Ultimate Travel Guide to Santander, Cebu

The first thing that will probably come to your mind when you think of Cebu is the majestic view from the top of Osmena Peak, the beautiful underwater scene of Pescador Island, the colorful field of flowers in Sirao, or the turquoise blue water of Kawasan Falls. But beyond all these popular destinations, there are less-crowded towns in Cebu that offer great scenery to tourists. One of these towns is located at the southernmost tip of the Cebu island called Santander.

Santander Travel Guide

This town is known for its clear blue waters and interesting diving spots. Additionally, it is also the gateway to the neighboring islands and regions in the Philipines such as Negros, Siquijor, Bohol, and Dapitan.

What You Need To Know About Santander, Cebu

Santander was originally called Tañong before the Spanish settlement. Later, it was renamed Santander – a city on the northern coast of Spain.

Travelers often don’t stay for long in this town. This is because it is mostly known only for its seaports that connect to the provinces of Siquijor, Negros Oriental, and Zamboanga. Nevertheless, there are actually a few interesting spots to explore in this quiet town. Its strategic location makes it the best place to stay if you want to explore South Cebu or its neighboring islands. It is the next town to the famous whale shark watching location in Oslob which is just 10 minutes away. On top of that, Dumaguete Airport is also just 30 minutes away.

Related: Santander Diaries: How I Ended Up Moving Here

Get to know the locals

People living in Santander are called Tañonganon. The main livelihood in Santander is farming and fishing. The waters in this part of the country are rich fishing ground. Since Santander is located just right the tail of Tañon Strait, it is a perfect destination for divers who want to explore the rich marine ecosystem beneath the waters of Cebu and Negros Island.

In addition, Santander, Cebu is also known for Tostado Festival. It is celebrated annually to highlight Santander’s abundance of farming and marine resources. In this festival, a famous local cookie called Tostado is showcased.

How To Get There

Santander is easily accessible from either Cebu City, Dumaguete City, Siquijor, and Dapitan City.

How to get to Santander from Cebu City

From Cebu South Bus Terminal, look for buses bound for Bato-Oslob or Bato-Oslob via Dumaguete buses. There are 3 major bus transport services to choose from; namely Ceres Lines (yellow bus), Sugbo Transit, and Sunrays Bus Liner.  The bus ride from Cebu City to Santander typically takes around 4-5 hours, depending on traffic conditions. 

Find an affordable lodge in Cebu City to stay in for the night you plan to catch an early morning bus to Santander. There are various budget-friendly accommodations scattered around the city, ranging from guesthouses to hostels. 

How to get to Santander from Dumaguete City

From Dumaguete City or Dumaguete City airport, ride a pedicab or ‘easyride’ bound for Sibulan, Negros Oriental. Easyride fare usually costs around PHP 12-20. On the other hand, you can charter a pedicab for Php 100-150 pesos. From Sibulan, ride a fast craft or ferry to Liloan Port in Santander. It’s only a 20-minute ride and the boat fare costs PHP 70

How to get to Santander from Siquijor

From Larena Port in Siquijor, ride a ferry bound for Liloan, Santander. Travel time is about 2 hours. Please refer to Maayo Shipping Inc. for exact rates and schedules.

How to get to Santander from Dapitan City

From Pulauan Port in Dapitan City, ride a ferry bound for Bato, Samboan. Please refer to updated rates and schedules on Lite Ferries Shipping’s website. Santander is less than 10 minutes away via tricycle or habal-habal

How To Get Around Santander

Santander is a small town and getting around is easy. There are 10 barangays with barangay Poblacion as the central district. It’s where you will find most shops, schools, and other establishments.

Most of the popular tourist destinations in the southernmost part of Cebu are located in Oslob and Samboan. The famous whale shark watching area and the breathtakingly beautiful Tumalog Falls. These are just some of the destinations you can find in Oslob. Meanwhile, Samboan is home to a couple of majestic waterfalls.

Public Transportation

The main mode of transportation is tricycle or habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire). It usually costs around PHP 8-10.

Rent a motorbike/scooter

If you want to explore this town on your own, you can rent a motorcycle and scooter by contacting Santander Cebu Motorcycle and Scooter Rental.

Where To Stay in Santander, Cebu

Here are the lists of hotels, pension houses, and resorts in Santander, Cebu.

Dodz Apartelle

Room Types: Double rooms, Private Aircon
Address: Looc, Santander
Contact Information:

Bulilit Pension House

Room Types: Double rooms, Private Aircon
Address: Looc, Santander
Contact Information:

Eden Resort

Room Types: Luxury Double rooms
Address: Liloan, Santander 6026
Contact Information:

Pebble Beach Resort

Room Types: Private Aircon and Aircon duplex cottage
Address: Liloan, Santander 6026
Contact Information:

Noblesse Resort

Room Types: VIP and standard rooms
Address: Liloan, Santander 6026
Contact Information:

Marine Village Diving House

Room Types: Deluxe, Semi-deluxe, and Economy
Address: Liloan, Santander 6026
Contact Information:

Bonga Villa Beach Resort & Spa

Room Types: Duplex and Villa
Address: Canlumacad, Santander, Cebu
Contact Information:

The Farm Resort

Room Types: Twin and Double Room
Address: Looc, Santander, Cebu
Contact Information:

ABF Seaside Tourist Inn

Room Types: Deluxe
Address: Pasil, Santander, Cebu
Contact Information:

New Ocean Terrace Beach Resort

Room Types: Standard and Family Room
Address: Lower Liloan, Santander, Cebu
Contact Information:

Watersport Beach Resort & Dream Divers

Room Types: Standard aircon rooms
Address: Looc, Santander, Cebu
Contact Information:

Where to Eat in Santander, Cebu

Like any other cities and municipalities in Cebu, you can easily find carenderias and restaurants everywhere. You can find most of the bakeshops, mini restaurants, food stalls, burger kiosks, and much more in Poblacion which is the center of trade in this town.

Below is a list of restaurants worth visiting.
Belgian Bistro
Felice Ristorante Italiano
Pebble Beach Resort and Restaurant

Must-see Spots in Santander, Cebu

There are a few places in Santander that are worth visiting. In my opinion, Santander is an underrated municipality in Cebu. This is also because a lot of people don’t really have any idea what to see in this place. However, there are a few interesting spots that are unique in this place.

Here are some of the interesting spots you should visit in Santander, Cebu.

Diving Spots

Santander is rich in white-sand and white-pebble beaches with crystal clear waters. It’s an ideal spot for diving and snorkeling. It is near world-renowned dive spots such as Apo Island, Balicasag Island, and Sumilon.

Contact any of the resorts below to start your adventure!

If you are a non-diver and want to learn and get a certification, Santander houses some of the best diving schools and resorts.

Marine Village Dive House
Noblesse Resort
Kingdom Resort

Igwaron Site or Sanayon

Location: Pasil, Santander
No Entrance Fee

This site was built to honor the abundance of harvest in Santander. Sanayon comes from the word ‘sanay’ which means an abundance of harvest. Igwaron/Sanayon Site has an observation deck where you can see Cebu’s neighboring islands – Bohol, Sumilon, Siquijor, and Negros.

Across the street, there’s a staircase leading to a spot with the Sigbin landmark.

Liloan Baluarte

Location: Lilo-an, Santander
No Entrance Fee

Baluartes or watchtowers are a common sight in south Cebu as they used to be important edifices in the 1800s. These structures were used by Christian Spaniards against Filipino Muslims when the latter had a resistance in the Spanish colonization in Mindanao. One of these watchtowers, the Liloan Baluarte, is located beside Pebbles Beach Resort.

Watch the sunset at the southern tip of Cebu | Pebbles Beach Resort

Location: Lilo-an, Santander
Entrance Fee: 50 peso

Pebbles Beach Resort is one of the best beach resorts in Santander that offers the best view of the Negros Island and Siquijor. If you want to see the view at the southern tip of Cebu, this is the best place to go. It’s also the best location to watch the sunset.

Connectivity, ATMs, etc.

There is only one ATM and it is located in Poblacion, Santander. The next one is in either or Oslob or Samboan. Bring enough cash as there are times the town’s lone ATM is offline. On a lighter note, you can also make a withdrawal in MLhuiller Pawnshop nearby.

All telcos have a fairly good signal and connectivity in this town, but there are some spots where connectivity can be slow and intermittent. Nevertheless, you can expect a good signal in Santander.

Nearby Attractions

Santander is the gateway to some of the most beautiful tourist destinations in South Cebu. Here are just some of the nearby attractions you can visit.

Aguinid Waterfalls in Samboan
Binalayan Falls in Samboan
Tumalog Falls in Oslob
Whaleshark Watching in Oslob
Osmena Peak in Dalaguete
Kawasan Falls in Badian
Kawasan Canyoneering Adventure in Badian
Sardine Run in Moalboal