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We tell you where the best place to live and relax in the Philippines is for those who dream of paradise and the purest sea, but prefer peace and privacy. All about Bantayan Island: a detailed guide and tips.

Why should we go to Bantayan

Tired of the noisy and dirty Manila and Cebu City, we decided to settle on a paradise island that the Philippines is famous for for for two weeks.

The question arose as to where to live and rest in the Philippines. We have been collecting information about different islands for a long time and chose the best one to live by the following criteria:

  • great beaches;
  • silence and tranquillity;
  • Absence of crowds of tourists;
  • inexpensive accommodation;
  • inexpensive food;
  • security.

Comparison with other islands. Boracay, Panglao, Palawan, Malapasqua and Bantayan, the best island in the Philippines, have been nominated. The South of the Philippines was immediately abandoned because of the terrorists – just recently, tourists were kidnapped from the Samala Resort, and we did not want to risk it.

Boracay wasn’t right for us because of the high prices and the crowds of tourists, Palawan was far away, expensive and had no permanent power supply (El Nido), the once paradisiacal Malapasqua wasn’t quite recovered from the devastating typhoon, and Panglao wasn’t the best we saw for ourselves when we visited the island at the very end of our trip to the Philippines.

Bantayan remained: good reviews, beautiful photos, proximity to Cebu. And we went there.

The atmosphere on the island. Having lived on the island for two weeks in the resort of Santa Fe, we can say that this is where we want to go back.

In Santa Fe there is an atmosphere of thoughtful doing nothing: in the daytime there is almost no one on the streets, only Europeans-experts sip beer in bars, and in the evening tourists crawl into restaurants.

There is always a siesta here, and the scenery is almost like a Bounty advertisement. Bantayan can be rightly called one of the best islands in the Philippines for recreation and life.

You can choose Bantayan Island for your holiday – it is not spoilt by tourists yet. Read this review – our advice will help you easily organize your vacation.

How to get to Bantayan from Cebu City

Bantayan Island is located northwest of Cebu Island. There are no ferries from Cebu City to Bantayan and you must sail from Hagnaya Port. The port can be reached by bus from North Terminal by taxi, trail or jeep (route 01K and several others from the city centre). Buses from the North Bus Station run frequently, approximately every half hour, from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. Travel time is approximately 4 hours. The ticket costs 170 pesos.

There are several types of buses, we advise you to choose the most comfortable ones – they go with a minimum of stops. In addition, there are buses to Santa Fe – they are ferried.

We were on a flight that departs at 10:30 (actually, it departs at 11:30). The buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, with TV and Wi-Fi. On the way there is one half-hour stop to eat and go to the toilet (2 pesos). We drove a total of 4 hours, but it took a little longer to get back because of traffic jams – about 5 hours.

The bus arrives directly at the port of Hagnaya and upon arrival we bought tickets for the nearest ferry (180 pesos and 10 pesos at the port). Ferries run from about 6am to 6pm hourly. On the way – about 1 hour. Look at the description of Paramos, but it is difficult to say how actual it is – this is the Philippines.

The port of Santa Fe is full of traicycles (motorcycles with a stroller) that will take you anywhere. Haggle, the ticket costs 15-25 pesos per person, depending on the distance.

Where to live in Bantayan: Hotels, Resorts, Gesthouses

The most pleasant place to live in Bantayan is the resort town of Santa Fe (although it can be called a city with a great stretch). What is it good for? As we have already written above, there is a pleasant atmosphere, uninhabited beaches, clean sea and beautiful landscapes. The best beaches are in Santa Fe – the rest are unsuitable for swimming.

The second major city is Bantayan. There is a large market, a lot of cafes, an ancient church, ATM. Tourists come here only for products and sightseeing.

The third city is Madrid. There is a dilapidated Spanish fort (Kota Park). There are practically no tourists.

We lived in Santa Fe, so here are the names and prices of hotels in the resort, which we went around on our own, as well as give advice.

The most expensive hotels are located on the first line: mainly rooms with a fan are from 800 pesos, with air conditioning – from 1000 pesos. Gesthouses and small hotels are cheaper: from 500 pesos per room with a fan and from 800 pesos per room with air conditioning.