The neat thing about Bantayan is that there is one area of tourist development, Santa Fe, but the rest of the island functions as a regular local Island. Bantayan produces eggs for both Cebu and Mindanao – both these islands are densely populated meaning a lot of eggs and a whole lot of chickens! As you drive around by motorbike you can see numerous chicken farms along the way. The island is big enough to make for some quality exploring but still small enough to feel like you’re really living island life!
Where to stay
- On the Beach: Yooneek Inn is a fun and friendly midrange place to stay on the beach with super nice staff. You can pick up a fan room for around 1000Php in the offseason, or 1300Php in the high season.
- Santa Fe Town: There are heaps of options around the central Santa Fe town so it is not hard to walk around and choose something you like. Camping is possible at a few of the resorts so if you’re on a real budget take your tent. This is a good spot to be based with lots of restaurants in walking distance.
What to do
- School of the sea: The Philippines is becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect its coral reefs. Unfortunately over fishing and other factors have destroyed some areas of reef already and the School of Sea aims to educate people in sustainability and nurturing the environment. They have a marine reserve out the front and run presentations for those who are interested.
- Hire a push bike or motorbike and explore: Bantayan is a reasonably flat island which means that even the unfit can enjoy a bike ride around the streets of the island or into the small village of Santa Fe.
- Go to pier for sunset: Take a ride to the western facing side of the island and watch the day disappear.
- Island hop in a Banca Boat: Take a traditional banca boat to any one of the neighboring islands.
How to get there
Bantayan is roughly 4 hours bus from Cebu and then a 2ish hour roro (roll on, roll off) ferry. If you're taking bikes from Cebu just put them on the ferry to explore Bantayan. Take a yellow Ceres bus from the terminal in Cebu.
Where to go next?
- Malapascua: Hire a banca boat and head to the much smaller Malapascua Island
- Return to Cebu: Head back to Cebu for some more city life. You might like to stop by the Camotes Islands on your way back to Cebu!
- Boat ride to Bacolod: Get a pump boat to Negros and travel to Bacolod with friendly locals and fab food.