How would you like a cheap and affordable getaway that punches an extreme excitement and adventure? $100 a day? No problem!
Well those are what the Bantayan Island of Cebu offers.
Philippines is one of the top destinations in South East Asia by having the most beautiful beaches and tourist spots scattered all around the country. And the “Island” is one of the awe-inspiring virgin islands of the country that will take your breath away.
Continue reading below to know more tips and tricks about our trip.
For instance, if you are an avid traveler that wants to enjoy and relax around the Philippines, then you are in luck because Cebu might be your best bet!
This is also your lucky day, because this post is all about the Ultimate Guide to travel the Bantayan Island in Cebu Philippines. Plus we will share to you the best D.I.Y. or “do it yourself way” at a cheaper cost.
Your trip to the Bantayan Island of Cebu will not be complete without the excellent island hopping.
If you are looking for spectacular island views, then this is good news for you.
While en route, tourists can view the Virgin Island and Hilagatan Island, which is only waiting, for you to discover nearby. Further, you can also relax and chill while traveling.
You can hire a small fisherman boat for around 800php – 1500php to bring you to these beautiful islands.
The Virgin Islands has an entrance fee of 500php for the first two people and 100php for each additional person for a group on an incoming boat. A little bit expensive, eh? But it will be worth it!
For Hilatagan Island there is no need to whip your hard-earned cash because they don’t require entrance fees and you can enjoy to the fullest. But please remember to do not litter and do anything that will disrespect the environment.
Honorable Mention Beaches to Check out:
- Alice Beach
- Sugar Beach
- Maricaban Beach
- Kota Beach
Play at Mangrove Eco Park
Mangrove garden should be on top of your list when visiting the Bantayan Islands of the Philippines. Tourists can do a tremendous amount of activities such as kayaking, boat riding, sunbathing, eating, or even feeding the fishes around!
It is a great place to chill out and forget all of the stress in your life!
The eco-park came into popularity with the help of the 2016 movie Camp Sawi, a comedy-romance Filipino movie starring Andi Eigenmann, Bella Padilla, and Yassi Pressman.
The movie just kickstarted the popularity of the tourist site, but it truly has a beauty that can pack a punch.
There, you can stroll on the long bamboo walkway to take an Instagrammable shot of your life.
Above all, the chilling atmosphere of the mangrove park only asks a 50php (1 USD) entrance fee for environmental protection. For a mere dollar, you can enjoy a few hours of your life.
Water Mangrove Eco Park Price:
- Entrance Fee: 50 PHP
- Kayak: 150 PHP
- Boat Riding: 350 PHP
This one is my personal favorites for two reasons; a) because it is free! b) it is absolutely free!
Yes! Free stuff still exists, but don’t dive in right away, SAFETY FIRST!
Double check the level of the water because at a specific time the sea can be on low tide and will surely be a dangerous situation if you have jumped over the cliff on a knee-high-water surface.
Please double check the water tides, your safety, and health before doing anything outrageous.
The cliff diving spot is relatively easy to spot because it is just near the road.
You will be able to know when you’re there if you can already see a graffiti-vandalized wall without a ceiling.
For this reason, it is known as “The Ruins.”
Experience the Paradise Beach
If you are looking for some solidarity in life, Paradise Beach might be your best bet. It is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and has an entrance fee of 50php (1 USD).
The beautiful white sands might be one of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen that will meet your expectations while drinking down your favorite cold mojito.
Meanwhile, he perfectly balanced heat of the sun will help you ease up your mind during sunset, which is why I recommend to see it while chilling with your loved ones.
Bantayan Island is very famous not just because of its beautiful white sands, but also of the outrageously clean ocean waters.
Meanwhile, tourists can enjoy a whole day of swimming without worrying anything.
Skydiving is not an adventure for the fainted hearts. It will also drag down your tight budgets because this activity will cost you a handful of 19,000php.
The whole activity will take approximately 2 hours, accompanied by highly trained skydiving instructors, which will always look out for your safety.
Sight-Seeing at St. Peter and Paul Church
If you’re into history and architectures, this church is a go-to place to visit.
It is only sitting in the heart of Bantayan City. This church was built in 1580 and is currently referred to be the oldest parish church in Visayas and Mindanao.
With all of the travel getaways that you will be experiencing, a cultural knowledge will be imparted in addition to your adventures.
Photo Shoot at Ogtong Cave
I don’t recommend this place simply because it is overrated, and it feels like a rip-off.
Let me explain first before your extreme reactions. We have different views on our lives and many things to consider, so go on, read, and feel my agony!
For example, Ogtong Cave is within the vicinity of a resort. Before you can go, you need to pay 200PHP per person. Additionally, the cave is overcrowded, small and has this stint of smell that lingers around! The scent ultimately ruined our experience.
If you still like to visit the cave by all means, then you are free to do so, but, be mindful of the experience that you might encounter. Maybe it would be better to visit the site when there are very few people around in Bantayan Island.
To sum it up, you need to constantly check or avoid visiting the cave at peak seasons.
On the other hand, the 200PHP entrance fee will give you access to 2 swimming pools and the beach area.
But be mindful that they have a corkage fee ranging from 5php – 400php depending on what kind of foods you bring.
In addition, another notable thing to remember is that your 200PHP entrance fee will expire at 4:00 PM because they will be closing the access to the cave and the pools by that time.
Still likes to go? Then so be it!
Since you are already in Bantayan, why not try to explore the underwater kingdom of Cebu?
Scuba diving is very popular in the island of Cebu where you can see the abundant marine life of the nearby islands and reefs. You can also dive and swim with the great whale sharks which are also popular in the Philippines because it Cebu is their natural route of habitat.
Below are the best dive spots in Cebu where you can enjoy your day:
- Umbrella Reef
- White Beach
- Dolphin House
- Roda Bay Santuary
- Tuble point
- Tongo Point
It’s not just some kind of a child’s game.
Scuba diving may be fun, but there are proper training and gears that must be met before doing the deed.
But don’t be too worried, there are professionals along the road.
Some tourists even opt out to experience a liveaboard staycation in the Philippines while on the seas. It’s a fun experience where tourists and divers live in a yacht or a vessel where they can visit a lot of diving spots.
If you would like to fully explore the beauty of Cebu, Philippines, then I would recommend to at least experience a once in a lifetime adventure where you will be swimming with the gentle giants of the oceans, the whale sharks of Oslob! You can do this after your Bantayan Island Tour Packages.
Just hit the “book now” button to avail the entire package!
How to go to Bantayan Island
NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MNL)
From Manila, there are a lot of flights going to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, local carriers such as Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia has non-stop flight for about $90 – $150 round-trip ticket.
MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CEB)
From Mactan airport take myBus heading to North Bus Terminal, it’s a bus leaving from Mactan airport every 30mins from 0700 – 2130 for 25php or you can take a Taxi or Grab.
NORTH BUS TERMINAL
From the terminal take Ceres bus bound for Hagnaya port, expect a 4 hours travel time for 165php per person.
You are officially in Bantayan soil, from Sta. Fe Port you can take a tricycle for 20php per person going to your booked hotel. On the other hand, you can rent them as a personal service for the whole day (prices vary from 400 – 700php depending on how excellent your negotiation skills are).
Another option if you can drive yourself is to rent a scooter (200 – 400php per day also depends on how excellent your negotiation skills are)
Where to stay? Bantayan Island Hotels
Nature Park & Resort
Island Nature Park and Resort is fully packed with amenities and almost everything that you would need in your whole stay on the island. In addition, all of their rooms are fully air-conditioned which should be enough in your holiday getaways. The intense heat of summer might be excruciating, but when you return to your bed, the soft and cuddly mattress and pillows will relax your tired bodies.
The resort has a cliff deck where you can easily catch the most beautiful sunrise, or the unforgettable sunset of your life. Furthermore, they can offer a relaxing massage services and Jacuzzi after a day of a tiring island hopping within the vicinity.
Meanwhile, if guests want to soak themselves with their favorite margaritas, then the resort would not fall behind. They have a mini bar that gives off a relaxing vibe while serving the best local cuisines.
Fret no, because above all, their WiFi is free to be accessed all around the resort! You can just relax and enjoy your night and be ready for tomorrow’s adventures!
Kota Beach Resort
The beach resort is one of my personal favorites because of the room aesthetics.
It was elegant looking at a budget price with excellent services. Because of these reasons, the rooms are easily fully-booked during peaked seasons which made us choose another option.
However, for future travelers, you should book a room in advance especially during the summer seasons of the Philippines.
Blue Beach Resort
If you are on a really tight budget, then Blue Beach Resort might be the answer to your hotel problems. It is located at Baragay Logon, Daanbantayan, Malapascua Island, Cebu, just near the shores of the island. It is one of the cheapest Bantayan Island Resorts that will cater a D.I.Y. traveler’s needs.
The resort is packed with the most basic necessities while staying on the island. They have fully air-conditioned rooms and fan rooms for those who need a cheaper options.
Blue Corals has WiFi all around the vicinity as well as LAN internet for those who would require. In addition, a safety deposit box can be availed by guests to safely keep their luggage and belongings while away on an island trip.
It takes around 3 hours before you can reach the hotel from Mactan, Cebu and is easily accessible by local land transportation.
Budyong Beach Resort
Since we could not get into Kota Beach Resort, we settled in Budyong Beach Resort, which was just right beside the Kota.
We got the Air-Conditioned Family Room for 3,200php/night that has three beds and a maximum of 6 pax/room.
It was just a few steps away from Kota Beach, so it wasn’t a bad deal. Moreover, the room was clean and spacious enough for the whole group. So it was still a lot of fun.
The things that didn’t work out for us was the air conditioning unit because it wasn’t strong enough to cool down the room, plus it was summer time!
The room only had one outlet, so it took time when we were charging a lot of gears.
They had a shortage when it comes to bathroom essentials like towels and tissues.
Even though they did not cater all of our needs, for an overall experience, the resort wasn’t bad at all. I would still recommend it to our readers and followers.
If you felt like that you need more, then there are over 40 resorts, inns, and guesthouses all over the island that you can choose according to your budget and liking.
Where to eat at Cebu Island?
MJ Square is the most popular food spot on Bantayan Island.
They have a lot of varieties of cuisine to choose between European, American, and Mexican foods. The Asian foods were mostly infused with Filipino spices, which will pack a punch to your taste buds.
The upside of the MJ square restaurants is mostly for budget-friendly travelers that will bring your palate to another level of excitement.
SIDE NOTE: If you’re looking for a well-aged hand cut medium rare AAA 14oz Boneless Beef Rib Steak kind of quality food, I’m sorry to say they don’t offer it here.
HR Native Restaurant
Located just a few blocks away from MJ square you can dine in this restaurant with a wide variety of seafood, pork, beef, vegetables, pizza, sandwiches, cold drinks, and cocktails.
I recommend that you to try their Baked scallops in mozzarella cheese (P225) and then you can thank me later!
Tristan's Pizza Hauz and Restaurant
PIZAAAA! Pizaaaa! Pizzzzaaaa!
The cries of my stomach! Thank God there’s a pizza restaurant at Bantayan Island!
Love pizza much? Love adventure much? You can have both in this place with their best seller mixed seafood pizza (P450).
BOWT Bantayan Island Cebu Itinerary & Time Table
05:30 AM: Took Islandwater Ferry bound to Sta.Fe (P220 Economy, P400 VIP)
2. Always use your negotiation skills at all times!
06:15 AM: Arrived at Sta.Fe port (Tourism Authorities required every guests to register before going out the port for P30. This took us 5 – 10mins long– depends on the crowd)
06:25 AM: Find means of transportation.
We chose to take the tricycle (P20/person) and also the personal number of the driver so we can call him if we decided to rent his services for the whole day.
06:45 AM: Arrives and checked in at our preferred resort– Budyong beach resort.
07:00 AM: Breakfast
08:15 AM: Called our tricycle driver for his services and he offered P600 for the whole day. We put him on hold and asked tricycles passing by and got ourselves a P400 deal for the entire day.
08:55 AM: Arrived at Obo-ob Mangrove Garden (Entrance Fee: P50)
11:00 AM: Lunch with a view above water at Omagieca Restaurant.
12:15 PM: Depart from the Mangrove Garden
12:35 PM: Arrived at Ogtong Beach Resort (Entrance Fee: P200)
TIPID OPTION: Paradise Beach (Entrance Fee: P50)
YAYAMANIN OPTION: Skydiving (P19,000)
02:35 PM: Departed from our chosen activity.
02:45 PM: Arrives at The Ruins Cliff Diving spot.
05:00 PM: Departed from the Cliff diving spot.
05:15 PM: Arrived at Budyong Beach Resort. Chill, relax, or grab a beer, have dinner and call it a day.
The pristine sun rays of the sun will touch your hearts so gently engulfing a perfect moment for a moment of hugs and kisses.
09:00 AM: Find a boat to go island hopping
BOWT TIPS: Ask your resort guest services they can hook you up with the local boats with great deals
09:30 AM: Depart Bantayan Island and start Island Hopping
03:30 PM: Back at the resort, relax chill and experience the sunset by the beach
06:00 PM: Dinner and call it a day
9:00 AM: Wake up and breakfast
10:15 AM: Visit St. Peter and Paul Church
11:15 AM: Back to Resort and have Lunch
01:00 PM: Final preparation and check out
02:00 PM: Board Islandwater ferry (P220 Economy, P400 VIP)
TIPID OPTION: Super Shuttle Ferry (P180 for approximately 1 hour of travel time)
02:45 AM: Arrive at Hagnaya Port
SIDE NOTE: Please note that this is only a guide and all the time frames presented are approximates only
Tips for Future D.I.Y. Travelers
Ask But Be Cautious
ASK AROUND! If you think you got a good deal, think again!
If you have a spare time to go around and ask for offers and deals then do it. This applies on transportation like tricycles and motorcycles. We highly recommend of doing that because prices on the island are very competitive and you can haggle for as low as you can.
In addition, you can get a grasp if the “businessmen” there are giving the right deal for you and not milking your cash!
CASH! You should always bring some money, the island is a trendy tourist spot, but it is still underdeveloped.
Most of the times, you would need to pay cash for food, transportation, and even hotels if you don’t have reservations and are just planning to walk-in.
Exchange your money to local currency, which is Philippine Peso. Before going to the island, be ready to have plenty of budgets because there is no currency changer on the island itself.
Maybe there are some that we don’t know of, but one thing is for sure you wouldn’t like the exchange rates, so your best bet is to exchange it before going to Bantayan.
Bring Lots of Water
WATER! You might consider yourself as an island connoisseur but never underestimate the Philippine heat waves!
From April – September temperature in Bantayan can rise to 44 degree Celsius, and with the addition of low humidity, dehydration and worst-case scenario heat strokes are very imminent so always carry a bottle of water with you. In addition, it won’t hurt to always bring a towel and umbrella to help cool down while walking.
Take Care of Your Health Especially the Skin
SUNSCREEN! Blazing heat can easily give you sunburn so don’t forget to protect your skin and do remember to use Eco-friendly sunscreens.
Have Fun! Respect and Leave no Traces but Footprints
HAVE FUN BUT RESPECT THE ISLAND! We all want to experience Bantayan on its unspoiled beauty so let us all do our part to dispose of our garbage properly.
OVERPRICING: Spending Philippine peso compared to the dollar might be smaller, but what if I tell you that you can spend cheaper for the same quality of service!
Beware of the prices, especially on transportation like tricycles and motorbikes, because they can easily fool you that they have the lowest rates, but in reality, they offer you an overpriced service. Likewise, also check the prices of foods, and necessities. Some shops will increase the markup to tenfolds!
The overall crime rate in Bantayan Island is low but still, keep an eye on your personal belongings and don’t invite people to make bad decisions like flashing your brand new Rolex watch, we recommend to leave your 24 karat gold necklace at home because Bantayan Island is in a third world country after all.
All major local telecom companies have a pretty good signal throughout the island, so contacting your loved ones won’t be a hassle.
There are numerous telecom companies in the Philippines, but the three major brands are listed below:
- SMART / TNT
- GLOBE / TM
- SUN CELLULAR
All of these sim cards will not cost you a ton of money. For just PHP 30 (USD 0.4), you can already afford any of those sim cards. Do not be fooled by USD 3-4 prices that are sold near the airport, or by any other scammers. Remember, for just less than USD 1, you can have a really good sim card.
Most of the times, Globe Telecom has FREE FB internet. It means you can use Facebook with just free data!
But if you want to avail the best deals for internet, then I guess the Globe Telecom would be the best to use. But it won’t hurt to also buy another set of sim card from Smart or Sun Cellular just in case that there are no signal for Globe.
Top Items to Bring
- Eco-Friendly Sunscreen
- Soap and Shampoo
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Insect Repellent
- External outlet / Powerbank
- Match / Lighter
- Water Container
Final Thoughts at Bantayan Island Tourist Spot
Bantayan Island in Cebu Philippines is great place to have a quick getaway from the city. Furthermore, tourists can unwind, relax and just forget about any stress in life and enjoy great memories. Even with its growing popularity, the island is still under development which you can be delighted by its white sands and clear waters without worrying of too much crowed. In addition, tourists can take Instagrammable photos without waiting for anyone to clear up on the most astonishing view of the sunset. That being said, there is no other time to visit this wonderful island but NOW! so pack you bags, and enjoy Bantayan Island.
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