Cebu is the hub around which the Visayas revolves. It is the most densely populated island in the Philippines and is second only to Luzon in its strategic and economic importance to the country. Its language, Cebuano, is widely spoken throughout the Visayas and parts of Mindanao, and its capital, Cebu City, is a magnet for migrants from all over the region.

Heavily developed, particularly on its eastern coast, Cebu has a long, bare backbone of a central mountain range that has confined most of the population to the coastal fringe. Mining and logging have taken their toll on the forests, though with the right guide there are still a few opportunities for exploring mountains, caves and waterfalls.

The beaches at the northern tip of the island and on its southwest coast have the whitest sand and the most spectacular diving. To the north, the idyllic offshore islands of Bantayan and Malapascua are steadily increasingly in popularity, and deservedly so. To the south, Moalboal's Panagsama Beach packs a concentrated dose of dive centres and budget hedonism.

Mactan Island, a short drive from Cebu City, may be little more than an overdeveloped mudflat, but divers and bird-watchers still flock to Olango, a reef-ringed outcrop just off its eastern coast.

Text from:  Lonely Planet

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