Bantayan Island is a hidden gem in the province of Cebu, Philippines.
With its pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, laid-back vibe, and rich culture, it’s no wonder that more and more travelers are discovering the beauty of this island paradise.
Whether you’re on a tight budget or looking to splurge, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on how to plan the perfect Bantayan Island itinerary.
How to Get to Bantayan Island
Getting to Bantayan Island is relatively easy, with several transportation options available from Cebu City or other parts of the Philippines. Here are some ways to reach this tropical paradise:
- By bus and ferry: Take a bus from the Cebu North Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port, then board a ferry to Santa Fe Port in Bantayan Island. The bus journey takes around 3-4 hours, while the ferry ride takes about 1 hour. This is the most cost-effective option for budget travelers.
- By van and ferry: If you prefer a more convenient and faster option, you can take a van from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port, then hop on a ferry to Bantayan Island. The van ride takes around 2-3 hours, and the ferry ride takes about 1 hour.
- By private car and ferry: If you have your own vehicle, you can drive from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port and park your car there. Then, take the ferry to Bantayan Island. This option gives you more flexibility and convenience, but keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for parking at the port.
- By plane: You can also fly from Manila or other major cities in the Philippines to either Cebu or Mactan-Cebu International Airport. From there, you can take a cab or a van to Hagnaya Port and proceed with the ferry ride to Bantayan Island.
It’s important to note that ferry schedules may vary, so it’s advisable to check the latest timetables and plan your trip accordingly. Be sure to arrive at the port at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.
Where to Stay in Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are some of the best areas to stay in:
- Santa Fe: This is the most developed and touristy area in Bantayan Island. It boasts beautiful beaches, resorts, restaurants, bars, and shops. If you prefer a lively atmosphere with plenty of amenities, Santa Fe is the perfect choice for you.
- Budget: Kota Beach Resort, Anika Island Resort
- Mid-range: Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, Beach Placid Resort
- Luxury: Amihan Beach Cabanas, The Coral Blue Oriental Beach Villas and Suites
- Bantayan Town: This is the main town and cultural center of the island. It offers a more authentic and local experience, with historical landmarks, local markets, and cheaper accommodation options.
- Budget: Bantayan Huts, Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort (Cottage Rooms)
- Mid-range: Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort (Deluxe Rooms), Anika Island Resort
- Luxury: The Coral Blue Oriental Beach Villas and Suites, Hoyohoy Villas
What to Do in Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island offers a wide range of activities and attractions for every type of traveler. Here are some must-do experiences:
- Relax on the beach: Bantayan Island is famous for its stunning beaches. Spend your days sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the beauty of places like Sugar Beach, Paradise Beach, Kota Beach, Alice Beach, and more.
- Explore the island by bike or motorbike: Rent a bike or motorbike and go on an adventure to discover the hidden gems of Bantayan Island. Visit Obo-ob Mangrove Garden, Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Eco Park, St. Peter and Paul Church, Bantayan Public Market, and other local attractions.
- Go island hopping: Join a boat tour or hire a private boat and explore the nearby islands and sandbars. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kinatarkan Island, and other picturesque spots.
- Try local food and drinks: Bantayan Island is a food lover’s paradise. Sample some of the island’s specialties, such as danggit (dried fish), buwad (salted fish), lechon (roasted pig), kinilaw (raw fish salad), puso (hanging rice), tuba (coconut wine), and more. Don’t forget to indulge in the fresh seafood caught by the local fishermen.
- Experience the nightlife: After a day of exploring, unwind and have fun at some of the bars and clubs in Santa Fe. Check out CouCou Bar & Restaurant, MJ Square Food Park & Bar Hub, Blue Ice Bar & Restaurant, and other vibrant spots for live music, drinks, and good company.
Sample Bantayan Island Itineraries
To make your trip planning easier, here are some sample itineraries for different durations and budgets:
- One-day itinerary:
- Morning: Arrive in Bantayan Island, check-in at your chosen accommodation in Santa Fe. Relax on the beach and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.
- Afternoon: Rent a bike or motorbike and explore the island. Visit Obo-ob Mangrove Garden, St. Peter and Paul Church, and Bantayan Public Market.
- Evening: Enjoy a delicious dinner of local specialties and experience the nightlife in Santa Fe.
- Two-day itinerary:
- Day 1: Follow the one-day itinerary.
- Day 2: Go on an island hopping tour and visit Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, and Kinatarkan Island. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and beach picnics.
- Three-day itinerary:
- Day 1: Explore Santa Fe and its beautiful beaches. Relax and soak up the sun.
- Day 2: Rent a bike or motorbike and venture to Madridejos. Visit the fishing villages and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Take a boat tour to explore the nearby islands and sandbars.
- Day 3: Immerse yourself in the local culture in Bantayan Town. Visit historical landmarks, try local food, and shop for souvenirs.
Tips and Reminders for Visiting Bantayan Island
- The best time to visit Bantayan Island is from November to May, during the dry season. However, the island can still be enjoyed during the rainy season from June to October, as rain showers are usually short-lived.
- Getting around the island is easy and affordable. You can rent a bike, motorbike, tricycle, pedicab, or hop on a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi).
- Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a swimsuit, a towel, a water bottle, and cash. ATMs on the island are limited, so it’s advisable to bring enough cash for your expenses.
- Bantayan Island is known for its friendly locals, laid-back atmosphere, simple facilities, and limited internet connection. Embrace the island’s charm and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life.
- Respect the local culture, customs, and religion. Dress modestly when visiting churches or religious sites and be mindful of your behavior towards the locals and the environment.
In conclusion, Bantayan Island is a tropical paradise that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, this island has it all. Plan your trip, pack your bags, and get ready to experience the beauty and charm of Bantayan Island. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Important Frequently Asked Questions
What Month is Best for Bantayan Island?
The best time to visit Bantayan Island is from November to May, during the dry season. This is when you can enjoy sunny weather and calm seas. However, the island can still be enjoyed during the rainy season from June to October, as rain showers are usually short-lived.
Is Bantayan Island Expensive?
Bantayan Island offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury resorts. Food and transportation are also affordable, especially if you opt for local eateries and public transportation. However, keep in mind that prices may be slightly higher compared to other destinations in the Philippines due to the island’s popularity.
Is Bantayan Island Worth a Visit?
Absolutely! Bantayan Island is a hidden gem that offers stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. Whether you’re a beach lover, an adventure seeker, or a culture enthusiast, Bantayan Island has something for everyone. The island’s natural beauty, friendly locals, and rich cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination in the Philippines.
How Much Is the Entrance to Bantayan Island 2023?
As of now, Bantayan Island does not charge an entrance fee for visitors. However, keep in mind that prices and regulations may change, so it’s always a good idea to check with local authorities or your accommodation provider.
How Long is the Travel Time from Cebu City to Bantayan Island?
The travel time from Cebu City to Bantayan Island can vary depending on the mode of transportation you choose. Generally, it takes around 4 to 5 hours to reach Bantayan Island from Cebu City. The journey typically involves a combination of land and sea transportation. You can take a bus or van from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port, and from there, you’ll need to take a ferry to Bantayan Island. It’s advisable to plan your trip in advance and consider any schedule changes or weather conditions that might affect travel times.