Cebu is one the country's best islands. Cebu City is the Queen of the South and if I would escape Manila, I would move to Cebu. Imagine having nice beaches 30 mins. away and great ones just hours away.
Let's start with the most idyllic and touristic island that is 4 hours by bus north from Cebu City, Malapascua. The island is listed in most international travel guide books, and Lonely Planet lists it in one of the best islands in the Philippines. As a result, foreigners make up a majority of the island's visitors. From the port of Maya in the mainland, passing through Daanbantayan, we ferried ourselves to Malapascua, for about 45 minutes. Once you arrive at Bounty Beach, the main beach, you will immediately feel at home in paradise.
Malapascua has white sand beaches, and several beach front resorts. Prices are quoted in both dollars and pesos. We stayed at Blue Water Resort that cost us around 1,800 a night for a cottage. The laid back island is rather small, and one could walk around its circumference in an hour or two. You could rent a bike and pedal your way around the island to visit its other attractions, like the lighthouse at the North end of the island. What caught my attention though is the presence of great restaurants such as La Isla Bonita and La Dolce Vita, both owned by foreigners. La Isla Bonita is owned by a German serving great international fare, while La Dolce Vita is obviously Italian. Dolce Vita serves great pannacota and pizzas. There's also Ging Ging's Eatery, that serves home cooked Filipino dishes and Sunsplash Bar, where they recreated the tequila challange of Cocomangas in Boracay. The island is also known for great diving as well, especially for its thresher shark dives. There is the opportunity to see Mandarin fish mating at sunset and see manta rays as well. Dive Link Dive Shop is a good choice if you want to explore the underwater.
Malapascua is often called the future Boracay, given its number of bars and good restaurants. Honestly, it cannot be like Boracay because of its size. Its laid back nature I think will remain constant through the years, and will be the charm of the place. If you want to go to a beach in Cebu, with a sort of international vibe, then this is the place.