Boasting of turquoise blue waters and white sand, Bantayan Island is one of the most frequently visited places in Cebu. It is one of the venues of the famous Filipino movie ‘Camp Sawi’.
If you’re looking for paradise, it’s just on Bantayan Island. So the next time there’s a piso fare, grab the chance and book your flight to Cebu.
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Important Information about Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island at a Glance: Bantayan Island is a must-visit if you love the sea, the beach and the island life. The island has three different municipalities, Santa Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan so don’t be confused when the locals will tell you “Ah, you’ll find that in Santa Fe not here in Bantayan”. At first, I thought they were talking about the island, so I thought Santa Fe was another island, but then I learned that Bantayan is another municipality within Bantayan Island.
A few years back, Bantayan Island was just a fishing village. When people heard of the place, it became a go-to place for laid-back island life. Most often, people visiting Malapascua island would go to Bantayan island and vice versa.
Well, if you plan on doing a DIY trip. I suggest you check out both Malapascua island and Bantayan island.
Related Article: Malapascua Island: A Travel Guide For Non-Divers
Languages Spoken: Bantayanon, Tagalog, and English
ATMS on the island: There are only two ATM on the island. Always have some cash with you before going to Bantayan Island because the ATMs run out of cash early during the day.
Transportation around Bantayan Island: There are only motorbikes, tricycles and boats around Bantayan island to bring you from one place to another.
Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit is during the Habagat season (November to April) since the waters are clearer during these months.
Times to Avoid: Avoid traveling to Bantayan Island during the Holy Week as this is when most Filipinos go on a vacation.
Major Festivals in Bantayan Island:
- Palawod Festival – June 29
- Semana Santa (Holy Week) – the date varies every year but it’s usually around the last weeks of March or early weeks of April
- Isda Festival – December 8
- Kinhason Festival – January 15-16
How To Get There
Book a flight to Cebu. Upon arriving in Cebu City, take a bus from the North Bus Terminal heading to Hagnaya Port Cebu. Travel time is around three hours. The fare is P160 (3 USD).
Then from Hagnaya port Cebu, ride a ferry to Bantayan Island.
Note: If you have the budget, you can book a ticket from Air Juan to go directly to Bantayan Island.
When going back to Cebu, there’s a bus waiting by the port heading directly to Cebu City. So buy a ticket for the ferry. Then ride the bus. The bus will take you inside the ferry and from here, you’ll have to get down and find a seat inside. Once you’re in Hagnaya port Cebu, you will then ride the bus to go to Cebu.
Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses, ferries, taxis or flights to book online with 12Go Asia.
Top Places to Visit
Here are must-see places that you should know when going to Bantayan Island.
This place is a favorite among beach goers. During summer, it can get pretty crowded but it’s a place that you shouldn’t miss. I wrote a separate blog post about our stay here at Kota Beach Resort.
The Ruins and The Cliff Diving Site
Just after Ogtong Cave is the famous ruins. It’s the perfect spot for some sweet and romantic photoshoots. The blue waters below also make it great for a cliff dive.
To enter, you have to pay a fee of P50 (1 USD). When we went to paradise beach, there was an ongoing construction near the main beach. What I loved about this place were the lush green garden just a few meters from the beach. When we went here, it was high tide, so there was only a small patch of sand to enjoy.
The Ono-ob Mangrove garden is a place that promotes environmental conservation and awareness. There were bamboo walk paths built all over the place so be prepared to walk a lot. Here, you can climb the bamboo tower for a great view of the garden, hop on a kayak, feed some fishes and try the delicious food from the in-house restaurant.
This is a small cave that boasts a natural pool where you can dip all your worries away. Located within Santa Fe Beach Resort, you have to pay P250 to access Ogtong Cave as well as the resort’s amenities. If you only want to see the cave and nothing more, I personally don’t think it’s worth it to pay that much.
Here’s a photo of Ogtong Cave which I grabbed from Daryl Justine’s Instagram. (Thanks man!) Do give him a follow if you like his photo.
Top Things To Do
You’ll never run out of things to do and places to visit here in Bantayan Island. Here are our most recommended activities to do.
Island hopping is around P700 to P1500. You can find a lot of boatmen offering island hopping tours around Bantayan Island or you can ask your accommodation and they’ll refer you to some boatmen. Here, you will be able to visit the Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island. Virgin Island collects around P500 entrance fee for visitors.
As for the land tour, many tricycle drivers offer this. For only P500, they’ll bring you to the Paradise Beach, Mangroves Garden, The Ruins and Cliff Diving Site, Ogtong Cave and Kota Beach. If you want to check out Kota Park and the St. Peter and Paul Church, be prepared to pay around P1000 since these places are very far from the main town.
MJ Square is the most popular place in Bantayan Island when it comes to food and restaurants. Here, you will find a lot of restaurants ranging from those offering eat-all-you-can seafood (which is seasonal), pastries, Filipino dishes, and a whole lot more.
If you want to try sky diving, check out Skydive Greater Cebu. You’ll have to pay around P15,000 to P18,000 (300 USD to 360 USD).
If you’re planning a trip around other parts of Cebu, here’s a list of the other crazy fun things to do in Cebu.
The only way to get around is by tricycle, motorcycle or bike. You can rent a bike for as low as P150 (3 USD) good for 24 hours and a motorcycle for around P300 (6 USD).
Where to Stay
We stayed for 3 days and 2 nights in Bantayan and opted for two different places to stay in.
The first place is Kandugyap House By The Sea. I created a separate blog post on the Kandugyap House by the Sea if you want to check it out. I’d definitely recommend this place if you love to experience hogging a resort to yourself. There is only 3 accommodation in this resort so book fast.
When we went there, there was only us and another couple. There’s a swimming pool here, as well as a private beach area.
For our second night, I reserved a room at Kota Beach Resort. If you’re on a budget, you can book the standard room which is what I booked.
The room couldn’t compare to what Kandugyap had to offer so I was a bit disappointed since their price is nearly the same. If you have a bit of cash to spare, definitely book the huts especially the beachfront one. You won’t regret it. I was so mad at myself for not booking that one but oh well it was almost twice the price of the room we booked.
I have a separate blog post about our stay in Kota Beach Resort.
Related Article: Kota Beach Resort: Bantayan Island’s White Beach
Here are other places I’d recommend to book:
- Jumema Apartment – Check Prices and Availability
- Sunshine Bantayan Garden Resort – Check Prices and Availability
- Carl‘s Island Inn – Check Prices and Availability
- Kandugyap House by the Sea – Check Prices and Availability
- Jelly’s Haven Resort – Check Prices and Availability
- Kota Beach Resort – Check Prices and Availability
- Anika Island Resort – Check Prices and Availability
- Amihan Beach Cabanas Resort – Check Prices and Availability
- Pearl of Santa Fe – Check Prices and Availability
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
Responsible Travel Tips
When traveling to one place, make sure you practice responsible tourism. Here are some tips to do so.
1. Respect the environment
Don’t litter. Please hold onto your trash until you find a garbage can.
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Bring your eco bag and refuse single-use plastic.
3. Shop local
Keep the traditional crafts alive and support local artisans. Buy from them. And try not to haggle, P20 may seem small to you but it can mean a lot to them.
4. Always ask permission
Be sure to ask for permission first when taking photos or videos especially when it comes to children
What to Pack for Bantayan Island
- Eco-friendly Reusable Water Bottle
- Light Rain Jacket (especially from June to November)
- T-shirts, a nice top, and a long-sleeved shirt
- Aqua Shoes
- Day Bag
- Power Adapter
- Universal Waterproof Phone Case
- Packing Cubes
- Microfiber Towel
- Travel Insurance
- Money Belt
- sneakers, and some flats
- reusable straw and reusable bag (no to single-use plastic!)
Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
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