Mactan Island Itinerary, Philippines

Mactan Island Hopping

The beach is a perfect place to unwind and feel the rhythm of your soul. Every time I see the ocean I can feel the world around me stop for a while, and I can see and think clearly. The open sea clears up my mind to process what's really going on inside this brain of mine. 

In children's books, Pirates were depicted as free-spirited people who sailed all day long looking for treasures. They would stop by from one island to another searching for new things and the environment. I've always wondered how it feels to be a pirate. In my own little way, I feel this kind of thrill during my Island hopping escapades around Cebu.

I was craving for the sea, the heat of the sun against my skin and the smell of summer. Good thing, my friends and I planned an Island Hopping at Mactan Island. We met up early in the morning on a very sunny day with crystal blue skies. Let's go!

How to get there:

From the Mactan-Cebu International Airport:
You can take a cab to go to your resort or hotel. The estimated fare is 150-250 PHP, depending on traffic. 

Alternatively, if you're familiar with Uber and/or Lyft, then you can download and use the mobile app, Grab, to book your transportation. 

Once you get to your resort ask the receptionist after you check-in about the island hopping packages they're offering. They can also arrange a tricycle ride or a hired van to take you to the boat area. Make sure to book ahead of time so you already have a boat waiting for you at the port or go commando by going directly to the port area and haggle your way to stardom.

From Cebu City: 
Go to SM Cebu Mall and take a "V-hire (Van for hire) at the mall's terminal
V-hire fare: 25 PHP - 35 PHP 

Two V-hire Route options: 
1. SM Mall to Mepz 1,Lapu-Lapu City for Punta Engaño Port 
2. SM Mall to Lapu-Lapu Mercado for Maribago Port.

From Lapu-Lapu City: Both places have boat rentals for island hopping
1. Take a cab or jeepney from Mepz 1, Lapu-Lapu City to Hilton Hotel, Punta Engaño Lapu-Lapu City, the port is right beside the hotel 

2.Take a cab or jeepney from Lapu-Lapu Mercado to Baybayon Datag ,Maribago Lapu-Lapu City

Boat rental: 1,800 PHP - 5,000 PHP, depends on the size of the boat 
15 pax boat capacity: 2,500 PHP - 3,000 PHP
20 pax boat capacity: 3,000 PHP - 4,000 PHP
30 pax boat capacity: 4,000 PHP - 5,000 PHP

Some operators provides food: 500 PHP - 1,000 PHP per pax
Most package tours include: environmental fees, life jacket, and snorkeling gears

Power outlets: Bring a power bank for your smartphones. At the resort, power outlets are commonly typed A, with standard voltage 220 V and frequency 60 Hz.  Be sure to bring a universal plug adapter!
Money matters:  No ATM in the islands. Bring cash during the island hopping. Do all your transactions in the mainland or in Lapu-Lapu City. We recommend getting your currency exchanged via Western Union (WU) since you'll get a better rate than at the airport.  You can send your travel budget to yourself and pick up the exchanged amount at the local WU.

Survival Terms 
CR is the term for the toilet
Salamat means "thank you"

What to do in Mactan Island

Welcome to Paradise! Now what?!

Islands you can visit around Mactan: Caohagan, Hilutungan, Nalusuan, Sulpa, Olango, and Pandanon Island.
Entrance fee: 150 PHP - 200 PHP

One of my friends knew someone on the island so we got a discounted boat rental for more than 10 persons at a lesser price, and that gave us some allowance for the island fees. Good thing, our tour guide, and boatman were very smart people, they said if we could dock our boat closer to the island then we won't have to pay anything. The only thing we have to do is to get ourselves wet, just 2-3 inches above the knee - not a problem with me. It was a great idea and we did as what they said. 

In one of the islands, we found a group of people gathering in a certain area. It was a small wet market selling fresh seafood for locals and tourists. We found different kinds of interesting sea creatures, they didn't look that delicious to me in that state but I bet they taste really good.

The sun was intensely cooking our skin as we sailed along with the crystal clear, blue waters of the island of Mactan. We had some drinks while we were in the boat some shots of tequila and snacks, I don't really recommend doing this but as long as you know your alcohol limit and you drink responsibly then it's all good. The cool water was a great escape from the heat of the sun and the slight effect of the shots we had. 

Another time I went island hopping again.

One island hopping trip in a lifetime is not enough, every summer I make sure I have this kind of activity booked in my checklist. My relatives came to visit in summer and my family decided to go on an island hopping, plus my mom was celebrating her birthday too. Although she's really not interested in beaches, she said yes and that's why mums are the best! 

I didn't have the chance to contact my friend's friend during our island hopping trip, so we had a different tour guide. They were not that cooperative when I asked them to dock just closer to the islands, so as not to pay any entrance fee, they refused. I guess we were just lucky that one time. 
The tried to recommend a certain island where there's no fee at all however, it was already low tide the boat will not be able to dock nearby and in that case, we have to walk a few meters to the island. I was willing to walk that far but then I saw lots of seaweeds, wait the minute! I'm a bit afraid or let's say terrified with these plants against my feet. It was a relief that I followed my instinct because a sea urchin was silently watching us from above.

The sea looked very calm and refreshing, and my cute little nieces absolutely had their attention locked to the waters. 

We came prepared with our loaf of bread in hand, the fishes go crazy for this stuff. They rushed towards us, encircling us with their little bodies and spectacular colors - blue, green, yellow. It gets scarier especially when you have one bread in both hands and they rush in, bump here and there, and you never know whose coming from a distance. This is a summer activity everyone will surely enjoy and should never be missed.

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Itinerary Reminders:

1. Flight Details
Make sure to write down your booking reference number, be at the airport two hours before your flight and allocate time for your travel to the airport.

2. Accommodation Details
Write down your hotel/motel/resort/bnb booking number. Contact your place to inform them around when you'll be arriving — it really does help.  Also, ask if your accommodation has any discounted activities.  You'd be surprised!

3a. Transportation
List possible times your bus/train/boat arrives and leaves so you don't miss an activity.  Always give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes in case you get lost, get stuck in traffic, or are looking for parking.  Better early than late.  Of utmost importance: check for the last trip and fares!  So you still have time and money to get back.

3b. Car Rentals
Take note of your pick-up address and time allotted.  Our last car rental told us to bring the car back by a certain time with a certain amount of gas.  Allot money for fuel and parking.

4. Budgeting
Set aside a minimum and maximum spending amount for: meals, transportation, entrance fees, activities, souvenirs and emergencies.  3 meals a day + snacks adds up quickly, so keep track!  As well as tips for restaurants and activities.

5. Activities
Call to confirm your booking(s) a day or so beforehand.  Set alarms and/or calendar reminders for things you plan to do (i.e- bungee-jumping, river-rafting, or even city / food tours).

Do you want more adventure?
If you want to go island hopping in between Cebu and Bohol then take your boat to Pandanon Island

Where am I going next?
I'm going cheap for my next adventure, just 10 PHP for the entrance fee at Alcoy Beach this time on the south side of Cebu.

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