It was 1:00 p.m. We had just finished lunch and were already packed for the beach. The only problem was, we didn’t know where to go. We called Shangri-La Mactan and asked if non-guests are allowed to swim at their beach for an entrance fee. As I expected, the answer was no. You have to check into Shangri-La Mactan to enjoy the beach.
We Googled like crazy. Our hotel, Islands Stay, is affiliated with Islands Banca tours, but it was too late to join the daylong island tour. The other Cebu beaches recommended online were hours and boat rides away. It was our last day in Cebu and we had to find a beach with an affordable entrance fee before sunset.
We finally agreed to go to Portofino. The online reviews were okay, and I remember visiting that beach in 2006 with some friends. One long tricycle ride later, we hit Portofino.
Our reaction: “Thanks, but no thanks.” At first the ₱100 entrance fee may sound like a good deal, but there’s a catch: You have to pay ₱1,500 if you want to stay in the gazebo with tables and chairs. There were two children’s parties that day, and the beach was packed with a tight crowd that—to be blunt—wasn’t akin to our taste. As for the public toilet—let’s not even go there. We left faster than you can say, “Portofino.”
We took a cab to our second choice, Be Resort, which was recommended by a travel blog.
Cue harp chords and angelic falsetto.
For a flat rate of ₱500 per head, we hung out here:
The orange ticket allowed us to use the hotel pool, Jacuzzi, beach, pool bathroom and shower room until 5 p.m. We even chilled at the hotel lobby, and ordered some cocktails and grub at the pool bar. We should have come earlier. I’ll take this deal over Portofino’s dingy gazebo anytime.