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BANTAYAN ISLAND BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with sample itinerary and expenses)

UNDERSTANDING BANTAYAN ISLAND

No other place that gives off the most breathtaking beach sight in all of Cebu than Bantayan Island. A laid back tropical paradise that has captured the hearts of beach lovers for its long stretch of white, coraline sands, azure waters, and imposing sunrise.

Bantayan island is divided into three municipalities: (1) Santa Fe is the access to the island. All travelers from Hagnaya arrive to its port. It is home of the best beaches and where most attractions in the island can be found; (2) Thirty minutes away is Bantayan proper, the center and largest of the municipalities which takes care of the hundred-year old St. Peter and Paul church; (3) Further away is Madridejos (or Lawis), the municipality with the strongest presence of Bantayan island heritage. It is where you will find some remains of the Spanish colonization, including a 19th century colonial watchtower.

Sunset at Paradise beach is one of the finest. 😉

HOW TO GET TO BANTAYAN ISLAND

From Mactan International airport, you can reach the island of Bantayan

By Air

Arrive in style through AirJuan, a seaplane that offers chartered flights to the airfield of Bantayan island for about 40 minutes. Manage your booking here. For other reservation inquiries, call +63 2 718 8111 or email reservations@airjuan.com.

By Land

  1. Take a white taxi or a MyBus outside the airport and head to the North Bus terminal. Fare is about P140  and P25 respectively. If you want to go local, take a yellow multicab (small jeepney) from the airport and head to Marina mall where you can ride a jeepney bound to Mandaue coliseum. From the coliseum, take another jeepney with a “Makro” or “North Bus” signage. Total fare is P24.
  2. At the North Bus terminal, take a Ceres bus or a v-hire (van) to Hagnaya port. Travel time is about 4 hours. Fare is P225 for aircon bus and P170 for vhire. At the port, book a ferry to Bantayan island for P170. (Note that there are Ceres buses that have a direct trip to the island. The disadvantage is that each bus is assigned to a certain ferry. In case the ferry will not arrive on time, your trip will be delayed.)

For details about MyBus service, read here: Getting Around Cebu – Option 4

From Cebu City downtown area, take a 01k jeepney to get to the North Bus terminal, then read #2 in the above information on how to get to Bantayan island from the North Bus terminal.

From Cadiz City Negros Occidental at brgy. Banquerohan, take a large motorized boat from Super SM Express that goes directly to Bantayan island daily at 9AM. Travel time is 3 hours and fare is P300. Contact the operators through these numbers: +63 929 8840 284, +63 922 7422 597, and +63 919 7549 073.

From Palompon, Leyte, ride a SuperFerry that goes daily at 7:30AM to Bogo city. From Bogo, take a jeepney, a bus or a taxi that goes to Hagnaya port. At the port, book a ferry to Bantayan island for P170.

Super Shuttle Ferry schedule from Hagnaya to Santa Fe and vice versa:

Hagnaya to Sta. Fe Sta. Fe to Hagnaya
Departure Arrival Departure Arrival
4:00AM 5:00AM 6:00AM 7:00AM
7:00AM 8:00AM 8:30AM 9:30AM
8:00AM 9:00AM 10:30AM 11:30AM
10:30AM 11:30AM 12:30PM 1:30PM
12:30PM 1:30PM 2:30PM 3:30PM
2:30PM 3:30PM 4:30PM 5:30PM
4:30PM 5:30PM 6;00PM 7:00PM
The white, coralline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe.

GETTING AROUND BANTAYAN ISLAND

In getting around Bantayan island, you will charter a tricycle (motorcycle with a side car) or a jeepney for long travel or from one municipality to another. Fare is P25. And a trisikad (rickshaw) for shorter distances. Fare is P10-15.

The St Peter and Paul Church of Bantayan proper.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BANTAYAN ISLAND

Except for Virgin and Hilantagaan islands, the top attractions in Bantayan are mostly concentrated in Santa Fe and are just 10-15 minutes away from each other. If you can ride a motorbike or a bicycle, better get one to save money. Motorbikes and bicycles can be rented along the high way of Santa Fe for P200-300 and P100-150 respectively in regular days.

If you prefer to go on an arranged land tour and island hopping in Bantayan, contact Nestor at +63 922 376 3841 or Duke Rio at + 63 956 934 2846 (P2,500 per person with accommodation). If you would like to look for more tour operators, go to the beach area of Kota and Marlin.

Here are the regular tour package rates good for 4-5 persons:

Island hopping (Virgin and Hilantagaan islands only) – P800, including Malapascua island P2,000
Land tour (tricycle) – P600 for the 5 spots below, including Kota park and Saints Peter and Paul church P800-1,000
– Butterfly garden
– Paradise beach
– Ogtong cave
– German ruins and Cliff diving
– Omagieca Mangrove garden

VIRGIN ISLAND

Description: The single most important attraction in Bantayan in terms of Island hopping. The resort is private owned and is often visited by travelers in group for its relaxing and cozy environment (except during peak season: Holy Week and Summertime). To get here, charter a motorboat from any beaches in Santa Fe for P1000. Entrance to the island is P500 for the first 2 guests and P100 for the remaining.

Rating: 3/5

Few of the best beaches in Santa Fe

Below are 5 of the best beaches that you can find in Santa Fe, Bantayan which are included in the list of 10 top and affordable beaches in Cebu.

PARADISE (SANDIRA) BEACH

Description: The quiet, clean and secluded Paradise beach (or now known as Sandira beach). It’s a long strip of white, mostly powdery sand with a shallow, azure waters. Entrance fee is P50 for adults and P25 for kids. The private beach operates from 9AM to 5PM and does not offer cottages and food or drinks to keep it from becoming too commercial and touristy.

Rating: 4/5

KOTA BEACH

Description: The white, coralline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe. The beach offers accommodation. Contact them at +63 956 276 4410, +63 948 799 3787. There is no need to go inside the resort to access the beach. A pass between Kota beach and Marlin beach resorts is available for the public to enter, even at night time if you want go on stargazing or plan a milky way shoot.

Rating: 3/5

MARLIN’S BEACH (situated just beside Kota beach)

Description: The beach share the same shore with Kota beach but is more affordable in accommodation compared to its neighbor. Contact them at 032) 438 9093.

Rating: 3/5

AMIHAN CABANA BEACH

Description: Another 3 start resort in Santa Fe, Bantayan that gives a sweet sea view. It is a pet friendly resort which provides a reasonable accommodation to guests. Contact them at +63 943 250 9796.

Rating: 2.5/5

Bantayan Land tour  (the order of these 7 top attractions in Bantayan in land is based on its distance from MJ Square, an arcade of restaurants in Santa Fe)

BUTTERFLY GARDEN

Description: This new attraction in Santa Fe will showcase hundreds of butterflies that come in 14 species. The garden dedicates an area where you can witness the transformation of a butterfly through in its lifetime. Entrance fee is P100 for adults and P50 for kids. Contact them at +63 916 274 2321.

Rating: 2/5

GERMAN RUINS & CLIFF DIVING SITE

Description: A ruin of a house destroyed by typhoon Yolanda. A few distance from it is a 20-feet cliff where you can jump off for a dip. For the faint-hearted, a staircase down to the waters can be found a few walking steps from the cliff.

Rating: 2/5

Looking at a 20-feet high jump off near the German Ruins.

OGTONG CAVE RESORT

Description: There is nothing spectacular about the cave, but if you are in for a good, cold dip, don’t hesitate to visit the place. It’s inside Ogtong Resort, an annex to Santa Fe Beach club, one of the pioneer beach resorts in Bantayan island. For day use guests, entrance to the cave is P200. Contact Ogtong resort at 32 438-9129, +63 932 433-6282.
Rating: 2/5

OMAGIECA MANGROVE GARDEN

Description: A conservation area for mangrove. The place is explored through a snake-like boardwalk which has watchtowers in some of its curves. Come here during high tide to see the mangrove on its full beauty. Entrance fee is P50. You can also find the only “Camp Sawi” signboard in this area, as the one in Kota beach has already been removed.

Rating: 2/5

KOTA PARK

Description: The sweet remains of a colonial-era fortress which is often visited for its historic value.

Rating: 2/5

ST. PETER & PAUL CHURCH

Description: A 5-century old Roman Catholic church located at Bantayan proper.
Rating:
2/5

Extreme Outdoor activities

  1. Kite Surfing – Kitesurfing Bantayan is a kite-school. Contact them here.
  2. Sky Diving – Learn to skydive with Skydive Cebu. Contact them here.

Santa Fe, Bantayan also offers a good spot for sunrise (at Kota beach) and sunset (at Paradise beach) viewing

Sunrise at Kota beach.

Bonus tip – If the condition permits, the beaches of Santa Fe can be a good spot to capture the Milky way at night.

BANTAYAN ISLAND SAMPLE ITINERARY

Bantayan island can be enjoyed by just walking on its blinding, long strip of white sand beaches in Sante Fe; waking up to a beautiful sunrise in Kota and Amihan beach; and munching on its tasty seafoods from its market. If these do not sound enough, go on for a day trip, either with an arranged tour or by a rented motorbike/bicycle. Below is a sample Bantayan DIY itinerary for 2 or 3 days, as your guide:

Day 1

Activity Time Budget
Arrive at Santa Fe 12:00PM
 Lunch 1:00PM P150
Check in 2:00PM
Paradise beach 3:00PM P50
Sunset viewing at Paradise 6:00PM
Dinner at MJ Square 7:00PM P150
Socials (or by the beach at Kota) 8:00PM

Day 2

Activity Time Budget
Sunrise at Kota beach 5:00AM
Breakfast 7:00AM P60
Island Hopping 8:00AM P800
Virgin Island
Hilantagaan
Back in Santa Fe 12:00PM
Lunch 1:00PM P150
German Ruins and Cliff Diving 2:00PM
Ogtong Cave 2:30PM P200
Omagieca Mangrove Garden 3:00PM P50
St. Peter and Paul church 4:00PM
Kota Park 5:00PM
Sunset viewing at Kota 6:00PM

Total expenses: P1,610.00
plus Motorbike rent for 2 days: P500.00

More of Cebu:

Paradise Beach

 

Paradise beach. To get here, you can either arrange a boat or go by motorbike. You will have to park the motorbike at the junction to the beach. It will take for about 10 minutes of walking to get to the entrance. 
Bantayan Island - Paradise Beach
Bantayan Island – Paradise Beach

WHERE TO STAY IN BANTAYAN ISLAND

These are rooms for rent in Bantayan that are both near the beaches in Santa Fe and from MJ Square where you can find an arcade of restaurants:

RR Lodging House
(032) 438 9999
fan room P500 good for 2-3 persons
aircon room P1500 good for 2-3 persons

White House
+63 950 299 6617
aircon room only P700 good for 2 persons

Casa del Mar House
+63 919 463 2919

Onde Guest House
(032) 438 9206 | +63 919 666 7090
aircon room P1200 good for 4 persons
fan room with own toilet P700 good for 3 persons
fan room with shared toilet P400 good for 3 persons

Seaview Apartelle
(032) 438 9058 | +63 919 438 1296
rooms vary from standard to deluxe and suite

Beachfront resorts in Santa Fe. These are a bit pricey. 

Amihan Beach Cabanas
+63 943 250 9796
all rooms are aircon and good for 2 persons only

Marlin’s Beach Resort
(032) 438 9093
info@marlin-bantayan.com

Kota Beach Resort
(032) 438 9042
kotabeach@gmail.com

Budyong Beach Resort
Contact No: +63-32-4385700

Sta. Fe Beach Club
(032) 438 9090 | (032) 438 9107 | +63 918 919 9101 | +63 928 778 7770

Ogtong Cave Resort by Sta. Fe Beach Club
(032) 438 0165 |+63 920 899 9456

Anika Island Resort
+63 917 328 4898 |+63 922 843 9517 | +63 999 886 4465
Email: anikaislandresort@yahoo.com

Another ivory, white beach in Santa Fe, Bantayan island. Anika Island beach resort is one of the finest that you can find in the island in terms of service and accommodation. Contact them at +63 917 328 4898.

WHERE TO EAT IN BANTAYAN ISLAND

At MJ Square, Panyang’s restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet for only P150. For other restaurants, click here.

Santa Fe during Holy Week. During the season, the whole of Bantayan Island is crowded with guests, all types of accommodation are mostly fully booked. It is advised that travelers bring their own tent.

TIPS FOR TRAVELERS

Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Bantayan island.

  1. Watch out for zealous porters once your arrive at Santa Fe. They will offer to bring your things and ask for payment. Refuse politely if you can carry it yourself.
  2. For backpackers, there is a camp site near Paradise (Sandira) beach. Tents are available for rent. There is toilet with shower. They also sell food and drinks.
  3. Buy fresh fish and meat from the market and cook them at your accommodation to save money.
  4. Tours should be cheap if you come in small party. Haggle the cost of your island hopping.
  5. Check the weather upon planning your trip, especially during the months of October to December. Any sea voyage from and to Bantayan island is weather permitting.
  6. Bantayan island triples its number of tourists during Holy Week. There will be a long queue upon going in and out of port. The beach will be crowded and prices in all activities and accommodation will be costly.
  7. If you opt to visit the island during Holy Week for its festivities, reserve your accommodation as early as February.
  8. Bantayan island is not a good spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  9. Spat on a sunscreen while going out for a tour. The place can be so hot during summer.
  10. You will get wet for most of the activities. Wear something that dries quickly.
  11. Trisikad or motorbike drivers and tour operators may take advantage. Always ask a local for the right fare and price.

BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome. 😉

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

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