Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort & Spa (2)

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Under the Sea

 If a trip to Cebu, Philippines is something you’ve been postponing for a long time now, perhaps you’ll finally decide to do it after reading this series of blogs.  This is part 2.01

We went snorkeling twice a day during most of the days that we were in Shangri-la Mactan.  Once was not enough.

Unlike in other resorts where you have to rent a boat to get to the snorkeling area, at Shangri-la, all you have to do is borrow a life vest, a pair of goggles and flippers at the beach counter; then, swim a few meters and you will already see it – the garden under the sea.

The resort as seen from the snorkeling floating platform

The resort maintains an award-winning, six-hectare, marine sanctuary, with a coral conservation area right in front of the beach, and so just a few meters from the shore you can already see the most colourful fishes and the most interesting-looking corals.  03

There are two lifeguards on separate boats in the snorkeling area.  Shangri-la is safety-crazy but this also makes it convenient for people to get back to the shore if they decide that they could not swim any longer; just like the little girl that we saw who asked to be transported back to the beach.

Lifeguard on the boat and Joaquin on the floating platform, telling me that he saw a black sea urchin.

There are two floating platforms in the snorkeling area.  Please do try to get to them because it’s really worth the swim.  From the shore to the platforms, you can see various species of fish and corals.  And if the water is clear in the deeper parts, you can even see the three giant clams.  We were lucky, we saw all three!

Happy we made it to this platform

The water around the platforms was deep and cold and it freaked me out but I had no choice.  My husband and my kids love the sea and I would be alone if I wouldn’t follow them.

Euben and Benjamin swimming to the other platform
Joaquin preparing to jump and swim to follow his brother and dad

But one of the platforms has a secret

Benjamin getting ready to find out

And you’ll have to take your life vest off and dive to be able to see it.

Diving for the secret under the platform

Under that platform is a breath-taking sight that I never expected to see.


A school of jack fish was circling the area. I thought we only see this in movies!

That’s them circling below the platform

There was a day that we joined the snorkeling tour headed by the resort’s conservationist.  The tour was informative and that’s also when we saw the giant clams.   The clams were in the deeper part of the sea and would be difficult to spot if you are snorkeling on your own.  I highly recommend this tour.  It’s in the afternoon and lasts about an hour.

Snorkeling tour briefing

Let me show you now the life under the sea…

Getting our masks ready
Joaquin examining the blue sea star before returning it to the sea
Joaquin’s favourite creature
Damselfish curious about Joaquin’s leg
Attack of the parrot fish
Sergeant Major
Orange and white striped clownfish, also known as ‘Nemo’
Black clownfish
Black and white striped clownfish
Aggressive rabbit fish and a couple of yellow fish


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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Blue staghorn coral among the table coral


Brain coral on the bottom left
Valley coral


If there is something at Shangri-la Mactan that the other resorts in Cebu do not have, it would be the convenience of being able to snorkel at your doorstep. And that is enough to make us want to go back.


More of Shangri-la Mactan in Part 3!

Here’s Part 1 if you’ve missed it.


    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. And you know what, just this summer we discovered another snorkeling place in the Philippines that has even clearer waters, bigger fish and with sea turtles too. 🙂


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