Bantayan Island Travel Guide – Cebu’s Island Paradise
Bantayan Island Overview
Bantayan Island, Cebu – This northernmost island in the province of Cebu is one of the up-and-coming tourist destinations in the region. Bantayan Island can be reached in 3-5 hours when coming from Cebu City. Its raw and unpretentious charm is what makes the island an eye-catcher for those who seek a different kind of solace. With the right mix of ecotourism, sightseeing, and even skydiving, Bantayan Island is more than meets the eye. This island was once a fortress against the Moros and other pirates trying to invade the island.
Idyllic shores scattered around its flat topography give the impression that Bantayan Island has a lot to offer. With its rich fishing grounds, too, you can find their famous ‘danggit’ (dried fish) in every corner of the island.
Best time to go
The Philippines generally only has two major seasons, the wet and the dry. It is best to visit Bantayan Island during the dry season, usually from February to May. The average temperature in the island is around 28°C. The 3-5 hours going to the island can be quite tiring, so might as well bring light clothes during your visit.
How to get to Bantayan Island
From the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, you can ride a bus (MyBus) or Taxi that can bring you directly to the North Bus Terminal outside SM City Cebu. Fare usually costs ₱ 35 – 50.00 and travel time is around 45 minutes. As of this writing, when I visited Bantayan in 10 – 12 June 2022, the bus fare going to the North Bus Terminal is waived. From there, you can ride an ordinary bus that costs around ₱ 165.00 or take an air-conditioned bus for ₱ 240-245.00. Travel time is approximately around 4 to 5 hours because there are stopovers along the way.
Another option, which I highly recommend, is to ride the Black Taxis parked just across the North Bus Terminal. This a faster option to reach Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, which is the jump off point going to Bantayan Island. Fare usually costs ₱ 300.00 and the travel time is only around 3 hours.
The main mode of transportation going to Bantayan Island is via water passing through the Tañon Strait. Travel time aboard the RoRo barges take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the ship’s load and capacity. The two main companies servicing the route are the Island Shipping Corporation and Super Shuttle Ferry. Fare costs ₱ 280.00 (regular fare) + an additional ₱ 25.00 for the terminal fee (as of 15 March 2022).
Upon arriving in Sta. Fe Port in Bantayan Island, you will be directed to the terminal immediately for the (1) checking of entry requirements (i.e., QR Entry Code and Proof of Accommodation booking), and (2) paying of ₱ 30.00 ecological fee.
There are regular international and domestic flights to and from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Mactan Island. Locally, flights from Manila International Airport last for 1 hour, and flights from Clark International Airport lasts for 1.5 to 2 hours. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Philippines AirAsia frequent the island province. The local airport in Bantayan Island is now under repair and is only used for chartered flights and for the skydiving jump off.
Things to know about Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island has a land area of 108.8 km2 and is just ¼ the total area of Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte. From Cebu City, the island can be reached within 3 – 5 hours. The main dialects / languages spoken in the island is Bisaya, Filipino, and English. Cellular signal (for Globe and Smart) in the island is fair but intermittent in some areas. The island is composed of 3 municipalities, namely: Sta. Fe, Bantayan, and Madridejos. You can also enjoy island hopping around the island (specifically touring the Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island). The island is also known for being the jump off area going to either Gigantes Islands in Carles, Iloilo, or Malapascua Island in the municipality of Daanbantayan. The main currency used in the island is the Philippine Peso (PH₱).
Getting around the island
Getting in and around the island is easy. If you have a private car, it can easily be transported via the RoRo barges to and from Bantayan Island. For public transportation, the most common modes are their tricycles and ‘motorelas’ (which is a kind of tricycle which is much longer and can accommodate up to 6-8 pax per trip). Fare ranges differently depending on your pickup and dropoff location.
If you want to explore more of Bantayan Island, you can avail of the tricycle tour which can bring you to almost all the popular tourist spots found on the island. The tricycle tour can cost ₱ 600 – 800 per day. You can contact our local guide, kuya Lito, at +63 948 002 9451 for more information. You can also rent a motorcycle or a bicycle if you want to explore the island at your own pace.
Reminders and Tips in and around Bantayan Island
When exploring Bantayan Island, take note that there are portions that are unpaved, and some are unfinished road projects. There are times where the road gets rough but mostly, all roads are paved, especially the ones that connect from one tourist spot to the other.
What is Bantayan Island if you do not take advantage of their seafood? Take advantage of their cheap local produce especially scallops and their danggit (dried fish). You also must try their “SuTuKil” or an abbreviation of “Su” which means ‘sugba’ or ‘grilled’ in Bisaya, “Tu” which means ‘tuwa’ chicken or fish cooked in vegetable soup / stew, and “Kil” which means ‘kilaw’ or raw food marinated in vinegar and citrus.
We’re born to travel!