be adored, you can see me posing with this below and also hiding my cheesy grin behind a piece of corn on the cob.
Get lost in Cebu City
Many guide books I read told me to go into the countryside straight away, but I sincerely recommend you take the time to see the city first. It's brimming with culture, food and history, itching to be discovered. We simply booked a car and driver, which like everything else was very affordable. Then all in one afternoon we saw West 35, Sirao Garden and the Temple of Leah.
West 35 is a beautiful, serene observatory point hidden in the peaks surrounding the city, it's the kind of place perfect for a romantic lunch surrounded by the luscious green hills of Cebu. If you don't bring a picnic, you can eat or drink in the cute cafe at the top. Then take the exhilarating zipline however, it's worth calling beforehand to check it's open.
The Temple of Leah
An impressive shrine built in 2012 as a symbol of devotion of a man's undying love for his wife, Leah. Walking into the shrine reminded me of scenes from Titanic with it's grand, golden staircase and lion statues which make the perfect photo opportunity.
A garden built with a purpose, to give you amazing holiday photos. Adorned with flowers in masses and props for you to pose in/ on/ under that give way to the scenic backdrop of Cebu. Just the garden on it's own is beautiful with sprouts of colour and rolling hills in the background. Props that are particularly popular are the giant golden hand that you can climb into and the birds nest you can perch in. The possibilities are endless, it's up to you to be creative and original.
For any adventure seekers, adrenaline junkies or tropical island enthusiasts, then please don't miss the chance to book a tour to swim with whale sharks and go canyoneering around Kawasan Falls, one of the best places in the world to go canyoneering! I wrote a whole blog about this adventure so you can get a taste of what the day was like. This is one of the many of the reasons why I will definitely return to Cebu in the future. If you choose to stay in the south of Cebu or if you have more time, I also recommend swimming with a school of sardines. You can find good, affordable, reliable tours on Expedia.
Cebu was like nothing I've ever experienced before and when I left, I left a piece of my heart. A country brimming with culture and history that touches the soul but it was the people with their smiles, their spirit and laughter that touched my heart and why I cannot forget visiting this beautiful island.
Take a leap of faith...