Historic Lapu Lapu, Mactan Island, Cebu – Relax in Luxurious Resorts

Lapu Lapu is a city on Mactan Island, Cebu Province, in Central Visayas. It is part of Cebu, and it has a special place in the Philippines’ history:

It’s where the chief of the local clan repelled the Spanish invaders in 1521 and, in the process, killed the explorer Magellan – the first recorded time a western invader had been repelled from any part of the Philippines.

Mactan Island is connected to Cebu Island by two road bridges and hosts Cebu International Airport and a number of upscale resorts.

This shows Mactan Island in relation to Cebu Island:

Map of Cebu and Mactan Island

And this looks more closely at Mactan Island with the location of the Lapu Lapu monument (discussed below with pictures) and the resorts:

Map of Mactan Island

Cebu City

Today Cebu is the Philippines’ second city and home to many multinational companies, focused on the shipping, call centre and IT industries.

It is, however, the Philippines’ oldest city and, as I wrote above, one that holds an important place in the country’s history.

It sits on the coast below a range of mountains that run down the centre of Cebu Island.

As you drive up into the mountains you pass homes, hotels and restaurants, all of which have great views of the city.

But for the best view, you need to drive up to Tops which, as its name implies, is on the crest:

Night view of Cebu City from Tops

Night view of Cebu City from Tops

Cebu City is connected to Mactan Island by two bridges, both of which experience extremely heavy traffic and long delays, particularly at peak times.

As a result, people who work on Mactan Island tend to live there, and those who work in Cebu usually live there, despite the fact that Mactan is a nice place to live.

Cebu is generally cleaner and less polluted than Manila because the primary industries are call centre and IT and, on Mactan, tourism.

It offers a wide range of attractions, and the Spanish influence is evident in the many churches and historic buildings that exist both in Cebu City and elsewhere on the island.

It also has many natural attractions and, in another article, I wrote about my trip to the Kawasan falls at Badian, Cebu.

Mactan Island and Lapu Lapu

Mactan Island is a coral island and offers some wonderful beaches and diving locations.

It boasts a lot of high-end resorts along its eastern coastline, making tourism an important industry.

At the northern end of the island is the Lapu Lapu monument, commemorating the heroics of Chief Lapu Lapu. It is located in a beautifully kept park:

Lapu Lapu Monument park

This is the statue of the chief Lapu Lapu, who slew Magellan:

statue of Lapu Lapu

And here is the monument itself:

Lapu Lapu monument

Within the park is a pavilion with a commemorative plaque to the Battle of Mactan, in 1521:

Commemorative plaque to the Battle of Mactan

. . . and here is a painting of the battle:

Painting of the Battle of Mactan

Resorts on Mactan Island, Cebu

As I said above, Lapu Lapu is on Mactan Island, which is clean and well maintained because of the importance of the tourist industry.

It’s a nice place to live, and I recently bought a plot of land there with my Filipino partner, on which we will build a house.

It hosts the International Airport, and, as I wrote earlier, there’s an array of resorts on its east coast.

These include:

  1. Shangri-La Mactan Resort (I’ve stayed there a couple of times – it’s very nice)
  2. Movenpick Hotel, Mactan
  3. Bluewater Maribago
  4. Cebu White Sands
  5. Plantation Bay
  6. Chateau by the Sea
  7. JPark Resort and Waterpark
  8. Costabella
  9. Be Resorts
  10. Solea Mactan Resort
  11. EGI Resort

If you fly to Cebu, the proximity of the airport to the resorts makes for a quick transfer.

And yet you’re not troubled by overflying aircraft because the runway and flight path run parallel to the east coast, and well to the west of the resorts.

Getting there

You have some options for getting to Cebu and Mactan, depending on whether you’re already in the Philippines or visiting from abroad:

  1. From within the Philippines you can fly to Cebu (Mactan International airport) or take a ferry
  2. If you’re visiting from abroad you will need to fly. There are a number of Asian locations from which you can fly direct to Cebu, but from outside of Asia you will need to fly to Manila and then connect to Cebu

Test your knowledge! Have fun with one of our travel quizzes – click here!

Have you visited Cebu, Lapu Lapu or one of the resorts there? I do recommend it (but then I am biased!) Let us know in the comments!


Martin Malden

Martin Malden
The Expat Traveller

What do you think?

2 comments… add one
  • Matt Lin Mar 14, 2020 @ 23:49

    Hi Martin,

    I went to Cebu once and didn’t know it has a history with Spanish explorers in the past. Glad to learn new things from your article again.

    One thing I found in Cebu is that the local people are friendly and helpful for tourists and you don’t need to worry much about your safety. You can walk on the street at night with friends, and it’s no problem.

    When I visited Cebu, I also went to Bohol island, which is impressive. The resorts in Bohol island are like paradise in summer times. Have you ever been to Bohol Island too? I would love to read your travel articles.


    • Martin Malden Mar 16, 2020 @ 6:57

      Hi Matt,

      I’m glad you enjoyed Cebu and yes, the Spanish influence is very strong there. This includes in Cebuano, the local dialect, not just the buildings and churches.

      And yes, I like Bohol as well – it is one of the cleanest places I’ve been to in the Philippines – there was no litter on the roadsides.

      I wrote about my trip to Bohol here.



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