Santa Fe, Bantayan Island: Exploring the Northern Paradise of Cebu

Bantayan Island is home to the best powdery and white sand beaches in Cebu. It is a well-known tourist destination and jewel of Northern Cebu. Although Bantayan is a famous destination all year round, the best time to visit the island is during Easter Season. It is dubbed as the “Lenten Capital of Visayas”. During Lenten Season, there is a procession that features a life-size images portraying the passion of Christ. Bantayan Island is divided into three municipalities (Santa Fe, Bantayan, and Madridejos).

According to my siblings who are living in Cebu City, Bantayan Island is best for a beach bum like me. My original plan is to visit Oslob for whale shark encounter. But as fickle minded as I am, I change my mind the last-minute. Instead of going to South Bus Terminal, I ended up at North Bus Terminal.

How to get there:

From Colon in Cebu City, ride a jeepney with 01K signage(Php 10). Get off at North Bus Terminal and then ride a bus bound to Hagnaya Port (Php 140-Php 180). Travel time is about three to five hours depending on the traffic. Ride a ferry from Hagnaya port bound to Santa Fe, Bantayan(Php 170 + Php 10 terminal fee).

Bus and ferry schedule as of April 9, 2017

We left North Bus Terminal at one in the morning. We rode the ordinary bus and paid Php 140. I took a nap since the travel time will take three hours. When I woke up, we were already at Hagnaya Port. The first trip of the ferry is about to leave, so we went directly to the ferry terminal and paid the appropriate fees. I rode the Super Shuttle Ferry and slept again.

A Sensational Welcome

The moment I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a glorious sunrise. I felt like I just received a precious gift in an ordinary day. It was really flattering and literally makes my heart beat faster. A long stretch of white powdery sand at Santa Fe port is like a welcome banner. So far, it is the cleanest port I’ve ever seen. I fell in love at first sight!

Getting around:

Tricycle is the primary mode of transportation in Bantayan. You may ride a tricycle for Php 20 and tell the driver where you’re heading to. Otherwise, you may also want to rent a motorcycle (habal-habal) for Php 300 good for whole day use. You can easily explore the island alone. The locals are very kind and accommodating. They are much willing to help, just ask them for directions. Every one of them is your guide. Of course, don’t forget to greet them and give sweet smiles.

If you don’t know how to drive a motorcycle, you can rent a bicycle for Php 150 good for 24 hours use. Biking in the island is very safe even at night.

Places to Visit:

Kota Beach Resort (Camp Sawi)

From Santa Fe port, we rode a tricycle and told the driver to bring us to Kota Beach Resort. The movie “Camp Sawi” featured the resort. I don’t have any reservations to the resort since I went there spontaneously. The resort was fully booked when we arrived and only the guests are allowed to enter. So I just took a picture of the arc that was seen in the movie.

Before leaving Camp Sawi, I went to the beach to see the amazing sunrise and a sand bar. It leaves me filled with wonder. Such a majestic scenery.

Mayet’s Beach

Since Kota Beach Resort is fully booked, I decided to go to Mayet’s Resort. We paid an entrance fee of Php 40 and an open cottage for Php 300. The resort has fine white sand and pristine water. They also have a sand bar, but unlike Kota Beach, the water here is very calm.

It is a perfect place for me to relax and spend my time alone. I just spent my day lying on the hammocks and watching some guests playing volleyball. I’ve been thinking a lot of things in the past few months andthis paradise brings tranquility to my mind.

We left our things at the cottage and explored Santa Fe by bicycle.

Ogtong Cave

Just a few meters away from Mayet’s Beach, we reached Ogtong Cave. For an entrance fee of Php 100, you’ll be able to swim in a natural pool with pristine cold water. The natural pool is hidden in the Cave inside Santa Fe Beach Club.

The Ruins and Cliff Diving Site

After spending several minutes at Ogtong Cave, we continue to pedal straight ahead until we reach the ruins and the cliff diving site. Be sure to bring drinking water in case you get thirsty.

Paradise Beach Resort

Paradise beach resort is two kilometers away from the ruins. The owner of the resort is same as the owner of Ogtong Cave. They have an entrance fee of Php 50 for adults and Php 25 for kids.

After almost three hours of exploring, me and my friend decided to go back to Mayet’s Resort. The turquoise clear water is so inviting. I didn’t mind the scorching heat of the sun and decided to swim. The water is very cold and invigorating. I even met some locals and had a nice chat with them.

Clearwater at Mayet’s resort
Can you see how transparent it is?

A bittersweet goodbye!

No doubt, Bantayan Island is a paradise on earth. It is really a haven for beach bummer. It makes me sad knowing I have to leave this paradise sooner. I would love to stay on this island for a few more days but I have to leave due to prior schedule. I will definitely come back, probably with my loved ones.

Tropical feels

Contact Persons:

It is better to have a contact person whenever you go to unfamiliar places. You may want to reach below contact persons to help you in finding an accommodation, land tour, island-hopping or motorbike/bicycle rentals.

Kuya Roel – +639483441795

Kuya JP (+639296470185)

Land Tour

The land tour will cost you Php 800 which is good for 6 persons depending on the season. You may contact Kuya JP or Kuya Roel for the updated rates.

  1. Kota Beach
  2. Ogtong Cave
  3. The Ruins and Cliff Dive
  4. Paradise Beach
  5. Kota Park
  6. Mangrove Forest

Island Hopping

Island hopping rate ranges from Php 700-Php 1500. You’ll be able to visit the following islands:

  1. Virgin Island
  2. Hilantagaan Island

Notes:

  • 4G/LTE signal is available on the island
  • Foods and accommodations are very affordable
  • You can experience sky diving for Php 15,000-Php 18,000 for two persons
  • Dried seafood are cheaper in Bantayan. You may want to buy your pasalubong here
  • If you’re planning to go back to Cebu on the same day, be sure to leave the resort before 3:30 pm. The last trip of Bus from Hagnaya port to Cebu City is five in the afternoon. Travel time will take 3-5 hours depending on the traffic.

Happy travels!


Gail

Leave a comment