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Last updated : Nov 2009
Visayas Islands
Visayas Islands - TravelPuppy.com
The Visayas

This cluster of islands is located between Luzon and Mindanao. The major islands are Samar, Panay, Negros, Cebu and Leyte. Leyte is known as the island 1st sighted by the Spanish adventurer Ferdinand Magellan in the 16th century and also the landing place for the American liberation forces in 1944. The San Juanico Bridge that links Samar and Leyte, is the longest bridge in the Philippines.


Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest city, is the major island of the Visayas and the main centre of population in this area. It is also a commercial hub with an international seaport. Things to see and do include Magellan’s Cross, a wooden cross planted by Magellan himself over 450 years ago to commemorate the baptism into the Christian faith of Rajah Humabon and his wife Juana with 800 followers; and Fort San Pedro, the oldest and smallest Spanish fort in the Philipines, constructed by order of Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. The town of Carcar, south of Cebu City, boasts a number of preserved Castillian churches, houses and gardens. In Mandaue City, the Chapel of the Last Supper features life-size statues of Christ and his apostles dating back to Spanish times. On Mactan Island, the Magellan Monument was built in 1886 to mark the spot where Magellan died, felled by the fierce chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu, who refused to submit to the Spanish conquerors. Datu Lapu-Lapu also has a monument honouring him as the 1st Filipino patriot. The region’s guitar-making industry is Maribago. Famous hotels, resorts and beach clubs are available.


Iloilo on Panay is an agricultural region growing vegetable, root crops, cocoa, coffee and various tropical fruits. Besides the many beach resorts in Iloilo City which is accessible by air, is the 18th-century Miagao Church. It is an outstanding landmark, designed in a Baroque colonial style with a facade decorated with impressions of coconut and papaya trees. For those who wish to try scuba diving, Sicogon Island is ideal for it. Here there are also mountains and virgin forests to adventure. Another island paradise is Boracay, which is reached by air via Kalibo followed by a bus or jeepney ride to Malay, and ferry or pump boat to Cataclan. A recent survey considered its powdery white sand beaches to be among the finest in the world.


Just across the straits from Cebu in Central Visayas lies Bohol Island. It is the location of some of the country’s most unique natural wonders. A great deal of limestone hills, some 30 metres or 100 feet high, that in summer look like oversized chocolate drops, earning them the name ‘Chocolate Hills’ can be seen here. The fantastic spectacle to witness is the mound rising up from the flatlands of dried grass that turns brown in the summer. They are located about 55 kilometres or 34 miles northeast of Tagbilaran City, the island’s capital. Bohol has white sandy beaches and beautiful peaceful coves that can be reached by good roads. It is a coconut-growing place and its handicrafts like grass mats, hats and baskets, are mainly made of woven materials. Baclayon Church is believably the oldest stone church in the country dating back to 1595 and is worth a visit. The island is reachable by ferry or plane. The flights from Cebu to Tagbilaran take 40 minutes. Ferry service is provided from Cebu to Tagbilaran or Tubigon, another port north of the capital.