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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, coralline 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.
HOW TO GET TO BANTAYAN ISLAND
From Mactan International airport, you can reach the island of Bantayan:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- 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|
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.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BANTAYAN ISLAND
Except for Virgin and Hilantagaan islands, Bantayan Island top attractions and things to do 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
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.
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.
Description: The white, coraline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe. This beach resort is an excellent vacation spot for solo and group travelers which also offers accommodation for a reasonable price. Click here to check rate and availability.
An insider’s tip: There is no need to go inside the resort to access the beach. A small road between Kota beach and Marlin beach resort is available for the public to enter, even at night time if you want go on a stargazing or plan a milky way shoot.
MARLIN’S BEACH (situated just beside Kota beach)
Description: The beach share the same shore with Kota beach but with some rooms more affordable compared to its neighbor. Click here to check rate and availability.
AMIHAN CABANA BEACH
Description: Another 3 star resort in Santa Fe, Bantayan that gives a sweet sea view. It is a pet friendly resort which provides a reasonable accommodation to guests. Click here to check rate and availability.
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)
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.
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.
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. For rate and availability of the resort, click here.
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.
Description: The sweet remains of a colonial-era fortress which is often visited for its historic value.
ST. PETER & PAUL CHURCH
Description: A 5-century old Roman Catholic church located at Bantayan proper.
Extreme Outdoor activities
- Kite Surfing – Kitesurfing Bantayan is a kite-school. Contact them here.
- 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
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 Santa 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:
|Arrive at Santa Fe||12:00PM|
|Sunset viewing at Paradise||6:00PM|
|Dinner at MJ Square||7:00PM||P150|
|Socials (or by the beach at Kota)||8:00PM|
|Sunrise at Kota beach||5:00AM|
|Back in Santa Fe||12:00PM|
|German Ruins and Cliff Diving||2:00PM|
|Omagieca Mangrove Garden||3:00PM||P50|
|St. Peter and Paul church||4:00PM|
|Sunset viewing at Kota||6:00PM|
Total expenses: P1,610.00
plus Motorbike rent for 2 days: P500.00
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.
WHERE TO STAY IN BANTAYAN ISLAND
The best accommodations in the island can be found in Santa Fe for its easy access to the beaches, food chains, night life and major interests around Bantayan Island. During my 3-day trip, I stayed at Kota beach resort in Santa Fe where I experienced the best mornings with their sumptuous breakfast offering and late evening session underneath a clearly-mapped-out sky. Click here to check rate and availability.
Other affordable and quality accommodations in Santa Fe
- Jelly’s Haven Resort Check rate and availability here
- R & D Island Lodge Check rate and availability here
- Baia cafe lounge Check rate and availability here
- La Playa Estrella Beach Resort Check rate and availability here
Other popular beachfront resorts in Bantayan Island
- Amihan Beach Cabanas Check rate and availability here
- Marlin’s Beach Resort Check rate and availability here
- Sta. Fe Beach Club Check rate and availability here
- Ogtong Cave Resort by Sta. Fe Beach Club Check rate and availability here
- Anika Island Resort Check rate and availability here
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.
TIPS FOR TRAVELERS
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Bantayan island.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buy fresh fish and meat from the market and cook them at your accommodation to save money.
- Tours should be cheap if you come in small party. Haggle the cost of your island hopping.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you opt to visit the island during Holy Week for its festivities, reserve your accommodation as early as February.
- Bantayan island is not a good spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- Spat on a sunscreen while going out for a tour. The place can be so hot during summer.
- You will get wet for most of the activities. Wear something that dries quickly.
- 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. 😉
CEBU TOUR PACKAGES FROM KLOOK
KLOOK, the leading platform for travel and tour package booking, shares a variety of discounted tour packages for Cebu. If you are looking for ease in transport and affordable travel packages, check out these:
- 3-Day Cebu Highlights Tour
- Mactan 3 in 1 Water Activities
- Cebu & Mactan Twin City Tour
- Oslob Whale Shark Watching
- Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure
- Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour
- Badian Canyoneering Admission and Guided Experience
- Moalboal and Pescador Island Snorkeling Day Tour
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Canyoneering Experience
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Kawasan Falls Join In Tour
Use the search box below for other activities from KLOOK:
Private and Shared Van transfers are also available. Click the banner for details and booking options:
MORE OF CEBU
- Cebu Budget Travel Guide
- Backpacking Cebu for 15 days
- Chasing Waterfalls in Cebu
- Cebu City Mountain Tour
- Cebu City Heritage Walk Tour
- A guide to Osmeña, Casino and Candongao Peak Trek
- Top 30 Tourist Spots in Cebu
- Top 5 Attractions in South Cebu
EXTEND YOUR TRIP
Visit these major destinations in the Visayas:
Or, go to the surfing capital of the Philippines – Siargao! Budget Travel Guide here.
Or, visit other top destinations in Luzon:
- Zambales: Anawangin, Nagsasa and Capones Budget Travel Guide
- Palaui Island Budget Travel Guide
- Pagudpud Budget Travel Guide
- Laoag Budget Travel Guide
- Vigan Budget Travel Guide
- Baguio Budget Travel Guide
- Sagada Budget Travel Guide
- Cordillera Budget Travel Guide
Or visit other countries in Asia:
- Bangkok, Thailand Budget Travel Guide
- Chiang Mai, Thailand Budget Travel Guide
- Johor Bahru, Malaysia Budget Travel Guide
- Singapore Budget Travel Guide
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