Cebu is home to some of the Philippines‘ most pristine and beautiful beaches. Being a province that’s mainly an island in itself, you’ll have endless options of sun, sand, and sea on your trip. One of the most popular beach destinations in Cebu is Bantayan and for good reason. With clear waters, long stretches of white sand, and many caves and trails to discover, a trip to Bantayan is an all-in-one experience.
Bantayan is a small island in the northern part of Cebu. It is made up of three municipalities – Bantayan, known for its sunsets and centuries-old church, Madridejos, a fishing village and known for its rich history and Sta. Fe, known for its sunrise wide stretches of fine white sand beach.
Coming from Cebu City, you can catch a bus in Cebu North Terminal headed to Hagnaya Port in the town of San Remigio. There are Aircon and non-aircon buses, with the latter being cheaper. If you’re not familiar with the scorching hot weather of the Philippines, make sure you take the aircon bus as the trip will take roughly three hours. The earliest bus leaves at 4 AM, with the last trip at around 5 PM every day.
It’s also possible for you to take a taxi from the airport, which will cost nothing below Php 2,000 (USD 40). It’s definitely faster, more convenient, and more comfortable if you’re willing to pay the price versus the USD 3 on a bus.
Once you reach Hagnaya Port, you need to catch a public ferry to Sta. Fe. The ferry departs daily from Hagnaya Port to Sta. Fe as early as 7 AM with the last trip at around 5 PM daily.
If you want to skip the long travel, there are charter flights that land on Bantayan directly. You can check out www.airislandtour.com to check on their flights and schedules.
There are many beach options at Bantayan. You can simply lay a towel on the soft sand and spend the entire afternoon soaking up the sun. You can also try out water sports activities or go snorkeling a few meters of the shore. Explore the many white sand beaches of Sta. Fe like Alice Beach to catch the sunrise, Sugar Beach, Maricaban Beach, and Paradise Beach.
Go on the ultimate sightseeing tour and go skydiving around Bantayan. With clear skies, unobstructed views, and bright blue waters surrounding the island, Skydiving is a great way to see all of Bantayan. The aircraft ascends to over 3,000 meters in the air before a certified guide jumps off with you. There are many tour operators that offer this experience, but the most popular and trusted one is Skydive Greater Cebu.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, so you’ll see churches everywhere you look. But some of these churches have become monuments and landmarks, dating back all the way to the Spanish era. It’s no different in the small island of Bantayan where a 500-year old church has become one of the most famous landmarks in the island. Saint Peter and Pauls Church, also called Convento Dela Asuncion De Nuestra Senora, was built on June 11, 1580, and was part of the Archdiocese of Mexico. It still opens its doors to regular mass service.
Bantayan is an island of several islands. There are simply so many little nooks and beaches you can visit, and you’ll probably need two days to visit every single one. Island-hopping in Bantayan is also better than other destinations in some way because the beaches aren’t as crowded. Your resort will most likely be able to arrange some tours for you, or simply head to the dock and bargain with the boatmen. A full day of island-hopping will cost around Php 1,500-2,000 (USD 30-40) for a boat that can fit 6 people.
There are several islands with great snorkeling sites. You can also ask the boatman to bring you to reefs in between the islands to go snorkeling. Some popular island-hopping stops are Beach Placid, Virgin Island, Silion Island, and Hilantagaan or Cabulauan Island.
Another popular destination for locals and tourists is Ogtong Cave Resort, which houses the Ogtong Cave. You don’t need to be a guest at the resort to visit the cave and swim in the cool, crystal clear waters. It’s quite an experience to step into the dark cave and over slippery rocks, but the water doesn’t run too deep. It’s better to visit the site during weekdays as families usually spend weekend lunches by the cave.
However, if you’re claustrophobic, you might want to skip this. The roof of the cave runs low and near the surface of the water. There won’t be much room to move around.
Another great way to discover Bantayan is through cycling. You’ll find a lot of bike rentals in Sta. Fe, most of them you can call in advance. These bikes are not your typical bikes you see around the city. The tires are thick and wide so you can go through sand, soil, pavement, and grass. This means it’s not very suitable for beginners as they can feel heavy and difficult to control. However, if you’re quite adventurous and capable, the quiet town of Sta. Fe is a great location for cyclists.
Bantayan is a place for you to unwind and enjoy your time at your own pace. It’s not where you’ll find parties and a thriving nightlife. Here, the sleepy towns next to gorgeous beaches invite you to unplug from the world and simply enjoy your time with nature. While it’s great to fill your itinerary with many activities, the best way to enjoy Bantayan is under the sun, by the sea, beer in hand.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!