Bantayan Island: A quick and affordable weekend getaway

Wenilyn Sabalo

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Bantayan Island: A quick and affordable weekend getaway

SUNRISE WATCH. A group of friends eagerly watches the sunrise at the Sugar Beach, a public beach, in Santa Fe town, Bantayan Island on March 11, 2024.

Wenilyn Sabalo/Rappler

While having an itinerary can be advantageous, visiting Bantayan Island without one can also be liberating and exciting

CEBU, Philippines – As temperatures rise across the country, now is the perfect time for a quick weekend beach getaway before the Holy Week and the peak of the dry season.

If you’re on a tight budget and seeking a beach escape in Cebu, consider a three-day, two-night trip to Bantayan in northern Cebu.

Experience the island’s inviting beaches and picturesque coastlines for just under P5,000.

PAINTING. A ceiling painting at the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan. Wenilyn Sabalo/Rappler

While many flock to Bantayan Island during Holy Week for its traditional Santo Entierro procession, depicting the Stations of the Cross with life-size figures on carriages, visiting Bantayan before the holiday rush can provide one a different experience with fewer crowds. That way, you can enjoy the serene spots mostly to yourself.


Exploring Bantayan Island can be hassle-free. Rent a motorcycle for P300 for 24 hours, or opt for a tricycle ride with a minimum fare of P20.

While having an itinerary can be advantageous, visiting Bantayan Island without one can also be liberating and exciting.

BEACH TRIP. Beachgoers stay in cottages at the Kota Beach. Wenilyn Sabalo/Rappler

Engage in “beach therapy” and spontaneous road trips for a fulfilling experience. Simply lounging on the beach at night with friends and beverages for late-night conversations under the stars is therapeutic.

Public beaches, like the Sugar Beach in Santa Fe, are open to visitors, with a few guidelines to follow, such as avoiding the easement zone and maintaining cleanliness.

Bantayan’s nightlife is vibrant, with several bar establishments. Enjoy the lively ambiance with a few bottles of beer; there’s no need for expensive liquor.

Sunrise watching at the Kota Beach or Sugar Beach is a recommended free activity.

RUINS. A young man sits and enjoys the view from ‘The Ruins’ on Bantayan Island. Wenilyn Sabalo/Rappler

There are also free public spots, including the “The Ruins” in Santa Fe, an old house devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, and the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan town.

Accommodation and food

Finding accommodation in Bantayan, particularly in Santa Fe town, is quite easy because the island offers numerous inns, resorts, and homestays. 

One can book an inn for as low as P300 per night. For example, we booked an accommodation at Honeybee Inn in Barangay Pooc for six people for as low as P1,800 per night during a non-peak month. It included free WiFi, a private restroom, a smart TV, and access to a common kitchen.

Backpack, Bag, Adult
ISLAND FOOD. A row of eateries in Bantayan offer affordable food. Wenilyn Sabalo/Rappler

The island also boasts affordable yet clean eateries. Seafood is affordable – raw scallops can be had for only about P60 per kilo.

How to get there?

Round-trip transportation to Bantayan Island from Cebu City can cost as low as P1,380.

To reach Bantayan Island from Cebu City, catch a bus at the Cebu North Bus Terminal (CNBT) beside SM-City Cebu. The earliest departure is at 2 am, with buses leaving every hour.

For budget travelers, a one-way bus ticket costs P280. Expect a three-hour bus trip to Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, northern Cebu.

At the Hagnaya Port, purchase a one-way boat ticket for P300 to P380. The sea journey takes only one to one and a half hours.

The earliest daily sailing from Hagnaya to Santa Fe is at 1 am, with hourly departures until 5 am, and a two to three hours of interval beyond 6:30 am. You will also need to pay a P25 environmental fee to and from Bantayan.

Your much-needed travel doesn’t have to be costly. Unwinding need not be expensive as long as you’re willing to explore and experience places your way. –

Wenilyn Sabalo is a community journalist currently affiliated with SunStar Cebu and is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024.

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