The Ultimate Travel Guide to Bantayan Island 2021

Bantayan Island still remains to be on top of the most popular island getaways in the Philippines. Local and foreign tourists will surely not miss this in their itinerary when visiting Cebu. If you’re planning to visit this famous paradise in Northern Cebu, this ultimate travel guide to Bantayan will surely help you plan an exciting adventure.

Many often get confused between Bantayan and Daan Bantayan. Daan Bantayan is a separate municipality located North of the main island of Cebu. Bantayan Island, on the other hand, is a separate island and in order to get there, you need to ride a ferry from Hagnaya Port to Santa Fe Port.

Both Daan Bantayan and Bantayan were derived from the word “Bantayan sa Hari”. Bantayan which means “to keep watch”. During this time, watchtowers were built to keep an eye on pirates who come to the island to enslave people and that’s how these two places got their name. Daan means “Old”.

Related Read: Cebu Travel Guide: What to See, Do and How to Get Around

Bantayan Island Map

Bantayan Island at a Glance

How do I get to Bantayan Island?

Take a bus from Cebu North Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port and take a ferry to Santa Fe Port.

You can book your ferry ticket directly here.

How many days do you need on Bantayan Island?

A weekend in Bantayan is usually enough (Friday to Sunday).

How to get to Bantayan Island

Cebu is a gateway to a lot of beautiful destinations in the Philippines– including Bantayan. If you’re coming from Mactan Cebu International Airport, there are two ways you can get to this paradise.

Cebu to Bantayan via plane

This island now has an airport that connects to Mactan Cebu International Airport. However, this new airport only has flights served by Air Juan. As of writing, Air Juan is still suspending all flights due to covid restrictions since March 17, 2020.

Cebu to Bantayan via bus + ferry

BUSROUTESCHEDULEFARE
Ceres BusNorth Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port (San Remegio)Trip starts at 4AM. Bus leaves every 20 mins.Fare starting at PHP 165.00, non-aircon.
Ceres BusNorth Bus Terminal to Bantayan Town ProperTrip starts at 12MN.Fare PHP 200.00 for the bus and PHP 185.00 for Ferry.
Total PHP 385.00

North Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port (San Remegio)

The most popular way to get to Bantayan from Cebu is by taking a bus and a ferry. Buses start their trip at Cebu North Bus Terminal. You can basically take a bus from here anytime you like since buses leave every 20 minutes for Hagnaya Port. Just make sure to take the bus going to Hagnaya since there are also other North-bound routes in this terminal.

North Bus Terminal to Bantayan Town Proper

If you want a hassle-free trip, you can also take the bus going straight to Bantayan Town. This means you won’t have to get off at Hagnaya Port. These buses going straight to the island are all airconditioned. This type of service has a schedule. See the table below for reference:

Cebu City to BantayanBantayan to Cebu City
12 MN1:00 AM
2:00 AM3:00 AM
3:00 AM4:00 AM
4:00 AM5:00 AM
6:30 AM7:30 AM
7:30 AM8:30 AM
8:30 AM9:30 AM
10:00 AM11:30 AM
12:00 NN12:30 PM
1:00 PM2:00 PM
8:30 PM3:30 PM
9:30 PM4:30 PM
11:00 PM5:00 PM

If you are staying somewhere in Mandaue, Consolacion, or along the route of the bus, you can also wait for the bus to pass by from where you are. No need to go to the North Bus Terminal. However, keep in mind that it could be difficult to catch a bus during peak season since these buses might get full from the terminal already.

Cebu to Bantayan via private car

You can also rent a private car to Hagnaya Port if you want a more comfortable experience. This is highly recommended when traveling with a group or when going to Bantayan on a peak season since you can just book it ahead. Book rental cars here.

Bantayan Itinerary

Here’s a sample Bantayan Itinerary that you can refer to for a 3D2N trip.

3D2N Bantayan Itinerary

Day 1 – Leave for Bantayan. Check in to your accommodation. This is your free time to check out the beach most especially when you’re staying in a beachfront hotel/room. You can also check for live music or check the food choices at MJ Square.

Day 2 – Be sure to wake up early to maximize your time. You can rent a motorcycle for the land tour or you can book a joiner tour here for a hassle-free experience.

Morning: Land Tour

  • Butterfly Garden
  • Paradise Beach
  • Santa Fe Ruins/ Cliff Diving Spot
  • Obo-ob Mangrove EcoPark
  • Camp Sawi
  • Ogtong Cave
  • Kota Park
  • Bantay Baywalk (Madridejos)

Afternoon: Island Hopping

  • Hilantagaan Island
  • Virgin Island
  • Galingan Island

Day 3 – You can either select a beach closest to your accommodation or anything of your choice. Checkout at 12 PM from your accommodation. From here, you can either catch a bus back to Cebu or rent a day-use cottage to spend the rest of the afternoon before heading back to Cebu. Paradise Beach would be a good choice for an afternoon in Bantayan.

Beaches in Bantayan Island

Paradise Beach (Sandira Beach)

Paradise Beach or Sandira Beach (its new name) is definitely a paradise. It has white sand and clear turquoise water. Many beach bums enjoy the serenity of the place– away from any foot traffic. But because it is very secluded, you cannot find food stalls or restaurants in the area so you have to bring your own food and refreshments. To get here, you can either ride a motorbike or a pump boat.

Getting to paradise beach via motorbike/tricycle – the path to the beach is not easily accessible. From the main road, you have to go through a trail that leads to the beach. When hailing a tricycle, some might not drop you off at the entrance of the beach so might have to walk for at least 10 minutes to get to the beach.

Getting to paradise beach via pump boat – pump boats are like taxis on this island. You can hail pump boats close to your hotel/accommodation and have them drop you off at Paradise Beach. This is perfect for those who are traveling in groups and who have lots of stuff to carry.

Entrance Fee: 50 pesos (adults), 25 pesos (children)

Opening Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM

Beach at Kota Park

Located in Madridejos, this beach in Kota Park is not ideal for swimming. People don’t usually come here to bathe in crystal clear water but to enjoy the beautiful Bantayan sunset. Near the beach, you can find an old fort from the 1790s. The scenery at the beach also changes during low tide and high tide so you definitely see it on both occasions. During low tide, you can see the rock formations while during high tide, the water is crystal clear.

Entrance Fee: Free

Sugar Beach

No wonder why this beach is called “Sugar Beach”. It’s because its sand resembles a fine sugar. The sand is also soft that there aren’t any sharp corals or rocks in it making it easy to walk barefoot on it. It is known to be the widest white sand beach in Santa Fe. It is perfect for scenic strolls and watersports activities. Aside from that, the location of the beach is also perfect for catching the sunrise.

Many restaurants and resorts are located close to this beach.

Entrance fee: 30 pesos

Tent rental: 150 pesos to 200 pesos (Can also bring your own tent)

Bobel Beach

Bobel Beach is located in Santa Fe– adjacent to Santa Fe Port. Fronting it is Hilantagan Island. You can find a lot of restaurants and hotels near this beach too making it very popular for those staying nearby. Sunbathing is perfect on this beach.

Kota Beach

Kota Beach is also a popular beach in Sta. Fe. It has a beautiful shoreline because of its glistening white sand and the array of palm trees. It has hotels and restaurants nearby. If you want to watch the sunrise, Kota Beach is also a good spot.

Sambag Beach

Probably not the most popular beach on the list but you can find cheap cottages on this Northwestern coast of Bantayan.

Entrance Fee: Free

Cottage rental: 300 pesos

Table rental: 150 pesos

Corkage Fee: 30 pesos per case

Opening Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM

Things To do in Bantayan

Aside from Island hopping, this island on the Northern tip of Cebu has a lot of fun and exciting things that await you.

Island Hopping

Being on an island, the most popular activity and should be on top of your list is island hopping. There are 3 islands you can visit during the island hopping: Hilantagaan Island, Virgin Island, and Galingan Island. Of these three, Virgin island is the most popular destination. Some tourists even choose to stay the night here since they also offer rooms for all types of travelers. If not, you can enjoy various activities offered on the island such as cliff diving, snorkeling, chilling at the hammock, strolling along the boardwalk, and sunbathing. The cliff diving spot has 3 levels- 3 meters, 5 meters, and 8 meters.

Virgin Island entrance fee: 250 per head for the first 2 guests. The remaining people in the group only pay 200 per head.

How much is island hopping in Bantayan?

On average, island hopping in Bantayan costs 800 pesos per person. This is exclusive of the entrance fees and environmental fee per island (if applicable). Most island hopping also does not include foods and refreshments although you can find fresh seafood on the island.

Beach hopping

Overall, Bantayan has a beautiful shoreline and water. It is also a great place for sunrise and sunset watching. The most popular beaches you can visit are Paradise Beach, Sugar Beach, and Kota Beach.

Tip: Better to rent a motorbike most especially when planning to go to Paradise Beach. This secluded beach is not easy to access and will at least require you to trek from the main road to the beach if you’re only commuting.

Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden (aka Camp Sawi)

Popularized by the movie, Camp Sawi, Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden is also a must-visit in your Bantayan escapade. Whether you’re Camp Sawi or Camp Wagi, you’ll surely enjoy a long refreshing walk at the boardwalk. If you get tired, they have also rest areas with chairs made of bamboo, some are overlooking the mangrove garden. Time spent at the mangrove garden will not take more than 20 minutes if you don’t take stop overs traversing the boardwalk. If you want, they also offer kayaking and boat rides through the mangrove garden.

Entrance fee: 50 pesos per head

Kayak fee: 150 pesos

Boat ride: 350 pesos

How to get to Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden – you can either take a tricycle or drive a motorbike to get there. Travel time from Santa Fe is at least 20 minutes.

You can also book a joiner tour here.

Lunch at MJ Square

One of the things you’ll notice in Bantayan is that it has a lot of restaurants and food stalls offering different cuisines for international and local guests. But if you are looking for affordable meals and refreshments, MJ Square has got it covered for you. You can also find a lot of stores here serving very generous plates of fresh seafood.

Tip: If you want to replenish after spending all your energy from island hopping and swimming, MJ Square is the best place to go.

Experience nightlife in Bantayan

It cannot be denied that island nightlife is the best and Bantayan does not fall short of that. It has lots of karaoke bars, sports bars, night markets, restaurants with a live band, and billiard tables until late at night. Whether you are a solo traveler or not, you can easily find friends on the island.

Ogtong Cave Pool and Resort

The cold water of this cave pool makes it very ideal for those who want to chill and hide from the scorching tropical heat. It is the only cave pool on the island that is very popular among tourists.

Entrance fee: 200 pesos per head

The entrance fee also already includes access to the resort swimming pool and private beach.

Kota Park and Ruins

Not to be mistaken with Kota Beach which is located in Santa Fe, Kota Park and Ruins is located in Madridejos, 45-minutes away from Santa Fe. This park has a beach in which during low tide rock formations are very visible and during high tide, the crystal clear water is so inviting. It also has a long boardwalk where you can get a view of the neighboring islands. Lastly, it features an old fort. Visitors are only allowed to take pictures and stay in front of the ruins.

Sight-see Bantayan from the top

As they say, Skydiving is the ultimate sightseeing tour. You get to jump out of an aircraft 10,000 feet above the ground and appreciate the beautiful Bantayan island from the top while your adrenaline is so pumped up.

This skydiving activity is hosted by SkyDive Cebu with its array of certified instructors. All you have to do is muster up the courage and skydive with the experts! In the end, you get a photo with the beautiful turquoise water of Bantayan island as the backdrop and a bragging right.

Tandem skydive fee: 18,000 pesos (airport landing). Additional 1,000 pesos if you want to land on a white sand beach.

For more details, visit Skydive Cebu.

Best Bantayan Island Hotels

Don’t know where to stay in Bantayan? Look for cheap hotels here or refer to the list of best Bantayan Island Hotels below.

Bantayan Backpacker Hostels and Hotels

Bantayan Island Backpacker Hostels and HotelsPrice per night startsRatingCheck Rates
Genna's Tourist Inn Santa Fe$25WonderfulBook Here
R & D Island Lodge$20Very GoodBook Here
Marino Bungalows$21WonderfulBook Here
Paradise Beach Guest House$28ExceptionalBook Here

Genna’s Tourist Inn Santa Fe

Genna’s Tourist Inn is a backpacker hostel located in Santa Fe which offers rooms perfect for two travelers. All rooms feature a kitchen and a private bathroom. Free Wifi is also already included. Some points to remember though, Genna’s Tourist Inn is not a beachfront hotel. However, it is located a walking distance away from public beaches. What you can enjoy in this backpacker hostel is a refreshing garden view. For only $25 a night, you can already enjoy this accommodation good for two people.

Check rates and book here.

R & D Island Lodge

R&D island lodge is one of the cheapest hostels you can find around Santa Fe. It is located near Bobel Beach. A lot of couple travelers find this very suitable to their liking because aside from the free Wifi and the free private parking space, the lodge can also arrange bike rental for their guests. The rooms are presentable enough plus, they also have a restaurant which specializes in American cuisines. The staff also receive great feedback from previous guests which is a plus point when looking for accommodation.

Marino Bungalows

Marino Bungalows offer non-smoking Deluxe and Studio type rooms for all types of travelers. It is located near Bobel Beach which features a garden view and a private bathroom in every room. There is no private parking in the hotel but you can easily find free public parking near it. Considering its price, a lot of guests are very satisfied with the amenities and services offered by Marino Bungalows.

Paradise Beach Guest House

Paradise Beach Guest House is located near Paradise Beach, the popular secluded beach in Bantayan Island. Now, staying nearby won’t make it a long journey for you to visit this pristine beach. This guesthouse also offers family rooms with a balcony, a private bathroom, appliances, and other basic toiletries. Aside from that, it also has a restaurant and a bar.

Bantayan Beachfront Hotels and Resorts

Bantayan Island Beach Front Hotels and ResortsPrice per night startsRatingCheck Rates
Anika Island Resort$53Very GoodBook Here
Amihan Beach Cabanas$63WonderfulBook Here
La Playa Esrella Beach Resort$55GoodBook Here
SF Cantina$42ExcellentBook Here
Marlin's Beach Resort$40ExcellentBook Here

Anika Island Resort

Anika Island Resort has become a household name for tourists visiting Bantayan. It’s gaining popularity is because of the quality of service it is offering. This beachfront resort features an outdoor swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, rooms with sea view and garden view, and of course, state-of-the-art facilities. Staff at Anika can also arrange activities for its guests like snorkeling, hiking, and biking. Its in-house restaurant features Filipino and International cuisine to best fit different types of travelers. Aside from all these Anika Island Resort is also located near Ogtong Cave, one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island because of its refreshing and cool water.

Amihan Beach Cabanas

Amihan Beach Cabanas is one of the highly-rated beachfront hotels on the island most especially for couples. Just like Anika, Amihan Beach Cabanas also offers great facilities and service for its guests. Each room has an air-conditioning unit, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV, a balcony with a nice view, and a private bathroom. Guests here can also enjoy a la carte and continental meals. If you want to bike, guests can also arrange a bike rental service from the hotel.

La Playa Estrella Beach Resort

La Playa Estrella Beach Resort offers a private beach for its guests. So if you want to enjoy the exclusivity a private beach can offer, La Playa is the perfect beachfront accommodation for you. It also has a restaurant, bar, and a shared lounge. Parking is also not a problem because the resort has its own parking space exclusive for its guests. La Playa is one of the most booked hotels in Bantayan so if you don’t want to miss it, be sure to book it here.

SF Cantina

Located close to Bobel Beach, SF Cantina offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, a garden, and rooms complete with basic amenities and toiletries. You can choose rooms that have an ocean view, garden view, and terrace. In the restaurant, you can also enjoy Asian, American, Continental, and a la carte meals. Aside from all these, you can also avail the bike rental and car hire service that they offer. Check for available rooms here.

Marlin’s Beach Resort

Marlin’s Beach Resort offers a scenic ocean view, good food featuring local and international cuisine, and air-conditioned rooms equipped with a balcony. The private bathroom in every room also has a hot and cold feature. The location of the resort is a 5-minute drive to Kota Park. If you arrive from the airport, the resort also provides a shuttle service for an extra fee. For parties and special events, Marlin’s also has a simple function room good for 20 persons.

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