Island Life: 15 Best Things To Do In Lapu Lapu, Philippines

things to do in lapu lapu philippines
Liezl
Liezl
Updated

Lapu-Lapu City is named after the local chieftain who defeated the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Battle of Mactan. It is part of Metro Cebu because of its proximity to Cebu City. However, it has its own attractions on offer that will keep you in the city and not want to venture farther. You must add Lapu Lapu City to your itinerary, whether you’ve come to visit and stay at the top staycation spots or at the best beach resorts in Cebu. Read on to find out the best things to do in Lapu Lapu.

1. Get to know Lapu Lapu: visit the Lapu Lapu Shrine

Lapu - lapu Statue in Cebu, Philippines
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alpapito used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Out of all the Lapu Lapu tourist spots that we’ll introduce to you, it’s best to start with the name itself. The city is named after a local chieftain or datu named Lapu Lapu who ruled over Mactan Island. He is best known for the heroic defeat of the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan in April 1521, when Magellan attempted to take over the island in the name of Spain. Lapu Lapu led his army to ward off the Spaniards and kill Magellan. Because of his resistance, the Philippines was not colonized until 40 years later when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived. He is considered by most as the first Filipino hero for defending his country, and monuments in his honor have been created. One such monument is the Lapu Lapu Shrine in the city.

Lapu Lapu Shrine

Address: Punta Engano Road, Lapu Lapu City

How To Access: Take a taxi to bring you to the shrine from Cebu City or Lapu Lapu’s city center. Most taxis are familiar with this site. Lapu Lapu is also conveniently located near the Mactan International Airport, where there are regular daily flights from Manila.

Admission Fee: None

2. Local history lesson: Magellan Shrine

Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Badz Patanag used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Across from Lapu Lapu’s monument is the shrine for his enemy, Ferdinand Magellan, who is also known for discovering the Philippine Islands. His shrine is a large tower that was erected in his honor, but it is also believed to be the exact spot where Lapu Lapu dealt his fatal blow during their battle. Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who first docked in Limasawa. He eventually reached Cebu and befriended the local chieftains as well as converted most of them into the Christian faith. He was unable to convert Lapu Lapu, which is why he opted to go into battle with him, which led to Megellan’s death. Both the Lapu Lapu monument and the Magellan Shrine can be found in one area called the Mactan Shrine.

3. Local history lesson: Church of Our Lady of the Rule

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Despite Lapu Lapu’s resistance, Spanish occupation was inevitable. Cebu and Mactan Island was eventually colonized by Spain and the Roman Catholic religion took root. Before Lapu Lapu became a city, it was called by the name Opon and a local church was established by the Augustinian missionaries who were assigned to the area. In 1735, the local town of Opon chose to name the Virgen de la Regla or the Lady of the Rule to be its patroness, thus the parish church was named after her. So strong was the devotion of the local people to Our Lady of the Rule that the Philippine Catholic Church eventually declared the church a National Shrine for Our Lady of the Rule. The church patron day is celebrated on November 27, when thousands of Marian devotees visit the church and remember the miracles performed by their patroness. Visitors may visit the church to see the religious devotion of Filipinos up close.

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule

Address: B.M. Dimataga Street, Lapu Lapu City

Website: National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule

4. Go to the islands: Olango Island and Marine Reserve

Olango Island
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Hydrochic used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Olango Island is the biggest of seven islands that make up the Olango Group of Islands off Lapu Lapu City and Cordova Town. The island is easy to reach via a 15 to 20 minute boat ride as it is only 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from Mactan Island. The island is host to the most extensive reef areas in Central Visayas and thus makes for a good diving spot. Aside from this, the island also has a different kind of visitor every year — migratory birds. Birdwatching is a favorite activity in Olango, especially from November to February, when thousands of birds find sanctuary on the island. While a day trip to the island is doable, visitors also have the option to stay overnight at some of the inns and resorts. The best way to see the island is to rent a bike for a day.

Olango Island and Marine Reserve

Address: Olango Island, Lapu Lapu City

How to Access: From Lapu Lapu City, take a taxi to Punta Engano pier. From the pier, take a motorized boat to Sta. Rosa pier in Olango Island, which usually leaves every hour.

Website: Olango Wildlife Sanctuary

5. Go to the islands: Caohagan Island Marine Sanctuary

Caohagan Island (忘憂島/漁夫島)
Source: Photo by Flickr user momo used under CC BY 2.0

Who would think that this tiny island that is part of the Olango group of islands can actually host a marine sanctuary. But yes, Caohagan Island has been established as a marine sanctuary in order to protect the island’s rich marine biodiversity. The island is inhabited by a small community of fishermen who make a living from fishing. In order to protect their marine resources, the community established a system wherein fishermen volunteer to patrol the waters around the island to prevent poachers from entering. The best activities on the island is swimming and snorkeling — with crystal blue waters, one can see the life teeming under the sea.

Caohagan Island Marine Sanctuary

Address: Caohagan Island, Lapu Lapu City

How To Access: You can only reach Caohagan via a rented motorized boat, which you can hire from Maribago in Mactan Island. Tour agencies like Cebu Tours and Island Trek Tours also arrange island hopping tours to Olango and other islands.

6. Go to the islands: stay on Nalusuan Island

Nalusuan Island, Cebu
Source: Photo by Flickr user denise narciso used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Adding to the countless Lapu Lapu, Cebu tourist spots is Nalusuan Island. What used to be just a sandbar in the middle of the ocean became a man-made resort and marine sanctuary — this is the story of Nalusuan Island. Found on Olango Reef, it now houses 14 cottages on stilts right above the ocean, which makes an overnight stay quite an experience. The resort offers water activities and sports such as snorkeling, diving, and others. Other sports activities like beach volleyball are available too. With entertainment options limited to what the sea has to offer, the island is an ideal getaway from those wanting to escape the city.

Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary

Address: Olango Reef, Cordova, Cebu

How To Access: From the airport or Cebu City, take a taxi to Tonggo, Marigondon, near Bluereef Resort in Lapu Lapu. If you arranged or booked for a day trip or an overnight stay at the resort, their boat can pick you up at their wharf. Inquire with the resort beforehand how much a round trip boat transfer costs.

Website: Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary

7. Be a beach bum: swim at Bluewater Maribago

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you are not too fond of riding boats, you can still enjoy some sun and sea at one of the many resorts and places to visit in Lapu Lapu City. One of these is Bluewater Maribago, a luxury beach resort in Barangay Maribago. It boasts a 110 meter (360 feet) white sand beach and three lagoon-like swimming pools. The resort also offers water sports such as jet-skiing and diving. A unique feature of the resort is its Saltwater Lagoons filled with tropical fish that are regularly fed. Guests can participate in the feeding everyday at 4 pm. Kids, on the other hand, will enjoy the playground and their own playroom. Guests will also have access to a private island that is only reachable by swimming, paddle boating, or walking during low tide. Day tours are available to guests who are not staying at the resort.

Bluewater Maribago

Address: Buyong, Maribago, Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu City

How To Access: From the airport, take a taxi to the resort, or arrange for resort pick up, which may be subject to an extra charge.

Website: Bluewater Maribago

8. Buy a guitar in Lapu Lapu: Alegre Guitar Factory

Side and back timbers, Alegre Guitar Factory, Cebu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user suvajack used under CC BY 2.0

Lapu Lapu is also known for the best guitar makers in the country, and the most popular guitar maker is the family-run Alegre Guitar. The Alegres have been making guitars for three generations, and if you visit their showroom and factory in Maribago, you can also catch a glimpse of the guitar-making process. From the making of the frame, the polishing of the wood and the finishing touches, you will better appreciate the intricate handiwork that goes into making a great sounding guitar. Their finished guitars are displayed in their showroom, and there is a second showroom for their top-quality guitars. A top quality guitar can set you back about 1,000 to 1,500 USD (about 50,211.79 PHP to 75,317.69 PHP), while ordinary guitars can cost as much as 40 to 50 USD (about 2,000 PHP to 2,500 PHP).

Alegre Guitar Factory

Address: Pajac Abuno, Lapu-Lapu City‎, Cebu

Contact Information: +63-32-5050706

How To Access: Take a taxi and to be brought to the factory; most taxi drivers are familiar with this factory.

9. Eat the freshest seafood at Manna STK

Kilaw
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cestbeaucebu used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

STK is short for SuTuKil, which in turn describes the main ways of cooking: sugba (broil), tula (in clear soup), and kilaw (pickled). This seafood restaurant, Manna STK, offers the freshest seafood for guests to choose from. After choosing which seafood you would like to eat, you then choose how each seafood will be cooked. Manna STK is located near the Mactan Shrine, so taxi drivers know where it is. There are several other STK restaurants in the area though.

Manna STK

Address: Mactan Shrine, Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City

Operating Hours: 10 am to 10 pm, daily

Facebook: Manna STK

10. Shop local: visit Profood International Corporation

Philippine Mangoes
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Havagut used under CC0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Profood International Corporation’s main factory is located within Metro Cebu, in Mandaue City. Although this is mainly a business venture, the company has taken it upon itself to house a Mango Museum, where one can learn about the famous Philippine mango. The tour also includes a quick overview of how Profood makes its products and a tour of the factory. It is then capped with a visit to the gift shop where one can purchase the products that Profood is famous for. Tours of more than 15 people need to be arranged beforehand, while smaller groups can drop by anytime during operating hours. A tour fee of 4 USD (200 PHP) per person is required.

Profood Gallery

Address: A. S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City

How To Access: Take a taxi to the factory.

Operating Hours: 7:30 am to 7 pm Mondays to Saturdays

Website: Profood Gallery

11. Go to the islands: San Vicente Marine Sanctuary

Trekking San Vicente Marine Sanctuary
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Elmer nev valenzuela used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Located in Olango Island, San Vicente Marine Sanctuary is a must-visit for enthusiasts of marine biology. One of the park’s best feature is a bamboo footbridge that is 0.50 km (0.31 mi) long and goes through the mangroves. At the end of the bridge, over the water, is a view deck that overlooks the rich marine life below. It’s a great place to take your kids and introduce them to all our friends from the ocean! That’s not to say that this place isn’t suitable for adults, too, because it very much is.

San Vicente Marine Sanctuary

Address: Lapu Lapu City, Cebu

Website: San Vicente Marine Sanctuary

12. Be a beach bum: Vaño Public Beach

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

We hope you aren’t tired of waters just yet, because the next item on this list is Vaño Public Beach! You’re in Lapu Lapu City, after all, and you know it’s going to be packed with beautiful beaches. Vaño Public Beach is exactly what its name is. It attracts a lot of people due to its accessibility. You can go for a quick swim, a picnic by the beach, or just simply relax by the shore. With a lot of people visiting the beach, you’ll feel like a local in no time.

Vaño Public Beach

Address: Lapu Lapu City, Cebu

13. Dine in style at Ibiza Beach Club

"Ibiza Beach Club" at Mövenpick Cebu
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ahia used under CC BY 2.0

How many times can you say out loud that you’ve had a unique dining experience? That’s what Ibiza Beach Club is on this list for. Located at Mövenpick Hotel, this restaurant is probably one of the most lavish places you’ll find in Lapu Lapu. The entire area is standing above water and has panoramic views of the ocean. Ibiza Beach Club serves a blend of Mediterranean and Asian food, along with an exquisite selection of wines, cocktails, and other drinks.

Ibiza Beach Club

Address: Mövenpick Hotel, Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu City, 6015 Cebu

Website: Ibiza Beach Club

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 12pm - 11pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

14. Shop until you drop at Shangs Island Town Center

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

We all know that shopping is an extremely popular activity that people do on vacation, and that is exactly why you’ll find Shangs Island Town Center on this list. This place isn’t just for shopping, though. If you’ve arrived in Lapu Lapu but still do not have your basic needs, you can head to the supermarket at Shangs. Aside from retail stores, restaurants and souvenir shops are also located at the mall, so if you’re only in the city for a quick visit, you can squeeze almost all your tasks at Shangs Island Town Center!

Shangs Island Town Center

Address: M.L. Quezon National Highway, Datag Maribago, Lapu Lapu City, 6015 Cebu

Website: Shangs Island Town Center

Opening hours: 9am - 9pm (daily)

15. Explore Maribagini Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Maribagini is a man-made forest and park in San Vicente, near the marine sanctuary. For the shutterbugs out there visiting Lapu Lapu City, this is the place you go to! Traversing the heavily-wooded path makes for a perfect afternoon walk. Come dusk, the very little light coming from the sky barely passes through the spaces between leaves and creates an eerie and dramatic atmosphere. If you’re in the city to visit San Vicente Marine Sanctuary, don’t forget to visit this park. Bring the cameras out!

Maribagini Park

Address: San Vicente, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu

A different kind of island life

Island life is not just about sand and sea. At these Lapu Lapu tourist attractions, it is also about history, protecting and appreciating the environment, and fresh food. Come and taste a different kind of island life without leaving the confines of the city.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Lapu Lapu, Philippines

1. What are the best attractions to visit in Lapu Lapu?

As one of the most historic places in the Philippines, Lapu Lapu City has plenty of attractions. Lapu Lapu Shrine and Magellan Shrine are just two of the most visited spots in the city.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Lapu Lapu?

Snorkeling at Caohagan Island Marine Sanctuary, birdwatching at Olango Island and Marine Reserve, diving at Nalusuan Island, and swimming at Bluewater Maribago are only four out of the countless outdoor activities that you can do in Lapu Lapu.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Lapu Lapu with kids and family?

Lapu Lapu City is a kid-friendly destination. You can choose to take your family for a leisure walk at San Vicente Marine Sanctuary, or you can go snorkeling at Caohagan Island Marine Sanctuary. Or why not both?

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am a freelance writer living in the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I am passionate about writing and living and anything in between.

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