Bantayan is an island in the Philippines located north of Cebu. If you are looking for a place still little invaded by mass tourism, with white beaches and crystal clear waters, Bantayan is the one for you. The island is perfect for enjoying some relaxation.
I spent 5 days in Bantayan at the end of a traveling tour to discover the Philippine archipelago.
In this guide I want to share with you all the tips and information for visiting Bantayan Island: how to reach it, where to stay, how to move, when to go, etc.
Usually most tourists reach Bantayan from Cebu, Mactan International Airport is in fact the second most important airport in the archipelago. Alternatively, you can also get to Bantayan from Malapascua, as we did.
Let's see these two options in detail:
First you will need to go to the Bus station at Terminal North, by bus or by taxi.
From Terminal North take a company bus Ceres which will take you to the port of Hagnaya in about 4/5 hours. From the port of Hagnaya board the ferry and in approximately 1 hour of navigation you will reach the port of Santa Fe on the island of Bantayan.
The cost for the air-conditioned bus is 165 PHP (circa 3 € ), while for the ferry 180 PHP.
There are also several buses of the Ceres line that board the ferry and go to the municipality of Bantayan. You can also get off at Santa Fe if you have booked a property there. Taking the direct bus has the advantage of not having to carry your luggage on the ferry.
To go to Bantayan from Malapascua There are no public ferries connecting the two islands, but you have two options:
- Take the ferry to Cebu which arrives at the port of Maya. From here you have to transfer to the port of Hagnaya by bus and tuk tuk. Finally from Hagnaya board the ferry to Bantayan. It is the cheapest option but also the longest.
- Alternatively, you can do as we do and rent a private boat that takes you directly to Bantayan in about 2 hours, at a cost of around € 40.
To return to Cebu City we took the Ceres bus to the port of Santa Fe. The bus departs from Bantayan City, gets on the ferry directly and takes you to Cebu City's North Terminal. If you are headed to Mactan Airport, ask the driver to drop you off at Pacific Mall. From here you can take a taxi to the airport.
Bantayan is quite small. To move around the island you can rely on local means such as the classic tuk tuk or jeepney. But the best thing to do on your own is to rent a scooter. The cost ranges from 250 to 450 PHP (4 to 8 €) per day.
As we saw in the article on how to organize a trip to the Philippines, the best time to visit the country and therefore also for a holiday on the island of Bantayan is from mid-February until April, during the dry season.
The three main locations on the island are: Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe.
The best area to stay in Bantayan is in the municipality of Santa Fe, in the south of the island, within walking distance of some of the most beautiful beaches.
Santa Fe is the busiest and busiest area where most of the restaurants and bars are located.
We stayed atAdelaida Pensionne Hotel, great location 5 minutes walk from restaurants and beautiful Kota Beach.
Good value for money. We also hired the scooter to get around the island.
While Bantayan isn't a huge island, it still offers plenty of activities to do.
Obviously the main attraction of Bantayan are its white sand beaches, like Kota beach e Paradise Beach. In particular, the latter is one of the most beautiful in the Philippines: white sand, transparent water and behind it a lush and well-kept tropical garden. The entrance to the beach costs PHP 50 (about 80 euro cents).
I recommend visiting Paradise Beach during the week, as it gets busy on weekends and is always very busy. Bring water and food as there is nothing.
You can reach the beach with a trycicle or even better with a rented scooter.
Finding the beach is not easy, as there are no signs, but if you follow my directions you shouldn't get lost:
- Take the main road from Santa Fe to Bantayan;
- Turn left when you meet a sign that says “way to Biyaktis”;
- At the first crossroads turn right;
- At the basketball court, turn right again;
- Go straight and turn left at the sign that says "Sandira Beach" which is the real name of the beach.
Other beaches that you can visit in Bantayan are: Alice Beach, Sugar Beach e Maricaban Beach.
Also not to be missed is a day trip to the nearby Virgin Island, reachable in 30 minutes by boat. The sea is gorgeous and the beach is a unique white.
You can organize the excursion by renting a boat with the locals. The cost is generally 700 PHP (12,00 €), plus the entrance to the island, 250 PHP (about 4 €) per person. Avoid booking the tour through resorts that offer higher prices.
Among the other attractions of Bantayan we find:
- Ogtong Cave
- Church of Saints Peter and Paul
- Omagieca Mangrove Garden
- The Ruins of the Spanish Fort in Kota Park
- Paracuditismo in Tandem
- Admire the spectacular sunsets
- Visit the island of Malapascua
There are only 2 ATMs in Bantayan, one in Santa Fe and one in the town of Bantayan. However, keep in mind that the service is not always guaranteed and the commissions could be high. I therefore recommend that you bring enough cash for your stay on the island.
Bantayan is a beautiful island, ideal for those looking for a place with pristine beaches where they can spend a few days of pure relaxation. Speaking with the locals, I discovered that Bantayan resembles a Boracay from 30 years ago, when the island was still livable.
I hope that Bantayan will keep as much of its wild island charm as possible and that it will not be invaded by mega resorts, so if you are in the Philippines I advise you not to miss this little paradise!Start with the Best Guide of the Philippines
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