Exploring Mactan

Trip Start Sep 17, 2009
Trip End May 06, 2010

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Where I stayed
Blue Reef Resort

Flag of Philippines  , Lapu-Lapu,
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mactan Island, where to begin. We felt we'd exhausted most of the things to do and see in Cebu City, and we didn't feel like playing the lame Cebu City nightlife game any longer. We were in the Philippines... a bunch of tiny islands... some known to have gorgeous beaches. We wanted beaches. We figured Mactan Island would have some given its eastern coast line is littered with luxury beach resorts for foreigners with much deeper pockets than ours. 

Once checked out of our hotel and committed to the 200+ peso cab ride across the old bridge from Cebu to Mactan Island, we had to find a place to stay. We weren't going back. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that most of the places on the beach side of Mactan were these mega-expensive luxury resorts. Thank goodness our barely comprehensible taxi driver knew of a cheaper option. He dropped us off at the Blue Reef Resort where I quickly ran in and verified the price was affordable (relatively speaking) and the place was nice enough (actually much nicer than we were expecting).

I'll let Mike's descriptions and the photos show what the Blue Reef was like. It was pricey (for our budget), but it felt like a nice 2-day splurge of luxury and recuperation. I kind of enjoyed having fresh sliced mango, passion fruit and pineapple served every morning to us in our room for free, along with whatever *-silog (pick a meat + egg and rice) breakfast we wanted. Eating breakfast, sipping coffee, while sitting on our oceanside balcony to pickup the wifi signal with our laptops... hard to beat that for a couple of days :-)

Mike wrote a lengthy description of the rest of our stay on Mactan so I'll let that suffice. Plus, his firsthand "experience" can only be told in his own words ;-)

Mike's Thoughts:

We got our laundry from the laundromat right around the corner from Casa Rosario -- they charge PHP20 per kg. Pretty cheap. After that, we packed up our bags and headed to Mactan Island. Since LP doesn't have anything on Mactan Island, and all the places we found online were pretty expensive, we decided to just drive around a bit and try to find something. The taxi driver tried to take us to Plantation Bay, which is like a 5-star resort that was charging $230 USD a night. Crazy, but it looked amazing.
We told the taxi driver we wanted something cheap, but he didn't even understand English. Still, he took us to a place called Blue Reef. They were asking PHP2500/night, and I'm sure we could have gotten it cheaper had the manager been around. They did throw in some water, cookies, pineapple and mangos, and free breakfast.
We decided to book 2 nights here. The place is beautiful. We have a balcony that overlooks the ocean. Below us is a private lagoon with slides and cottages (free for us). There are little holes in the wall where you can swim into with water hammocks inside. You can also see a bunch of the boats that do island hopping. Awesome view. And perfect weather. Can't beat this for PHP2500/night. Not in the US. The room itself is also great with air conditioning, wi-fi (not really in the rooms, but we got it to work), and hot water. Refrigerator, TV, the works.
After going for a swim and chillin on the water hammock, we went to the restaurant here for dinner. Nothing really special, but I had some of the grilled fish. While we were eating, a bunch of "girls" approached us and wanted to join us after dinner. We joined them at a nearby table over a couple of beers.
One of the guys working here told us that the girls couldn't stay around the cottages since they didn't pay from 7PM - 7AM. Most people just come here for the cottages and to swim. They don't actually stay in the hotel. People are swimming and partying all hours of the night. They only have two shifts -- 7AM to 7PM and 7PM to 7AM. Anyway, I came up with the idea of inviting the girls up to the roof. The lady at the front desk told me that we could have them up there for an hour.
After we finished off another 1L of Red Horse, I suggested that we all go to some bars. We took taxis to the bars (like PHP200 for both). We tried the first bar, which looked like a strip club combined with a KTV, but it was completely empty. All 7 of us ended up hopping on one of the motorcycle carts (Scott: "I'm just glad I didn't realize at the time that we had 7 PEOPLE on a TRICYCLE!") and going to another bar, which was basically another KTV. When the girls wanted Scott and I to pay for the beer and the room in the KTV, I decided that we should leave them and head back. I hate when you're traveling and girls expect you to pay for everything.
We grabbed a taxi and headed back. The taxi driver was telling us that all but 1 of the girls were guys. He even said that the girl I was talking to was a guy. I still don't believe it.  Either way, I'm sure this will haunt me for the rest of the trip...
When we got back to Blue Reef, some of the people at the front desk said that they thought the same. I thought I checked her out well. Crazy!
Hadn't been sleeping well the previous night, so slept in till about noon. Scott and I did some research on where to go next, and we decided on Bohol. Should be pretty cool. After that, we headed to Mactan Shrine, where Magellan met his fate with Lapu Lapu. The town where the shrine is located is also called Lapu Lapu, and the shrine is also known as the Liberty Shrine. The shrine was pretty cool -- on the water and surrounded by a nice park.
After checking out the shrine, we headed around the corner to get some seafood. They had a couple of famous places where you pick out the fish and they cook it for you. We had heard a lot about Sutukil, so we had to try that. The place we went has the fish market on the first floor, and people eat on the third floor. It overlooks the water and has a nice view of the sunset. On the water, you can see kids swimming around and playing. Further away, large ships can be seen as they pass through the Philippines on their way to distant places.
We picked out a Parrot Fish and some rice. It was pretty good, but I have had better. We had them grill it, and it turned out pretty damn good. I had the fried rice, which is hands down the best rice I've had on this trip and maybe the best ever. It actually looked like coleslaw, but thank god it wasn't.
We walked through Lapu Lapu after eating and looked around at some of the markets.  Then we headed back the hotel to chill and have some beers. Can't party every night. Also, the beers at the seafood market were 25 pesos! For San Miguel Light. Crazy cheap!

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