To sunny sandy beaches and crystal blue waters awaiting your arrival. This is what Mactan Island is known for. Aside from this blissful marine surrounded idyllic island, a lot more are in store when you get to visit Mactan.
In a nutshell, Lapu-Lapu is a tribal chieftain of Mactan who ruled the island before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. Until that fateful day in 1521, Mactan had been a center of local commerce and trade.
Fast forward into the present times, Mactan Island or more technically known as Lapu-Lapu City, in honor of the brave local chieftain, has been attracting tourists and travelers from all over the globe.
The next question is, what were the Top Destinations in Mactan? The answer would vary. Here are our top 10 destinations to visit when in Mactan in no particular order.
1. Helmet Diving
Helmet Diving is a unique diving system, it provides an opportunity to observe the underwater world at shallow depth without certification and without getting your hair wet.
Participants walk on the bottom, rather than swim while numerous fish and sea life surround them. Guest will have approximately 15 minutes of actual underwater time.
2. Magellan Shrine
The Magellan Monument was built in 1866 by the Spanish colonial rulers of the Philippines. On one side, Magellan’s name is written in the original Portuguese language and on the second side is a dedication to “Spanish glory”.
On the third side is the name of the Spanish governor of the Philippines of the time (Don Miguel Creuz) and on the fourth side is the name of the Spanish monarch of the time (Queen Ysabel II).
Although Magellan is now regarded by many Filipino historians as the “enemy” who was killed by the national hero, Lapu Lapu, Magellan is still remembered as the person who brought Christianity to the Philippines (commemorated by Magellan’s Cross Memorial in Cebu City) and as the commander of the fleet which achieved the first ever circumnavigation of the earth.
3. Lapu-Lapu Shrine
The Mactan Shrine located in Mactan Island, Cebu is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu, Ferdinand Magellan, and the Battle of Mactan. Lapu-Lapu was the native chieftain of Mactan Island, and he resisted the efforts of Magellan to subdue his people and to be converted to Christianity and to be subjected to the throne of Spain.
The subsequent battle on April 27, 1521 between the Spaniards and Lapu-Lapu and his men resulted to the death of Magellan. The shrine was erected on the supposed spot where the battle took place.
4. Shangri La Mactan Marine Sanctuary
The stunning Shangri La Mactan Marine Sanctuary is home to barracuda, parrotfish, lion fish, a beautiful school of jacks, and a huge school of silver batfish. The corals are abundant and healthy. From shallow depths the hard corals start and extend all the way out to the steeper slopes at 30m.
In the middle depths of 15-30m, there are beautiful sponges and fans. Finally, technical divers can plunge down to 50m using permanently-installed descent/ascent lines. Visibility is usually 15-25m, and increases with depth.
Aside from the various world class hotels that dotted the shores, here are other significant areas in Mactan Island that is worth the visit:
5. Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary
Nalusuan’s Marine Sanctuary is located of the island of Olango. It normally takes just over an hour to reach Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary aboard a traditional Filipino “banca” outrigger-style boat. Take this opportunity to kick back and take in the scenery on your way to the Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary.
The Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary is a great dive for divers of all skill levels. The shallow coral gardens in 6m of clear water offer exciting opportunities for beginner divers. Further out, one side of the sanctuary offers a steep slope with sand rays and great corals.
The other side of the sanctuary is a wall dive with awesome whip corals and large groupers. The Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary is one of the most vibrant in the area, allowing divers to take in the diversity of Cebu.
6. Kontiki Reef
Kontiki Reef is situated on the same reef as, and in between the other sites of Tambuli to the north, and Agus to the south.
For this reason, Tambuli shares many of the same features as those two sites-great macro diving, the steeply-sloped walls, daily drift diving, and common encounters with animals such as frogfish, anemone fish, parrotfish, and the odd mandarin fish. In the deeper, steeper areas black corals are common.
7. Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Up to 60,000 migratory birds from as far as Siberia and Northern China make these 920 hectares of mangroves, sea grasses and mudflats a pit stop during their global migration.
At Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, you can find species such as Chinese egrets, Asiatic dowitchers, and Eastern curlews. The best time to go is from July to November. See you then!
8. Alegre Guitars
Music lover or not, surely, Alegre Guitar is worth a visit. Cebu holds the reputation as the home of the best guitar craftsmen in the Philippines. These craftsmen not only delicately craft guitars but also ensure they are exceptionally durable, affordable, and of great quality.
One of the remarkable guitar-makers in Cebu is the Alegre Guitar Factory. The shop is owned and managed by Fernando M. Alegre. It is by far the most impressive-looking guitar factory in Abuno, Lapu-Lapu City. Its world-class guitars never cease to impress seasoned guitarists and musicians.
If you are on a trip for sand, sun and fun and great dive sites, then Mactan Island is the best place to relax and marvel at the natural wonders it is rich in.
9. MUELLE OSMEÑA
Since the Spanish period, society, particularly in Cebu, has considered the sea a crucial element, with about 80 percent of the Philippines’ shipping industry centered there.
Mactan Channel, the narrow body of water that separates the island of Mactan from mainland Cebu, is a focal point not only in inter-island trading in the Visayas but also in Visayan history. When traveling to the old poblacion of Lapu-lapu City by sea, the traveler first notices a lighthouse inscribed with these words: Muelle Osmeña.
In the Spanish language, the word ‘muelle,’ meaning wharf, indicates that the whole area, not just the lighthouse, is named after Sergio Osmeña, Sr., the only Cebuano president in the history of the Philippines.
10. Birhen de la Regla Shrine
The Our Lady of the Rule Shrine attracts devotees not only from the vicinity but also from across the nation and the world. Since the devotion to her started in Africa, believers have depicted the Patroness of the Rule of St. Augustine, this church’s patron, as dark-skinned.
An original painting of the Nuestra Señora Virgen de Regla from Africa. The priest – Augustinian friar Francis Avalle – used this painting to teach people about her and as basis for the religious icon of the Patroness of the Rule that he commissioned also in 1735.
Devotees line up to kiss or touch the Virgen as part of their “panaad” or devotion in a special room at the back of the church where they house both objects. Devotees usually come in throngs during the Lapu-Lapu City fiesta on November 21 or days leading up to or after this date.
Do you know someone who is into exploring new things while trying out new stuff? Then let’s talk! See you at our next adventures!