If there is one place that truly encapsulates what Cebu is, then it definitely has to be the beautiful Bantayan Island. Located in the northern part of Cebu in the Philippines, the island of Bantayan is known for its white sand beaches, friendly locals, rich cultural heritage, and a whole lot more. Each year, during summertime, thousands travel from mainland Cebu to this beautiful island to experience everything that it has to offer. Let me show you why Bantayan Island remains one of my favorite spots in the whole world!
Getting to Bantayan Island is pretty simple. First, you have to travel to the town of Medellin to get on a boat that would take you to the island. From Cebu City, the trip to Medellin could take up to 4 hours. The boat ride, on the other hand, is about an hour and a half long. That’s basically everything you have to worry about. Once you reach the island, you simply have to find a local tricycle that would take you to your resort or hotel.
The RORO boat to Bantayan can accommodate hundreds of passengers and can even carry numerous buses and trucks.
Upon arrival, guests have to walk all the way to the entrance where public utility vehicles are lined up.
Since Bantayan is quite and relatively small, it is best to explore it on foot or on a scooter or bike.
That’s me striking a pose near Kermit’s, one of the island’s most popular homegrown restaurants.
That’s the entrance to our resort. Walking on sand can be quite tiring. So, a ride on an e-bike is always awesome.
One of Bantayan Island’s most popular destinations is Sugar Beach. (Note: Sadly, the property is currently no longer accessible.) This property has one of the island’s best beaches and it is wide enough to accommodate hundreds of summer out-of-towners.
During the summer months, visitors come to Sugar Beach and pitch their tents anywhere within the property. At its busiest, the property was able to house hundreds of tents.
The ‘peak’ season usually begins on the first day of the Holy Week. During this time, visitors start arriving on the island and pitching their tents at Sugar Beach.
One thing I truly love about Bantayan Island is its food. I especially love the grilled favorites you can find virtually everywhere.
At night, a huge crowd gathers on the beach for various activities including fire dance performances.
The Bantayan Island Beach
Bantayan Island is basically known for its public beaches. And during Holy Week, you can truly say that the public really is in control of the beach.
In the photo below is the edge of Sugar Beach where people decided to pitch their tents even though the place remained off-limits to the public.
There are a lot of things to see and do at the beach. Aside from people-watching, buying trinkets, singing along to musicians, swimming, and dancing, you also get to enjoy the wonderful view.
And if you walk around with a camera, you will always find new friends who are willing to pose for free. 🙂
And yes, abs are out, and dad bods are in!
Rich Cultural Heritage
Right before dusk on Holy Friday, you will notice that people will begin to move towards the town center for a very important activity.
If you see the smoke and the unmistakable smell of intense, then you’ll definitely know that it’s a religious activity.
Each year, locals of Bantayan organize a solemn parade of life-sized figures depicting the different scenes of Christ’s crucifixion.
This tradition, which has also caught the attention of tourists, is one of the island’s most well-attended events.
Images of patron saints and other religious figures are also paraded through the narrow streets of the small town.
After the procession, the crowd proceeds to the town church for the traditional rituals. First, devotees and believers touch the images to pay honor to them.
Then, they light a candle (or two) and say a little prayer.
Afterwards, the crowd moved inside the main church where the image of Jesus in a coffin can be seen. It is here where visitors say their final prayers and petitions.
After these traditional rites, everyone gathers at the town park fronting the church. While the rest of Cebu and the Philippines are quietly observing Lent, Bantayan considers this a season to celebrate.
Island Hopping Adventures in Bantayan Island
One of the best things that you can do in Bantayan is to go on an island-hopping adventure. Basically, you get on a boat that takes you to some of Bantayan’s most gorgeous beaches and swimming spots.
That’s me having a swell time during our island-hopping trip.
One of the usual island-hopping stops is the Baigad Lagoon.
Here, you can have a more relaxing swim, away from the crowd.
It’s also a perfect spot for group photos.
Finally, one of Bantayan Island’s prized gems is the Virgin Island. Located just 15 minutes from Sante Fe, the island is truly one of the prettiest beaches in Cebu!
The entrance fee to the island is Php100. And for that fee, you get to enjoy the entire island and its various amenities – including water for shower and bathroom use.
Tables can be seen under the coconut trees. Don’t you just love lunches by the water?
I Love Virgin Island! 🙂
Look at that view. Now imagine you’re in that cool water.
One final shot before we leave. This time, with a smile!
I Love Bantayan Island!