Planning on a summer vacation with your friends and your family but thought of Boracay as too mainstream or too noisy and crowded? Might as well check out Bantayan Island in Cebu.
Like any other islands in the Philippines, Bantayan Island is surrounded by white sand beaches and is a quiet and a sleepy island by day. Perfect for those who wants to relax and take a break from the noise of the city. Bantayan Island is just 3-4 hours from Cebu City by both land and sea. The island consists of 3 towns namely Sta. Fe, which is your gateway to the island and mostly where you can see the beach resorts, Bantayan, and Madridejos.
How to get there?
From Cebu North Bus Terminal, you can ride a bus to Hagnaya Port for Php 140.00. Let me just share, if you want to eat at Hagnaya Port, do not eat Ritter’s Fastfood. The food was bad, totally not worth the price, and we regretted eating there.
There are two ferries that can transport you to Bantayan island. the fare would be not more than Php 180.00. The ferry ride would take approximately 1 hour.
What to do on Bantayan Island?
For beach bums like me, this would be a perfect spot for you. There are a lot of beach resorts on the island which offers accommodation. You can visit Kota Beach Resort, which is now famous as Camp Sawi because of the Filipino movie, Camp Sawi. There’s Anika Beach Resort, Budyong Beach, Sugar Beach, and of course, Paradise Beach which is a struggle to go to because you need to trek a little in the middle of nowhere in order to reach Paradise.
Trek to Paradise Beach
Please note that there two Paradise Beach, the campsite and the beach itself. Take note of the signage so you won’t get lost like we did. We paid the entrance fee of Php 50.00 to the campsite and need to trek back to get it when we reached Paradise Beach.
You can also visit the famous Ogtong Cave inside Santa Fe Beach Club. The cave is an estuary where a clear cool water resides. Formations of stalactites and stalagmites will make your underground bath amazing. We were not able to go inside the resort right away because they are controlling the number of people allowed to stay underground so the water will stay clear. The entrance fee will be Php 100.00 per person. You can enjoy swimming inside the cave, the pool, and the beach.
Aside from the beaching, you can try coral reef viewing at the Guiwanon Ocean Park in Barangay Guiwanon, Bantayan. It’s quite a ride if you are staying at Sta. Fe but believe me, it will be worth it. It’s a new experience for me witnessing different corals and their sea creatures without getting wet. We paid Php 300.00 for the viewing.
Where to eat?
There are a lot of restaurants in Poblacion, Sta. Fe that you can choose from. I highly recommend Chef Panyang’s Restaurant located in MJ Square because their food is superb and affordable. There are a lot of restaurant in the square but Chef Panyang offers variety of dishes at a very reasonable price.
We ate there on our first night and ordered their sizzling meals that already comes with unlimited rice and an order of Buy 1 take 1 scallop. Sizzling meal price starts from Php 150.00 to Php 250.00. They also have value meals for Php 95.00.
My only complaint was that we were not entertained right away. I don’t know if it is because there are a lot of people who dined there during that time or their service is just really slow. Nonetheless, the food was great and so I’m giving it a 5-star rating. 🙂
If you don’t want to dine in restaurants, you can buy fresh seafood in the Public Market and have it cooked in your resort. I also stumbled upon a dish that is very new to me, as I and the beau strolled and look for something to eat as our colleagues are resting. I did not dare try it though. The locals call it Tago-Angkan or Chicken Ovaries. It looks yummy but it looks a bit weird to me so I passed on trying it. haha.
Tago-Angkan or Chicken Ovaries
Bantayan Island is just perfectly wonderful. The long stretch of white sand is always my favorite. If I am asked If I would be back? It’s a big YES! and don’t forget to bring home their specialty, dried fish!
By the way, I would like to thank Mr. Mark Jovi Bragat and his girlfriend of Frito Express Streetfood stall just outside Ogtong Cave for our affordable lunch! He’s very accommodating and friendly. Also, thank you for recommending the coral reef viewing, I really enjoyed it a lot! Please like and follow their Facebook Page: Frito Express.
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