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 offers great scenery to tourists as well. One of these towns is located at the southernmost tip of the island called Santander, Cebu.

My grandfather came from this town and a lot of the Frejoles clan still lives in Santander, Cebu. My family and I lived in Cebu City ever since I was born, but ten years ago, my parents decided to move there with my siblings. I stayed in Cebu City, but during the holidays, I would travel there to visit my family.

What You Need To Know About Santander, Cebu

Santander is a municipality located at the southernmost tip of mainland Cebu. It is the next town from Oslob – the municipality where the famous whale shark watching area is located. From Cebu City, it would take you 3 and 1/2 to 4 hours to get there. Because of its strategic location, it houses the seaports that connect to the provinces of Negros Oriental, Siquijor, and Zamboanga.

This town is originally called Tañong, but during the Spanish settlement, it was renamed to Santander after a city on the northern coast of Spain. The people in Santander speak Cebuano, but with a southern accent. I call it the ‘Santander accent’. If you have been to several places in South Cebu, you will find that these accents are pretty much similar.

Most of the people in this small town depend on the sea for their livelihood. The waters of Santander is a rich fishing ground. And 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.

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

If you’re coming from Cebu City, your starting point should be the Cebu South Bus Terminal located at N. Bacalso Avenue. From there, look for buses bound for Bato-Oslob or Bato-Oslob via Dumaguete buses. There are three major bus transport services you can choose from such as Ceres Liner (the yellow buses), Sugbo Transit, and Sunrays Bus Liner. The bus terminal for buses bound for Cebu City is located in Bato – a barangay in Samboan which is the next municipality from Santander.

Alternatively, if you are from Negros Oriental, ride a fast craft or pump boat from Sibulan port. It’s a 20-minute boat ride to the shores of Liloan, Santander.

How To Get Around Santander

The main modes of transportation in Santander, Cebu are tricycles and habal-habal (motorcycle). Getting around Santander is pretty easy since it is basically a small town. Santander is comprised of 10 barangays with Barangay Poblacion as the central business district. Most shops, schools, and hostels are located in this barangay.

You will also find the only ATM located at the entrance of the Municipal Hall of Santander. If you are planning to stay for several days in this town, I highly recommend bringing enough cash, in case the ATM in Santander is offline. You will have to travel to the next towns, Samboan or Oslob, to find another one.

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 are just some of the destinations you can find in Oslob. Meanwhile, Samboan is home to a couple of majestic waterfalls. If you are staying in Santander, you can easily charter a tricycle or habal-habal to reach the mentioned destinations. Based on personal experience, you can charter a tricycle for 200-300 pesos to get to Aguinid Falls in Samboan. Most tricycles can fit 4-5 persons.

Where To Stay in Santander, Cebu

Fortunately, there are several types of accommodation to choose from in this small town. If you are looking for a perfect spot near the beach, there a couple of luxurious resorts that will definitely not disappoint you. There are also a couple of pension houses that can be found in the Poblacion area.

Here’s a list of hotels and pension houses 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. If you are heading to Negros, there is also a cafeteria right inside the Puerto del Sur port (Liloan Port).

Places to Visit 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.

  • Sanayon or Igwaron Site

The Igwaron Site or Sanayon is located in Pasil, Santander. It was built to honor the town’s abundance of harvest. Sanayon comes from the word ‘sanay‘ which means multiple or abundance of harvest. Tostado Festival used to be called Sanayon festival which is celebrated every year in Santander to display the beautiful harvest from agriculture and fishing which is the main livelihood in the town. This site also has an observation deck which is a unique location because you can see the view of Cebu’s neighboring islands – Bohol, Sumilon, Siquijor, and Negros. If you want to see the four islands of Region VII, then you have come to the right place!

Bonus tip: Make sure to visit the Sigbin landmark located across the street.

  • Liloan Baluarte

Cebu has a lot of baluarte or watchtowers, especially in the southern part of the island. This is because, during the 1800s, there was resistance from the Filipino Muslims against the Spanish colonization in Mindanao which resulted in the enmity between Christian Spaniards and Filipino Muslims in the Visayas. There was a huge threat of Muslim raids and attacks on Christian settlements which is why Fr. Jullian Bermejo, a Spanish priest in Boljoon had to construct stone-cut watchtowers and fences as protective structures in case of an attack.

In Santander, there are two watchtowers located respectively in Poblacion and Liloan. This one in Liloan is a historical heritage that stands until today. This is located right beside Pebbles Beach Resort.

  • Pebbles Beach Resort

If you want to see the view at the southernmost tip of Cebu, I highly recommend visiting Pebbles Beach Resort in Liloan, Santander. It is one of the oldest beach resorts in the area and probably the best spot to enjoy the view of Negros Island. As the name implies, this beach resort is full of pebbles – white pebbles! For me, it is the best spot to wait for sunset. The water in this part of Cebu is crystal clear which is the reason why you should visit this resort.

doggo chasing the sun.

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  • The best time to travel there would be during the summer season. The waters are crystal clear – perfect for your summer vacation.
  • Book your hotel reservations ahead of time. While these hotels are fairly available all-year-round, it’s still advisable to book ahead of time to avoid future problems with your accommodation.
  • Bring enough cash because there is only one ATM in Poblacion. I can’t count the number of times that I had to travel to the next town, Samboan, just to withdraw some cash because the ATM in Santander is offline.
  • The signal is pretty good in most areas so you don’t have to worry if you will be out of coverage area. However, do take note that the signal is weak in the mountain areas.

Additional Information:

You may also rent a motorcycle or scooter by contacting Santander Cebu Motorcycle and Scooter Rental through their Official Facebook page or call them at 0935 250 8321. They are located in KM135 Siesta Ranch, Looc, Santander.

Also read: Santander Diaries: How I Ended Up Moving Here