The island of Mactan in central Philippines holds a very special place in the hearts of Filipinos. It is, after all, the place where their ancestors first showcased the bravery of their race by going against colonizers in Spain. It is a constant testament to the courage of locals against those who want to challenge their freedoms.
Beyond this, however, Mactan Island also serves as the main gateway to the beautiful places at the center of this country. It serves as a convenient take-off point for exploring the rest of the Visayas Island group, which boasts of splendid beaches and of a breathtaking tropical experience.
Mactan Island Philippines
Here’s a handy guide for exploring this historically important and naturally beautiful island in the province of Cebu.
When to Visit
Without a doubt, the summer months of March to May are the best time to visit Mactan Island. It is during this time of the year when the sun is the shiniest, letting visitors enjoy the beautiful sights that the island has to offer, without being worried of destructive cyclones that hit this part of the Philippines during the succeeding months.
What to See
• Lapu-Lapu Shrine – This popular monument on Mactan Island pays tribute to the Philippines’ first known hero, the local chieftain named Lapu-Lapu. It is a 20-meter bronze statue found at a cozy plaza near the airport. Lapu-Lapu defeated forces of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan when they landed on the island of Mactan in 1521, and this battle is considered around the country as the first battle for independence against colonizers.
• Opon Church – Another historical structure on the island of Mactan is this Spanish-era church, which until now is well-revered by locals. The dark-skinned image here of the Virgin Mary still attracts of devotees, who believe the statue as miraculous.
What to Do
• Do some island-hopping – Mactan Island sure has a lot of beautiful beaches and resorts on its own, but if you have time, it is well-recommended that you also explore nearby islands. Among the most popular islands visited by tourists from Mactan Island are Gilutungan, Caohagan and Nalusuan Islands. A lot of tour companies organize island-hopping adventures for an entire day for a very affordable price.
• Dive – The beauty of Mactan Island Philippines is not only confined to what you can see on land. There’s so much beauty to be explored too underwater. That is why Mactan Island has become a popular spot for divers. Among the most popular diving spots here are the Kontiki Reef, Agus Bay and Tambuli Reef, where there’s an airplane wreck. The marine biodiversity in the waters surrounding the island is also spectacular, with various creatures like snappers, drummers, harlequin fish and octopus, among others.
Related Article: Best Diving Spots in the Philippines
• Try Parasailing – A good way to have a fantastic view of the waters surrounding the island is through parasailing. In this water sport, you will be flown on a parachute attached to a small boat, which can take you around the island. You can do this on your own or with a partner. The resorts on Mactan Island often offer this watersport for a reasonable price.
• Buy a Guitar – If you’re musically inclined, Mactan Island is a good place to buy a new guitar. This island, as well as the entire province of Cebu, is known for these string instruments that are durable, and also with different creative designs. The most popular maker on this island is the Alegre Guitar factory, which even shows visitors how the instruments are made.
Related Article: Top 10 must-buys in the Philippines
What to Eat
• SuTuKil – You can’t fly out of Mactan Island Philippines without getting a taste of this delicious combination of dishes. In the local language, this dish stands for ‘sugba, tula, kilaw’ which translates to three kinds of preparations of dishes: grilled, with soup, and raw, typically with vinegar. These food preparations are best tried with the freshest seafood available on the island.
Mactan Island is indeed proof of the beauty of the Philippines and the bravery of its locals. It is an island worth exploring if you’re looking for some fun under the sun, and a look back at this beautiful country’s colorful past.
Feature Image Credit: Thomas Rakness