Project 7107

Your friendly Pinoy guide to exploring the Philippines's 7107 breathtaking islands

Explore Cebu’s little island paradise—Bantayan Island!*

BantayanBantayan by Stephen Sungkip

Located on the north-western side of Cebu or about 80 miles from Cebu City, Bantayan Island is a semi-secret island paradise. Unknown to many, and less explored until recently, Bantayan Island boasts of its crystal clear blue waters, long stretch of powdery white sand beaches, clean and fresh air, and beautiful sunrise and sunsets! Not to mention the superb warmth, friendliness and hospitality of its people!

Bantayan Island derived its name from its high stone walls and watchtowers. During the Spanish times, the island faced constant threats of attacks from the Moros. For their protection, the people of the island had built high stone walls and watchtowers in different parts of the island. These watchtowers were locally known as, “Bantayan sa Hari” or “Watchtowers of the King [of Spain].” Since then, “Bantayan, Bantayan!” or “Keep watch, Keep watch!” became a common expression in the island.

Composed of only 3 municipalities, the island is small and easily navigable. Sta. Fe is the island’s tourism hub, Bantayan is the capital and center of commerce, and Madridejos is as an agricultural area.

Bantayan Island is a perfect hideaway. It is very rural, old-fashioned, peaceful, and definitely not crowded. And this is what I love most about the island—no shopping malls, no big hotel chains, and no active nightlife! Hence, the Island is ideal for people seeking a place for complete relaxation, respite and healing from the daily grind of a stressful, busy city life! Tip: The island is really very quiet at night, as there are only a FEW bars in the island!

Activities in the Island

By Day
• Visit religious and historical sites, the most significant is the over 400 year-old Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
• Visit the island’s many natural attractions, such as the mysterious lagoons, and old Spanish forts in Sta Fe, such as the Ogtong Cave.
• Enjoy and relax at the beach. Go Swimming, island hopping, or snorkeling.
• Visit the floating restaurant in Sta. Fe in the late afternoon.

BantayanSts. Peter and Paul Church by Stephen Sungkip

By Night
• Explore Sta. Fe at night and choose from the many offers of “Eat-All-You-Can” restaurants, including Filipino, Asian and European menus, and a massive selection of fresh sea foods from the island (Fridays and Saturdays only*). Simply the best!

Must Experience
• Watch beautiful views of sunrise and sunsets on the beach in Sta Fe or catch a glimpse of the scenic beauty of sunset in the Bantayan pier.
• Visit the Virgin Island and enjoy its powdery white sand and crystal clear blue waters. Go snorkelling in the marine protected area nearby.

Best buy
• Dried sea foods like danggit (fish) and pusit (squid) from the Bantayan public market. They taste so good and much cheaper than in Cebu City.

Best time to go
• First half of the year (January to June) is the best time to visit. The Island is busiest during Lent Season where Holy Week celebration is a special event that draws hundreds of visitors to the island.

Getting there and around:

From Cebu City, take a bus from the Cebu North Terminal station in Mandaue City (Taxi fare from Mactan International Airport is around PhP120*), located near SM Cebu, to Hagnaya port (bus schedule). Travel time is about three hours. Fare is PhP 110 per person* (air-conditioned bus) or PhP 50* for non aircon. First trip to Hagnaya port from Cebu City is 3:30am for non-aircon buses and 5:00am for air-con buses. Buses to Hagnaya depart every 30 minutes thereafter until 3pm. Vans-for-hire are also available but a little pricey.

From Hagnaya port, take a boat (fast craft is better) to Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island (estimated travel time: 1 hour). Boat fare is PhP 140 per person* and terminal fee is PhP 10*. Boat schedule from Hagnaya port to Bantayan Island is regular daily (from 6am until 6pm).

Touring around the island is not difficult. Island’s major roads are well-paved and there’s no traffic at all. You may either take public transport (e.g., Traysikad a.k.a. padyak, Tricycle (with specific routes) or hire a motorcycle locally known as habal-habal or mountain bikes from local shops (Rental fee: 250 and up*). Traysikad and tricycle fares is at PhP 5 -25*. Jeepneys go around Sta.Fe, Bantayan, and Mardilejos.

Tip: If you plan to visit during summer, make your hotel or room reservations well in advance. Most hotel/resorts have websites and email address now. Rates also go up also during this time.

*As of August 2010

Contributor Stephen Sungkip is residing in Mandaue City, Cebu for over a year now. He works full-time as a private sector development specialist in a US-based international development organization. He travels frequently around the islands in Visayas and Mindanao.

(This is part of an ongoing series of articles about Cebu.)


  ruth wrote @

Affordable and good-tasting meals (PhP20 and up) are available at Sta. Fe public market!

  Josiah wrote @

Thanks for sharing the information. I’ve always wanted to go to Bantayan island. 🙂

  ruth wrote @

You better see it F2F Josiah. Tama si W. Eugene Smith: “The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera.” Bantayan is better experienced than seen in photos or videos.

  ruth wrote @

Additional info:

As of August 2010, there is only one commercial bank in Batayan Is. — Allied Bank. It’s Bantayan Br. is located at Pres. S. Osmena Sr. in downtown Bantayan. This branch has an ATM machine which is open 24/7 unless when there are power outages.

From Sta Fe, the municipality of Bantayan could be reached by a tricycle or a jeepney (fare = PhP 25*).

  Donald wrote @

Id like to be updated and contribute pictures to Proj 7107

  ruth wrote @

Thank you for your interest in helping us Donald. We will be sending you an email shortly =)

  Yam Manuel wrote @

I’m also interested in contributing. How do I make the team?

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