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Bantayan Travel Guide: What to See and Do in Bantayan

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Bantayan Island is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines, and for good reasons. This island paradise offers stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and a relaxed atmosphere that will make you feel like you are in heaven. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or an adventure trip, Bantayan Island has something for everyone. In this Bantayan Travel Guide, we will show you what to see and do in Bantayan Island, as well as some tips and tricks to make your trip more enjoyable. Let’s get started!

Bantayan Overview

Bantayan Island, a hidden treasure in the Philippines, is the ultimate escape for nature enthusiasts, culture seekers, and adventure lovers. Nestled in the northern part of Cebu Province, this island paradise boasts crystal-clear waters, powdery white sands, enchanting sandbars, and pristine islets, creating the perfect setting for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and island-hopping.

Beyond its natural wonders, Bantayan Island is steeped in history, harboring the Visayan Region’s oldest Catholic Parish Church and 18 watchtowers erected as defenses against marauding pirates. The island exudes a laid-back charm, welcoming you to explore its nooks by bicycle or motorbike, connect with its warm-hearted locals, and relish the freshest seafood delights. Serving as a vital fishing hub, Bantayan Island provides fresh catches to regions as far-flung as Manila and Mindanao. And, as the sun graces the eastern shoreline with its majestic rise, you’ll be treated to breathtaking sunrises. For an unforgettable holiday in the Philippines, Bantayan Island is the destination that has it all.

Philippines Bantayan
The azure sky and clear seawater of Bantayan

Top Things to Do in Bantayan

  • Beach Bliss: Bask in the serenity of Bantayan’s white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re in the mood for relaxation, swimming, sunbathing, or beach games, the shores of Paradise Beach, Sugar Beach, Alice Beach, and Kota Beach await your pleasure.
  • Natural Marvels: Embark on a journey to explore Bantayan’s natural wonders. Ogtong Cave, a charming hideaway, boasts a freshwater pool inside its depths. For a more extensive adventure, visit Bantayan Island Nature and Conservation Park, a 14-hectare sanctuary teeming with diverse flora and fauna, including ostriches, monkeys, civets, and snakes.
  • Cultural Dive: Immerse yourself in Bantayan’s rich culture and history. Pay a visit to Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church, a historical gem and the oldest church in Visayas and Mindanao, dating back to 1580. Its unique blend of Gothic and Baroque architecture will captivate your senses. Also, explore Kota Park, a former Spanish fort transformed into a park featuring a museum, lighthouse, and a delightful playground.
  • Adventure Awaits: Thrill-seekers can partake in exciting activities like skydiving, cliff diving, kayaking, and biking. Experience the ultimate adrenaline rush by skydiving from 10,000 feet above the island, treating your senses to panoramic vistas of sea and land. For an extra dose of excitement, try cliff diving at the German Ruins, a once-abandoned resort turned adventure haven. Paddle your way through the tranquil mangrove forests by kayaking or set off on a biking journey around the island, where rural landscapes unfold before your eyes.
  • Island Hopping: Embark on an island-hopping adventure to discover the captivating charms of nearby islets. Virgin Island, a private paradise with pristine beaches and enchanting coral gardens, promises a tranquil escape – Kinatarkan Island beckons with its picturesque lagoon, inviting sandbar, and lively fishing village. Meanwhile, Funtastic Island boasts a vibrant landscape dotted with colorful cottages, zip lines, and daring diving boards, creating a fun-filled atmosphere for all.
Philippines Bantayan Ogtong Cave
Ogtong Cave in Bantayan

Where to Stay in Bantayan

Your choice of accommodation on Bantayan Island depends on your preferences, budget, and the experiences you seek. The island comprises three municipalities, each offering its unique charm:

Bantayan: 

This central and most populated municipality is where you’ll find the historic St. Peter and Paul Parish, one of the Philippines’ oldest churches. Bantayan exudes local culture and culinary delights, especially during the grand Holy Week celebrations. Consider staying at recommended hotels like Carl’s Island Inn, Adelaida Pensionne Hotel, and Micky Santoro Hotel & Restaurant.

Madridejos:

Located in the island’s northernmost part, Madridejos provides a laid-back and peaceful atmosphere. Here, you can explore Kota Park, a historical fort offering breathtaking views of the sea and sunsets. Don’t miss the Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, a 10-hectare property with a mini zoo, cave pool, botanical garden, and a camping site. Consider lodging at Nordic Inn, Hoyohoy Villas, or Kandugyap House by the Sea.

Santa Fe:

Situated in the southeastern part of the island, Santa Fe is a hub for tourists and brims with attractions. Discover pristine white sand beaches like Sugar Beach, Paradise Beach, and Kota Beach. Santa Fe also serves as a gateway to nearby islands such as Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, and Kinatarkan Island. Opt for accommodations at Anahaw Seaside Inn, Sandscape Hotel, or Ogtong Cave Resort.

Philippines Bantayan Micky Santoro Hotel & Restaurant
Micky Santoro Hotel & Restaurant

How Many Days to Stay in Bantayan

Many travelers suggest that a weekend getaway to Bantayan Island, from Friday to Sunday, is often sufficient to enjoy its highlights. However, for a more extensive and leisurely exploration, consider extending your stay to three days or even longer. A three-day itinerary on Bantayan Island can encompass activities such as beach-hopping, island-hopping, visiting the enchanting mangrove garden, experiencing the local nightlife, and taking in scenic sights from elevated vantage points.

Philippines Nightlife in Bantayan
Nightlife in Bantayan

Bantayan Weather & Best Time to Visit Bantayan

The most favorable times to explore Bantayan Island in the Philippines are typically from late February to mid-May or from early October to mid-November. During these intervals, you can expect near-ideal weather conditions with minimal chances of rain or snow, pleasant temperatures, and reasonably comfortable levels of humidity. Additionally, the sea temperature remains suitable for swimming throughout the entire year.

Conversely, if you’re contemplating a visit to Bantayan Island, it’s advisable to steer clear of the months of January, June, July, August, September, and December. These months tend to either experience the heaviest rainfall or the most scorching weather on the island. For instance, June records a substantially high average rainfall of 7853.48 mm, which starkly contrasts with the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the average temperature in July and August soars to around 40°C, making it a particularly sweltering and muggy period.

Bantayan Transportation: How to Get to and Travel around

How to Get to

Getting to Bantayan Island from various starting points offers several convenient options. Here are some of the most popular choices:

From Cebu City:

If you’re departing from Cebu City, a bus or van departing from the SM North Bus Terminal can transport you to Hagnaya Port, which is approximately a 3.5-hour journey. The cost for this leg of the trip is around 260 pesos per person. From Hagnaya Port, you can board a ferry bound for Santa Fe Port on Bantayan Island, a journey of about 1.25 hours, with a fare of approximately 300 pesos per person, covering the terminal fee.

From Mactan-Cebu International Airport:

When starting your journey at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, you have the option of taking a taxi or a ride-hailing service to reach the SM North Bus Terminal, a roughly 30-minute ride. This part of the journey will cost you approximately 200 to 300 pesos per person. Following this, you can follow the same route as described above to reach Bantayan Island.

By Air:

If time and convenience are your priorities, you can opt for a chartered or scheduled flight departing from Mactan-Cebu International Airport directly to Bantayan Island airfield, which is about a 45-minute flight. This option, although pricier at around 2,500 to 3,000 pesos per person, offers a swift and hassle-free travel experience. As of now, only Air Juan provides flights to the island.

Philippines Cebu Flight
Take a flight from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Bantayan

How to Travel around

Bantayan Island provides an array of transportation options to suit your preferences, budget, and schedule. Depending on your choices, you can explore the island through various means:

  • Scooter: One of the most flexible and enjoyable ways to navigate Bantayan Island is by renting a scooter. This grants you the freedom to venture at your own pace and halt wherever your heart desires. The daily rental cost is typically around 350 pesos, making it a popular choice for independent exploration.
  • Tricycle: For a more communal and comfortable ride, tricycles and motorbikes are the primary modes of transportation around the island. A minimum fare of just 10 pesos can take you short distances, and you also have the option to hire a tricycle driver for a fixed rate. This method is especially convenient when traveling with a group or family.
  • Bicycle: For those feeling adventurous and physically fit, renting a bicycle offers an eco-friendly and health-conscious way to traverse the island. At approximately 150 pesos per day, it’s a budget-friendly option that allows you to relish the scenic beauty and fresh air along your journey.
  • Jeepney: While limited in frequency, there are jeepneys and multicabs that shuttle passengers between Sta. Fe and Bantayan. This option provides an affordable and authentic experience, allowing you to interact with locals and immerse yourself in their culture. Be mindful, though, that these vehicles can sometimes be crowded or subject to delays.

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