Bantayan Island: The Not-So Secret Gem of Cebu
Cebu is undoubtedly, the Queen City of the South with a wide range of attractions and activities that will surely entice every traveler to come back again and again. Tucked away up north is Bantayan Island which can be any beach bum’s idea of heaven. Bantayan Island has 3 municipalities which are Madridejos, Bantayan and Sta. Fe. The latter is the destination for beach lovers who want to spend a day basking in the warmth of the sun while taking a sip of their favorite drink and daydreaming of the good times. Ah, Bantayan Island. Some people call it Cebu’s version of the world famous Boracay Island, minus the flocks of tourists and late night somewhat wild parties.
If Cebu is your next summer destination, then Bantayan Island should be included in your itinerary. Here’s how to get there:
- Head to North Bus Terminal and catch the bus that heads to Hagnaya. The ride from the city going to Hagnaya may take up to 4 hours or even more depending on the traffic condition. Another option is to take a V-hire from the same terminal. Prepare at least 200 pesos if you are going to take a V-hire while the bus fare is 180 pesos for air conditioned buses.
- Once you reach the port of Hagnaya, take a ferry ride and prepare 167 pesos for the regular fare. The ferry ride takes up to an hour and you also need to pay 10 pesos for terminal fee at the port.
- Once you have reached the port of Sta. Fe, you can choose to take either a tricycle ride or ask any of the trisikad drivers to take you to your resort.
There are several resorts in the island so it is best to make a reservation ahead of time. Here’s a list of the top accommodations in the island.
Bed and Breakfast / INNS
Anika Island Resort
Yooneek Beach Resort
Adelaida Pensionne Hotel
Beach Placid Resort, Restaurant and Bar
Ritzy’s White Beach Resort and Restaurant
Sunday Flower Beach Hotel and Resort
The Corner Inn
Mayet’s Beach Resort
Sugar Beach Resort Bantayan
La Briana Guesthouse
Tristan’s Beach Resort
Bantayan Richmond Tropical Resort
Heather & Aspen Inn
Tickety Boo Beach Resort
Bantayan Island Resort
Amihan Beach Cabanas
Maia’s Beach Resort
CouCou Bar Hotel & Restaurant
Marlin’s Beach Resort
Kota Beach Resort
Santa Fe Beach Club
Ogtong Cave Resort
St. Bernard Beach Resort
The Coral Blue Oriental Beach Villas & Suites
Hoyohoy Villas Resort
Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
Micky Santoro Hotel & Restaurant
Budyong Beach Resort
Things to do in Bantayan Island
Well, apart from just lying in the sand or taking a dip in the sea; Bantayan Island offers plenty of activities that can surely make your trip memorable and enjoyable. Here are some of the fun activities that you can do:
- Rent a bike and do a little cardio while checking out the nooks and crannies of the island. If you want a more challenging ride, then you can head on to the next municipality which is Bantayan and buy your favorite dried fish (buwad) in the market. Going on a bike ride may not only be good for your health but you will also save a few bucks by not taking any trisikad ride. The usual cost for a 24 hour bike rental is at 250 pesos but you can always haggle and get a good bargain.
- If biking is not your thing or you simply do not want to stress yourself out, then just rent a motor bike. This can be a great mode of transportation if you want to see more of the island without dumping bucketful of sweat. The usual rates for a motorbike rent starts at 350 pesos and again, test your haggling skills to get a better price.
- Check out Virgin Island! Your Bantayan trip will not be complete if you do not visit this majestic island. And no, this is not where the people sacrifice virgins but this island is by far one of the most underrated attractions in Cebu. The boat ride takes up to 30 minutes from the mainland and the boat rent will cost up to 1500 pesos. It is actually a really great deal since most boats can carry up to 20 people so you and your party can divide the cost. It would be best to prepare your own version of basketful of goodies to bring to the island if you want to stick to your budget even though the island restaurant offers a wide array of seafood and other dishes. The entrance fee is 500 pesos for the first 2 persons and 100 pesos each for the rest of the group. The island has plenty of huts which you can rent out or you can just find a shady area where your group can stay. There really is nothing much to do in the island except for swimming and taking lots of pictures.
Bantayan Island can definitely be Cebu’s version of Boracay or even Maldives. The island is even getting a good influx of tourists especially after the devastation of Yolanda. Plan your summer vacation now and don’t forget to include Bantayan Island in your itinerary.