Last updated on January 10th, 2019 at 04:29 pm
If you are visiting Bantayan in Cebu, you are probably coming from a trip to mainland Cebu or Malapascua. During our trip to Bantayan, we came from Malapascua. Upon reaching this island paradise in the northern end of Cebu, we really liked the vibe of Bantayan. The beaches were almost deserted and had white sand that stretched on and on in its shores. The island had crystal clear waters surrounding it. It was like being in a dream or being sent to tropical heaven! We spent amazing time and we will tell you all the amazing things to do in Bantayan Island, how to get to Bantayan Island, where to stay in Bantayan Island in our Bantayan travel guide for your next visit.
Sadly, though, we weren’t able to spend much time in Bantayan Island. We had a limited amount of time to stay here because we had to follow our schedule and head to other destinations. But we’d love to go back, for sure.
That being said, we created this post of the things to do in Bantayan Island for those who want to have a good time here, like we did. Stay as long as you can and just have fun for us, in the meantime. Maybe we’ll see you guys there in the future, fingers crossed!
How to get to Bantayan Island
If you are coming from Cebu, there are two ways to start your trip to Bantayan: riding a bus or taking a van. The van is faster than the bus by around an hour and has air conditioning. Prices starts from 160 PHP for a trip on the bus and 200 PHP for the van. The price difference between these two amount to less than a dollar, so a van seems like the much better option.
You will board a bus or van on Hagnaya which will take you to the port. There, you will find ferries to Bantayan Island. The ride costs 200 PHP per person (with a 50% discount for children) and lasts an hour.
If you are coming from Malapascua, you can get a ferry to Maya and from there, you take a bus then a tricycle to reach Hagnaya. From Hagnaya, ride the ferry to Bantayan. This trip will last 6-7 hours. You can also go by private boat from Malapascua as we did. The boat trip took us one and a half hours. We paid 1200 PHP for 2 adults and one child. This price actually just depends on your negotiating skills and on how many people you are taking the trip with.
Choosing the best way to reach Bantayan Island really depends on your budget and your schedule. We usually go for the cheapest option, but this time we decided to spend little bit more in exchange of comfort, less travel time and just really maximizing our stay in Bantayan.
Read here full blog post how to get to Bantayan Island!
Best time to visit Bantayan Island
If you’re traveling to a foreign land, the first thing you might want to consider is the weather. It’s always best to plan your trip during the “tamest” months of the year for a destination. For those headed to this island paradise, the best time to visit Bantayan Island is from March to May as this is the dry season here. The weather from October to November is also quite pleasant and much cooler than those summer months.
However, if you’re intent on visiting during the summer peak season, make sure to wear sunscreen! We cannot emphasize this enough, as the heat in this tropical destination is different from the ones experienced in Western countries. Finally, June to August, despite being some of the rainiest months in Bantayan Island, tend to bring hot weather and humidity with the drizzles too.
Transportation around Bantayan Island
If you wish to travel like a local around Bantayan Island, you should hop on the trisikad, the area’s version of a pedicab. Upon reaching the pier, you can ride a trisikad to the town for around 25 PHP. These vehicles can be seen all over Bantayan Island. They may not be as efficient as other modes of travel but their safe to use and are easily found.
Another common yet exciting (for foreigners, anyway) option to go around the island is to ride the jeepney. These vehicles are a staple in almost every town in the Philippines. It is an efficient way to travel from one city to another in Bantayan Island. Those coming from Bantayan town and are headed for Santa Fe or Madrilejos should pay 25 PHP for a ride on the jeepney.
By motorcycle and bicycle
Like in many island destinations, two-wheeled vehicles are all the rage in Bantayan Island as well. You can rent a motorbike for around 250-450 PHP per day. That’s only less than $4-9 USD for a decent vehicle. A bicycle can also be rented at a much cheaper price, for only 100 PHP a day. This is perfect for those who love to travel off the beaten path and get to know destinations in their own time.
Another very Pinoy way to travel is by riding the habal-habal. These motorbike taxis are ideal for long distance travel and is a great way to tour around Bantayan Island without having to worry about exploring a new place on your own.
ATMs and Currency in Bantayan Island
The country uses the Philippine Peso as its currency, where $1 USD = 53 PHP, more or less. Click here to see the exact exchange rate of PHP to your currency. For those wondering if they can withdraw money when in Bantayan Island or they should do so in Cebu City, the answer is yes: there is one ATM in Bantayan Town. However, fees may be higher from this ATM and service is not always guaranteed. The best option would still be to withdraw money from Cebu first, from establishments like Banco de Oro and Bank of the Philippine Islands.
Internet and Wifi Connection in Bantayan Island
We were lucky with internet and wifi connection in Bantayan Island and it was working good enough for doing our job online. It can be challenging the connection if it’s raining. Apart from wifi our data was working in LTE with Globe and Smart in Bantayan. Click here if you want to know the best Filipino sim for tourist!
Daily Budget to visit Bantayan Island
Cebu is one of the most metropolitan and most visited provinces in the Philippines. When visiting Bantayan in Northwestern Cebu, you should know that the cost of living in this island is really low. For example, you can get a hearty meal from a local restaurant at 100-250 PHP. This can go even lower when you buy in carinderias, the Philippines’ local eateries or canteens. If you’re thinking of drinking beer with your meal or for a nightcap, you can get a bottle for as low as 45-75 PHP. Transportation, as previously mentioned, is also very cheap especially when you ride shared vehicles like the jeepney.
If you’re looking for the budget rooms in Bantayan Island, there are plenty of guesthouses, hotels and resorts that go for as low as 500-1000 PHP. Bigger spaces with even bigger views (like the Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort) are offered at around 1,200-2,000 PHP. Posh accommodations are also quite affordable at less than 3,000 PHP ($56 USD). You can also try AirBnB in Bantayan Island starting from 800 PHP. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Things To Do in Bantayan Island
1. Boat Trip in Bantayan Island
You can rent a boat in Bantayan Island for 1500 PHP and spend the morning visiting different places. You can go snorkeling and visit the most popular places in Bantayan: Virgin Island and Hilantaagan Island.
2. Rent a Motorbike
Be mesmerized and get lost all around Bantayan town as you visit St. Peter and St. Paul Church on a motorbike. Renting one allows you more flexibility with your time and you get to visit places on your own without relying on public transportation. Cebuanos are very amiable people so I’m sure they’ll help you navigate to your destinations when you rent a motorbike. Prices for renting a motorbike in Bantayan island are around 400 PHP per day. It can go cheaper the price if you rent for a few days.
3. Lounge at the Beach
There are beautiful beaches like Paradise Beach and Kota Beach in Bantayan Island where most of the resorts are located. We enjoyed flying our drone, swimming, and walking around the beach. Close to those beaches, you can visit Ogtong Cave, a small cave with a natural pool inside.
4. Enjoy Nightlife in Bantayan
Most of the people are hanging out in the town at night. This speaks of both locals and tourists who love meeting new people and just having a good time. There several restaurants in Bantayan Island where you can have dinner and a couple of places to visit if you want to have a drink. Prices are very affordable and the atmosphere is very relaxing.
More things to do in Bantayan Island
5. Visit Ogtong Cave
Ogtong Cave in Santa Fe is a unique destination that offers you the chance to explore a spectacular underground wonder of nature. It can be accessed through the Ogtong Cave Resort (a sister-company of Santa Fe Beach Club) and is a small cave with crystal clear waters. It’s not really big enough to swim at but is the perfect place to chill for a while.
Entry to Ogtong Cave costs 120 PHP and comes with access to the public pool and the beach in the resort. It is only 15 minutes away from Santa Fe Beach Club. From Bantayan town, you can take a jeepney to Santa Fe to reach the resort.
6. St. Peter and Paul Church
Located across the town plaza in the heart of Bantayan is St. Peter and Paul Church, one of the oldest in the Philippines and is made of stones and corals. This iconic church is a well-preserved symbol of the Catholic faith and has numerous relief sculptures of saints and other religious artifacts. It’s one of the many places to visit in Bantayan Island for those interested in history and architecture.
7. Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden
A walk along the bamboo bridge and a stroll around this humble community is enough to make Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden one of the best spots in Bantayan Island. Everything has been constructed from bamboo, from the bridges and the piers to the shelter and the tower, giving the place a very laid back aesthetic. You can visit the mangrove garden and learn about nature conservation for only 50 PHP!
Fun fact: This is where the Filipino movie Camp Sawi was filmed, making it a popular destination even among locals.
8. Virgin Island
From Bantayan Island, another wonderful destination can be reached through a boat and is perfect for a day trip. Virgin Island, also known as Silion, is a part of Santa Fe and is right next to Hilantagaan Island. There is an entrance fee of that is pricier than most destinations in the island. For 500 PHP, you can stay on the island for the whole day. If you’re traveling in a group, only 2 people need to pay the whole fee and the rest only cost 100 PHP, so you can divide the cost among yourselves.
9. Explore fishing villages in Santa Fe
The island of Bantayan is inherently a fishing village in general, but most of its fishermen reside in Santa Fe. When you stay in the resorts in this municipality, you will see plenty of fishing boats by the port. It is a much quieter area in the island and also has stunning beaches for you to enjoy.
Food to try in Bantayan Island
Staying at an island destination would not be complete without sampling the seafood it has to offer. Bantayan Island is no exception when it comes to producing amazing seafood dishes. Crab, shrimp and even scallop are abundant in Bantayan and can be bought from the public market or eaten at restaurants. It’s very common to find seafood platters, calamari, grilled fish, baked mussels and clam soup on every restaurant’s menu here in Bantayan.
Dried fish and dried squid
Famous all over Cebu is dried fish in the form of danggit and dried squid or pusit. These delicacies are often paired with fried rice and egg, and are dipped in spicy vinegar. This is also a favorite pasalubong (gift or souvenir) by people who visit Bantayan Island.
A local delicacy in Bantayan Island is puto balanghoy, a snack made from steamed grated cassava and coconuts. Aside from being a hearty snack, it can also replace rice or bread during your meal. Puto balanghoy can be bought in the streets of Bantayan Island for as low as 10 PHP.
Of course there’s lechon in Bantayan Island! It’s a true Cebuano classic and the people of Bantayan wouldn’t miss out on having their own lechon place, would they? Jela’s Lechon & Restaurant and Howie’s Lechon are two spots in Bantayan Island to get your roasted suckling pig fix.
Here’s a fun fact: During Holy Week, a time when Catholics usually go fasting and avoid eating meat, lechon is abundant in Bantayan because fishermen refuse to catch fish during Good Friday, so there is no fish to eat in the island. The Holy Week then becomes like a fiesta instead of a time for reflection and meditation in Bantayan Island.
Festivals in Bantayan Island
As an island, Bantayan is mainly a fishing territory. Every year, fishermen from all over Bantayan Island catch thousands of fish that help put food on their tables and money in their pockets. To celebrate this abundance, the island holds the Palawod Festival, an event that showcases the fishing traditions of Bantayan Island. Literally meaning “to go out at sea,” Palawod Festival is an annual celebration of the sea’s bountiness and is one of the key tourist attractions of the island. It is held at Bantayan town in June.
Where To Stay in Bantayan Island
During our trip, we stayed at Santa Fe Cantina Resto Bar where Trini took care of us. She gave us the best tips in visiting the island and cooked delicious local food for us. We slept in a cottage close to the beach with all the comfort that we needed, from hot water to air conditioning. The place was just a few meters from the beach. It was so nice to just hear the sound of the wind and the waves as we rested on our cottage. Check out the pictures here:
The beach is really quiet and is undeniably beautiful. You can have all three meals by the beach and there is a bar where you can also grab some drinks. You can also enjoy an all-time favorite activity of the locals: Karaoke.
SF Cantina Resto Bar is located just 10 minutes walking distance of the town if you want to walk around and 15 minutes by tricycle from the port.
After visiting Bantayan, you can go to Malapascua. Click here to know more about Moalboal and Dumaguete. Or click here to read our full travel guide to Kawasan Falls if you are planning to spend a few days around the island of Cebu. And read our things to do in Bohol if it´s your next destination.
Let us know in the comments if we are missing more things to do in Bantayan Island.