Island Hopping in Mactan, Cebu has always been one of our favorite quick getaway. There’s nothing more fun than a day spent on the beach. Much less on board a small banca exploring islands…
Cebu today is commonly associated with canyoneering in Badian, diving in Malapascua and snorkeling/ sardine run in Moalboal. But, to get there you must travel to the southern or northern part of the island..
If you are in the city and would love to see corals, swim with fishes and generally just enjoy the beach, then Mactan is a great option for you! That is aside from the budget and luxury resorts dotted in the island.
Island hopping in Mactan is definitely one of those activities that is sometimes overlooked by those first timers visiting the island.
To experience this is pretty easy.. For starters, there are a lot of island hopping tour operators in the Cebu that will be more than happy to take you on an island hopping adventure.
You may check the internet for local tour operators and check the reviews. This is one of our method in looking for trusted operators to take us including referrals from friends… I have managed to contact one tour operator via Facebook: Everyday Summer – Island Hopping & Tours.
You may also check Arlei Travel and Tours, Island Hopping Cebu Tours and Islands Banca Cruises.
For advance booking, a downpayment is usually asked beforehand to reserve your dates. Make sure to get the receipt of your payment to ensure that there’ll be no problem on the day of your island hopping.. If you’d rather not book in advance, you can always go directly to the port and look for vacant boats and haggle your way for the best price..
On our part we usually book in advance to avoid the hassle of haggling and of course to ensure that we can start pretty early..
There are many ports where the small boats (pump boats as we call it) are docked. Ports at Maribago and Cordova are some of the areas where the island hopping starts.
To get there, simply look for a Public Utility Jeep (PUJ) headed to either ports anywhere in Lapu-Lapu.
Admittedly, the views are not like those at Coron.. But it’s more or less like the island hopping in Puerto Princesa at the Honda Bay.
So hop on board and let me expound more on our list of Why We Love Island Hopping in Mactan, Cebu.. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
It Is Affordable
Cost for an island hopping in Mactan varies depending on the size of the boat.. The cheapest that we’ve hired only amounted to 2,500 Php (49.40 USD). And that’s already good for 8-10 persons!
So if you are in a group, that will be around 250 Php (4.95 USD) per head. You’ll be able to snorkel and enjoy the sea at a very affordable price indeed!
Please take note, however, that there are entrance fees in the islands that you’ll be visiting and it’s not included with your package. We travel by group (that is with family and/or colleagues) so it was pretty much affordable on our part hence the reason why we love it!
Because of its price and the size of the boat, you can definitely enjoy it with family and friends.. We’ve enjoyed countless of island hopping activities with family, close friends and co-leagues before.
We have also seen groups with the same numbers as ours enjoying it too.. Who can’t say no to a day spent with cool company? Fun times indeed!
We Can Bring Our Favorite Food
There are island hopping tours that includes lunch buffet on board while visiting the islands…
But if you’d rather save (just like we wanted) you definitely can bring as much food as you can. This includes drinks, desserts and even raw food to be grilled.. Just ask your contact/ operator/ boatman if they have available grill on board..
If yes, then you are good to go!
We love bringing pre-marinated pork or raw fish on-board and either let the boatman cook it for us (at no additional cost) or do it ourselves.
We Can Make It As A Day Trip
It will not ruin your schedule.. Trust me.. Island hopping can be done in a day.. So it can easily be included in your day trips/ itinerary should you be traveling for a few days in the city.
Usually, the time of departure to the islands starts at 7am and ends at around 3pm. This is to avoid the rough seas at the later part in the afternoon.
So if you are only in Cebu for a quick trip, then you can definitely include this in your itinerary!
We Get To Choose Our Itinerary
Mactan Island has plenty of islands that you can include in your itinerary.. But, visiting those in one day may not be ideal.. You’ll be rushed and you won’t fully enjoy the entire experience..
So to get a better experience, talk with your boatman/ operator first before sailing out to establish the island that you’ll be going.
Islands that you can visit are: Caohagan, Olanggo, Gilutongan, Nalusuan and Sulpa. However, due to certain constraints, you’ll only get to choose at least three (3).
One of our favorites to include is the Olanggo Island fish sanctuary. There are plenty of fishes, albeit not many in variety but many in quantity which is pretty alright for us.. We love fish feeding here too!
You may also just choose Pandanon Island (this is recommended as a whole day trip because of the distance). We’ve been there before and it is farther from the rest of the small islands.
Pandanon Island boasts of white sands and clear waters. Travel time may take up to an hour, depending on where your starting point is and of course the weather conditions. The sea can be a little rough going there.
We Love Swimming
So obviously, island hopping is about diving, snorkeling and swimming… We are a beach-loving family so this is high on our affordable family trips!
Not only do we get to enjoy one of our favorite family activity but we get to enjoy it at a reasonable price..
In general, island hopping in Mactan is best enjoyed during summer time. That is, from March to May. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not available all-year round.. Just be aware of the weather, though.
Here’s a pretty short video we’ve created during our weekend adventure with my awesome colleagues!
So what do you think? Is island hopping in Mactan a cool way to spend a day when in Cebu?
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Cebu looks amazing from all your photos. Sounds like you had an awesome time. Olanggo Island fish sanctuary would be my kind of place. Love the photos. Beautifully written blog with great information and helpful ideas.
Thank you, Yogita! 🙂 We love Olanggo too! 🙂
we are big beach bums and island lovers. Cebu looks perfect place for us to explore another beauty in the world of islands. Your pics are amazing.
Thank you, Krupa! Hope you visit soon! 🙂
This sounds great! And since I love canoeing and snorkeling, it sounds like the perfect trip for me. Not only does it seem to be a great idea for a day trip, I’m also positively surprised by the relatively low price. Wow, definitely something to do when getting to Cebu.
Thank you Renata.. Hope you’d get to visit Cebu too! 🙂
This is so cool! I’ve never chartered a boat for island hopping like this. I like that it’s not fancy but is totally practical. Just what we like when we’re traveling!
This sounds like a fantastic way to spend a day or even many days. We love snorkelling, so this adventure is right up our alley.
I really love the idea of cooking the lunch on the boat. A great way to recharge after swimming.
Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!
First off, that water.. WOW! How fantastic that you can make a day trip out of this lovely place! Snorkeling is always on our list of things to do so I’m loving this. Thanks for sharing.
I’d love to go island hopping! That’d be so fun to have a boat with just my friends and cruise around.
Given me some good ideas here for island hopping. I hope to do this in the near future so your advice in the post is great and I have bookmarked this page for future reference. 🙂 Keep on smiling. 🙂
Island hopping is one of my favourite things to do, especially in a place as beautiful as the Philippines. I made it to Boracay and Bohol when I visited, but would love to see Cebu as well!
This sounds right up my alley cause I love snorkeling and swimming! Mactan, Cebu sounds like heaven! I would love to explore the reefs and see all the sea life. What a great tour adventure for anyone of any age.
The water looks amazing! Definitely adding this to my bucket list!
Island hopping is always fun. And the kind of flexibility with which it comes in Mactan, Cebu, makes it all the more special. I would definitely love to try it out.
Fantastic! I’m planning a trip to the Philippines this year and I was planning on doing some island hopping, this will definitely be useful, thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing. Your experience looked like it was so much fun. I’ve heard about Cebu before but never thought about visiting, it does seem now like a great place to visit with the family.
This looks like so much fun! You get to snorkel and swim in that gorgeous water! The color of the water it just amazing!
Island hopping is something I am looking forward to doing when I eventually get to visit the Phillipines! Looks beautiful!
Wow, you are exploring all possible islands in so much details. Are you planning a guidebook on the islands with all these details? If you are not, please consider doing one.
Aww…Thank you, Anu! Will definitely consider that.. 😀 <3
I’ve never had the opportunity to go Island Hopping yet, but you’ve totally drawn me in with your reasons for loving it … i love those reasons too! Now i’m dreaming of my first island hopping adventure 🙂
This looks like a great place to go island hopping. Love the colour of the sea and snorkelling seems like it would be fun there.
I’ll add this to the list! Island destinations are my favorite.
Love the way you have shared options for everyone: those who wish to relax on the beach, those wishing to see corals, those wishing to dive! 🙂 Cebu is on my list for it’s picturesque landscapes and amazing diving opportunities! 🙂
Glad that it is affordable and people can carry their food (makes it so she feasible!) And the icing is that you can choose your itinerary that makes it all the more convenient! Your video is amazing!
I love reading your exploration around Philipines, there is always one new unexplored region. The Island hopping sounds like a great option while in Cebu especially with friends and family. I’m planning a visit to Philippines this year, I might cover this in my trip. Thanks for the share Marvi!
I would love to explore more of the Philippines, especially Cebu. It looks beautiful there! I’m surprised that you can rent a boat so cheaply to tour the islands. Snorkeling, swimming and island hopping sounds like a perfect day!
Never got a chance to go on island hopping yet but your blog and the feel of having a complete family adventure is now making me consider taking one
It definitely sounds like a lot of fun, especially when you pitch it With friends. I know I would love it and pick activities that work for all of us… Like snorkeling for sure. It sounds affordable too. Thanks for the idea
I’ve never done island hopping before and also have not visited Cebu, but your article is getting me so excited! I’m living in Vietnam now so I’ll definitely make a holiday plan to Cebu soon!
I’m usually not one for island hopping, however, this article has opened me up to how affordable and easy it is in the Cebu province. Especially like the idea of bringing your own food on board, especially since my husband has dietary requirements.
This is a very informative article. I am always searching for family-friendly, budget destinations. This one seems perfect. I have never done Snorkeling. Your underwater photo looks great.
This looks absolutely beautiful – as a big diver I have done a lot of dive liveaboards. I therefore fully get the endless charm of cruising between different islands!
Ive done similar island hoping tour trip in Thailand but this one is even better as you have your own, private! Thats amazing! Cebu look so lovely I cant wait to visit Philippines finally! This video you made is great! Looks like you guys had lots of fun!
We have never really considered island hopping before but you make it sound like a fun day long activity. Especially when you get to eat on the boat. I think we would have them make the food for us so we can relax. We may also choose to go to the really far away island and relax on the beach too. Cool video as well.
Thank you, Christina!
Mactan seems like an exceptional idea for island hopping, Marvi! Thanks for the detailed tips and information!
Awww.. You’re welcome.. Glad you liked it! 😉
Hi! I’d like to know if you have a contact number of the boat operator or where I can book it?
Hi Bea! You can contact Mark of Everyday Island Hopping and Tours. Here’s their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/ramirezislandhoppingandtours/ . You can send him a message, he usually replies promptly 🙂
Did you arrange it with the boatman ahead of time or just the day of your island hopping?
Hi Kiyomi! We arranged it ahead of time. 🙂
This infomation are useful