Bantayan Island north of Cebu is the province answer to Boracay’s long white sand beach. You have probably seen lots of pictures of its white sand beach and and crystal clear blue waters. This island destination used to be a ‘hidden paradise’ and a well kept secret of Cebu but more and more people have discovered what this beach haven offers, thanks mainly to awesome feedbacks and reviews of all those who have visited Bantayan Island and also for those Cebu travel blogs that spreads awareness of what this town has in store for travelers and visitors. Despite the increase in tourist visiting its shore, Bantayan remains to be a charming small town.
If you are looking for glitz and glamour, loud music and all night parties, Bantayan is not for you. This prime beach destination in the Philippines are for those who are looking for relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of city living and away from dazzling urban lights. The island has indeed become a favorite beach destination by Cebuanos and Filipino travelers while many foreign tourist prefers the diving spots and tresher shark spotting on nearby Malapascua Island.
A View from Budyong Beach Resort
Bantayan Sidetrips and Interesting Activities in this Philippine beach destination:
Aside from beach bumming, island hoppping (get to Virgin Island!) , snorkeling and diving to the ship wrecks that you can find near Bantayan, you can also visit the centuries old stone church in Sta Fe – the St Peter and Paul Church, have a tricycle or trisikad roadtrip to the inner towns and have a countryside tour, visit the mangrove forest, watch a wonderful sunset scene in Madridejos, buy the famous dried fish like danggit and pusit straight from the source itself no need more to go to Taboan Market if you buy your dried fish pasalubong in Bantayan and they are way cheaper there too! And since resort food are almost almost more expensive, you can buy fresh seafood at the local market and have it cook in your resort’s kitchen (for a certain fee of course) or you can arrange it with your tour guide if you got one 🙂
White Sand on Sugar Beach, a Public Beach in Bantayan Island
How to go to Bantayan Island in Cebu?
Straight from the airport you can commute by public transport to the Cebu North Bus Terminal if you planning to take a bus to Bantayan. Just hop on one of the yellow airport multicab, get off in Marina Mall. In Marina Mall ride an ‘SM’ bound jeepney with the signboard “North Bus” “SM” or alternative, ride a “Highway” jeepney and get off in Mandaue Coliseum. In Mandaue Coliseum, ride 21A, 22D or anything with “North Bus”, “Makro” or “SM” signage. TO BE 100% SURE, ask the driver for confirmation if he will pass by Northbus Terminal. OR you can take a taxi, fare from airport would probably be around P15o to P200.
Once in Cebu Northbus Terminal, ride a bus bound for “Hagnaya”. Most buses are non-aircon, the aircon ones are few and rare. If you really want aircon please try to contact Ceres Bus Line to reserve your tickets or go to the bus terminal days before your adventure and buy your ticket early. If they have not change their aircon bus schedule, then it’s going to be the Ceres buses that leaves at 6am, 7:30am and 9:30am.
Update Feb 22,2012: We just got back from a trip up North, sharing this photo of the aircon bus schedule of Ceres Liner:
Ceres Liner Aircon Buses Schedule and Departure Time
Travel time for the bus trip approximately around 2.5 to 3 hours. You can go to the bus terminal at any time even past midnight as there are buses that leaves every hour. If you want to catch the first ferry out to Sta Fe from Hagnaya Port, be at the CNB terminal by 3am.
In Hagnaya, you will be transferring to a boat or a ferry bound for Sta Fe, Bantayan’s major town. Travel by boat from mainland Cebu to the island is about one hour to an hour and a half. Nope there is no express craft like Ocean Jet and Supercat that serves Cebu City to Bantayan route, so you have to deal with a slow vessel. Sta Fe bound ferries leave every couple of hours starting at 6am until 5pm. Once you arrived in Sta Fe, then you can just take a tricycle to get to your beach resort.
Alternative: You can take a taxi all the way to Hagnaya Port but is expensive. You can always try to haggle with the driver.
You can also fly to Bantayan from Mactan, travel time about 35 minutes via MidSea Express but its super expensive for us average travelers and backpackers hehehhe
Watchout! : Once you arrive in Hagnaya and also in Sta Fe port and you look ‘touristy’ there will be over zealous porters who will (unfortunately) try to grab your bags so they ‘can assist’ you, of course there is a porter’s fee afterwards. If you are not planning on having someone help you carry your bags, please say ‘no’ and be firmed about it. These people are trying to make a living but sometimes they forget about politeness and courtesy in offering their services.
How much transport cost to go to Bantayan?
Jeepney to Northbus – P8 + P8 = P16
Bus to Bantayan – P100 (non-aircon) and P150 (aircon)
Boat / Ferry Rate to Sta Fe – from P135 to P170 per person
Hagnaya Port terminal Fee – P5
Sta Fe Port Terminal Fee – P10
Tricycle to get to Sta Fe center to check out the church etc – P25 per person
Countryside roadtrip via tricycle or trisikad – haggle with the driver / tour guide as it’s ‘pakyaw’ system or you can also hire Bantayan for rent motorbikes and just explore the island on your own.
Where to stay in Bantayan Island: Beach Resort Options
As with any beach island destination, you have an array of choices for where to stay. Bantayan Island accommodation range from expensive, affordable and cheap ones. Some resorts offer discounts for big groups, that’s why a lot of Cebu based companies especially BPOs spend their team rewards and summer outing in Bantayan.
Some choices of Bantayan Beach Resorts for you to consider:
- Sugar Beach Resort
- Budyong Beach Resort
- Maia’s Beach Resort
Landline: 63 – 32 – 438-0077
- Kota Beach
Landline: 63 – 32 – 438 – 9042 / 63324196135
- Ogtong Cave Resort
Telephone: 63 – 32 – 4380165
- Tristan Beach Resort
Phone: 63 – 32 – 438 – 9041
- St Bernard Beach Resort
Phone: 63 – 917 – 963 – 612
Before you book and reserve your rooms, I suggest you read on customer reviews online or ask for feedback from your friends and family who have been to Bantayan Island.
When is the best time to travel and visit Bantayan Island in Cebu?
Kenneth and Nicko Happy in Bantayan (without me, hmp!)
Summer is the best time to go to Bantayan as the waves there will be normal, so anytime between March to early June would be ideal. You can even make a trip there as your Cebu weekend getaway! On rainy season there are still tourists that goes to Bantayan but significantly fewer due to rough waves, the advantage though if you go there during the off-season is that you will almost have the entire beach strip to yourself and you can try to haggle with the resort to give you cottages or rooms at a discounted price 🙂 My friends Mau and gang went there last 2011 November and they had an awesome unforgettable time and tons of pics and images of Bantayan Island! And yep they were able to haggle down their resort room rates too heheheh
You can also time in your Bantayan trip during the Holy Week as besides the long holiday for those who are working, it is festive in Bantayan during these days because a lot of locals go there for a summer outing and vacations.
Trivia on this Philippine tourist destination: Bantayan is one of the places that have a Papal decree that allows the Catholics to eat meat during the Lent season. This is mainly because the main livelihood of locals in Bantayan is fishing, this situation together with the ‘rule’ that you are not supposed to work during the Holy Week make it possible for the townfolks to officially be allowed to eat meat like Cebu Lechon while the rest of the Catholics are ‘nag-puasa’.
Hope you will make Bantayan a part of your travel bucket list! Have more fun in the Philippines with beach adventures like what you can find in Bantayan Island Cebu!
New Blog Out Now – Bantayan Tourist Traps and How to Avoid.
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