Northern Cebu: Paradise in the making

CEBU, hailed as the Queen City of the South, is among the country’s most visited places. The main draw of this vibrant city is the harmonious co-existence of the vibrant urban lifestyle, and rich cultural heritage. However, Cebu isn’t just about the historic Magellan’s Cross or the lip-smacking lechon, but it is also a perfect place for those who want to get a slice of paradise.
Located off the northwest of Cebu is the historic Bantayan Island. With its strategic location, the island served as a natural barrier of the Visayas Region, where a number of small watchtowers were constructed. These served as former outposts of the Spaniards against the Muslim marauders, also called Moros, who repeatedly invaded the Christian communities.
Bantayan has no cities and only has three main municipalities – Santa Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos. A farming community, Bantayan is known to have an abundant production of eggs, supplying Cebu with over 500,000 eggs per day. This island is also a fishing community where it has a large production of seafood (particularly fresh crabs).
Although hundreds of people come for the remarkable beaches of Bantayan (which is also regarded as the quiet version of Boracay), this destination is also quite popular for its rich history especially on the birth of Christianity in the Philippines. The Holy Week is among the highlights of Bantayan Island, where locals and visitors take part in the solemn foot procession alongside life-size images of the Passion of Christ.
What not to miss in Bantayan Island: Ogtong Cave, Juagat Cave/Cavern, Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church, Santa Fe Beach, Semana Santa, Palawod Festival, (Sunset at) Lantawan sa Bantayan, Bantayan Town Plaza, The Islets, and Ob-ob Mangrove Garden Ecotourism.
Malapascua is a remote, tropical island with a spectacular beach located in the Visayan Sea, across the northernmost part of Cebu Island. The island is truly a paradise with its pristine white sands and crystalline waters; however this destination has something even more exciting in store for every traveler.
Malapascua is beginning to make waves not only for its picture-postcard setting, but also as a favorite diving destination. Its stunning waters are home to a great number of marine biodiversity ranging from coral gardens, eels, mantas, reef fishes, seahorses, crustacean species, and sharks such as the thresher shark, which is a common sighting around Malapascua. Apart from the rich aquatic life, the island also features a huge diversity of dive sites around the island, ideal for various activities such as cave, wall and wreck diving.
Must-see places in Malapascua: Bounty Beach, Dive sites (Monad Shoal, Kimud Shoal, Lapus Lapus, Deep Rock, Bantigue, Light House, Dona Marilyn, Gato Island, and Calamangan Island)
Surrounded by the municipalities of Borbon, Catmon, Tuburan and Tabuelan, and facing the Camotes Sea is the lovely and quiet town of Sogod. Its name, which originated from a Cebuano dialect “sinugdanan,” means “start” or “beginning.” And as locals say it, Sogod is where Cebu island’s spectacular stretch of fine, white sand begins. Others claim that the contrasting colors of the sands meet in this same place, where the white sand extends farther to the north while the dark sand to the south.
A mere 2-hour drive (61km) from central Cebu to the quaint town of Sogod takes travelers to a relaxing journey with nature while getting a glimpse of the local life. Sogod is a place seldom visited by people, but when they do, it’s usually for a no-frills, laid-back getaway. This quiet and secluded location is perfect for those who enjoy the less-populated haven, the natural beauty of the sea and nature-filled sceneries. Despite its relaxed atmosphere, Sogod is a place for adventure-seekers as well.
The inviting cool waters and unspoiled beaches of Sogod is indeed the beach lover’s paradise when in Cebu. One of the places to not miss when in Sogod is the Alegre Beach Resort. The incredible waters are perfect for a wide variety of water activities such as kayaking, and snorkeling. Apart from these, Sogod is quite known for its impressive diving sites, which makes it an ideal diving destination for scuba divers and even those who wish to experience the thrill of exploring the underwater.
In Sogod, other interesting places to see include the St. James the Apostle Parish Church, Calumboyan Beach, Bagatayam Falls, Shrine of Miraculous Medallia Milagrosa in Bogo; and a scenic drive to the vast sugarcane plantations of its nearby towns – Borbon and Bogo.
While several people are familiar with Bantayan, Malapascua, and Sogod, these still remain among the little-known destinations of Cebu. With summer almost coming, now is the best time to visit while these places are still off the mainstream tourist radar. The best-kept secrets of Cebu aren’t popular (yet) but are no less fantastic and waiting to be discovered!

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