Visayas Holiday Planning Guide
Like a string of uneven beads, the islands of the Visayas archipelago surround the Visayan Sea and contain many of the country's top tourist attractions. The western islands appeal mostly to beachgoers seeking that perfect vacation paradise combining solitude with a good set of tourist amenities. The eastern section of the archipelago offers a blend of cultural sights and natural wonders, including white sand beaches and coral reefs teeming with marine life. Whether they go east or west, most visitors on a Visayas holiday devote much of their time to meeting the friendly locals and sampling some of the outstanding cuisine.
Places to Visit in Visayas
Destinations in VisayasCebu City
: Dotted with colonial Spanish architecture, historic temples, museums, and restaurants, the "Queen City of the South" invites you to explore the country's marine heritage on your Visayas vacation.Boracay
: Drawing beachgoers from around the world, this idyllic island boasting pristine white-sand beaches edged with resorts and seafood restaurants is one of the most visited Visayas holiday destinations .Iloilo City
: Blending a plethora of historical attractions and nightlife entertainment, the last Spanish colonial capital in the country deserves the nickname the "Heart of the Philippines."Bacolod
: The capital city of Negros Occidental province draws tourists with its rich foodie culture and vibrant festival scene.Cebu Island
: The scenic nature, pristine beaches, and numerous water sports put this long, thin island on top of many Visayas itineraries built by adventurous visitors.Bohol Island
: Home to the wide-eyed tarsiers, small primates that are something of a mascot for this area, this scenic island offers an array of hiking and offshore diving opportunities.
Popular Visayas Tourist AttractionsWhite Beach
: One of the most popular beaches in the Philippines attracts crowds of tourists looking for scuba diving, parasailing, and jet skiing opportunities for their Visayas holidays.Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach)
: One of country's most valuable ecological treasures, this tropical beach lures you into snorkeling and exploring the area's underwater natural beauty.Chocolate Hills
: Featured on the provincial flag, this photogenic landscape of scattered cone-shaped mounds represents a symbol of natural abundance and wealth.Alona Beach
: Surrounded by hotels, bars, and restaurants, this powdery white beach popular with snorkelers and scuba divers offers various Visayas tourist attractions, including a tarsier sanctuary and a naturally lighted cave.Basilica del Santo Nino
: The oldest Roman Catholic church in the country houses a 16th-century wooden figure of baby Jesus made by Flemish artists and presented to a local queen by Magellan.Ariel's Point
: Set in a scenic fishing village, this exciting eco-tourism spot provides an eventful day trip for anyone wishing to explore this unspoiled paradise.Magellan's Cross
: Standing under a ceiling of a small octagonal chapel in downtown Cebu, the cross depicts images of Magellan's arrival in the Philippines and his blood pact with Rajah Humabon.Taoist Temple
: Perched on top of Cebu's classy Beverly Hills, this modern place of worship offers a scenic view of the city and an insight into Chinese folk religions.Tarsier Conservation Area
: This large private greenery invites you to get a close-up view of the cutest, long-tailed, wide-eyed, nocturnal primates that are a mascot of Bohol Island.Kawasan Falls
: A trip to this spectacular three-tiered waterfall allows you to take a dip in a hidden azure lagoon, take a canyoning tour, and find peace and tranquility provided by the lush greenery.
Planning a Visayas Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Visayas with Kids
With a stimulating blend of pristine nature and lively towns, Visayas has a lot to offer to families traveling with children.
The area's top tourist destination, Boracay
promises both a relaxing and adventurous family holiday in Visayas, filled with water sports and island-hopping opportunities.Bohol Island
attracts tourists with its biologically diverse offshore dive spots and the wildlife sanctuary for tarsiers.
One of the primary tourist islands of Cebu, Mactan Island
provides more opportunities for adrenaline-pumping sports, including snuba diving (a cross between scuba and snorkeling).
Apart from historic temples and colonial Spanish architecture, the densely populated Cebu City
offers many modern kinds of entertainment, such as theme parks, zoos, and interactive museums.
To fully appreciate the region's unspoiled plant and animal life, head to Cebu Island
and be amazed by its splendid waterfalls, colorful coral reefs, and offshore diving spots.
Things to Do in Visayas with Kids
The clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling and fine white sands of White Beach
and Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach)
will likely be among the main reasons for your trip to Visayas.
Enjoy the beaches, but don't overlook the region's other natural beauties waiting to be uncovered at Tarsier Conservation Area
, or in the lush vegetation of Mountain View Nature s Park
If your little ones show interest in the marine world, underwater caves, and mysterious shipwrecks, sign them up for Evolution Diving
For a slice of local history, take them to Fort San Pedro
, the oldest and smallest stronghold in the Philippines.Willy's Rock
, a volcanic rock shaped like a battleship stranded during low tide, will make a great background for family photos from your Visayas vacation. Great pics can also be taken at Chocolate Hills
, a National Geological Monument.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Visayas
Unless you're staying in one of the bigger urban centers, pack everything you might need on your Visayas holiday, from diapers and formula, to prescription medicine and insect repellent.
Cebu City's modern shopping malls are good places to resupply.
Remember to always use bottled water.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Visayas
Cuisine of Visayas
Visayas cooking varies according to the ancestral influences of the region's many islands. One thing is however certain--not a day goes by in Visayas without tasty and healthy seafood.
"Kinilaw" is a common, regional delicacy you must try on your Visayas tour. On Cebu and Bohol Island
, this fresh seafood dish (fish or shellfish) is marinated in palm wine vinegar, lime, coconut cream, and chilies, and eaten raw.
Cebu City is known for its special way of preparing "lechon," the most popular festive food, which consists of a whole roasted pig or a calve.
A city that developed thanks to a once-thriving sugar industry, Bacolod
boasts a rich foodie culture that is known for the ubiquitous sweet gelatinous puddings and rich sticky marinades.
Don't miss "lumpiang ubod" (wrappers made with palm heart filled with shrimp and pork meat) and "inasal" (barbequed chicken marinated in a local citrus and colored with red "atsuete" seed).
The influence of the Chinese cuisine is evident in "pancit molo," meat-filled dumplings cooked in a tasty soup.
Shopping in Visayas
For some retail therapy on your Visayas vacation, visit one of the region's modern shopping malls, such as Ayala Mall
These popular shopping and entertainment centers showcase popular brands and flagship outlets. While exploring them, you should also look out for local crafts, such as capiz shell lampshades and handmade guitars.
For a more authentic shopping experience, head to D' Talipapa Market
. Apart from fruit, vegetables, and fresh seafood, the local produce you'll find on the stalls of this traditional market include straw mats and weaved baskets.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Visayas
Interesting Facts About Visayas
* The site where the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in the archipelago is Samar Island
* The historic battle in which native Lapu-Lapu warriors defeated Spaniards and killed Magellan took place in 1521 on Mactan Island
* The original settlers of Panay Island
, the Aetas, call their island Aninipay
Holidays & Festivals in Visayas
Every festival in Visayas represents a blend of pagan and Catholic traditions and is celebrated with music, tribal dance, and colorful street parades.
"The Mother of All Philippine Festivals," which inspired similar feasts in other Philippine cities, is held annually in the first week of January in Kalibo
. It's called the Ati-Atihan Festival, after Aetas the primary settlers of the islands, but is celebrated in honor of baby Jesus (the Santo Nino).
A week after the Ati-Atihan, Sinulog Festival, one of the country's most impressive and colorful fiestas also dedicated to Infant Jesus, is held in Cebu City
. People gather from all around the region to participate in the grand street parade, which can last up to12 hours.
If your Visayas tour brings you to Iloilo City
on the fourth Sunday of January, you can take part in yet another version of the same event, the Dinagyang Festival.
Useful Visayas Travel Tips
Climate of Visayas
With similar water and air temperatures all year round and little difference between wet and dry seasons, Visayas can be visited almost any time of the year. To avoid possible typhoons, don't plan your Visayas trip to the eastern regions between July and October.
Cebu City enjoys moderate weather throughout the year, tempered by pleasant ocean breezes, with daily temperatures ranging between 26 C (79 F) and 33 C (91 F). In the hottest months of March and April, temperatures can reach 37 C (98 F).
The region's favorite tourist destination, Boracay has two distinct seasons--the rainy (June to late October), and the dry (November to May). The highest temperatures, sometimes exceeding 39 C (102 F), are usually recorded in April and May.
Transportation in Visayas
The area boasts an extensive network of large and small ferries, so you can never get stuck in the one place too long. More options for water transport include the long, banana-shaped bangka boats. These traditional fishing boats can be paddle-driven or propelled by petrol engines.