The Best Mactan Tourist Attractions for You to See
Mactan is a huge coral island surrounded by azure waters. It is located a few kilometers southeast of mainland Cebu and has a total land area of 150 hectares. Mactan Island is part of the province of Cebu and a major force behind the success of the region’s tourism and economic boom.
Mactan is dotted with award-winning world-class resorts, superb international and local restaurants, fantastic diving spots, an international airport, and blessed with an almost perfect climate throughout the year. The island is linked to the Cebu mainland via two bridges locally known as (surprise, surprise) the “old bridge” and the “new bridge.” Mactan’s main town is Lapu-Lapu City.
The island boasts of impressive diving and snorkeling sites, excellent restaurants and bars, a modern mall, a yacht club, a casino for high rollers, and live music galore. Mactan is close to Cebu City. The major malls Ayala and SM are about 20 minutes by car during off-peak times.
Mactan’s rich culture is woven into the fabric of its people. Smiles abound—no matter where you go, you will be met by them! The irrepressible warmth of the Cebuanos is outstanding. Give a smile here, and you’ll receive it back in spades!
Visit the Finest Mactan Tourist Attractions
The island is the site of the legendary Battle of Mactan—the first between the native Filipinos and Europeans. The battle left local chieftain Lapu-Lapu with an injured leg but his Spanish colonizing adversary Ferdinand Magellan (who was actually Portuguese) with no life! Unfortunately for the Spanish, they were outwitted and grossly outnumbered.
The historical day left the local hero with a large town named in his honor, a couple of monuments, and a place in history. For the loser, he has one of the coolest bar-restaurants in Mactan named after him (Magellan’s Landing in Marina Mall) complete with booths named after his doomed fleet of Spanish galleons.
If you wish to witness a re-enactment of the battle between Magellan and Lapu-Lapu, come visit during the Kadaugan sa Mactan, a week-long festival held at the Mactan Shrine that is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry. The festival begins on the 20th of every April. At night, different stalls sell local products like guitars and native art at reasonable prices. Most of Mactan’s resort hotels put together a superb spread of their restaurant’s finest offerings at ridiculously low prices—about US$1 per plate.
The event highlight, to commemorate the historic battle between the forces of Lapu-Lapu and Magellan, is held on the 27th of April. This is an event that should not be missed! However, one will have to rise early as the event begins at 7 am at the Mactan Shrine. Filipino celebrities usually play Lapu-Lapu, most notable is Filipino boxing world-champion Manny Pacquaio.
Cebu’s 167 islands and islets are fringed with sandy beaches and sapphire-clear waters that are teeming with marine life. Mactan Island is a prime example. Mactan is one of the best diving spots in Asia.
In addition to the great natural resources, Mactan boasts of incredibly lush golf courses, modern shopping center, fine dining restaurants, lively entertainment centers (including a casino), some of the finest beaches, and the renowned exquisite charm and hospitality of the Cebuano people.
In our humble opinion, Cebu’s Mactan Island is a traveler’s fantasy of a tropical island and adventure trip come true—balmy weather, pristine beaches, crystalline waters, wonderful people, and vast natural attractions.
Cebu is home to majority of the country’s finest resorts, beaches and diving spots, and this makes Cebu a primary destination of more than 40 percent (and steadily growing) of foreign tourists who visit the Philippines.
Mactan is also home to some world-famous craftsmen. Cebu’s very own guitar industry is based in Maribago, Mactan, where you can see the craftsmen at work. Many other musical instruments are produced like ukuleles, banjos, and mandolins. The high quality of Mactan’s handcrafted guitars can be compared to the very best in the world.
Maribago will soon play host to the inaugural annual Guitar Festival, which promises to be a huge event. Nowadays, there are some foreigners who produce world-class guitars in Mactan using highly sought after imported wood and their own beautiful designs. Their choice of utilizing Mactan’s highly skilled craftsmen is a testament to the expertise here. One company that produces sublime guitars, made with a passion, is Companero Guitars.
The Recreational Nirvana that is Mactan
Mactan Island is Cebu’s jewel in the crown. A coral island famous for its scuba diving, beach resorts, and craftsmen, Mactan has many sporting activities including flag football. The Cebu Flag Football League (CFFL) at the MPEZ sports ground, located next to Marina Mall, offers some fun American football (with flags) for expats, returning Pinoys, and locals alike.
There are badminton and tennis venues in Mactan too. There is a really good badminton setup in Mactan Smash at the National Highway near McDonald’s. In Barangay Matumbo, there is a quaint tennis club with cheap rates.
Those who fancy a shooting practice should head to Plantation Bay Resort, Tambuli, or the Mactan Shooting Club. Each venue hosts shooting ranges and a large range of guns. You can finally get a chance to squeeze off 20 rounds on an AK-47 or its equivalent on that nasty imaginary terrorist target for a mere Php 2,000.
In Mactan, water sports enthusiasts can go jet skiing, parasailing, sailing, boating, windsurfing, sail boarding, water skiing, wakeboarding, etc. Go down to Scotty’s Dive Center based at the Shangri-La for these activities. You can tell them that you are staying at SDR Apartments. That ought to get you a discount or at least a free beer on the house. Whatever you do, don’t forget the sunblock!
Those who want to learn to fly (so you can have lunch on Bohol then dinner in Palawan), parachute, sail, or hire a game fishing boat will find many options in Mactan. Incidentally, both the airport and the yacht club are located within a stone’s throw away from SDR Apartments.
The yacht club boasts of a wonderful native-style bar called “Marlin Bar,” which is open to the public. The location is sublime—right on the water and with a bird’s-eye view of Cebu’s spectacular mountains with a golden sunset as a backdrop… life can’t be bad. Prices are reasonable, and you will be hard pushed to find a better way to spend a few hours. During Sundays, the yacht club has a late afternoon BBQ with the chef’s forte being the ribs.
Party animals will find many options in Mactan. The annual Jamaican nights Summer Beach party is held in April each year on a beach. This party features live bands, DJs, bikini contests, lots of San Miguel beer, BBQ, and a 8,000-strong tribe of followers. Mactan’s annual fiestas are also a blast. These fiestas are held in November and have the whole island rocking in the true spirit of the Spanish era.
Land of Cebu Resorts
Mactan is where most of Cebu’s gleaming four- and five-star resorts are to be found. Many of them have perfectly manicured artificial white-sand beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in Hawaii. All resorts welcome day guests for a small (in most cases) entrance fee. You can use their beaches, pools, and general facilities. Some even include a buffet lunch in the entrance price. Check out our Cebu Beaches page for details.
More Mactan Information
You can view a map of Mactan in our Location page. Through Google Earth, you can see amazing satellite pictures of Mactan and zoom in on any part of this fabulous island from your computer!
If you want to get a more detailed understanding of the culture, cost of living, visas, etc. on Mactan Island and Cebu, be sure to visit Cebu Lifestyles. The site has a wealth of information on Cebu and an excellent forum amongst other resources.
For your Cebu travel, stay at SDR Apartments for accommodation at par with 5-star Cebu Hotels sans the costs. Contact SDR today!