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Country > Philippines > Cebu > Bantayan
Date > 2017 > January
Activity > Traveling


Demystifying Bantayan Island January 4-10, 2017

Demystifying Bantayan Island

Location Google Map: Bantayan Island, Cebu, Philippines

Word on the Travel Route
Bantayan keeps getting mentioned by local travellers I bump into. Despite my repeated and long stays in Cebu City, I never got the chance to visit. From Gigantes Island, I saw on the map that Bantayan wasn't too far away. I abandoned my quest to circumnavigate Panay and instead headed for this isolated island north of Cebu.

Arriving Bantayan
The boat left Estancia at 9am and arrived shortly after 1pm in Bantayan Port. The 4-hour ordeal was nauseating at times when there were swells. Bantayan Island is made up with 3 municipalities - Bantayan Proper, Sante Fe and Madridejos. Normally, travellers arriving at Bantayan Proper take the jeep or tricycle to Santa Fe. Santa Fe is where all the action takes place - beach resorts, wifi, restos and traveller community. Not feeling rushed, I decided to stay a night in Bantayan Proper first, to find out what life there is like.

Demystifying Bantayan Island
beach life at North Ville Beach Resort

Bantayan Proper
There were no big hotels in Bantayan proper. Finding wifi was only by accident - at an obscure Batchoy place! The only cafe is town was Kermit's, but even that didn't have wifi. Trisikad (pedal-powered tricycle) is cheap at P5/ride. The small lodging places were charging P500 for a fan room. But Island Hotel and Sacred Heart, both near each other, charge as low as P250/room. Island would be my home for the night. I tried looking for oyster places, but there were none. Now, I could understand why travelers don't stay in Bantayan proper.

Santa Fe
First thing the following day, I took the tricycle ride to Santa Fe (P25). It's a fairly established tourist destination with its long and wide white sand beach...make that fine white sand, as in Boracay-fine! The beach itself is lined by an array of resorts ranging from spartan to luxurious. Ground-zero in Santa Fe is near the church. All the restos and bars are concentrated here and this is where the night life happens.

Night Life
Santa Fe has a vibrant night life along the main drag near the church. Live music is available at Bavarian Beer Garden / Randy's Grill with popular hits, acoustic at Caffe del Mar and rock classics at Blue Ice Bar. Pizza places, lechon manok carts and European cuisine are offered by a diverse array of restos. The place enjoys a healthy mix of transient travelers and local tourists.

Expat Denizens
Bantayan enjoys a regular crowd of expats who chose the island as home. They have their own community and bars to chill with. Mostly, they are senior expats with young Filipina girlfriends/wives - much like most of the country's small cities (e.g. Dumaguete). They bring with them capitalization and expertise when they put up resorts, restos and bars. This cultural fusion brings its own dynamics that the town is already too familiar with ranging from tolerance to embrace.

Homeless Again
I was back to my usual quagmire upon arrival. Where do I stay? As usual, I pounded the beaches talking to resort-staff seeking audience with the owners. I don't waste time making the proposal to non-decision makers. My program is viable, unique and powerful. The question is, will I get to talk to the decision makers? That has always been the challenge.

North Ville Beach ResortNorth Ville Beach Resort
Fortunately, I came upon North Ville Beach Resort and talked to the owner. It was serendipitous. The owner was at a pivotal point to make major steps requiring what I was offering. It was a good fit.

My a/c room was very comfortable, just steps to the beach. The resort has an alfresco beachside resto with wifi making it the coolest place to do some online stuff or surf the web. The place is not glitzy but it's got the basic amenities to make life comfortable. Best part is by the beach on lounge chairs on the groomed fine white sand.

Typhoon Auring
Nothing more gloomy than being in a beach resort when a typhoon is brewing - no sun but cold wind, rain and foreboding sky. Not exactly ideal beach weather. 2 days in a row, I was inside my hotel room as the boat trip for the mainland has been cancelled. It's a good thing North Ville has amenities to while away the time - wifi and cable tv. With the typhoon lifting up, I could finally leave Bantayan Island after 6 days.

Ending Thoughts
Bantayan Island is a beautiful destination given its fine long white sandy beaches. The addition of an expat community, night life, restos, bars and resorts lend itself to being home as well to those looking for a slice of paradise away from the (city).

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

Leave a comment?

Reader Comments:

Marila Castro-PabloMarila Castro-Pablo
(Jan 12, 2017) Maganda dyan! I miss Bantayan! Friendly ang mga tao

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(January 7, 2017) One of the main attractions in Bantayan Island is a boat tour to Virgin Island where snorkeling can be enjoyed. For a lone traveler, it was difficult getting there as there is no regular passenger boat that goes there. I had to charter an entire boat or tag along a bigger group as a joiner. Luckily, the group in my hotel allowed me to join them....more »»

Bantayan Island Info

Google Map: Bantayan Island

Google Map Bantayan Island, Cebu, Philippines

tourist attractions in Bantayan tourist attractions
  • Virgin Island in Bantayan Virgin Island - island with marine sanctuary, P250/pax entrance fee for first 2 pax, then P100/pax
  • St. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan St. Peter and Paul Church - built in June 11, 1580, it is claimed to be the first and oldest parish established in Cebu
  • Paradise Beach in Bantayan Paradise Beach - stretch of white sand beach on the south east of Bantayan Island
  • Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden in Bantayan Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden - mangrove forest, P25 entrance
  • Fort of Kota Park in Bantayan Fort of Kota Park - fort built in 1790 with limestone, coral and eggs!
hotels in Bantayan beach resorts
Bantayan FYI / Tips
  1. the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in Santa Fe. Best to take a jeep or tricycle to Santa Fe arriving in Bantayan Port, P25/pax.
  2. cheap stays at Randy's Grill - bunk bed in a dorm room for P300 if you're on a budget. But if you're really down and out, there is Chipolito's (you won't see any sign, but ask any trisicad driver) for P150/night - but don't expect much!
Bantayan Cost Index (US$1 = Php 49.58 as of Jan 6, 2017)
  • PHP 55 Pale Pilsen beer with live band at Randy's Grill
  • PHP 5 pedicab ride, short distance
  • PHP 35 about 10 scallop shells, cooked, sold by vendor on foot
  • PHP 80 brewed coffee in a resort
  • PHP 150-200 resort plated breakfast
Bantayan to Cebu City

(current as of March 2024) From Santa Fe, you can gauge the bus trips to Cebu City (P 260 from Santa Fe) by the schedule of the ferries - the buses need to board the ferry so they have to time their trips according to the ferry schedule. There are 3 ferry companies plying the water route to the mainland of Cebu

Santa Fe (Bantayan) to Hagnaya (Cebu mainland)

  1. Super Shuttle Ferry - P359 + P25 (terminal fee), 1.5 hours

    Super Shuttle Ferry
  2. Island Shipping corporation - P300 + P25 (terminal fee),

    Island Shipping corporation

Santa Fe (Bantayan) to Medellin (Cebu mainland)

  1. Aznar Roro - P250 + P25 (terminal fee), 55 mins

    Aznar Roro

Bantayan to Estancia (Iloilo)

(current as of January 2017)

Bantayan Port (Bantayan Poblacion) to Estancia (Iloilo)

  1. via Bantayan Port, a boat (Balt Bep, 0949.883.3551) leaves Bantayan for Estancia, Sun-Tue-Thur at 9am, P300, 4 hours

Bantayan to Cawayan Port (Masbate)

(current as of January 2017)

Santa Fe (Bantayan) to Cawayan Port (Masbate)

  1. Island Shipping Corp - daily trips (1pm) P170

Bantayan Blogs
  • Bantayan: in search of a home March 23-26, 2024
  • Visiting Virgin Island, Bantayan January 7, 2017
  • Demystifying Bantayan Island January 4-10, 2017
  • Cebu Province Info

    Suggested Destinations in Cebu
    1. Camotes Islands - caves, beaches
    2. Cebu City - rich in culture and history, 2nd largest city in the Philippines
    3. Moalboal - amazing coral reef system, sardine bowl, deep drop-off for freediving
    4. Oslob - Butanding (whale shark) watching
    5. Bantayan Island - long stretch of fine white sand beach, Virgin Island for snorkeling
    6. Malapascua Island - divers' paradise for seeing the rare Thresher Shark
    7. Cantabaco Cave - Toledo
    8. Barile Waterfalls - Barile
    9. Whale Shark Tour - Oslob
    10. Carcar - chicharon and lechon in public market
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