The first thing that entered my head was “peace.”
When our boat touched the beach, I sensed it in an instant. It was in the fresh air, the gentle waves. Each second my toes dipped in its wide, wide bed of white, white sand was a moment of therapy. By noon I was lying under the shade by the shore, reading a book and enjoying a pint of beer. Sun shining. Water shimmering. Wind dancing. And I was in the middle of it all, just taking it all in.
They must have felt it too — the filmmakers behind Camp Sawi, they must have. When they set foot on the island while scouting for shooting locations for their fictional retreat for the brokenhearted, they must have felt it too. Bantayan Island is therapeutic. It is where you go to heal.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Understanding Bantayan Island
Before the public at large came to know Bantayan Island as Camp Sawi, travel circles already have it as a secret hideaway. Tucked away from urban centers, Bantayan Island lies off the coast of northern Cebu. The island is divided into three municipalities: Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe. Not to be confused with Daanbantayan, which is a separate municipality on the main island of Cebu.
What used to be a sleepy fishing village years ago has been enjoying the fruits of tourism as tourists look for laid-back alternatives to Boracay. Bantayan has found its way to Cebu all inclusive travel packages but remains a favorite among backpackers for its sheer beauty and serene atmosphere.
Bantayan Island’s biggest asset is its white, white, white sand! It is so white that it can give Boracay a run for its tourist money. It is very fine but not too fine to smudge the crystal clear water, which, by the way, is also very shallow. Perfect for kids and non-swimmers (like me).
How to Get to Bantayan Island
Bantayan Island is part of the province of Cebu, and the easiest, most convenient way to reach it is via Cebu City. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second busiest and most important hub in the Philippines so getting here should be a walk in the park. Here’s how.
- Fly to Cebu. All three of the country’s major airlines fly to Cebu so you have plenty of choices. Above are sample year-round fares as scanned and aggregated by Traveloka. Note, however, that the published rates for Cebu Pacific and AirAsia don’t include baggage allowance yet, while booking with Philippine Airlines would automatically give you 10kg allowance. You can search for more flights at Traveloka.com.
- Take myBus to the North Bus Terminal. There’s a bus leaving the Mactan Airport every 30 minutes from 7am-11am, and every 20 minutes from 11am-9:30pm. Fare: P25. Outside these hours, you may take a cab, Uber or Grab. Fare is between P200-P300, depending on traffic.
- At the North Bus Terminal, board a Ceres bus bound for Hagnaya Port. Travel time: around 4 hours. Fare: P165. You will also find a Direct Bus (Fare: P200), which drives onto the ferry and off to Bantayan Island. But it’s a bit complicated. We still recommend taking the bus to Hagnaya Port and then taking the ferry on your own.
- Board the Island Shipping or Super Shuttle ferry bound for Santa Fe Port. First trip is at 3am, last trip 5:30pm. Travel time: 1 hour. Fare: P170. An additional P10 terminal fee will be collected.
- At Santa Fe Port, follow the covered walkway to the Tourism Office. You will have to pay the Ecological Fee which is at P30.
- Take a tricycle to your resort. Fare: P20-25. If you have pre-arranged a shuttle service with your resort, they will be picking you up here.
That’s about it! The total travel time from the airport to Bantayan Island is around 5.5 hours, excluding the waiting times.
Where to Stay in Bantayan Island
There are over 40 resorts, inns, and guesthouses all around the island, so finding a place to stay should be easy. You can find a basic room for as low as P400 per night. Campers are also welcome. If you don’t have your own tent, you can rent one for less than P200.
Below are four of the top-rated properties on Agoda. The first two are mid-range resorts (around P3000), while the other two are budget options (less than P1000 per night).
- Anika Island Resort. Check Rates & Availability.
- La Playa Estrella Beach Resort. Check Rates & Availability.
- Adelaida Pensionne Hotel. Check Rates & Availability.
- Edsan Apartment. Check Rates & Availability.
Photos above were provided by the resorts via Agoda.
Search for more: Bantayan Island Hotels
Places to Visit in Bantayan Island
Below are some of the best tourist spots in the island. Save for Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, and skydiving, everything can be reached on a half-day tricycle tour for P500-P700.
You may also rent a bicycle to get around Santa Fe. Rates are between P150 and P200 for 24 hours.
- Paradise Beach, a secluded stretch in Santa Fe. If you want to get away from the crowd, this is where you should run to. Open from 9am-5pm. Entrance Fee: P50. There are a few other beaches in Santa Fe that you might want to check out: Alice Beach, Sugar Beach, and Maricaban Beach.
- Ogtong Cave, a small cave sheltering a natural pool located within Sante Fe Beach Club Resort. Emphasis on “small.” If you expect to swim, you’ll be disappointed. All you can do here is take a dip. But the P120 entrance fee entitles you access to the resort’s pools.
- Kota Park in Madrilejos. Kota means “fort,” which was what used to stand here before it was transformed into a park. The fort was built by the Spaniards in the 1790s but natural forces have had its time with it.
- Kota Beach and Sandbar, a favorite among beach bums. It can get crowded here especially in summer, but this is something you shouldn’t miss.
- Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park. A mangrove forest that you can explore by boat, by kayak, or on foot. Kayaks are for rent for P150, and small boats for P350. There is also an elevated boardwalk which will take you around if you’re up for a relaxing stroll. Entrance Fee: P50.
- Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Built in 1580, it is the oldest parish church in Visayas and Mindanao.
- Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island. Bantayan can also be your jump off point for nearby islands including Virgin Island (Silion Island), Hilantagaan Island, and Kinatarkan Island. A full day tour can set you back P1000, while a half-day tour P700. You can still hagglle though. Privately-owned, Virgin Island collects a P500 entrance fee for the first 2 pax and P100 per additional head.
- Splurge option: Go skydiving! Bantayan Island is home to Skydive Cebu, one of the few skydiving establishments in the Philippines. They offer tandem skydiving, which is great if you want to experience the thrill for the first time. The whole activity takes about 2 hours. It costs P18,000, which is way more than I can afford, LOL, and why I haven’t tried it. But my friend has done it. Check out his video below:
Sample Itinerary + Budget Breakdown
Below is a sample 3D2N itinerary. You may use this as model for your own itinerary, just make the necessary adjustments. But please take note of the following:
If you can, take an early morning flight to Cebu to maximize your days. Philippine Airlines (PR 2835) and Cebu Pacific Air (5J 563) have flights that would land in Cebu before 6am.
You can book a tricycle tour of the island immediately after arrival. You can then ask the driver to make a quick stop at your resort to check in and leave your bags at the reception before continuing your tour.
Make sure to visit Paradise Beach before 5pm and end your day by watching the sunset at any of the key spots like Kota Park.
Day 1: EN ROUTE, LAND TOUR
04:00 am – ETD NAIA Manila
05:15 am – ETA Arrival at Mactan Cebu Airport
05:45 am – Cab to North Bus Terminal – P100 (P200/2pax)
06:30 am – Board bus to Hagnaya Port – P165
10:30 am – Arrival at Hagnaya Port
11:00 am – Grab quick brunch – P150
11:30 am – Board ferry to Santa Fe – P170 + P10
12:30 pm – Arrival at Bantayan Island
12:45 pm – Walk to Tourism Office. Pay P30
01:00 pm – Start Tricycle Tour – P350 (P700/2pax)
07:00 pm – Dinner – P200
08:30 pm – Return to resort
10:00 pm – Lights out
Day 2: ISLAND HOPPING
05:30 am – Wake up, sunrise viewing
06:45 am – Breakfast, preps
08:00 am – Start island hopping – P350 (P700/2pax)
01:00 pm – Lunch – P150
02:30 pm – Back at the resort, chill
04:30 pm – Kota Beach, sunset
07:00 pm – Dinner – P200
09:00 pm – Rest, lights out
Day 3: BACK TO CEBU CITY
05:30 am – Wake up, check out
07:00 am – Board ferry back to Hagnaya Port – P170 + P10
08:00 am – Arrival at Hagnaya
08:30 am – Grab snacks – P100
09:00 am – Board bus to Cebu City – P165
01:00 pm – Arrival in Cebu City
The above itinerary will set you back P3700 if you stay in a basic fan room at Ritzy (Althea White Beach) or P5900 if you stay at Anika Beach Resort. Estimates don’t include airfare yet. You can further reduce the cost by spending less on food. We allocated P150-P200 per meal here.
You have several options for Day 3. Since you’re back in Cebu City, you may visit some of its most iconic heritage sites like the Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and the Cebu Taoist Temple. You may also spend the afternoon digging in to Lechon de Cebu and buy pasalubong at a supermarket afterwards. Cost of these isn’t considered in the estimates above.
If you have more days, you may also visit Malapascua Island, which is easily accessible from Bantayan. (Or do it the other way around like we did.) We’ll make a sample Malapascua-Bantayan itinerary soon too, so bookmark this page for future reference.
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Is Bantayan Island safe for solo traveler?
[…] More about Bantayan Island here: Bantayan Island Budget Travel Guide […]
where did you stay in bantayan?
Island is really nice and quiet, and in the same time has good variety of cafes and 1-2 bars to go at night.
Besides the places, that were mentioned, you can do also cliff jumping (it is not far from Octong Cave).
People are very friendly and welcoming.
I booked a not expensive room with a private bathroom and a fan and can recommend my local friend Tata, who helped me find it, his email is email@example.com, phone +63 9330252454 (or 09330252454 if you’re calling from Philippines). He can also rent a motorbike and help with tours to other islands
Hi Yoshke! :) I’m going to Bantayan but have yet to decide on when exactly. I was thinking Holy Week but realized that it would be too crowded on that week. When is a good time to go to Bantayan? Do you have some insights on this? I would really appreciate your response. I have got to decide ASAP if I want to buy the cheapest plane tickets..hahah..you probably know what I mean….. Thanks in advance!!! :D
If you could go this Feb and March, that would be most ideal. :)
Summer is okay too. Although it can get crowded on weekends, it doesn’t really get as crowded as say Boracay or Puerto Galera.
PAANO PO NAGING POOR UNG POOR TRAVELER LOL
Ive been thinking.. Feb and March are probably too soon for me (Last wk of March wud hav bin okay but its holy week, too crowded).. How about the 2nd week of April on the weekdays?? What do you think?? I just hope it wouldn’t be too hot yet by then…..
It should be okay if weekdays. :)
Where is the best camping site in bantayan island? Hope in madridejos.
And where is the best but affordable rooms?
Thank You :)
Hi Yoshke, can you help??? We will be going to Bantayan on April, but our arrival on Mactan Airport would be at around 1:00 pm. Im sure we will not be able to take the last trip to Bantayan. Do you know if there would be an fastest route going to Hagnaya Port that can take only 2-3 hours??? :)
Thanks in advance
I don’t think this would be helpful now since last year pa yung post mo. But for future reference, airjuan offers direct flights from mactan to bantayan slightly pricey though but it cuts your trip to 30mins :)
Hi Thala, nakuuuu, itong bus lang ang alam namin. :(
Hello, do you still have a contact number for your land tour guide and island hopping tour guide? their rates are really cheaper. Will be visiting bantayan island in March.
Hi, where did you go on your Tricycle tour on your first day? thank you!
Hi Yoshke Dimen,
Do you have sample iti for Malapascua to Bantayan?
I am planning that way.
Hi Grace, wala pa po. :(
waiting din po ako ng iti ng malapascua nyo… heheh
Can you get an island tour to Malapascua from Bantayan? If so, is that something that a hotel can book directly?
Hi Mary Ann. Not sure if there are tours, but you can rent a boat to Malapascua from Bantayan. But that’s simply taking you there, not touring you around.
Hi! How did you book the island hopping? Do you have any numbers that i can call? Thank you and God bless!
Hi Kate, unfortunately, i don’t have their numbers. I just approached a boatman when I was walking one afternoon and arranged for the next day.
Hello po, I’m planning to go to Bantayan next month. Saan po murang mag check in? Thanks
Your itinerary is soo helpful so I’m borrowing it. Thank you!^^
Just a question, I’m planning on bringing my tent so where can I pitch it?
Would love to hear from you. Have a great day!
I have the same question like the others, pero di pa nasagot. So, ang tanong ko is regarding the tent pitching? Saan ba advisable to camp sa Bantayan?
Thanks in advance!
Also, thank you sa blog mo about Bantayan!
Safe travels ❤️
Hi! May I know the inclusions of your tricycle tour during your vacay? I mean the specific. Bwcause I’m trying go make my DIY itinerary at Bantayan island which is good for 1day only. Thank you so much in advance for your reply.
Hi, where can you buy grocery and stuff to cook meals?
Hi! Me and my girlfriend is planning yo visit Bantayan this coming August, may I know if Okay pumunta dun during rainy season? Can you suggest a hotel to stay na budget friendly and comfortable at the same time kasi yung nakikita ko sa traveloka and booking.com is mahal like 6k xa for 2 nights. Hope you can help me. Thank you in advance.
How is it going there on the mid october like 13 for a week??
And do we need to book for the ferry or we can but tickets from there directly??
You can buy on site. :)
Hi. I’m planning to go to Bantayan this weekend. I’m going solo. :) what can I do there? anyone wanna go too>
Hi. .we are going to Bantayan on September 21. .can u recommend a cheap place to stay, if possible near the beach, for a family of 6. .thank u so much
I have a situation. my last day in bantayan island is on 8th of october,
I have a flight at 13.40 from cebu. Is there any chance the island early morning?
Hi! We are planning to go to Cebu on 1st week of December. I havent seen your IT for Malapascua-Bantayan. Do you have it na? Also, where is the best place to stay in Malapascua and Bantayan? Meron ba silang parang private villa?
Hello, we are planning to visit bantayan this coming november.
Will be following your guide, just a quick question where can find the tricycle tour? Or is it just readily available in the area?
Readily available in the area.
The Paradise Beach is a frustration. Don’t get fooled. Plus the road going there is craaaazzzyyyy
Can we bring our car to bantayan island? What time we should leave?
Thank you for this one! I will be following your itinerary on my Cebu 2019 Feb Flight (Post Valentines Special) since i am @sawingbiyahero indeed #CampSawi will be a better place for me to shed a tear on my love problems…
Where did you stay? at KOTA BEACH? thanks
Hi, we have plan to visit in Bantayan island this coming April. Can u pls give me the special rates in kota beach..
May contact info po kayu sa island hopping at tricycle tour?
Hi! going to bantayan this March, I would just like to ask about this
“You will also find a Direct Bus (Fare: P200), which drives onto the ferry and off to Bantayan Island. But it’s a bit complicated. We still recommend taking the bus to Hagnaya Port and then taking the ferry on your own.”
bakit po mas complicated kung direct bus? we are arriving 6pm kasi sa cebu and plan sana na dumerecho na sa bantayan pero until 5.30 pm lang ata ung last sched ng bus to hagnaya pero ung direct is meron until 11.30pm po ata.
Hi Ja, because if I remember correctly, the direct bus is much like DIY din, mas matatali ka lang sa timings nila. The process was, you board the bus but when it reaches Hagnaya port, you will still have to get off and buy ticket on your own, pay terminal fee on your own, and pay tourism fee on your own. Yung pagka-explain sa amin, matatali lang kami sa schedule nila. If hindi direct bus, mas may flexibility and mas mura eh halos ganun din naman yung experience daw.
im still waiting expectantly for that malapascua bantayan travel guide，maybe you could throw in kalanggaman too hehe
Hi Yoshke. i’m going to Cebu for the first time on June 10-13 with my 9 year old son to join my husband who will attend an exhibit from 06-10 June. Saw your proposed itinerary to Bantayan Island anby we might try it. We also plan to visit oslob if budget would permit.
Thanks! Let us know too if may mga changes na.
Oslob is far from Bantayan though.
Great detailed info! Ask ko lang about your 1st day, is it really P350 (P700/2pax) for the “tricycle tour” or was that a typo? Like the tricycle you take from the port to your housing accommodation?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Mimi, tricycle tour po. From the port, pwede na po kayo mag-hire ng tricycle to tour your around the island and see Paradise Beach, cliff-diving, ruins, etc. Yung rate can go as low as P500 per trike, up t0 3 pax.
Nice post. Ganda talaga sa north part of cebu. Yung malungkot ka, tapos mag travel k. Nawawala lahat. Fresh air at ang ganda ng tanawin, malau sa mausok na lugar .
Hi, any recommendations po where to get day tour packages in Bantayan Island
VISIT CEBU TOURS. THANKS
Thanks for this !!! Really helpful!☺️
As I was researching for our trip this coming august found a resto that offers unli oysters, calamari and lechon among other things for less than 200 pesos! Hahaha But other than that, I was hoping you could recommend other place to eat..?
Thanks in advance !
How much does it cost to do island hopping and who did you approach about it?
Planning to go Bantayan on October 14, any suggestion or contact number of tour guide. Thank you
u hade me at The first thing that entered my head was “peace.”
planning this march 2020 already
Your Article really helps me a lot in planning my 3 days stay at Bantayan Island. :)
How about now that we have a pandemic? What are things that needs to be prepared before going there?
Thank you for this informative blog, I am now very excited to visit this place.