Bantayan island is another super cute little island of the Philippines. It’s much larger than Malapascua but still tiny. The turquoise blue water is warm and crystal clear, and less shallow than Malapascua so it’s nicer to swim here. This is the place to rent a motorbike and get lost in the classic Filippino landscapes as there is not much else to do. It has a fun super laid-back little town with good restaurants for the evening, called Santa Fe.
What to do on the island?
Virgin Island (Sillon Island)
This islet North of Santa Fe can be visited as a half day excursion from Bantayan. It’s an incredibly well kept (immaculately clean) tiny islet with white sand and turquoise blue water, great for snorkeling and swimming. There’s even a couple of beach chairs, hammocks and a little restaurant (food was not great though). For the dare devils there’s a “cliff” jumping spot on the opposite side of the island (10 minutes walking), which are actually man built diving platforms but a lot of fun.
Perfect for a lazy afternoon in the sun, this white sand beach with crystal clear water was one of our favourite spots on the island. It’s just a short motorbike drive away from Santa Fe and great for swimming or lizzarding on the beach. (Note: It’s a bit of a walk from the roadside to the beach and there’s a 50P entrance fee = 1USD 😊 )
Santa Fe is the main village of the island, where most of the hotels are located. It has a fabulous beach for the day and quite a few good restaurant options at night. It’s also where the main boats depart back to Cebu.
Rent a motorbike and get lost on the island
We highly recommend renting a motorbike for one day and getting lost in the rice fields, dirt roads and little villages. People are extremely friendly and you will come across a welcoming smile everywhere you go.
Where to sleep
We recommend staying in Santa Fe which is the heart of the island and has the most accommodation options
- Yooneek Beach Resort: This is where we slept; nothing extraordinary, rooms are very small but clean and extremely cheap (10 USD for a double room). It has a nice beach front bar and you wake up on the beach!
Where to eat
- Cafe del Mare Restaurant: this was our favourite place to eat on the entire island! Delicious oven wood Pizza and a live band every night. An absolute must!
- Marlin’s Beach Resort Restaurant: more up-scale restaurant on the beach, delicious food but a bit more pricey.
- Coucou Bar and Restaurant
How to get there?
- In the Santa Fe Ferry terminal ferries depart every hour back and forth to Hagnaya port in Cebu. The last boat from Bantayan to Cebu leaves at 4.30 The last boat from Cebu to Bantayan leaves at 5.30.
- We asked a local fisherman to take us from Malapascua to Bantayan. Make sure to find a fisherman with a decent boat as the sea can become quite rocky. The crossing was less than 2 hours by boat.
- Alternatively you can take the ferry back to Cebu from Malapascua (Maya Port), from where you will have to take a taxi and a bus to Hagnaya port, from where you can take the public ferry. It will be a bit cheaper but it will take almost entire day.