Why Visit Bantayan Island?
There are over 7,107 islands in the Philippines.
Why choose Bantayan Island when there are so many choices and other places to go? What makes it so special?
We’ve listed seven valuable reasons why you should make Bantayan Island in Cebu Province your number-one stop for holiday in the Philippines.
Don’t forget to check out our page on Things to See + Do on Bantayan Island to find out what the island has to offer.
Here we go…
Reason #1: To Escape Commercialism
There are no McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC restaurants on Bantayan Island.
There are no Starbucks Coffee Shops here.
There’s not even a Jollibee in sight. If you’re familiar with the Philippines, that says a lot in itself.
What? No Jollibee?
UPDATE: There is now a Jollibee operating out of a food truck in Santa Fe. Times are changing.
There are no big-name hotel chains here.
You won’t be checking into the Hilton, the Holiday Inn, the Crown Plaza, or the Marriott.
What you will find is a nice selection of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars that have real character and are owned and operated by entrepreneurs.
Some businesses are run by local Filipino families from the island or Cebu City while others are a partnership between some crazy foreign guy and his Filipino wife.
Why does it matter?
It’s because that’s what sets Bantayan Island apart from the typical vacation spot and makes it unique. The corporate culture doesn’t really exist here—at least not yet.
The Italian restaurants are run by Italians. The Bavarian Beer Garden is run by a Bavarian. Want American food? An American will cook it for you. Pork adobo is cooked by Filipinos.
The coffee shops have better coffee than Starbucks and are more trendy.
Bantayan Island is travel authenticity.
If you want to stay in an all-inclusive five-star resort, spend a day at the spa, or sit by the pool with fifty other Western tourists, then you should probably go to Boracay. We recommend checking out Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa if that’s your flavor.
If you don’t mind sand between your toes, slowing down the pace a bit, getting around in a bicycle or motorbike taxi, listening to roosters crow in the mornings, and mixing and mingling with the local island folk, then come to Bantayan Island.
Reason #2: Stay Connected with 4G LTE Internet
Hey, let’s face it, we all have to stay connected. That is reality, even and especially when you’re traveling and on vacation. Gone are the days of advertising a destination where you can disconnect from the world.
Today’s traveler who tries that concept usually ends up searching for a Wi-Fi spot the entire time and is more stressed out than he/she was back at home. You won’t have that problem here on Bantayan Island.
In the Santa Fe area of Bantayan Island (the tourist area), Globe offers 4G LTE service. It’s blazing fast.
Go to the beach, relax, and don’t worry about your business back at home. Anytime you feel the need to check your email, make a VoIP call, skype, and watch YouTube videos, you can do so while drinking a cold San Miguel Light with your toes in the sand.
But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of taking a vacation?
No. It does not.
A vacation is meant for you to get away from the stress of your everyday life and relax. How can anyone relax if they can’t at least keep up with what’s going on back home and check in with family and friends?
In many locations in the Philippines, especially on the smaller islands, you can only get 3G service. That’s fine if you’re just going to play around on Facebook.
It’s not going to work if you need to make an important business call or skype. You need 4G LTE. This causes many travelers to limit their time to only a day or two in those locations.
You can stay for as long as you like on Bantayan and never miss a thing.
On Bantayan Island, you’re off the beaten path but connected with internet service that will make you want to open a second office and never leave.
Reason #3: Beautiful Quiet Beaches
The tourism industry on Bantayan Island is still in its infancy.
Currently, the only flights into Bantayan are via charter in Cessna aircraft. Tourists have to ride the bus to Hagnaya and take the ferry like everyone else.
What does that mean? Well, it means that as of right now, Bantayan Island is quiet compared to hot spots like Boracay.
Plane loads of tourists arriving every thirty minutes from Manila hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, the beaches are not crowded at all. We promise that you will not have to fight for a spot to spread out your towel or blanket.
Most of the time on any given beach, there’s only a handful of tourists catching some rays while a few local children splash in the water. Recently, there does seem to be a few more people walking around trying to sell seashell necklaces. Other than that, you won’t be bothered too much.
Nobody’s going to try to sell you a stun gun, Viagra, or a Samurai sword while you’re reading a book and enjoying your serenity. If you’ve traveled to the Philippines or anywhere in Southeast Asia before, you know that’s normal business in the tourist areas.
Reason #4: Eco-Friendly Cheap Transportation
The main form of transportation around the Santa Fe Town Center area is by bicycle taxi.
The cost of getting around pretty much anywhere in Santa Fe is 10 pesos per person.
The bicycle taxi has no emissions, needs no gasoline, and requires little maintenance. Yeah, the driver is doing some work but that’s how he feeds his family. We would all bet that a bicycle taxi driver from the Philippines could beat Lance Armstrong in a race on any day.
Curbside service for 10 pesos is a bargain.
If you have heavy gear or more than two persons, you can take a motorbike taxi (called a tricycle) for 20 pesos per person. While the motorbike obviously requires gasoline and has emissions, it gets around 70 miles to the gallon. We consider that pretty close to being eco-friendly as well.
The best way to get around Santa Fe is either by walking or renting your own bicycle. You’ll get some exercise and even feel better after breathing the fresh island air.
Want to go explore the rest of the island? Rent a motorbike for the day for around 250 pesos. Most of the roads on Bantayan are paved and in good condition. Of course, there’s the occasional pothole or two to watch out for, but other than that it’s very easy and efficient to get from one end of the island to the other.
Unless your resort picks you up in their vehicle, you will probably spend your entire time on the island and never ride in a car.
Reason #5: The Journey Getting Here
Where’s the excitement and adventure in taking a direct flight to a location, getting shuttled straight to a resort on a mini-bus, and never getting to mingle, mix, haggle, and interact with local travelers and vendors? There’s nothing interesting about taking that route.
The journey to Bantayan Island is an adventure which will provide you with more than a few pics to post on Facebook.
After you make it to Cebu City, it’s about a 3.5 hour bus ride up to Hagnaya Port. The trip is very scenic and gives you an up-close look at local Filipino life in Cebu Province. It’s sort of like getting a free tour as a bonus. It’s possible that you may be the only foreigner (s) on the bus!
If you’ve never traveled abroad before, that’s a great learning experience. You’ll suddenly understand how outsiders feel back in your home country. Don’t worry, the bus driver and his assistant speak English and will take good care of you.
After getting to Hagnaya Port, it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes on the ferry to get to Bantayan Island. The whole trip takes around six hours but is an experience that just adds value to the journey. You’ll get to mingle with the locals and maybe even sit next to a rooster on the bus. (Probably not, but it’s a possibility.)
Check out our detailed page on How to Get to Bantayan Island for directions and travel tips.
Reason #6: Value for the Money
If you are backpacking and living on a shoestring budget, there are plenty of places to get great local food at local prices.
Want to splurge and eat like a king every night?
The nicer restaurants are much cheaper here. Some of the bars even offer cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer at a mere 35 pesos! That’s not too much more than buying it at the Sari Sari store.
You won’t spend much on transportation while on the island, so keep that money in your pocket as well.
Many of the hotels offer rooms at under 1,000 pesos for a night. At the current exchange rate of 46.47 pesos to the U.S. dollar, that’s roughly $21.52 per night!
For the cost of three days in Boracay, you could spend an entire week on Bantayan Island.
Reason #7: No Fashion Contests Here
The atmosphere on Bantayan is that of being laid back. Just come as you are.
There’s no need to pack any formal attire for this particular trip. All you really need to pack is a pair of shorts, a tank top, and a pair of flip flops. Throw in a bathing suit and a pair of sunglasses and you’re ready.
You don’t even need to get dressed up to go to dinner. You can, but it’s really not necessary.
The restaurants and bars on Bantayan Island are open air and many have sand for the floor. That’s a perfect setting for shorts and flip flops. Dressing up for dinner means actually putting your t-shirt on.
No need to worry about fashion too much while you’re on the island. If you run into any of the bar or resort owners, chances are that they’ll be wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops as well. That’s business attire for Bantayan Island.
Just Pack a Bag and Come On Over
Need some island time?
Come to Bantayan.
Sit back, relax, and chill out for a while.
It’s definitely island living at its best.
Start planning your vacation by checking out the latest Hotel Deals on Agoda. We’ll see you when you get here.
Please help us by posting any updated travel information in the comment section below. Feel free to reply to the questions of other travelers as well. Thanks! 🙂