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When I hear Bantayan Island the first thing that comes up to my mind is a place that I would never forget because of the memorable experience I had there. It is truly a paradise that any traveler can’t resist if they have the chance to visit. Its wonders leave its tourists awestruck. Bantayan does not disappoint me because not just the places but the people are generous too. I’m a bit emotional right now because when the time came that I had to leave the place, it was difficult to say goodbye to this place as it filled me with great memories and somehow gave me separation anxiety seeing the island getting far minute by minute.
Bantayan is located at the northernmost tip of Cebu, the main and largest island of the Bantayan island group that sits in the Visayan Sea of the Philippines. The island group includes numerous smaller islands (Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe).
How to get to Bantayan Island
There are no direct flights to Bantayan Island. If you’re coming from a different island group outside of Cebu, you need to fly to Mactan-Cebu International Airport first. Once you’re in Mactan-Cebu Airport, ride the MyBus shuttle to the North Bus Terminal (please check their website for an accurate rate). Take the bus that will drop you off at Hagnaya Port where you will bring your luggage and get on board the RoRo (fare is ₱215 as of writing) or you can board a direct bus to Santa Fe in Bantayan, which will include onboard the RoRo. The travel time from Cebu to Bantayan Island is approximately 4 hours.
The buses at the terminal leave every hour, day and night, and the travel time is around 4 hours. The RoRo ride is about 1.5 hours. When you arrive in Santa Fe, you need to pay PHP 30 for the ecological fee charged to all visitors or non-residents.
If you have the budget, you can try the Air Juan that will drop you off directly to Bantayan.
Where is it located?
COVID-19 Travel Update
Cebu is now open to tourists from other areas in the country (As of March 20, 2022). Prior to your travel, you must book ahead in the province’s online tourism portal, and present their pre-booked reservations if you’re staying in hotels and resorts. You can check out Cebu Tourism Office’s Facebook Page for more updates and the travel requirements.
Getting Around Bantayan
The cleanest port I’ve ever seen. People here are very clean and tidy.
Once you get to the Santa Fe in Bantayan, it’s gonna be a long walk towards the Santa Fe Port Ferry Ticketing Office. You can take a tricycle from there to your booked hotel. They have a standard rate so don’t worry about being scammed. Fare is ₱150 good for 5 but if you’re alone or just a few you’ll still have to pay for the minimum fare and the fare might differ depending on the destination.
Places I visited in Bantayan Island
We were accompanied by a friend of mine who lives in Cebu City so we didn’t take the tour package online but did it ourselves and rented a tricycle for the land tour. We were given an affordable rate and the driver was so nice and very accommodating. You can also take habal-habal if you’re traveling alone.
These can be your mode of transportation for short and long-distance travel on the island and could also take you to beautiful destinations on the island. The price will depend on your deal with the driver.
Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park
A nice two-hour adventure on Bantayan Island is the Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park.
The eco-park has a bamboo walkway through the mangroves which make for a refreshing stroll with good photo opportunities. You can also go kayaking or take a tour of the mangroves on a small boat.
Mangrove Eco Park Entry Fees
|Students and Children||₱20|
When we got here I felt it was not worth the time because it’s just the usual ruined house but I was amazed by the cliff. I actually didn’t know about it so seeing it from afar, feels nothing but soon as we go to the cliff, I was surprised because the sea was calm but the cliff is high so I’m afraid to jump off the cliff plus I wasn’t prepared I didn’t have extra clothes.
There’s a store in front of The Ruins where they sell Grilled Bananas and Pintos.
Virgin Island is one of the top attractions in Bantayan Island. The sand is white and fine as powder and the water is crystal clear. It is perfect for travelers who just want to chill and relax under the sun. The island also has Bantayan huts that you can rent and tables for a price while the hammocks scattered all over the island are free. In case you get thirsty or hungry, there is a local restaurant bar in the area where you can order different viand.
Things you can do at Virgin Island
- Pristine White Sand, Intagrammable spots
- Beach Volleyball
- Chill, Drink and Eat
Rates and Other Information
Rates may change depending on the season so please contact Virgin Island’s Facebook Page for an accurate rate.
|Entrance fee:||₱200 per head|
|Cottages:||₱300, ₱500, ₱600, ₱1,000 and ₱1,500|
|Non-Aircon Cottages||Cabana: ₱1,500 for 2 pax (maximum of 4 pax)|
|Open cottage: ₱1,500 for 5 pax|
|₱200 for every succeeding person|
|Bamboo Cottage: ₱3,000 for 2 pax. Maximum of 4 pax.|
|Family cottage: ₱5,000 for 4 pax. Maximum of 6pax|
|Barkada cottage: ₱7,000 for 8pax. Maximum of 10pax.|
|₱300 for every succeeding persons.|
If you can’t decide what to eat, head to MJ Square where food stalls are lined up. This is the usual place to visit if you want to chill and shot at night on the Island. It offers different cuisines from Italian and American to Filipino. Plus, everything is so affordable!
Story time! It’s just the three of us who went to Bantayan Island from staying in Cebu City. Just a bit of story how we met Wax. Along the way we’ve noticed the guy in top tank aboard and he was alone. It’s pretty obvious that he was travelling solo. Until we hit the resort we were still talking about him and it’s funny because that same night I got to chat with him over an app. Whenever I travel I always want to meet new people either locals or traveler like myself because this is one of the things I usually do when going to new places aside from learning their culture. It turned out that he went to Cebu to celebrate his birthday like I do so we planned to meet and have something to eat and decided to spend the rest of the night in one of the resto bar. We went to the beach resort where we checked in and Wax had to go from his Inn which few minutes from us. It was a nice company and I guess spending the night with a stranger is something that don’t usually happen so we now became friends.
I also wanted to mention the coffee shop we’ve been to twice. It is located near in the middle and here’s their Instagram account @Uminocafe. They’re just at the back of Generika Pharmacy.
Fun things to do in Bantayan
First thing you wanna do when you get to an Island. The beaches are what make Bantayan a beautiful place to be. This is where you’ll find some of the most pristine beaches in the South! What I visited was Virgin Island, but be sure to also include Kota Beach, Paradise Beach, and Sugar Beach. The weather wasn’t that good so instead of going to all the places we’d chosen, we skipped some and go directly to virgin island as the last spot to go.
Cebu is definitely one of the best and is known for its rich marine life. Bantayan is one of the best places to see it! If you’re not into freediving like me, snorkeling is enough to appreciate Bantayan Island’s majestic underwater world.
4. Food tripping
While Cebu is known for its famous crispy lechon (roasted pig), it also takes pride in its seafood offering! Can you believe that you can enjoy eat-all-you-can seafood for as low as PHP 200? You can indulge yourself in the fresh catch from scallops to oysters. At Bantayan, you’ll surely have a gastronomic delight.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bantayan Island
What are the best places to visit in Bantayan Island?
From Santa Fe Bantayan to Virgin Island Bantayan, there are so many beautiful places to visit in Bantayan Island. These are:
- Virgin Island
- Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park
- Ogtong Cave
- Paradise Beach
- Kota Beach
- Sugar Beach
- Maricaban Beach
How many days do you need in Bantayan?
Bantayan Island is quite a big island that consists of three municipalities. To make the most of your trip, three to four days are enough to enjoy the place.
Where to eat in Bantayan Island?
- Big Jel’s
- MJ Square
- HR Music Bar & Native Restaurant
- Coucou Bar Hotel & Restaurant Bantayan Island
- TapaMaster Bantayan Island
- Bantayan Burrito Company
- Cupcake Island Cakery
- Hellas Taverna