Exploring Cebu Island ? From the Birthplace of Catholicism to the Stunning Coastal Escapes

In the centre and a bit towards the south of Philippines sprawls a long strip of island called Cebu Island, the capital of Cebu Province set in the Central Visayas Region. Cebu City, the capital of the Cebu Island, is a commercial hub and houses a bustling international port. The Cebu Island is packed with scores of tourist attractions including great beach resorts, historical sites and diving spots.

The earliest Spanish settlement in Philippines is recorded in the Cebu City, which is also considered the oldest city of the country. Cebu City is also called the Queen City of the South, as it used to be a prosperous commercial and trade hub even in the past. A sightseeing tour in Cebu is certain to take you back to the 16th century, the time when Spanish seafarers first settled here.

Cebu City nestles many colonial buildings and religious venues influenced by the Spanish. One of the most famous religious and historical attractions here is the Magellan’s Cross. It was installed under the direction of Ferdinand Magellan, following his advent to Cebu Island. Presently a new cross is exhibited at the chapel called the Kiosk, in the vicinity of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. The original cross is secured within another wooden cross and rests on a concrete pedestal in the heart of the Kiosk. The interior of the Kiosk’s conical dome display some striking murals depicting stories of the baptism.

The next door Basilica of Santo Nino, also called Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, is considered as the oldest church in the country, with a baroque facade built in the 16th century. The Santo Nino, a statue of the Child Jesus, is enshrined here. The basilica houses a fine museum displaying antiques, statues, large rosary, Santo Nino’s cloak, gifts and vestments. Cebu boasts of one of the oldest and smallest Spanish ports known as Fort San Pedro. The city is also home to Asia’s birthplace of Catholicism, the Cebu Cathedral.

Mactan Island sits only a few kilometres from Cebu Island and serves as a great tourist attraction in Philippines. In Mactan you will come across a lifelike statue of Datu Lapu-Lapu holding a tribal shield and a sword. He was a daring chieftain of Mactan Island who fought with his fellowmen against the Magellan’s army and suppressed them during the Battle of Mactan. The monuments Magellan Shrine and Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Mactan were built to commemorate this battle.

Mactan Aquarium in the Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island is an excellent place to explore a wide variety of fish and learn more about them. You will see sharks, star fish, corals, jelly fish, urchins and numerous exotic fish representing marine life from the Filipino portion of the Coral Triangle. This triangle is a territory in the Pacific Ocean and is recognized as a global hub for marine diversity.

Mactan hosts more than 70 diving spots to view thriving coral reefs. You can take a glass boat ride, scuba dive or snorkel to explore the vibrant corals, the home of myriads of elusive beings. Mactan and many islands near Cebu Island provide great beaches to sunbathe and simply relax.

Things to see and do in Cebu Island are countless, and range from sightseeing historical sites with Spanish influences to exploring the rich underwater habitats. You can easily find accommodation at an exclusive Cebu resort spa like Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu. Enjoy this resort’s sumptuous comforts while indulging in the warm tropical sun, turquoise sea and the dazzling white beaches in Cebu.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.

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