Looking for exciting things to do in Cordova for your CCLEX road trip? The newly opened Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway – the longest and tallest bridge in the Philippines – has dramatically cut down travel time between Cebu City and Mactan island. It now takes only 10 minutes to drive from South Road Properties (SRP) to Cordova town via the 8.9-km long cable-stayed bridge and causeway that meanders across the Mactan Channel. Here are six awesome things to do in Cordova to make the most of your scenic drive across this engineering marvel.
Eat moray eels at a bakasihán.
The laid-back island town of Cordova is known for an unusual seafood delicacy that’s not for the squeamish. At Barangay Buagsong, seaside eateries called bakasihán serve bakasí (Richardson’s moray), a small species of moray eel that thrive in abundance in the rubbly shallows of southern Mactan island. Entoy’s Bakasihan is the most popular spot, having gained international recognition when it was featured in Netflix’s documentary Street Food: Asia. The freshly caught eels are popularly served two ways: linarang (stewed, ₱40/serving) or pinirito (deep-fried, ₱50/serving). Cooked in a light broth with ginger, garlic and tomatoes, the stewed eels have a delicate white meat that needs to be stripped off the bone with a fork. The crunchy deep-fried version, on the other hand, is eaten whole and is best enjoyed with a soy sauce and vinegar mix to counter the greasiness.
Paddle around a mangrove forest.
The shallows fronting Barangay Catarman are covered with a patchwork of mangroves that can be explored by paddle during high tide. Opened mid-last year, Islaviva Adventures pioneered kayaking and SUP tours in Bantayan Bay. Aside from renting out seaside cottages, this low-key hangout has kayaks (₱150/hr), canoes (₱300/hr) and standup paddleboards (₱300/hr) that you can take on an adventure through a lush labyrinthine seascape. A word of caution: do hire a guide on your first time as one can easily get lost amongst the thick mangroves! Hungry after paddling? Guests may shop for seafood, meats, and other ingredients at a nearby wet market and have the staff prepare meals for an additional fee.
Relax at a sprawling beach resort.
Want to indulge in a relaxing getaway? Solea Mactan Hotels & Resorts at Barangay Alegria is the nicest resort complex in town that you can visit for the day or book an overnight stay. The 13-hectare property consists of three integrated hotels: Solea Seaview Resort, Solea Mactan Resort, and Solea Palm Mactan Resort. The complex features seven swimming pools, a saltwater lagoon (under renovation as of the time of writing), and a white-sand beachfront. The day-use rate is ₱1,500 per head, inclusive of amenities use and consumable dining credits worth ₱750 at Earth restaurant, pool bar, or Salt & Sky – the newly refurbished rooftop lounge atop Solea Mactan Resort.
Chill out on a floating cottage.
Over the past summer months, floating bamboo cottages have mushroomed between Parola Seaview Restaurant and Bora Bora Cordova, a row of huts on a vanishing sandbar. These privately owned cottages at Bantayan Bay, Barangay Catarman come in different sizes and designs with the nicer ones featuring a “kiddie pool” and upper view deck. One can peruse through available rentals on Facebook. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, it’s best to avoid this spot on weekends and holidays, when city folk descend in droves and karaoke blare out throughout the day.
Go on an island-hopping adventure.
If the seaside attractions of Cordova get too crowded, one can hire a boat at the ro-ro port to take you to the southern islands of the Olango Island Group, namely Gilutongan, Nalusuan and Caohagan islands. The first two are under the jurisdiction of Cordova, while the third belongs to Lapu-Lapu City. These island communities boast of white-sand beaches and marine sanctuaries ideal for snorkeling and freediving. Gilutongan and Nalusuan, in particular, are good dive spots. But scuba diving trips to these islands typically depart from dive centers and resorts based in Lapu-Lapu City.
Explore food parks by nightfall.
If you can’t stomach bakasí, don’t worry, there are a whole lot more places with a variety of less exotic food offerings. On my previous blog, I recommended five new standalone restaurants in Cordova. But if you want more options in a single location (since you’re traveling in a group or simply can’t decide what to eat), you might want to browse through one of the new food markets in town. Check out Hamugaway Tropical Food Park (beside Gaisano Grand Cordova), BRIC Food Park, and Miracle Art Food Park (Cebu Happy World Museum). These are best visited during the cool hours of the day from dusk until evening when lamp-lit al fresco dining becomes more enjoyable – and romantic – and live band performances energize the atmosphere.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Cebu City, the fastest way to get to Cordova is via the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) from South Road Properties (SRP) by private vehicle or taxi cab (Toll fee: ₱90).
Alternatively, one can choose a cheaper route via public transportation by taking the Metro Ferry from Pier 3, Cebu City to Opon Pier, Lapu-Lapu City (₱25, inc. terminal fee). Ferries depart every 30 minutes between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm. The scenic Mactan Channel crossing takes only 20 to 30 minutes. From Opon, board a jeepney (₱10) to Cordova town proper. Hop on a tricycle (₱20) to get to establishments away from the main road.