Sunset cruising in Mactan - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu

10 Best Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu in 2024

While a lot of people don’t stay in Mactan, it’s worth visiting for so many reasons. In this guide, we curated the 10 Best Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu!
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If you are flying to Cebu, Mactan Island is the place you will be setting foot first. While a lot of people don’t stay in Mactan, it’s worth visiting for so many reasons. In this guide, we curated the 10 Best Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu to give you a reason to come back or at least stay in the island.

Mactan Island is located east of Cebu City, easily reachable by public transportation from the city. It is the location of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) where all flights in Cebu depart and arrive.

If you don’t know Philippine history yet, Mactan is where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan died in their battle (known as the Battle of Mactan) against the local tribes led by chieftain Lapulapu, which is also now the name of the city in Mactan.

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More than a historical island, Mactan is also known for being the luxury resort capital of Cebu, where you can find dozens of popular posh hotel chains such as Shangri-La, Dusit Thani, Crimson, and Sheraton.

You won’t run out of things to do in Mactan as it is quite popular as well for diving, snorkeling, island hopping, and other water activities. Without further ado, here are the 10 Best Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu:

1. Enjoy Sunset or Sunrise Cruise on Yacht

Cebu Yacht - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
Sunrise cruising on a yacht in Mactan, Cebu

Explore the calm seas of Mactan, Cebu in style—whether it’s sunrise or sunset—all aboard a luxury yacht. Cebu Yacht Charters offers a wide selection of yachts for rent ranging from luxury motor yachts to classic sailing yachts.

They also include exciting itineraries to the best islands nearby and luxury resorts. If you want to save on the cost of renting a private yacht, you can join other people for 4,490 PHP (~80 USD) per head. Book your cruise on a yacht online!

2. Go Island Hopping Around Pandanon, Hilutungan, and Nalusuan Islands

Nalusuan Island - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
The crystal-clear sandbar on Nalusuan Island near Mactan

Travel beyond the local shores of your hotel and hop around the smaller islands surrounding Mactan, including Pandanon Island, Hilutungan Island, and Nalusuan Island. Book your Mactan Island hopping tour online!

Pandanon Island is a peaceful, small island nestled between Cebu and Bohol. It has a long, winding sandbar that’s perfect for selfies and photo ops. You can also use the island’s small chapel and unfinished Roman-inspired column structures for a unique backdrop.

Hilutungan Island is a protected area home to the oldest marine sanctuary in Cebu. Known for its vibrant coral reefs and hundreds of tropical fishes, you will definitely enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or diving here.

Nalusuan Island is one of the six remote islands of Olango Island, a smaller island east of Mactan, known for its wildlife and marine sanctuaries. This private resort offers accommodations and water activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and diving.

3. Explore Marine Sanctuaries of Caohagan Island and Olango Island

Olango Marine Sanctuary - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
Migratory birds flying over at the Olango Island Marine Sanctuary

Mactan Island has one of the world’s richest and most diverse underwater ecosystems. That’s why the government works hand-in-hand with environment preservation groups to help sustain its beautiful ocean. 

During your trip, you should also visit Caohagan Island and Olango Island. Both islands are protected marine sanctuaries.

You’ll get to see thriving coral reefs, filled with the most vibrant fishes and unique marine life. It’s the perfect location for swimming, snorkeling, freediving, scuba diving, and bird watching. Book your Caohagan and Olango Island hopping tour online!

4. Get Relaxing Massage at The Reef Spa

The Reef Island Resort - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
The Reef Island Resort in Mactan, Cebu

Recover, rejuvenate, and destress from your trip with The Reef Spa’s premium body massage treatments. Expect top-notch services and excellent accommodation from the best masseuses in town. The Reef Spa is located inside The Reef Island Resort and offers a luxury spa experience like no other. Book your spa appointment at The Reef Spa online!

5. Relax at Posh Hotels

Crimson Mactan Cebu - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu

As the luxury resort capital in Cebu, Mactan Island surely has one posh hotel that will suit your taste. Among the 5-star hotels in Mactan to choose from include popular international hotel chains Shangri-La, Dusit Thani, Crimson, and Sheraton.

You can also choose between luxurious local resorts such as Plantation Bay, JPark, Bluewater Maribago, The Reef, Solea Palm Resort, and more. All these hotels even offer extensive leisure activities for you and your family or friends to enjoy, whether it’s day tours, spa treatments, or fine dining.

6. Enjoy Water Activities at JPark Island Resort and Waterpark

JPark Island Resort and Waterpark - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
An aerial shot of JPark Island Resort and Waterpark in Mactan, Cebu

If you are traveling with kids, one of the best things to do in Cebu for your family is to visit JPark Island Resort and Waterpark. With 6 themed swimming pools, 3 towering waterslides, a lazy river pool, and a beach-inspired pool, this 5-star resort in Mactan is perfect for families with kids. JPark also has its own private beach, a casino, an activity zone, dining outlets, and a dive shop. Get access to JPark for a day here!

7. Visit Historical Landmarks at Mactan Shrine

Mactan Shrine - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
The Lapulapu Monument and Magellan Marker inside Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu (Photo by Mario Manlupig / CEBUINSIDER.COM)

More than a tropical beach destination, Mactan is also rich in culture, history, and heritage. From the start of the country’s Spanish colonization up to the infamous Battle of Mactan between Lapulapu and his tribemates and Ferdinand Magellan and his troop, Mactan is a witness to all those historical events.

Pay a visit to Mactan Shrine where the Battle of Mactan happened on April 27, 1521. Within the shrine, you can visit the Lapulapu Monument (a 20-meter bronze monument dedicated to Lapulapu himself), the Magellan’s Marker (a memorial tower dedicated to Magellan where he was believed to be killed), and the Double Side Monument and Battle of Mactan Paint.

8. Learn Scuba Diving in Mactan

Scuba diving in Mactan - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
Tourists scuba diving in Mactan, Cebu

Whether you want to learn scuba diving or go recreational diving, Mactan is the perfect place. Mactan is a popular diving destination not just in Cebu but in the Philippines. The island is surrounded by spectacular dive sites, ranging from wreck dive sites to reef dive sites to cave dive sites.

Some of the most popular dive sites in Mactan Island include the Kontiki Reef Dive, Cabilao Island, Caubian Cave, Hilutungan Channel, Marigondon Cave, and Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary.

9. Enjoy Water Sports in Mactan

Parasailing in Mactan - Things to Do in Mactan, Cebu
Parasailing in Mactan, Cebu

For people in the city seeking some adrenaline-pumping activities, Mactan is the go-to place for anything water sports. Whether you want to go parasailing, ride a banana boat, or drive a jet ski, you can find them all in Mactan. Book your water sports activities online!

10. Visit 10,000 Roses Café in Cordova

10,000 Roses Cafe - Things to Do in Mactan
The sea of manmade roses at 10,000 Roses Café in Cordova, Cebu

This tourist spot is more than just a café as the name suggests. 10,000 Roses Café has become a tourist attraction of its own for its art installation of 10,000 roses that radiantly illuminates at night. It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee and pastries then snap some IG-worthy photos to refresh your feed. Sunsets and sunrises here are magical!

Your Complete Cebu Travel Guide

Mactan Island is a more relaxed place for people in the city. It is home to so many activities you will enjoy, so don’t miss it! If you are still planning for your trip to Cebu, check out our range of travel guides to help you out:

Got questions about your trip to Cebu? Drop them in the comments. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

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Thea Octavo is the author of this guide. She is a lifestyle content writer who loves travel, beauty, and coffee. She’s a law school dropout who now continues to pursue her passion. She also ice skates in her free time and provides digital strategy services for businesses and brands. Follow her adventures @theaohtravels on Tiktok & IG.

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Cebu Insider Team
Cebu Insider Team

Cebu Insider aims to deliver accurate and up-to-date Philippine travel guides to digital nomads, expats, full-time travelers, and remote workers.

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