Bantayan, an island north of Cebu province, has one of the best beaches in the Philippines. Bantayan refers to the island where the municipality of Santa Fe is located as well as the name of the long white sand beaches found on the island. Bantayan has natural, pristine white sand beaches which attract people from all over the world. Its quiet and calm bring in a lot of foreigners to stay, create memories, and share stories on the island.
Being by the beaches of Santa Fe give tourists such a great vibe and wonderful experience which makes them want to come back. The social media enthusiast would love the Instagrammable skies that are very clear, and which get pinkish in the afternoon. With mostly cloudy weather, the temperature isn’t too hot and the abundant coconut trees by the shore provide ample shade. The water is very clear and is great for swimming. The shoreline is vast, and the shore depth is very safe for kids. The sand quality is excellent and is perfect for rolling around in. Moreover, the air quality is fresh. With this, a little food, music, and company along the beaches of Santa Fe make for more than a perfect weekend or getaway. If you are planning a trip to Bantayan, below are some activities you can do to make your stay an enjoyable one.
1. Sample scrumptious food
Foodies will be happy to know that they have a lot of food choices in Bantayan.
Big Jel’s Restomeat
Big Jel’s Restomeat is a restaurant which offers PhP198 buffet on all weekends. Choices in their buffet range from Filipino classics such as lechon (roast suckling pig), rice, lumpia (spring rolls), and kinilaw (ceviche) to international favorites like scallops, noodles, and calamari. This affordable price already comes with free-flowing iced tea. For their a la carte menu, they have crabs, shrimp, squid, chicken, pork, and a variety of desserts. With food at a bargain price, Big Jel’s is usually full, so it’s best to book a reservation a few hours beforehand.
Shake Me has a broad mix of fruit shakes and juices available. Their servings are more bigger than the typical smoothie shops one will find around the city. Their best-seller, mango graham, is a must-try. Prices are affordable at PhP50 for a small smoothie to PhP100 for an extra-large one. What makes Shake Me great is the abundance of fresh fruits which customers can easily choose from.
Liquido Cocktails & Spirits
For alcohol lovers, Liquido Cocktails & Spirits offers the best alcoholic drinks on the island and is the best place to chill out at night. A lot of locals and foreigners can be found here at night, chilling at the bar. Liquido is located inside MJ Square in the Poblacion area of Santa Fe.
Krab Krib, a little restaurant in Poblacion, has the freshest crabs on the island. Diners can choose four kinds of sauces for their crabs: herb butter, chili honey, Thai green curry, and crushed red pepper sauce. Aside from the crab, their shrimps are just as fresh. Their pork rib menu is also a must-try.
The best tapa (cured beef) in Bantayan can be found here. Perfect for breakfast, Tapa Master’s chef cooks this Filipino favorite the right way. With excellent reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, and Zomato, this little restaurant is worth checking out.
2. Relax at a resort.
Below are a few resorts that top the list of the best resorts to go to in Santa Fe Municipality, Bantayan Island.
Anika Island Resort
Located in the middle of the long white sand beach of Santa Fe, Anika Island Resort has excellent rooms that front the beach. The beach where it sits is usually the go-to for tourists coming to Bantayan Island. With great amenities like their pool, dining area, rooms, and beachfront, coupled with hotel-like service, it is one of the best resorts in Bantayan overall.
Jelly’s Haven is a resort which stands out among the rest of the resorts in Bantayan due to its creative design. Although small, the resort has the most colorful setup. Inside the resort, one can find bright umbrellas which function as a ceiling on the walkway to the beach. In the beach area, one can see cute furniture and colorful set up of tables, tents, chairs, and outdoor furniture where tourists can drink and relax while watching the shore. The unusual setup is eye-catching and tends to lure in tourists.
Kota Beach Resort
Kota Beach is located in the middle of most resorts. It has the best sand bar, which is why people go there at 4:00 PM to swim and catch the sunset. When most resorts charge PhP10,000 or more for beachfront rooms, the rooms at Kota Beach are priced below PhP5,000. The view at Kota Beach Resort’s rooms is as beautiful as it can get.
3. Mingle with other tourists.
Santa Fe garners an estimated number of 4,500 tourists monthly. Tourists long for the vibe they get as they relax and unwind in Santa Fe’s white-sand beaches. The new sanctuaries will soon be diving spots. The present beaches which are maintained well will continue to bring in people longing to unwind and relax by the beach. This gives visitors the chance to mingle not only with the locals, but from people from all around the world.
4. Try any of these exciting activities.
In Bantayan, there is no shortage of fun activities, whether you would like to have an adventure on land, sea, or air.
Tour the island on a motorcycle.
Renting motorcycles in Bantayan is easy and convenient. They can be found in the Poblacion area of Santa Fe and can be rented for PhP250 a day. It is a fun experience going around the island in a motorcycle and seeing the wonders of nature. Also, it is a safe activity as there aren’t many motor vehicles around.
Skydiving will set you back PhP18,000, but the thrill of the ride is a worthwhile experience. Skydivers will board the plane at Bantayan airport and from there, they will jump off a high altitude accompanied by a guide.
Visit a mangrove sanctuary.
Nature lovers can visit Obo-ob Mano Ecopark, which is a quick 25-minute drive from Santa Fe. Visitors can go around the eco-park by following the trail of the long bamboo boardwalk on the property. One can have lunch or dinner at the open-air Omagieca Mangrove Garden Restaurant and sample the delicacies of the island. You can also do boating or kayaking at the park, or have your photo taken at the Camp Sawi signboard. Entrance fee is at PhP50, kayaking fee at PhP150, and boating fee at PhP300.
Ride a boat to Virgin Island.
Located across Bantayan Island, Virgin Island boasts of having sand that is whiter compared to the other beaches in Bantayan. Virgin Island has cottages and a long beach where people can bum around and relax. There are pump boats available in Bantayan island which you can rent at PhP1,500 for the driver to take you to Virgin Island. One can also snorkel at the beaches of the island and see colorful fishes even at shallow areas.
The future of Bantayan
Santa Fe has great potential to be developed into a viable tourism destination. In relation to other beaches in the Philippines, Bantayan Island’s Santa Fe is better than most. Although the lack of beach development, the lack of better resorts, and the lack of government infrastructure are putting it behind other islands like Siargao, Panglao, and Palawan, Bantayan Island would eventually rise. Its natural white sand beaches would naturally bring in a better mix of developers, government support, and more tourists in the future. There is so much room for commercial development that one can find a number of beach lots for sale at a high rate of PhP3000 per square meter which even come with concrete. With the airport renovation finishing, it’s about time more people come into Bantayan.
Travelers have two options to get to Bantayan Island. First, they can ride a bus and a ferry which takes about four to five hours. To do this, head to the North Bus Terminal then take a bus to get to Hagnaya Port in Bogo City. From Hagnaya Port, hop on a roll-on roll-off boat (roro) to Santa Fe Port. The quicker, albeit more expensive option is to ride a 40-minute Air Juan seaplane from the Mactan–Cebu International Airport.
The good news about taking the second option is that the budget to renovate the Bantayan Airport to accommodate 50- seater planes has recently been approved. Prior to this, only eight-seater planes by Air Juan could land in its airfield. The airport’s terminal is also going under renovation to make it more functional for tourists. These upgrades are estimated to be completed by the end of June 2019.
Indeed, Bantayan Island is relaxing as visitors can take their mind off work and enjoy life. Getting this peace of mind is why foreigners have decided to stay and live on the island. It doesn’t hurt that fresh fruits and seafood are also available all year round.
Bantayan Island should be on top of the list for tourists coming to the Philippines for having one of the best white sand beaches in the Philippines. This island is a diamond in the rough. With a few more years of polishing and development, Bantayan will certainly blossom, and advance against other islands in the Philippines.