Beaches,  Travel Guides,  Travels,  Visayas

Bantayan Island DIY Travel Guide 2024

Giving into hearsays that Bantayan has the best beaches in Cebu, I willingly traded my view of the busy streets to the towering coconut trees aligned at the long stretch of white beaches of this enchanting island. To see it for myself is quite unbaffling as to why it has been among the top favorite destinations in the province. Beautiful is an understatement — humbly marvelous at the same time laidback would be more fitting. If you wish to be captured the same way it did to everyone who came, here’s a Bantayan Island DIY Travel Guide to start with.

About Bantayan Island

This idyllic island called Bantayan is cradled by the vast blue on the Northern west side of Cebu, across Tañon Strait. Looking back in history, Bantayan island is named as such as it used to house about 18 watchtower structures that Spaniards built to keep an eye of the Moro pirates about four centuries ago. Hence, the name Bantayan which means to watch over or to look out on. From a small fishing village, Bantayan island is known today as one of the best tourist destinations in Cebu that beach goers wouldn’t really miss.

This tranquil island is composed of three municipalities: Santa Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan. Santa Fe is the usual tourist gateway to the island and is where most of the stunning white beaches are located; Bantayan is the town center where a church founded in the late 1500s is located. On the northernmost part of the island is Madridejos, the municipality where an old fort built in the 1600s is located. It is also the best place to visit to see the remnants of Spanish colonization.

The best time to visit and make the most out of it is during the amihan (Northeast monsoon) to dry season in the Philippines – from November to May. However, the downside of visiting the island in this season is that, it gets really crowded as it is among the top summer destination in the province.

How to Get There

From Manila, fly to Mactan Cebu International Airport. Airlines like Cebu Pacific, AirAsia and Philippine Airlines have several flights daily from Manila to Cebu.

Option 1: From Mactan Cebu International Airport to San Remigio

  1. Take the MyBus to North Bus Terminal at the Taxi Bay Area of Terminal 1 (Domestic) and Terminal 2 (International) Arrivals of Mactan Cebu International Airport. The bus departs every 20 minutes from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily. Fare is at Php 25.00 for regular passengers and Php 20.00 for students and senior citizens.
  2. From the North Bus Terminal, take a Ceres bus to Hagnaya Port in San Remigio. The bus departs every hour, every day. Fare is at Php 160.00 for air-conditioned bus and Php 140.00 for the non airconditioned one.
  3. From Hagnaya port, take the ferry or fastcraft to Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island. Take note that you need to pay the Php 5.00 terminal fee prior to entering the pre-departure gates of the port.
Type of Accommodation/ ClassType of PassengerFare
Economy/non-airconRegularPhp 359.00
Economy/non-airconChildren (3 – 11 years old; 50% off)Php 179.50
Economy/non-airconSenior Citizen (20% off)Php 256.00
Economy/non-airconStudent (20%)Php 287.00
MV Super Shuttle Ferry fare rates as of July 1, 2022
Sta. Fe Port

Option 2: You may also opt to take a Ceres Bus from North Bus terminal straight to Bantayan town. There are buses that departs as early as 3:00 AM and as late as 11:45 PM. Fare is at Php 225.00. Take note that this fare does not include the ferry and terminal fees.

Option 3: You may take the fastcraft from Santa Fe sailing, however, to Medellin, Cebu. Travel time is 55 minutes. Ceres buses are also available at Medellin port.

Type of Passenger and AccommodationFare
Regular EconomyPhp 280.00
Student EconomyPhp 220.00
Senior Citizen EconomyPhp 200.00
Children (3 – 9 years old) EconomyPhp 140.00
E.B. Aznar Shipping (Fastcraft) rates as of July 2022

Getting Around Bantayan Island

One of the things that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Bantayan island is to get to know the town and island through a land tour. There are several ways to do so. You may either rent a van, multicab, tricycle or even rent and drive a motorbike on your own for a mor exciting Bantayan island DIY trip. Below are the current rental rates of these vehicles:

  1. Rent a van – Php 4,000.00 a day; good for big groups who prefer airconditioned mode of transportation
  2. Rent a multicab – Php 3,000.00 to Php 3,500.00 a day; good for small group to bigger ones who prefer fresh air more than air-conditioning
  3. Hail a tricycle with driver – Php 1,000.00 a day; ideal for a group of two to three persons
  4. Drive a motorbike – Php 350.00, self drive with gas to be shouldered by the renter; good for solo or tandem travelers

Places to Visit

Balidbid Lagoon

Kota Park and Ruins

Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park

Sandira or Paradise Beach

Kota Beach

St. Peter and Paul Parish Church

Virgin Island

Ogtong Cave

Sta. Fe Beach

Where to Stay

Bantayan Island offers a wide range of accommodation. You may choose from homestays, inns, transient, hostel to upscale hotels and resorts for your Bantayan Island DIY trip. Among the best places to stay in the island are the following:

Homestays, Inns and Hostels

  1. Carl’s Island InnBook here
  2. Anahaw Seaside InnBook here
  3. SUNSHINE PARADISE InnBook here
  4. Island Wave Homestay

Budget-Friendly Hotel and Resorts

  1. Paradise Beach Guest House
  2. Maykenn BeachBook here
  3. Jelly’s Haven ResortBook here
  4. Yooneek Beach Resort

Upscale Resorts by the Beach

  1. Kota Beach Resort
  2. Ogtong Cave Resort
  3. Pearl of Santa FeBook here
  4. The Coral Blue Oriental Beach Villas and SuitesBook here
  5. Amihan Beach CabanasBook here

Sample 3D 2N Bantayan Island DIY itinerary

Day 0: Cebu City to Bantayan Island
11:00 AM – Arrival at Cebu City/ Travel to North Bus Terminal for Hagnaya Port/ Grab to go lunch
3:30 PM – Hagnaya Port
4:30 PM – Bantayan Island
5:00 PM – Late check in/ rest
6:30 PM – Dinner at MJ Square
9:00 PM – Chill/ Night life at MJ Square

Day 1: Bantayan Island – Land Tour
7:00 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Start Tour
8:30 AM – Kota Park and Ruins
10:00 AM – St. Peter & Paul Parish Church
11:00 AM – Obo-Ob Mangrove Eco-Park
12:30 NN – Lunch at market (Sutukil)
1:30 PM – Nature Park
3:30 PM – Sandira/Paradise Beach
5:00 PM – Kota Beach
6:30 PM – back to hotel/ resort, wash up
7:30 PM – dinner at MJ Square

Day 2: Island Hopping
7:00 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Island hopping jump off
8:30 AM – start of Island hopping
9:00 AM – Virgin Island
12:00 NN – Lunch on boat or at the island
1:30 PM – Snorkeling at Hilantagaan Island
2:30 PM – Hilantagaan Island
4:00 PM – Back to jump Off
5:00 PM – back to hotel/resort to wash up
6:30 PM – dinner at MJ Square

Day 3: Quick tour and Home Bound
6:00 AM – Sunrise at Kota Beach
7:00 AM – Breakfast
9:00 AM – Ogtong Cave
11:00 AM – MJ Square or Market for early lunch and buying of Souvenir/ Pasalubong
1:00 PM – Back to hotel/ resort to pack up
3:00 PM – Sta. Fe Port
3:30 PM – Depart for Hagnaya Port
4:30 PM – Arrival at Hagnaya Port/ board to a bus to Cebu City
8:00 PM – Cebu City

This 3-day, 2-night itinerary is specially prepared by Jameson Go of Mangroove.ph. Read more about what Mangroove PH has to offer here: Travel Itineraries for Travelers by Travelers — Mangroove PH

Sta. Fe Beach

3D 2N Bantayan Island DIY Sample Budget

Day 0: Cebu City to Bantayan Island
MyBus to North Bus Terminal – Php 25.00
Bus fare to Hagnaya port – Php 160.00
Ferry fare to Bantayan Island – Php 359.00
Bantayan Island Ecological Fee – Php 30.00
Tricycle to hotel (Kota Beach) – Php 30.00/ pax
Food – Php 200.00
Accommodation Day 1 – PHp 500.00/ pax

Day 0 total: Php 1,304.00

Day 1: Bantayan Island – Land Tour
Balidbid lagoon entrance fee – Php 100.00
Obo-Ob Mangrove Eco-Park entrance fee – Php 55.00
Lunch – Php 100.00
Bantayan Island Nature Park entrance fee – Php 100.00
Sandira/Paradise Beach – Php 55.00
Dinner – Php 100.00
Accommodation Day 2 – Php 500.00/ pax

Day 1 total: Php 1,010.00

Day 2: Island Hopping
Boat rental – Php 2,000.00/ 5 – Php 400.00/pax
Additional island/ attraction – Php 300.00/ 5 – Php 60.00/ pax
Virgin Island entrance fee – Php 200.00
Lunch on boat (bought from Big Jel’s Restomeat) – Php 200.00
Hilantagaan Island entrance fee – Php 100.00
Dinner – Php 150.00
Accommodation Day 2 – Php 500.00/ pax

Day 2 total: Php 1,610.00

Day 3: Quick tour and Home Bound
Ogtong Cave entrance fee – Php 200.00
Lunch – Php 100.00
Tricycle to Santa Fe port – Php 30.00
Terminal fee – Php 5.00
Ferry fare – Php 359.00
bus from San Remigio to Cebu City – Php 160.00
North bus terminal to Cebu City – Php 50.00/ cab
Dinner – Php 100.00

Day 3 total: Php 1,004.00

3 Days 2 Nights Bantayan Island DIY total expenses – Php 4,928.00 (airfare, souvenirs, pasalubong and other accommodation (i.e. Cebu City accommodation) not included. Sample budget breakdown is divided into a group of 5.

Tips and Reminders when visiting Bantayan Island

  1. There are ATMs in the island but only at the town proper. It’s about 10 Kilometers away from Kota beach where most of the hotel and resorts are.
  2. Most of the establishments are on a cash basis transaction.
  3. Walking around the town in swimsuits/ swimwear is highly discouraged.
  4. Pasalubong like sun-dried goods (especially danggit) are much cheaper in the island than in the city. If you are on a rush and you can’t drop by Taboan Market in mainland Cebu, you can buy from the market instead.
  5. Most of the restaurants and best places to eat are at or around MJ Square.
  6. If you decide to go DIY for the island hopping, it is better to buy food (i.e. platter servings) for lunch that you’d take on the boat. The restaurants usually collect deposit fee if ever you’ll take their platters to the tour.

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

4 Comments

  • Dominic Gabelo

    Hi! I’m so amazed on this blog you’ve made. I felt inspired especially with the drone shots you shared here. Do you have an idea if some locals in Bantayan Island or is there a place where we can like rent a drone? Your response would be appreciated, Quennie. To more travels!

  • marouane

    Hello !
    Thank you for sharing those valuable informations.
    Do you know if there is a shared minivan to take from Cebu airport/hotel that could take us directly to Bantayan and save us some time ? if yes how much does it cost ?
    Regards.

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      Hi, Marouane! There’s none actually but you can always arrange one with the van drivers or operators right outside the airport’s arrival as there are lots that would offer such tour services around Cebu. Also, there’s a possibility that they may not agree on coming straight to Bantayan but at least they could take you to the port going there. Just check on other’s rates first if ever so you can compare 🙂 I do not have an idea as to how much exactly it would cost but expect it to be a bit pricey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *