Philippines

Bantayan Island: Weekend Travel Guide to a Tropical Paradise

Tropical Paradise – these two words best describe Bantayan Island, a small yet amazing island in Northern Cebu.

In contrast with the bustling vibes of the Queen City of the South, Bantayan Island has a very relaxed ambiance – truly a hidden gem that you must visit if you want a perfect escape even for 24-hours (or more).

So if you’re looking for an authentic island experience, why not plan your trip, pack your bags and head to Bantayan Island soon?

How to Get There

cameringo_20170625_121452
Hagnaya Port: Your gateway to Bantayan Island

By Public Bus + Ferry

Upon arrival to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, you can hire a cab that will take you to Cebu City North Bus Terminal.

Board a Ceres Bus going to Hagnaya Port, where you will take a ferry to get to Bantayan Island. You will get off at Hagnaya Port and pay for the ferry ticket and port terminal fee. After this, you should board the bus again. (Bus Fare: Php 225 ; Ferry: Php 180 ; Terminal Fee: Php 10)

Most of the hotels and resorts offer pick-up from Sta. Fe Port but you can tell the conductor to drop you off to your hotel if it is located in Bantayan town.

Travel time is around 4-5 hours (Bus+Ferry). Click here for bus schedules and fare.

By Chartered Plane

Good news! If you don’t like long hours of travelling, you have an option to fly with AirJuan. Instead of the usual 4-5 hours by bus and ferry, you can get there within 40 minutes from Mactan Island.

Click here to book your flight or you may contact AirJuan. (Landline: +632 7188111 or Email: reservations@airjuan.com)

By Private Vehicle

If you are considering to travel Bantayan by your own vehicle, you should board the ferry, too, at Hagnaya Port.

Here’s the map going to Hagnaya Port from Mactan-Cebu International Airport:

 

Getting Around

Most of the resorts offer bicycle and motorbikes for rent that you can use to explore the island . You can also hire a motorcycle with driver (habal-habal) who will also serve as your tour guide. Rates may start from Php 600, depending on your capability to haggle.

The island’s main forms of transportation are tricycle and pedicabs which are both very cheap so exploring around the island within the day will not hurt your pocket.

Where to Stay

Accommodations in the island can range from budget-friendly cottages up to luxurious villas. Generally, these hotels are located in Sta. Fe town, most of which are located along the white, pristine beaches. You can find one for as low as Php 400 (good for 2).

Here are some of my recommended for great accommodations:

  • Kota Beach Resort  – This resort is popular among tourists because of the movie “Camp Sawi” so it is usually fully-booked. (I was just lucky enough to book a room five months before my stay). The place has its own beachfront restobar, but is just walking distance from streets of Sta. Fe where you can find local bars and restaurants.
    Accommodation /night starts from Php 1800 (Standard Air-con Room for 2 pax) up to Php 4500 (Beachfront Suite with breakfast for 2 pax). Click here for current rates. 
  • Bantayan Island Cottages – is famous for its proximity to the Port and affordable prices for backpackers. Accommodation/night starts at Php 400 up to Php 1600 (Deluxe Room for 2 pax during lean season). Do contact them first because rates may vary during holidays and peak seasons.
  • Ogtong Cave Resort –  has a lot to offer for guests such as Cave Pool and Swimming Pool aside from beach resort. Accommodation/night starts at Php 1200  (Non Aircon Cottage Twin for 2 pax)  up to Php 3200 (Sea View Villa for 2 pax)
  • Anika Island Resort – Another tourists’ favorite, this resort offers wide range of accommodations and quality facilities for individuals, couples, families and barkadas.
    Accommodation/night starts at Php 2000 (Courtyard Room for 1 or 2 pax) up to Php 4500 (Ocean View Room for 3 pax). Click here for current rates.
  • Sta. Fe Beach Club offers budget to luxury accommodations along with its facilities such as water sports.
    Accommodation/night starts at Php 1800 (Fan Cottage with 5 single beds) up to Php 2700 (Aircon Cottage with 3 single beds). Click here for current rates.

Click on the map below for more details and exact locations of where you can stay in Bantayan Island:

 

What to do in Bantayan Island

Here are top activities you should not miss if you will spend your weekend in the island.

Start your day by catching beautiful sunrise 

Probably the best way to start the day is witnessing the dramatic colors of the sky. The sunrise in Bantayan Island is definitely one of the best you’ll ever see.

Bantayan Island

Eat local breakfast by the beach

Kickstart your adventure-filled day with a locally-cooked breakfast, while your eyes are also admiring the beautiful sceneries around the beach.

Breakfast in Kota Beach
You should not miss fried “danggit” when you are in Cebu.

Beach Resort Hopping 

Resort hopping is definitely a “must” in Bantayan Island. Your stay here will never be complete without strolling along the white sand beaches of the island.

Still unspoiled and not commercialized, these pristine beaches will leave you stunned and really consider this place a tropical paradise.

Some of the must-visit resorts are:

  • Kota Beach (Camp Sawi) – made popular by a movie, this has been a popular spot for tourists
  • Paradise Beach Resort –  this secluded beach, which is few walks from the main road, should be included in your visit. It is a small place where you can definitely relax from the crowd and swim your heart out. (Entrance fee: Php 50 for adults, Php 25 for children)
  • Virgin Island – You can rent or hire a boat to get to this beautiful island. Snorkeling and fish-feeding are some activities you can enjoy here. (Boat Php 800/5persons ; Entrance Fee: Php 250 per head for the first 2 guests and Php 200 for the other members of the same group ; Shaded Cabana: Php 600)
  • Hilantagaan Island – is already included as part of your package for Virgin Island. Another great site for beach-bumming  and snorkeling, which is also surrounded by crystal-clear water and fine white sands. (No entrance fee)

Visit the 500-year old Church of St. Peter and Paul — the oldest church in Bantayan

You can never miss visiting this 500-year old church in the heart of Bantayan that was founded during the Spanish Era.

20170625_162510

Explore Omagieca Mangrove Garden

OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association) Eco-Park has a bamboo walkway which makes it easier to explore and appreciate the importance of the mangroves in the community. Other ways to explore the eco-park are kayaking and small boat tour. (Entrance Fee: Adults – Php 50;  Students and Children – Php 20; Kayaking – Php 150 ; Boating – Php 350)

Swim at clear waters of Ogtong Cave

Ogtong Cave is located inside the Ogtong Cave Resort but it is also open to non-guests for an entrance  fee of Php 100. It is a small but captivating underground cave where you can enjoy swimming with its clear and cold water.

Cliff jumping at The Ruins

Many tourists dare to jump from this scenic cliff during high tide.  Fronting the cliff is an abandoned house called by the locals as “The Ruins”, that makes the place more interesting.

Spend your afternoon and watch sunset at Kota Park at Madridejos

Before the day ends, take time to spend your afternoon at this beautiful park in Madridejos. The park was originally a Fort during the Spanish Era that served as camp and watch tower to protect the place and people against the pirates who caught the children for slavery.

Walk your way through the baywalk called “Bontay Baywalk” that will take you to a lighthouse.

Food-trip and Bar Hopping

The sun has set… But your adventure in the island is not yet over.

Small as it seems, Bantayan Island has plenty of places where you can get local food as well as some international cuisines such as Mexican, Italian, American and more.

Apparently, the most famous place for food on the island is MJ Place. This food complex is just few walks away from known beach resorts in Sta Fe so you won’t be surprised as tourists and locals head to this area. Along your way to MJ Place, you will pass by few bars and cafés where you can also cap off your adventure-filled day.

In addition to these, beach resorts/hotel usually have their restaurants and bars where you can chill out.

 

If you have more days to spend in the island you can also try…

Sky Diving in Bantayan Island

If you love extreme adventures, then Skydiving is undoubtedly part of your bucket list.

Why not do it in Bantayan Island to make your stay more memorable? For rates and more information, click here.

20170625_162510
Photo Credits to: SkyDive Cebu Adventures

 

With the rapid fast-paced environment that we’re always experiencing, Bantayan Island is a great choice to find ourselves sauntering along a slow, local pace and enjoying a relaxed, stress-free lifestyle — even if just for a weekend!

 

Leave a Reply