Bantayan Island is located at the northwestern tip of Cebu. It has 3 municipalities: Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe. Santa Fe is considered the gateway to Bantayan Island because the island’s principal ferry port and airport are both located here. Also, Santa Fe is where the fine white sand and beautiful beaches in the island can be found. We stayed in the island for 3 days and 2 nights before heading to Oslob, Cebu.
How To Get There
Cebu-Mactan International Airport
From Cebu Airport, take a cab and go to the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City which is about 30-45 minutes away depending on traffic. Fare is about 180Php to 200 Php.
Tip: Best to get the earliest flight out of Manila since you need to spend long hours of travel before reaching Bantayan Island.
North Cebu Bus Terminal
At the terminal, proceed to the area for buses going to Hagnaya Port or Bantayan Island. Travel time to Hagnaya Port is about 4-5 hours. There is only one bus stop over for this trip. We took the bus that goes directly to Bantayan Island. These buses ride the ferry in Hagnaya Port going to Sta. Fe Port in Bantayan. Please note that the ticket for buses going directly to Bantayan does not include yet the ferry ticket.
Bus fare to Bantayan Island is about 200 Php per head.
At Hagnaya port, we got off our bus to buy the ticket for the ferry, sign the manifesto and pay the terminal fee. There are also stalls here where you can buy food and other supplies before boarding the ferry.
Terminal Fee: 10 Php
Travel time from Hagnaya port to Sta. Fe Port is about 1- 1.5 hours. Take a nap or enjoy the view of the sea during this trip.
Santa Fe Port
At Santa Fe port, there are lines of tricycles waiting to take you to your resort. Fare is 20Php per person.
There are also stores near the port where you can buy snacks, toiletries and supplies
Where We Stayed
St Bernard Beach Resort
St Bernard is a charming little beach front resort away from the other busy touristy beaches. It is located near a fishing village. They only rent out 8 rooms which are round shaped cottages with nipa roofing. For our first day in Bantayan, we stayed at cottage 3 of St Bernard. It is very spacious for 2 persons. It has its own bathroom and a smaller extra room. We were warmly welcomed by the owner and his staff. After filling out standard forms they took us immediately to our room and gave our key which is tied to a necklace made out of pretty small shells. We also like how the path going to the rooms are lined with gardens filled with vines, flowers and beautiful plants. This resort is suited for those who value privacy and quiet seclusion.
We watched the sunrise at the beach front of St Bernard Resort. The beach stretch is perfect for morning walks. The children from the nearby fishing village were already awake, running and playing. There were also other tourists taking photos and doing morning exercises.
Saint Bernard Beach Resort
Check In is 1PM, Check Out is 11AM
Contact Numbers: +63 908 582 4927, +63 917 963 6162
Kota Beach Resort
On our second day, we stayed at Kota Beach Resort, home of the famous “Camp Sawi”. When we arrived at the resort, there were a lot of people taking selfies and photos in the signage that says “Camp Sawi” which leads to the reception area. We didn’t know what the fuss was all about with this signage. It was only then that we found out about the film “Camp Sawi” that was shot in this resort.
What is worth seeing in Kota Beach is the long stretch of fine white sand bar in front of it. You can just relax and enjoy the view from the open air restaurant, from the bar, from the lounge area with beach chairs or you can just sit on the fine white sand under the shade of coconut trees.
The staff are all accommodating. Ms. May at the front desk had been very helpful to us. They also have a van service which took us to the port on our departure.
Kota Beach Resort
Check in is 2PM, Check out is 12 NN
Kota Beach Website: http://www.kotabeachresort.com/
Where to Eat
You will never go hungry in Bantayan. They have a food strip called MJ Square along Batobalonos Street. Here you can find a lot of restaurants offering local and international cuisines. Price per meal starts at 99Php.
If you start your day early like us, Stix Smokehouse is the place to get breakfast in MJ Square. They open early and have a variety of options for breakfast. Junvar, one of the staff there, is very attentive and had been very helpful to us in giving directions for driving around the island.
Cafe del Mare
Café Del Mare is just a short walk away from MJ Square and serves authentic Italian cuisine. Comfortable bamboo chairs, nipa huts, white sand, coconut trees, and hanging seashells give the restaurant a tropical laid back vibe.
The owners are also an Italian and Pinay couple. They had been very gracious to us and we learned a lot about Bantayan from them. Since we love pizza, we first ordered a Margherita. After the Margherita , they recommended us to try the Prosciutto Rucola which we did. It was amazing! We were hooked! We ordered the same pizza the following day. The arugula leaves were fresh, crunchy and bigger than the ones we would usually buy in Manila. The owners grow them in their own garden. What is also impressive is they cook their pizzas in a wood fired stone oven. Up to now, we still miss the Prosciutto Rucola and we have not found any yet in Manila that can compare to it.
Pizzas here start from 350 Php good for 2 persons.
Street Food and Public Market
The busy streets near the church and market are lined with vendors selling barbecue, grilled chicken, fish squid and other sea food. They also sell cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves called “puso”.
From the market, we got fresh fruits like bananas and mangoes at an affordable price. We also bought our bottled waters here. There is a pharmacy located in this area too.
Things To Do In Bantayan Island
Go around the island in a motorbike or bicycle
We got our motorbike from a tricycle driver we met at the port on our arrival. He brought the motorbike to the resort where we stayed just a few minutes after. Rate is 250Php per 24 hours. On our first day, after we checked in, we got our drone and Go Pros, and took the road with the motor bike right away. We used the motorbike for almost 2 days. There are many beautiful places here to explore.
Visit Ogtong Cave
Ogtong Cave is located in Sta Fe Beach Club’s other property in the island which is in Brgy Pooc, hence the name Ogtong Cave Resort. The cave has a pool of cool clear natural spring water where you can take a dip. If you are not checked in at the resort, you can access the cave for an entrance fee of 100Php which is inclusive of use of the resort’s swimming pool also.
Ogtong Cave Resort
Ogtong Cave Resort Website: http://ogtongcave.com/index.html
Ogtong Cave Resort Contact Numbers: (032) 438 9129, (032) 438 9436, +63 932 433 6282
Watch the sunset
Explore the road going farther from Sta Fe Beach Club – Ogtong Cave Resort. The road is beside the cliff with breathtaking views of the sea. Take the time to enjoy the sunset. We stumbled upon this pretty place near the road hidden by thick bushes and we did not use any filter for the photo below.
Chill in the beaches
There are lots of beaches to choose from which are accessible to the public. But please remember the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.
The best beach we found in Bantayan is Paradise Beach. We just asked for directions along the way until some locals in their bicycles guided us going here since there were no signs leading to this hidden beach. After 20-30 minutes by motorbike on the main road, we made a left turn in a rocky narrow path in the middle of thick shrubs lined with other motorbikes. We parked here and walked the path into the woods for about 10 minutes before reaching Paradise.
Tip: Best to come early and enjoy the powdery white sand beach and its clear turquoise blue water. Crowd comes in during late noon. It is a private property managed by a friendly care taker. He will welcome you at the entrance of the beach and collect 50Php per head. There are small nipa huts lined in front of the beach big enough for 2 people where you can stay for free but it is on a first come first serve basis. Remember, it can get very hot in the afternoon.
Visit the Sto Nino Church
You will not miss the Sto Nino Church in the middle of the busy street of Santa Fe near the market and restaurants. They were still renovating it when we visited. Lit some candles and say a little prayer. You can buy candles in the sari-sari store across the church for 1 peso each.
Outside Kota Beach Resort, there are locals and tricycle drivers offering island hopping tours. The island tour consists of Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island. We got our boat for 800Php from the same tricycle driver who got us our motorbike.
We thought our island trip will not push through due to heavy rains and strong winds that early morning. Luckily, the skies cleared a bit and off we went. Virgin Island is a private island just a short boat ride away from Santa Fe. The island is well maintained and clean. They have powdery white sand beach and clear turquoise blue waters. It was great for relaxing since there was not much crowd when we went here. Upon arrival, a staff will assist you and accompany you to the registration section where you will also pay for entrance. Rate is 250 Php per head for first 2 persons and then 100 Php per head for succeeding persons if in a group. They day beds scattered in front of the beach are free for use. They also have a restaurant and cottage for overnight guests.
The highlight of our stay was cliff jumping at the other side of the island. Inform the staff if you would like to do cliff jumping. A life guard accompanied us and guided us through the island’s forest area before reaching the cliffs. This other side of the island is mostly big rocks and cliffs. It does not have powdery sand beach but it has its own unique rock formations and clear blue waters. It can feel a bit isolated since we were the only ones there at that time.
We skipped the tour to Hilantagaan Island and opted to chill and stay longer in Virgin Island.
Virgin Island Contact Numbers: +63 932 872 1557, +63 920 746 6053
Ask the Locals
The people of Bantayan are awesome. They are warm and friendly. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or directions. You won’t get lost here. They will go out of their way to assist you. They are your best guide! We wish we had more time to explore the other beautiful places in Bantayan. We hope to be back soon!
To get your ride, either motorbike or boat, here is the contact number of Kuya Erwin, the tricycle driver: +63 932 624 6719.
Don’t forget to watch our travel guide video below. We hope this too will be of help. Safe travels!
Daghan Salamat, Bantayan!
Hi Guys! Sharing with you our Budget Travel to Bantayan Island, Cebu! Watch in HD!Music: David Bulla – Unexpected [NCS Release]https://www.facebook.com/davidbullaofficialhttps://youtu.be/ReBDW-4mtyoCheck out the blog here: http://lifeofmircoandtere.com/2017/03/30/bantayan-island-travel-guide/Check out our website www.lifeofmircoandtere.comTransportation:Cab fare from Cebu Mactan Intl Airport to North Bus Terminal: around 150Php-200PhpBus Fare from North Bus Terminal to Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island: 160Php -200PhpHagnaya Port to Sta Fe Port Ferry Ticket + Terminal fee: 170 php + 10 PhpTricycle fare: 20Php per headMotorbike Rental: 250 php per 24 hoursBoat Rental for Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island Tour: 800 PhpAccommodations: Budget rooms start from 700php depending on locationSights:Entrance to Ogtong Cave (inside Sta. Fe Beach Club): 100PhpEntrance to Paradise Beach: 50 PhpEntrance to Virgin Island: 250Php for first 2 pax then 100 for succeeding personsVideo/Drone Footage Locations:St Bernard Beach ResortKota Beach Resort (Camp Sawi)Sta Fe Beach ClubOgtong CaveParadise BeachYoneek BeachVirgin IslandDont forget the 7 Principles of LEAVE NO TRACE!!!Plan ahead and prepare. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Dispose of waste properly. Leave what you find. Minimize campfire impacts.Respect wildlife. Be considerate of other visitors.Have a safe travel! ❤Bantayan Island, Cebu Bantayan Island Santa Fe Bantayan Island ,Cebu Bantayan, Cebu, Philippines Bantayan Cottages Virgin Island, Bantayan Island Cebu Beach Placid Resort, Santa Fe Cebu Bantayan Island Phil. Bantayan Island Bantayan Nordic Inn Apartments Bantayan Island Bantayan Island Bantayan Southern Institute Santa Fe, Bantayan, Cebu, Philippines Sta. Fe Beach Club, Bantayan Island, Cebu Sta.Fe,Bantayan Island,Cebu Cafe Del Mare, Sta. Fe Bantayan Kinatarcan, Sta.Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu Anika Beach Resort, Sta Fe Bantayan, Cebu Santa Fe, Cebu, Philippines Abaniko Beach Resort, Sta.fe Bantayan Island, Cebu Sta. Fe Port, Bantayan Island MJ Square. Santa Fe Cebu Scenic beauty of sta.fe bantayan island CEBU Cebu Daily News Cebu Philippines Cebu City Cebu Tourism Kota Beach Kota Beach Resort Kota Beach Resort Bantayan Island Cebu Kota beach Camp Sawi, Bantayan Island Camp Sawi CampSawi#bantayanisland #cebu #itsmorefuninthephilippines #philippines #campsawi #summer #backpacking
Posted by Mirco Basile & Tere Borillo on Monday, March 13, 2017