Cebu or Boracay in the Philippines, Which is Best for Island Hopping?

Avatar photo

S Dominique

Cebu or Boracay in the Philippines

Island hopping is an exciting activity that you shouldn’t miss when vacationing in the Philippines. This archipelago offers many destinations for a relaxing tropical atmosphere. The blue seas and hundreds of islands can be explored across various cities.

Cebu and Boracay are two popular islands for island hopping and beach hopping. Both are somewhat far from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, but are easily accessible by air.

So, which is the best for island hopping? Here are some things to consider when choosing between island hopping in Cebu or Boracay.

Location and Accessibility

Location Cebu Philippines
Photo: Pixabay/图纳恩 瓜尔佳

Cebu is located in the Visayas, known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant city life. The atmosphere is a blend of Spanish and Filipino architecture, cuisine, and traditions. Cebu also offers a mix of rural and urban vibes.

The city, southeast of Manila, is 570 kilometers from the capital. You can travel from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Mactan-Cebu International Airport. This is the easiest and fastest way to visit Cebu.

Boracay is a “tropical paradise” famous for its beaches and lively nightlife. The island offers stunning natural scenery, water activities, and delicious cuisine. It is ideal for beach lovers who want to avoid city life.

Boracay is 315 kilometers from Manila, but that doesn’t mean the journey is quicker. You need to fly from Manila to Caticlan Airport or Kalibo International Airport. Then, take a boat to Boracay Island.

Popular Islands to Visit

Cebu Island covers about 4,500 square kilometers, surrounded by small and large islands. Cebu Island and the nearest island, Mactan, where Mactan-Cebu Airport is located, are connected by the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. It is also close to Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental.

Popular islands for island hopping in Cebu include Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango, Camotes, and Sumilon. You can stay overnight on these islands or visit nearby islands from Cebu. There are also many small islands around Bohol that can be reached from Cebu.

Boracay is much smaller, only 10.32 square kilometers, and is surrounded by other islands that can be explored in 3–5 hours. At least five favorite islands for tourists include Crystal Cove, Crocodile, Panay, Carabao, and Magic.

Crocodile Island is a place for diving and snorkeling, but there are no facilities for overnight stays. Therefore, you need to return to Boracay Island.


Accommodation Cebu Philippines
Photo: Envato Elements/Oneinchpunchphotos

Cebu has a larger area, offering a more diverse range of accommodations. You can find local-style bamboo cottages to luxurious beach resorts. There are even treehouse-style lodgings in the middle of Cebu’s forests, similar to those in Bali.

In Cebu, luxury resorts, mid-range hotels, and budget accommodations are relatively balanced. There are also several international hotel chains based in Cebu, such as Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, Radisson Blu, Movenpick, and Marco Polo. This makes it easier for tourists to choose accommodations that suit their budget.

In contrast, Boracay, while more popular, is smaller than Cebu. Its accommodation options are limited, especially if you are looking for a quiet place to stay. It is harder to find lodgings away from the crowds in Boracay.

Variety of Destinations and Activities

Cebu offers a longer coastline and more options. You can easily go island hopping in Cebu and nearby areas. Although some beaches may not be as stunning as those in Boracay, you can easily find quiet and peaceful beaches.

The activities offered to enjoy the sea’s charm are similar, such as snorkeling, diving, island hopping, parasailing, and jet ski rides. However, Cebu offers more than that, with waterfalls, mountains, and historical sites in the city to visit. Your destinations and activities will be more diverse, offering a greater sense of adventure.

Boracay seems to be designed specifically for beach tourism enthusiasts. This “tropical paradise” indeed offers many beach and sea activities. You won’t find historical sites or waterfalls there.

The shorter coastline means fewer beach options unless you go island hopping to other islands. The nightlife on the beach is also more lively, providing a different experience.

As for cuisine, Boracay offers a variety of dishes familiar to international tourists. Unfortunately, the culinary culture here is not as prominent as in Cebu. You might not find as many local dishes dominating the food scene.


Cost Cebu or Boracay Philippines
Photo: Pixabay/Tttboram

The costs you incur depend on your destination, activities, and chosen accommodation. If you want affordable lodging, you can choose a location a bit far from the beach. Transportation costs around Cebu can be higher because of the large area and many destinations to visit.

Here are examples of costs for island hopping in Cebu, as reported by Cebu Island Hopping Tour. Island hopping packages range from 2,150 Philippine Pesos per person to 9,050 Philippine Pesos per person.

These prices include meals, island entrance tickets, a guide, life jackets, and snorkeling equipment. Three islands are part of the itinerary: Sulpa, Gilutungan, and San Vicente or Caohagan. The island hopping duration is around 7.5 hours.

Island hopping costs in Boracay can be cheaper because the duration is shorter. According to Guide to The Philippines, here are the approximate costs. Shared tour island hopping starts from 1,125 Philippine Pesos per person. Private tours range from 1,563 Philippine Pesos to 10,000 Philippine Pesos per person.

The standard facilities offered are similar to those in Cebu. The islands visited include Crystal Cove and Magic Island with a duration of 3-4 hours. If you want to try the Sunset Cruise, it costs 13,750 Philippine Pesos per person for a three-hour duration.

Cebu offers a different island hopping experience. You can not only enjoy the beauty of its islands and beaches but also its cuisine, historical sites, waterfalls, and mountains. The atmosphere is more suitable for those who long for tranquility on the beach and an overnight stay outside the main island.

Boracay is the right choice for true beach lovers. This island is perfect if you don’t mind the liveliness from morning to night. You can choose based on your personal preferences for island hopping in Cebu or Boracay.

Related Articles