The city has the main airport of the region, many beaches and dive sites, and quite a few resorts. It also has many condominium developments and is a popular location for retiring abroad. Both the resorts and the condos are mostly toward the higher end of the price scale.
The municipality of Lapu-Lapu includes most of two islands, Mactan Island and the smaller Olango Island. The smaller municipality of Córdova to the south has the rest of both islands, and both municipalities include a few smaller islands as well. In common speech, either "Lapu-Lapu" or "Mactan" usually refers to the main part of the city, on Mactan.
Mactan is just off the coast from Mandaue and connected to it by two bridges; both lead into downtown Lapu-Lapu. Olango is a short ferry ride from Mactan.
Arriving by air, one lands in Lapu-Lapu. By sea, most passengers arrive in Cebu City. By bus, either at the north bus terminal in Mandaue or the south terminal in Cebu City.
- 1 Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB IATA), Lapu-Lapu. This is the second most important airport in the country after Manila. It is the only air gateway for Metro Cebu and the rest of Cebu Province, and the main one for the Visayas region. Wikipedia has a list of airlines and destinations. There are two terminals - Terminal 1 for domestic flights and Terminal 2 for international services.
Onward ticket required
As anywhere in the Philippines, tourist visa requirements include having an onward ticket; if you arrive without a return ticket then you must have another ticket out of the country or they will not let you in. Most airlines check this when you go to check in for a flight to the Philippines, and will not let you board without it.
Many fliers prefer to enter the Philippines here rather than via Manila because this airport is considerably easier to go through, and because it is more centrally located in the country. Passport control and baggage handling at Mactan-Cebu are generally fast and efficient. In most cases, Cebu will be the most convenient airport for those bound for central or southern parts of the country — Visayas or Mindanao — while for northern areas most fliers prefer Manila or Clark.
In 2018 the airport averaged 70 international flights a day. There are good connections to most of the major air hubs in Asia and a number of non-hub cities, but not many flights beyond Asia. Most international flights are one flight daily each way per airline, some only a few times a week. There are also flights between Mactan-Cebu and Clark Airport, and Clark has flights to many international destinations, including quite a few on low-cost carriers. Davao, Iloilo and Kalibo also have both international flights and domestic flights to Cebu. Silk Air, the regional flights division of Singapore Airlines, have a Singapore-Davao-Cebu route as well as direct flights to Cebu.
There are also quite a few charter flights, often used as part of packaged holiday deals. Most come from South Korea, Japan, or China.
Cebu averaged about 200 domestic flights daily in 2018. There are direct flights to all major cities in the Visayas and Mindanao, and to popular tourist destinations such as Puerto Princesa on Palawan or Kalibo near Boracay. Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Air Asia all have many flights and there are smaller players as well. Note that some domestic flights, particularly on the cheaper airlines, allow only 7 kg carry-on luggage and no checked bags.
- Air Swift: Mactan-Cebu to/from El Nido Palawan.
- Air Juan: Mactan-Cebu to/from Bantayan, Naval, Maasin, Sipalay, Tagbilaran.
Air Juan fly Cebu-Bohol but most people take a fast ferry instead; see Bohol#Get in. Similarly, although there is a direct flight on Cebu Pacific most people bound for Dumaguete will go by boat or bus; see Dumaguete#Get_in.
This is not a huge airport with extensive shopping and recreation options, but it does have a range of services: duty-free shop, souvenir shops, cafés, a business center, ATMs, stands selling Philippine SIM cards for mobile phones, car rental, hotel and resort reservations, and beauty & health services. As of mid-September 2020, these are all closed.
There is a luxury hotel and casino across the road from Terminal 1 and a hotel in Terminal 2.
The food and drink places within Terminal 1 have international menus and, by Philippine standards, high prices. Many travellers will be happy with those; the prices are reasonable by international standards and quality is generally OK. For cheaper food, you can go where many airport staff eat; from the center exit on Terminal 1's departure level, walk across the street and down into the resort/casino parking garage. At the bottom of the stairs is a cafeteria-style place with plain but satisfying Filipino food.
The airport is on Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu. Many travellers go to Cebu City by taxi, which takes about 40-60 min and costs ₱250-450, depending mainly on traffic. Taxi to downtown Lapu-Lapu is ₱100 to 150.
During the day, you can also go by bus which is much cheaper and takes about the same time, but midnight to 6am taxis are the only option.
- Cebu MyBus. Air-con buses every 20 minutes from 6AM till midnight from the Mactan Airport to the Park mall and SM Mall in Cebu City. ₱25-50 per person.
If you are staying at one of the higher priced hotels, most can send a free van to pick you up at the airport. If you forgot to ask for this you may find that the van of your hotel is there to pick someone else up and you can hitch a ride if there is room.
There are jeepneys from the Mactan airport to Lapu-Lapu port for ₱8. A ferry from there to the port in Cebu City is around ₱20.
Lapu-Lapu is part of Metro Cebu, and so is Cebu City which has the largest and busiest port in the country. From there you can take a taxi to Lapu-Lapu for ₱200-300. Or take a ferry from Pier 3 to Lapu-Lapu pier which costs only ₱16. They depart every 20 minutes and the trip takes 20 minutes.
The simplest way to get around is by hopping on a tricycle or multicab (small jeepney). Taxi is also available for a comfortable trip. Always ask for taxi meter if you are paying by meter. The flagdown rate is ₱40 and ₱3.50 per succeeding 200 m and ₱3.50 per waiting time of two minutes. Drivers however may bargain if they notice that you are a tourist, hence the cost of the trip may double in price. However, you have the option not to agree and may report such to local authorities. If you know the name of the building, establishment, area or street you wish you reach, this is still the fastest way to get to your destination.
If you want more adventure, then do as the locals and catch a colorful jeepney. Ask around for which route to take. They are available 24 hours and cover most of the nooks and crannies of the island. This is the cheapest option for getting around for as low as ₱8.
- 1 Lapu-Lapu Monument (Lapu-Lapu Shrine), Lapu-Lapu, Mactan Island. Lapu-Lapu was a local hero whose forces killed Ferdinand Magellan during the Battle of Mactan in 1521. A small marker to Magellan is nearby.
- 2 Sergio Osmeña Bridge (Mactan–Mandaue Bridge). 864 m (2,835 ft) long truss bridge across the Mactan Channel
- 3 Marcelo Fernan Bridge. 1,237 m (4,058 ft) long Cable-stayed bridge across Mactan Channel
The area has several fine dive sites. There are several dive operators that can serve your needs. You may do shore entry in few areas but most dive sites can be reached by boat. You can go to Kontiki, Talima, Tinggo, Hilutungan (sanctuary), Nalusuan (sanctuary), Shangri-la, Cordova and more. From Mactan, you can also hire an outrigger (boat) to take you to Cabilao or Balicasag, on Bohol.
Beach bumming in white sand beaches like Shangrila, Plantation Bay, Blue Waters, White Sands, Tambuli Beach Club
Like almost any city in the country, Lapu-Lapu has a centrally-located market that has been there since Spanish colonial times. Around it is a shopping district with many other stores.
There are also several large new malls:
- 1 Gaisano Grand Mall of Mactan, Basak-Marigondon Rd.
- 2 Gaisano Island Mall, M L Quezon Hwy, ☏ .
- 3 Mactan Marina Mall (Export Processing Zone), ☏ .
It is no longer the case that all "Gaisano" stores have similar merchandise and prices. The original company's founder died and there are now several separate companies, all with "Gaisano" in their names, owned by different members of the family.
Most of the resorts have restaurants, some more than one. Many travellers find the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at one of the higher-end resorts worthwhile, though not cheap. These places cater to a travellers from many countries, so a good range of both Western and Asian food is available at most of them.
The Gaisano Island Mall downtown has two buildings; the larger one (which has most of the shopping) has many chain restaurants, mostly fast food, and a bakery while the smaller one has a cluster of somewhat better-class restaurants, mostly serving Filipino food but also with places for sushi or pizza.
- 1 The Jungle Restaurant and Entertainment, Bagumbayan, Maribago (Close to White Sands beach resort), ☏ . Noon-midnight, open 7 days a week with lunch show at 12:30, and dinner shows at 6:30, 8, 10PM. Filipino and international food with a cultural show involving dances from the Philippines and other countries. The best involves the Fire Dancers. ₱250 and up.
- 2 Rico's Lechon, Mactan Promenade, Lapu-Lapu Airport Rd, ☏ .
The town has one fairly unusual hotel at the airport:
- Aerotel Cebu (Terminal 2, Level 1), email@example.com. Hourly rates available for those who just need a shower and/or a nap between flights.
The Waterfront luxury hotel and casino is also at the airport, near Terminal 1.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
- 1 GV Hotel, Gy dela serna St (downtown, near the farmers' market), ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. A/C single/double rooms with own hot water bathroom and cable TV. Clean. No elevator. The lower-priced rooms are often sold out; if you do not book well ahead, expect ₱900-1200 for a double. Single from ₱625, double from ₱825.
- 2 The Stopover Backpackers Hostel Mactan Airport, Seawage Street Mustang Road, Brgy Pusok (2nd floor Norphil Inn bldg), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. A ₱20 motorbike ride from Mactan Airport. dorm bed ₱350 per person.
- 3 The Bellavista Hotel, M.L Quezon National Highway, Pusok, ☏ . Situated in Mactan Island, midtown Lapu-Lapu City, 0.8 km from the Mactan Export Processing Zone and approximately 1 km from the Mactan International Airport. from ₱2684.
- 4 Cebu Yacht Club - Island Village (Mactan Export Processing Zone.), ☏ . All of their cottage-style studios, suites, and villas are furnished with a deck or balcony, mini-bar, microwave oven, writing desk and chair, refrigerator, and private bathroom. from ₱2000.
- 5 SDR Serviced Apartments, Mactan Island (3 minutes from the airport), ☏ , fax: . All apartments have kitchen and cooking facilities. Smallest rooms are 36.5 m², two bedroom loft apartments 65.74 m². Free Internet, cable TV, DVD player, large refrigerator with freezer. From US$35 for the studio.
- 6 Costabella Beach Resort, Buyong, Mactan Island, ☏ , fax: . From US$70.
- 7 Crown Regency Suites Mactan, Maximo Patalinhug Jr. Ave, ☏ , fax: . A/C suites with kitchen, in-room broadband internet access, and television with cable. From US$36.
- 8 EGI Resort and Hotel, Pajac-Maribago Rd, Maribago, ☏ . EGI Club Cebu has 120 air-conditioned rooms, all of which have Internet access, double bed, IDD phone, mini-bar, and refrigerator. Their facilities include swimming pool, fitness center, and function/meeting rooms. ̯$61.
- 9 Hotel Mövenpick Cebu (formerly the Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa), Punta Engana Road, ☏ . From US$250.
- 10 Shangri-La Mactan Hotel Resort and Spa, Punta Engaño Road. A tourist spot in its own right. The compound is a large park where visitors (even if they don't stay in the hotel) can roam the huge reception and its environs. Check out the beach, the chapel, the spa and the various restaurants.
- 11 Waterfront Airport Hotel & Casino Mactan, 1 Mactan Airport Rd (across the road from airport terminal 1), ☏ . A luxury hotel with a casino, nowhere near any waterfront. US $67.
The immigration department has an office in Gaisano Island Mall on M L Quezon National Highway where a visa extension can be obtained if required, M-F 8AM-5PM. This is the fastest place in Cebu to get a visa extension. They also have non express 3-day service which costs ₱1000 less than express.
Anywhere in Metro Cebu is easily accessible:
- Cebu City is only a ferry, bus, jeepney or taxi ride away (about 30 minutes by ferry or one hour by jeepney). Mandaue is in between.
- Olango Island is just off the coast of Lapu-Lapu; it has good diving and a wildlife sanctuary with many birds.
For more distant possibilities, see the Go next section of the Metro Cebu article.