Island Hopping near Mactan, Cebu: Pandanon, Kawhagan, and Gilutungan Islands


Living in Cebu City is an advantage for a person who loves the beach, and sea. An hour drive from the bustling streets of the city will reward you great beaches that will satisfy your need of sand. A better option is to charter a boat to visit the islands off Mactan and hop from one to another.

Here comes the sun! Summer!

The original plan was to have a day hike on a mountain near the city but circumstances sometimes bring us to a better alternative. We denuded the mountain climbing plan and focused on the other option, island hopping. Our destination for that weekend was Pandanon Island that is geographically accessible from Mactan thru pump boats, but actually part of the province of Bohol. Also on our itinerary is a side trip to Kawhagan, and Gilutungan Islands.

Sandbar in Pandanon Island.

We had the boat rates, estimated the budget for the food, and split the group for the different tasks. But since most of us end our work shift past midnight, the idea of having a hassle-free tour was a majority. We decided to contact a tour operator in Cordova to handle all the things needed for the island hopping activity. For 15 pax, we sealed a deal at Php670 per person for the boat transfers, cottage fee, and lunch.

Galore Tours specializes tours to the islands of Nalusuan, Gilutungan, Kawhagan, and Pandanon. For the boat with lunch buffet, they have 5 sets to choose from. SET A: chicken pork adobo, grilled fish, sinuglaw, sotanghon guisado, SET B: fried chicken drumstick, grilled pork belly, kare-kare, bam-I, SET C: pork barbeque, daing na bangus, beef steak, and pancit canton, SET D: crispy pork belly, chicken adobo, fish kinilaw, pancit bihon. SET E: pork humba, fried chicken wings, grilled fish, spaghetti. All sets also come with rice, softdrinks and juice, boiled banana, and a container of mineral water.

What’s for lunch? Sinuglaw, pork and chicken adobo, grilled fish, and spicy lechon belly.

For boat rates (without lunch), small boats for 15pax is at Php3200, Php4200 for regular boats for 25pax, and Php4700 pesos for 30pax. Additional Php700 if you plan to visit Pandanon Island. Boats have their own comfort room, center table, and grill area. Please also prepare the entrance fees for the following islands: Gilutungan Island (Php100), Kawhagan Island (Php200), Nalusuan Island (Php200), and Pandanon Island (Php150).

We were the first to arrive in Pandanon Island and chose the endmost cottage nearest to the sandbar. After settling our things in the cottage, everyone decisively went under the scorching heat of the sun: took panoramic shots, submerged in the crystal clear waters, and had Frisbee on the sand. The scenic view of the island was really a reward for a busy week we had.

Lunch was served immediately and we all feasted on grilled fish, the Cebuano’s sinuglaw; sinugba (grilled) and kinilaw (ceviche), adobo, pancit, and the Original Cebu Lechon Belly we bought from the city. We swam for a while to cool down the intense heat of the sun then rented a volleyball to spend some spare time on the island. At noon time, hordes of people, local and foreign, arrived and we were shocked that all cottages were already occupied.

Dare to jump? Why not!

We dropped by a marine sanctuary near Kawhagan Island to snorkel but never tried plunging into the water. Other members of the group who braved to go down were dismayed and suggested to proceed to Gilutungan Island. Staying near the marine sanctuary in Gilutungan will require you to pay Php100 per head, even if you don’t plan to swim. There are these small boats that approach all tour boats to collect the fees. We tagged them as pirates as we watched them hop from one boat to another.


Seaweed farmer and his underwater farm.

To enjoy the fee we paid, we insisted to dock in Gilutungan Island but we were disappointed to find out that there was no way we can walk on the wooden boardwalk because it’s a private property. Nonetheless, we were able to watch a farmer harvest seaweeds from his plantation. After the mini-immersion, we again boarded the boat and went snorkeling. It was 4PM when we got back to Cordova and the whole day of touring the three islands gave us the right amount of relaxation and enjoyment we needed.



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