Bantayan Philippines travel guide

One of the Philippines’ unspoiled treasures, Bantayan Island is often referred to as the next Boracay. In fact, Bantayan was even said to resemble the paradise island even before it became the major tourist destination it is today.

This laid back piece of paradise is located north of yet another premier tourist destination, Cebu Island. Its strategic location also puts it within reach of the other charming holiday spots dotting northern Cebu, including famous Virgin Island. Bantayan is a true tourist paradise rivalling some of the more popular beach destinations around the country.

Visiting Bantayan from Boracay

Bantayan Island is an old fashioned and peaceful place and a nice escape from the chaos and blaring noise of the big cities. Tourists swarm to the island for its dazzling white beaches and the going lifestyle.

People also come for sunbathed romance and peaceful strolls along its stunning coastline. Bantayan attracts those who want to avoid crowds of eager tourists that swarm other mainstream resort islands. Sugar Beach is one of the most priced beaches on Bantayan, lined by swaying trees and laden with powder white sand.

The locals are amongst the friendliest people you will ever meet, riding along with the slow paced life on the island. It is rewarding to see friendly grins and experience the warmth and  welcome of these island dwellers who are generous enough to share the wealth of their home to curious spectators. Local towns are lined with quaint nipa and bamboo houses. This largely undeveloped island has certain charms that more modern and overdeveloped tourist destinations lack.

Orientation on Bantayan

Santa Fe is probably the busiest centre on Bantayan and is where all the local action commences. The town also serves as the gateway to the island, where one can find access to the best resorts and tourist attractions around the area. It is peppered by lively local food stalls or canterias, as well as a bustling central market where the best local products are paraded.

The public Mercado in Santa Fe is the best place to get the freshest catches and colorful harvest. An assortment of products can be purchased from the wide set central market, including green vegetables, freshly harvested livestock and fish, as well as different kinds of seasonal fruits like apples, fresh mangoes, watermelons, bananas and pineapples, among others.

The beaches are Bantayan’s main pulls, which is why weather is a major factor when deciding when to go to this slice of paradise. In general, weather here is hot and dry, which is why the sea views are almost always clear, especially when lounging around its white beaches. The colours of the island play around the turquoise of the sea’s greenish blue aqua and come sunset the clear blue skies that turn into a delightful mix of orange, yellow and purple.

Nights are warm, although cool temperatures come during cold months nearing the end of the year. Occasional downpours are experienced during the months of January and February, although the rainy season does not begin properly until late May and lasts until late September or early October. The island can be visited year-round, although high seasons like holidays, festival, summer months and the holy week can be significantly busier than off season.

There are also some attractive pieces of cultural and historical heritage to discover on the island. While Santa Fe is best known for its pristine beaches and lush natural surroundings, Bantayan Town on the other side of the island boasts of some interesting artefacts that commemorate 1580 AD Bantayan. One of the most iconic constructions to visit on the island is the St Peter and Paul’s Church, an imposing ancient structure that dominates Bantayan Town.

Empty beaches where visitors could reflect and rejuvenate line the island. Apart from  famous Sugar Beach, there are many other attractive beaches to visit around the island, including Paradise Beach and more deserted inlets around Santa Fe. The nearby islands also offer the best places to discover nature, including Virgin Island and Hilantaga Island. Malapascua Island and its marine wonders is also just a boat ride away for scuba diving and snorkelling fans.

Santa Fe is considered the main and central location when shopping for locally produced goods. The public market is a medley of stalls selling fresh produce grown in the rich surrounding countryside as well as interesting trinkets and handcrafts such as shell lamps. Amenities on the island are pretty basic, but there remains a wide range of eateries and local restaurants that serve delectable local delicacies.