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.
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 a 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.
What To See
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 photo shoots. The blue waters below also make it great for a cliff dive.
To enter, you have to pay a fee of 50 pesos. 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.
What To Do
You’ll never run out of things to do and places to visit here in Bantayan Island. Here is 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, you’ll have to pay around P15,000 to P18,000.
The only way to get around is by tricycle, motorcycle or bike. You can rent a bike for as low as 150 pesos good for 24 hours and a motorcycle for around 300 pesos.
Where to Stay
We stayed for 3 days and 2 nights in Bantayan and opted for two different places to stay in.
Kandugyap House By The Sea
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 are 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.
Kota Beach Resort
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 beach front 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.
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.
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.
Tips and Reminders
- There’s only two ATM on the island. Always withdraw some cash before coming here because the ATMs run out of cash early during the day.
- The best time to visit is during the Habagat season (November to April) since the waters are clearer during these months.
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Johanes is a digital nomad and a web content writer who loves to go on spontaneous travels. She likes to go camp under the stars and play with her dog and cats.