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Every travel nut, at some point in their lives, has fantasized about an island paradise getaway. The dream of walking on fine white sand while swimming in pristine waters rouses the longing for a new tropical adventure. In Cebu, the beach bum fantasy is well within reach—not to mention, within budget. Here are beaches in Cebu where you can maximize enjoyment with minimal spending.

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1. Dalaguete Beach Park

Dalaguete Beach Park
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This beach is known to be one of the places locals would recommend to tourists. Dalaguete Beach Park can be found in South Cebu. Since it is owned and managed by the local government, its cool blue waters are open for the public to enjoy at a very minimal fee. The entrance fee to the beach only costs around $0.50 for adults and $0.25 for children. For a little over $5, bigger groups can rent a beach hut or cottage—plus free use of the karaoke machine! Picnic tables, on the other hand, can be rented for just $3.
To sum it all up, the estimated day trip budget you need to set aside for Dalaguete Beach Park is $20, including transportation. Cebu is well-endowed with breathtaking beaches, which is why it does not come as a surprise to find a beautiful beach such as this very accessible from the city.

2. Basdaku White Beach and Panagsama Beach, Moalboal

Moalboal Cebu
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These two beaches sit right next to each other at Moalboal. With its name directly translating to “big sand,” Basdaku White Beach is known for its wide expanse of fine sand. Here, tourists swim in crystal clear waters, taking in all the peace and quiet they can get. The entrance fee costs less than US$1, and campers are free to pitch their tents without having to pay. Apart from swimming and camping, other recreational activities can be enjoyed. Kayaks, diving and snorkeling gear, and even kite-surfing equipment are available for rent in the area.
When the sun comes down, head over to Panagsama Beach side where the nightlife is kicking. Mingle with fellow travelers and locals at a bar, or go food-tripping with your friends. Moalboal is definitely a place with loads of fun to cover your day—and you hardly even need to spend! 

3. Lambug Beach, Badian

Lambug Beach
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Lambug Beach, a must-see for visiting tourists, can be found in the southern part of Cebu in a town called Badian. The beach is known to be a great spot away from the crowds. Part of its charm comes from its natural and untouched condition. If its clear waters and fine sand aren’t enough to draw you in, then maybe it being entrance fee free will. That’s right! You can lay on the sand or take a dip, free-of-charge. Best of all, getting there won’t cost you more than $10 from the airport. Cottage rentals are at $10 while camping fees range from $1-$3.
Kawasan Falls
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If you’ve had enough swimming, there’s much more to do near the beach. Other famed attractions can be found in the area. Wash off that seawater at Kawasan Falls, or go crab hunting for your next meal at the mangroves. If you’ve had enough of the water,  trek up Osmeña Peak for a complete view of Cebu’s south-western coastline. At the end of every adventure is a tourist waiting to be fed. So why not drag your appetite to Badian’s local market and restaurants to try some local delicacies. Badian has so much to offer, and Lambug Beach is just the beginning. See what else you can find in town through this link.

4. Hermit’s Cove, Aloguinsan 


Hermit's Cove
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Townsfolk claim that the cove used to be the territory of an old wandering hermit. Thick greenery enshrouds the area just before the beach, gracing it with such mysterious beauty. Hermit’s Cove can be found in the town of Aloguinsan—a place also known as the “Ecotourism Capital of Cebu”. The beach is a one kilometer-long stretch of white sand with sparkling turquoise waters. Entrance fees are all collected at The Farmhouse. Central payment is a part of the local government’s efforts to control tourist activity and maintain the integrity of  Cebu’s Ecotourism capital. By paying $2 for adults, $0.50 for kids, you are given access not just to the cove but also Bojo River. Travelling from the city may take about two and a half hours, but once you arrive, it will all be worth it.

5. Kota Beach, Bantayan Island

Kota Beach
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Kota Beach sits at the very tip of the southeastern end of Bantayan Island. It is known for its curved shoreline and sandbar. During low tide, the sandbar emerges, opening a new path for tourists to stroll on and creating a smaller pool of water next to the ocean. The beach is lined with coconut trees and beach chairs where visitors can bask in this astonishing tropical paradise. From sunrise to sundown, Kota Beach is the perfect spot to see the sky change color and view the vast display of stars in the evening. While the resort does not allow walk-in guest for their accommodations, day visitors who want to explore and enjoy the beach are welcome. The entrance fee for Kota Beach costs around $1. If you are lucky, you might even encounter vendors selling scallops cheap and fresh. With all that this beach has to offer, you’re sure to get a bang for your buck! 

6. Santa Fe Beach Club

Santa Fe Bantayan Island
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Just a few minutes away from Kota Beach is the Santa Fe Beach Club. Like the other breathtaking beaches in the area, the Santa Fe Beach Club shares the same white sand and jewel-like water of Bantayan Island. A memorable icon to the local residents and a must-see for tourists, the resort was one of the first to stand on the island. For an entrance fee of $4, you are allowed to enjoy their beach. 
Ogtong Cave
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For a different fee, sister resort Ogtong Cave Resort gives you access to various spots. Although the Ogtong Cave Resort is all the way on the other side of town, the Santa Fe Beach Club offers transfer services. Whether it’s the outdoor pool or beach, the swimming experience at Ogtong Cave Resort does not disappoint. The fee also covers taking a dip inside the famed Ogtong Cave, a natural geological wonder made of limestone. However, due to safety precautions, the resort opens the cave from 8:00 to 16:00 only.

7. Bounty Beach, Malapascua

Bounty Beach Malapascua
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The Malapascua area is a known diving and snorkeling hotspot for those wanting to see thresher sharks and rays. Its sprawling coral reefs are home to such marine life and other marvels of nature. Bounty Beach is the first beach you’ll see upon arriving at the port. Bounty Beach is very popular with tourists, in fact, it was even featured in The Telegraph UK’s 2017 article Asia’s 16 most beautiful beaches. Because it stretches out really far, walking from end to end will take you more than an hour. Several resorts, which follow the shoreline, offer various services and activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. 
thresher sharks
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Packaged day tours usually range from $15 to $30, and the island has its own entry fee which costs less than $5. Taking a trip to Malapascua may be pricier than other beaches mentioned in this article, but we assure you, it will be worth every penny.

8. Chocolate Island, Malapascua

Though its name sounds like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, please do not attempt to taste the terrain. It may not be made of chocolate, but a visit here is just as sweet. This dive site is home to healthy breathtaking beds of coral. Various species of fish, crabs, eels, and other marine life reside in its clear waters. Because the natives value its importance in sustaining marine biodiversity, they installed Virgin Mary statues underwater to protect the dive site from illegal fishing. 

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To visit Chocolate Island, dive shops or resorts around Malapascua can arrange your trip and private boat rentals only cost less than $30. A few dive resorts you may contact to arrange trips to Chocolate Island are Evolution Dive and Beach Resort, Exotic Island Dive Resort, and Thresher Cove Dive Resort.The dive site is perfect for both amateur and professional divers alike. Since the reef area is shallow, please remember to avoid stepping on the coral. 
Cebu has so much more beautiful beaches for every backpacker to explore. It would be a shame to hold back and scrimp on experience. So what’s stopping you from taking in some of that vitamin SEA? Seize the moment because not every vacation has to end with an empty wallet.
*All travel and entrance fees mentioned in this article may change at any given time

More information about backpacker budget-friendly beaches in Cebu, Philippines:

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This article was written by Gabbi Reyes for Mad Monkey Hostels.

About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.