If 2020 canceled all your beach plans, don’t loose heart. 2021 might just be the year for you!
Bantayan Island is known for its pristine white sand beaches, cultural heritage and the most delicious, danggit. The small island is located north of Cebu mainland and just a few hours away from the city via bus and ferry. It has three distinct towns: Santa Fe, Bantayan Proper and Madridejos.
BANTAYAN ISLAND TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Due to the pandemic, the Bantayan Island local government imposed a Covid-19 travel restrictions. Before going to the island, make sure to prepare and complete the following travel requirements stated below.
Book an accommodation prior to the date of travel and coordinate with the hotel or the property. The property will provide the confirmed booking and QR code which you will need to present to the travel officer at Santa Fe Port.
BANTAYAN ISLAND TOURIST SPOTS (LAND TOUR)
1. Ogtong Cave Resort
For first timers, Bantayan Island is not complete without a visit to Ogtong cave. The cave is situated inside the Octong Cave Resort in the midst of a landscaped garden. The resort has individual villas for overnight guests, restaurant, parking space, swimming pool, outdoor benches, a small beach area and the famous Octong cave.
For non in-house guest, an entrance fee is collected which allows access to the pool, beach and the cave.
Touring the island can get a little bit exhausting due to the heat of the sun. Take a quick dip at the cave and get refreshed!
Because of the long bus ride, we decided to swim first at the cave. The water is so refreshing and the cave shielded us from the heat of the sun. We also brought our lunch (bought at one of the carenderias along the way) and ate at one of the benches near the beach.
Location: Brgy. Pooc, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: P200/head
2. German Ruins and Cliff
Just a few meters northward from Ogtong Cave Resort is the German Ruins and Cliff or people just sometimes call it The Ruins.
The ruins is what’s left of the house of a German national before he abandoned it back in the 90s.
The house is situated at a cliff and tourists would take a quick photo session at the dilapidated columns before cliff jumping at the side of the property.
Location: Cliff Diving Spot, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: None
3. Sandira Beach a.k.a Paradise Beach
A few years ago, Paradise Beach used to be a combination of bumpy motorcycle/tricycle ride and a small hike through the forest. The tiredness from the ride and hike will soon fade when the glimmering sand and azure blue sea appear at sight as the trees dissolve in the background.
Now, a clearing is made to pave way to more visitors especially children and adults. Entrance fee is now collected and food stalls lined the entrance to the beach. Then and now, Paradise Beach is still the best swimming spot in Santa Fe.
Location: Sandira Beach, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: P50/head
4. Kota Beach
For those who want to spend the night at a beach front, Kota Beach is lined with hotels ranging from budget to mid-range accommodation. The place is lively with lots of tourists lounging, drinking and eating at the restaurants along the beach. A go to place of those who want to experience nightlife in the island.
Kota beach is known for its creamy white sand, turquoise seawater, sand bar and panoramic sunrise.
Location: F. Duarte Street, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: None
5. Sugar Beach
Just further walk ahead of Kota Beach, you will reach Sugar Beach, a public beach in Santa Fe, Bantayan. More budget accommodation and food choices awaits you there.
Location: C. Batiancila Street, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: None
6. Amihan Beach Cabanas
Amihan Beach Cabanas is a boutique hotel which offers a luxurious vibes to the guests of the island. They boast local bamboo-made cabanas with western touch, a restaurant and chic lounging chairs aesthetically placed at the beach.
We cap off our first day tour in the island with a coffee and dinner at the Amihan Beach Cabanas restaurant.
Location: A. Batobalonos St, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: None
7. MJ Square
Where to eat in Bantayan Island?
Eating is part of every travel itinerary you will ever come across. Bantayan is famous for it’s dried fish (danggit) and most tourists, when in the island, ought to indulge in seafoods that Bantayan can offer.
Most resorts in Bantayan now has restaurants to cater for their in-house guests dining needs. They can be a bit expensive but undoubtedly convenient for those who can’t be bothered to go look for a food adventure. For budget food choices, the go to spot of most tourist in the island is MJ Square. It is a food complex with wide array of foods from restaurants, bars, cafe, bakeshop, etc. Locals and foreigners flock this area from breakfast till dinner.
Location: Santa Fe Poblacion
Entrance Fee: None
8. Omagieca Mangrove Garden a.k.a Mangrove Eco Park a.k.a Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park
I don’t know why tourist spots in Bantayan have so many names 😅
If you are exhausted with the sweltering heat from a day of touring the island, the Omagieca Mangrove Garden is a quick switch of scenery from the usual blue hues to a lush greenery.
The eco park is lined with a bamboo walkway with mangroves in each side where visitors can take a refreshing stroll and phot ops. The place is about 3.7 km and in one of the stations, you will find the famous CAMP SAWI and CAMP WAGI sign.
The eco park is not only tourist destination, it serve as a breeding ground for several species of fish and helps maintain and develop the marine life in the area.
Location: Brgy. Obo-ob, Bantayan
Entrance Fee: P50/head
9. Balidbid Lagoon a.k.a Secret Lagoon
After a hearty breakfast by the beach, the hotel owner mentioned a secret lagoon. We were curios and decided to pay a quick visit before going home.
The road leading to the secret lagoon is quite difficult. There were no signages so we just kept asking some locals for direction until we reach the place.
Balidbid lagoon turned out to be a saltwater lagoon with an ocean inlet on one side. The current is really strong that locals and some tourists would go swim upstream and let the current take them to the middle of the lagoon. Warning: The current is really strong and there is no life guard on duty. Take a lot of caution.
Location: Baigad Road, Santa Fe
Entrance Fee: P40/head
10. OTHER MUST-VISIT SITES
Bantayan Island has a lot to offer. Check-out these must-visit places if you are staying longer in the island:
- Santa Fe Butterfly Garden
- St. Peter and Paul Parish
- Marikaban Beach
- Kota Park (sunset at the fort)
- Kinatarkan/Guintarcan Island (Bitoon Beach, Laaw Lagoon, Kinatarkan Lighthouse, caves, etc.)
- Hilantagan Island (small fishing village)
- Virgin Island
- Bantayan Proper (market, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.)
2 DAYS 1 NIGHT BANTAYAN ISLAND ITINERARY 2021
3:00 am - Board bus bound to Hagnaya Port at Cebu North Bus Terminal
7:00 am - Arrival at Hagnaya Port
8:30 am - Board the ferry to Sta. Fe Port
10:00 am - Arrival at Sta. Fe Port
11:00 am - Rent a motorcycle and buy lunch along the way
11:30 am - Ogtong Cave for swimming and lunch
1:00 pm - German Ruins a.k.a The Ruins
1:30 pm - Sandira Beach a.k.a Paradise Beach
2:00 pm - Drop by at RTR Towncenter to grab some milk tea
3:00 pm - Check-in at Bantayan Summerhouse
4:00 pm - Kota Beach Resort
5:00 pm - Leisurely walk along the Sugar Beach
5:30 pm - Amihan Beach Cabanas for coffee and dinner
7:00 pm - Back to hotel and chill at the hammock
9:00 pm - Lights off
7:00 am - Stroll at the beach near the hotel
7:30 am - MJ Square for coffee
8:00 am - Breakfast by the beach at Sugar Beach
9:00 am - Omagieca Mangrove Garden a.k.a Mangrove Eco Park
10:00 am - Secret Lagoon
11:00 am - Check-out at the hotel
12:00 am - MJ Square for take-out lunch
12:30 pm - Board ferry to Hagnaya Port
2:00 pm - Board bus to Cebu City
5:00 pm - Arrive at SM City Cebu
We found our accommodation, Bantayan Summerhouse in Facebook. The advertisement also says they can be booked via AirBnB.
The room is pretty nice which features a queen size bed with pull-out and can accommodate up to four guests. Located at the second level, on daytime, the room is well lit with natural light and boasts a high ceiling complete with lightings. The room has huge windows, spacious bathroom with hot and cold shower, towels and toiletries. Outside the room is a veranda where guests can lounge, hang their wet swimsuits or even charge their phones!
Downstairs, upon entry to the property you will be greeted with plants, outdoor chairs, hammock and another lounging area.
We paid Php 1,600.00 for an overnights stay (1 night/1 room/2 pax). In the morning, the owner surprised us with a free breakfast by the beach. The hotel is located just a minute walk from the beach where there are a lot of food options lining up the shore.
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
This is the breakdown of expenses from our 2 days 1 night trip to Bantayan Island of my husband and I.
|Day 1 Expenses|
|Bus (Cebu – Hagnaya)||P245 x 2 = P490|
|Ferry (Hagnaya – Santa Fe, vv)||P185 x 2 x 2 = P740|
|Hagnaya Port Terminal Fee||P10 x 2 = P20|
|Motorcycle Rental (24 hrs.)||P500|
|Ogtong Cave Entrance Fee||P200 x 2 = P400|
|Sandira Beach Entrance Fee||P50 x 2 = P100|
|Bantayan Summerhouse (paid in advanced)|
1 room / 1 night / Good for 2 Pax
|Amihan Beach Cabanas (Coffee and Dinner fo 2)||P600|
|Day 1 Total Expenses||P4550|
|Day 2 Expenses|
|Coffee||P50 x 2 = P100|
|Omagieca Mangrove Garden Entrance Fee||P50 x 2 = P100|
|Secret Lagoon Entrance Fee||P40 x 2 = P80|
|Lunch (for 2)||P350|
|Santa Fe Port Terminal Fee||P10 x 2 = P20|
|Bus (Hagnaya – Cebu)||P245 x 2 = P490|
|Day 2 Total Expenses||P1140|
|Overall Total Expenses||P5690|
IMPORTANT NOTES AND TIPS
- Cebu North Bus Terminal is located at open parking lot, SM City Cebu, Cebu City — beside the MyBus station, right across Bayfront Hotel. Warning: If you plan to take the first trip, there is no decent and clean bathroom in the terminal during the early hours.
- Grab all your belongings as you leave the bus and proceed to the ticketing office at Hagnaya Port. Pay for the ferry ticket, write your name at the manifest and pay the terminal fee.
- Buy a round trip ticket to avoid the long queue of travelers at Sta. Fe Port. You can board the ferry anytime from Sta. Fe Port with the return ticket. Take note also of the ferry return schedule.
- Prepare all the travel requirements before you arrive at the Sta. Fe Port. Coordinate with the property you will be staying for them to provide the booking confirmation and QR code on time. If you noticed that the property you will be staying usually took a long time to respond, it is best that you already gathered all the travel requirements the night before your travel date.
- Upon arrival at at Sta. Fe Port, get a priority number and wait for the travel officer to call your number. Once called, present your QR code, hotel booking confirmation and valid ID. Wait to be verified then proceed to pay the ecological fee at the next booth.
- The best way to explore the island is via motorcycle. Just outside the port, there are tricycles and motorcycles up for rent.
- If you are on a budget, you can grab some food from carenderias along the way and bring the food to your destination. You will save money all the while saving time. Of course, eating with a view is just a bonus!
- Most of the tourist attractions in Bantayan Island have no locker rooms or any secure location where you can leave your things. Secure your own belongings by bringing a dry bag with you.
- If you rent a motorcycle, bring coverings such as cloth or paperboard to cover the motorcycle seat. The seat can get really hot especially when parked too long under the sun.
- Bring basic vacation or swimming essentials such as sunblock, swimsuits, water, hat, etc.
- To navigate your way through the island, use google maps or any navigation apps. Plan your itinerary along with each tourist spot location to save time and maximize your time at the island.
- Be prepared for a lot of ‘no left turn’, ‘one way’, etc. signs in the city proper. Google maps might get really confusing but you can always ask the locals.
- There are a lot of restaurants offering breakfast at the island. The go to place of the visitors is MJ Square. For budget travelers, a free breakfast at the hotel is always a 👍
- To avoid the spread of the virus, always wear face mask and face shield especially in crowded places such as the bus terminal or ports.