Located on Cebu Island, Mactan acts as a gateway for travellers looking to explore Moalboal, Oslob, Malapascua, or other popular spots on Cebu Island. However, those who don’t rush out but rather choose to spend a bit of time to explore Mactan will discover that it actually has quite a bit to offer. Even better?
Since most people leave Mactan as soon as they arrive, the majority of the sites and attractions here are relatively crowd-free. From beaches to marine sanctuaries and more, here are the best things to do on Mactan Island.
1. Go Island Hopping
Since Mactan Island isn’t as popular, it’s easy to find cheap accommodation. So, if you are on a right budget consider using Mactan as your base and spend your days island hopping to the nearby islands. The Olango Islands are a great pick and you can also do a day trip to Bohol from Mactan as well. You should also see our list of top 101 Best Beaches in Philippines.
3. Have a Drink at Scape Skydeck
Who doesn’t enjoy a drink with a view, and you’ll get a great one at Scape Skydeck. This lounge type bar offers comfortable chairs on the rooftop of one of the highest buildings on the island. You’ll get a great view over the neighbourhoods and a stunning sunset to watch while you enjoy a delicious cocktail or even a meal.
3. Try out some Watersports
Mactan is a playground for those looking to try out or take part in some watersports. Try water skiing, rent a jet ski for a few hours, or get a bird’s eye view while parasailing.
4. Have Dinner at an Island Restaurant
Lantaw Native Restaurant is essentially an island restaurant. It’s a popular spot for couples given the romantic setting.
5. Scuba Dive
Mactan is great for scuba diving because the area surrounding the island is covered in coral reefs and teeming with marine life. There are several protected marine sanctuaries and dive sites suitable for divers of all levels. Be sure to check out our guide to Scuba Diving Philippines.
6. Try Free Diving
If you are looking to try something new, consider taking a free diving course. There is a free diving school on Mactan, Freedive HQ, that will show you the ropes and teach you the skills needed. Given the beautiful marine environment here, Mactan is a great place to learn.
7. Spend a night or two at Nalusuan Island
Nalusuan Island is a small island just off of Mactan. It’s also a marine sanctuary with clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking. You can visit as a day trip but for a really relaxing experience, come for a night or two. You can spend the night in a bungalow on stilts and fall asleep the relaxing sound of the waves.
8. Take a Day Trip to Caohagan Island
Coahagan Island is a tiny island located about an hour away. Jungle, beaches, and a local village make it a fun spot to spend a day exploring. You can fish, snorkel, or just explore the island by foot.
9. Chill out at the Ibiza Beach Club
This uber sleek beach club is a great place to grab a drink, meal, or just spend a couple of hours dancing. There’s a live DJ and the occasional guest artist for Latin and hip-hop nights. It’s one of the most popular places to go, especially for the young people, though it’s pricey by Filipino standards so don’t forget your wallet!
10. Visit San Vicente Marine Sanctuary
This protected area makes a beautiful place to walk, explore, and photograph. You can also swim, snorkel, and even camp overnight if you wish.
11. The Magellan Shrine
Flickr Credit: Philip Am Guay
Located near the Magellan Port is the Magellan Shrine which is dedicated to the Portuguese Explorer, Ferdinand Magellan who died here in 1521 during the Battle of Magellan. Magellan actually was pretty horrible to the local native Filipinos and was responsible for torture and destroying villages. However, the shrine is in place because it was Magellan who brought Christianity to the island and which, today, is a very important aspect of the local culture.
12. Lapu-Lapu Statue
The Battle of Mactan is an important part of the area’s history, and the native hero who defeated the Spanish soldiers has been idolized as a 20m bronze statue; the Lapu Lapu Statue which is located near Magellan Bay.
13. Alegre Guitar
If you love music and guitars then head to Alegre Guitar which is a guitar factory where you can find guitars of all shapes, sizes, designs, and even colors. Guitars here can be purchased at a much lower price than elsewhere.
14. Explore the Happy World Museum
Located on Cordova Island, which is still within the vicinity of Mactan, this museum is great for people of all ages. There are no artefacts or historical displays, instead the museum is made up of a number of artworks that appear to be 3D and look as if they are jumping out of the frame. The Happy World Museum is a fun photo opportunity.
How to Get to Mactan
Getting to Mactan City is pretty easy. The Cebu International Airport is located in Mactan City and, since it is one of the main airports in all of the Philippines, there are regular flights from Manila as well as flights from other major airports with the Philippines.
Mactan may not be the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines or even on Cebu Island, but if you have an extra couple of days and are looking for a relaxed place to snorkel, scuba dive, or even do some island hopping at a more affordable price, then Mactan Island is a great pick. Especially if you are looking to escape the crowds.