In this guide, we will discuss what to do in Bantayan Island for a weekend trip. After having stayed on the island for a few weeks, we have compiled a list of all the most interesting things you should do and see to make the most of your trip.

Start by going to Kota Beach, it is the best beach on Bantayan Island. Then hire a tricycle driver to show you the Butterfly Garden, German Ruins, Sandira Beach and Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden. Another option is to hire a local fisherman to show you the nearby Virgin Island.

Depending on how much time you have, you may not have time for everything. We are going to review and discuss the different options available to you, so you can make an itinerary suited for you.

What to Do in Bantayan Island

When you think of Bantayan Island, you often think about the beautiful white sand beach right by the Santa Fe Port, Kota Beach.

Kota Beach from above with a natural pool
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Kota Beach is certainly the main attraction on the island. And if you are just looking for a relaxing weekend on the beach, this is a great place to be.

Hire a Tricycle for the Morning

If you prefer to stay busy, there are quite a few tourist attractions to see on Bantayan Island. Our overall favourite was the Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden which can be found about 30 minutes outside the town of Santa Fe.

There are however quite a few things along the road over to the Mangrove Garden that is certainly worth a visit too. All of the tricycle drivers know this. So a great option for sightseeing around the island is simply to hire a tricycle driver for the morning.

This way you get to see most of the interesting sights on the island in just a few hours. Trips usually last from 3-4 hours depending on how much time you spend on each attraction. You can expect to pay 600-700 PHP, and you can easily fit 3-4 people on the tricycle (or even more if you’re local!)

Just keep in mind that you will need to pay the entrance fees to the various attractions yourself. So bring at least an extra 100 PHP per person.

Here is a visual guide to some of the attractions we are about to discuss

If you are feeling up for it, you can also rent a motorbike for 150-300 PHP per day, and do the exploration on your own.

Bellow our description of the tourist attractions, you can also find a suggested itinerary for your trip.

Butterfly Garden

The first stop on the trip is the Butterfly Garden. This beautiful garden features 14 species of butterflies. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see this park personally, but we heard good things about it from other travelers.

The entrance fee to the garden is 100 PHP for adults and 50 PHP for kids.

German House Ruins & Cliffs

The next stop on the trip is the German House. This is an old ruin facing the ocean. We didn’t think much of this old ruin, maybe because we are European ourselves. But a lot of people enjoy stopping here to take photographs. It is quite Instagrammable (is that a word?) with the ocean in the background.

Outside you can buy some snacks. Entry to this ruin is free (as it should be, considering what it is).

There are also some tall cliffs right nearby that people like to jump from. We didn’t as it seemed quite shallow.

Sandira Beach

The next stop is Sandira Beach. This beach is about 15 minutes outside of Santa Fe. The beach road down here is VERY bad, so hold on to your hats.

To enter this area you will need to pay an entry fee of 50 PHP per person.

On a side note: you can also camp here, as there is a beautiful campground you gain access to by paying the entry fee.

On this campground, before you enter the beach, there are a bunch of smaller cliffs could perhaps be tempting to jump from for some. Unless you are experienced jumping into shallow water, skip this jump.

You can take some nice photos here as well to make your friends back on the mainland jealous.

Sandira Beach itself is quite nice. We only visited during high tide, and it was underwhelming compared to Kota Beach, but it is still a really nice beach. The Philippines has really spoiled us when it comes to beaches..

There is also a little waterpark right by the beach. Use of it for an hour will set you back another 300 PHP, but you’re free to skip it and just enjoy the beach for a while.

Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden

When people ask me what to do in Bantayan Island, I also tell them to go here. The Mangrove Garden located another 15 minutes away is the most beautiful we have seen.

The entrance fee to the Mangrove Garden is another 50 PHP. Once you make it inside they also have a restaurant if you have worked up an appetite.

We paid 375 for dinner and drinks for two. Here is our full cost breakdown for Bantayan Island if you are interested in learning more about what the weekend trip will cost you.

Walking around the Mangrove Garden is really nice after having spent a while in the scorching sun. The shade of the mangrove was quite welcome.

You can expect to spend about 20-30 minutes walking around on the bamboo path in the garden.

Ogtong Cave

Ogtong Cave is also an option that your driver will probably suggest to you. We decided to skip this one, as we heard it can get very cramped in there.

However, if you’re already out there, this may be an option for you to check out. The entrance fee is 100 PHP per person.

Usually, the normal tricycle trips will end here. But depending on your interest in old buildings there certainly is more to see. If you wish to see an old church, and the ruins of a fortress, you can continue the tour.

Of course, you will want to negotiate this with your driver before starting the tour. Expect to pay around 1000 PHP in total if you decide to go on this extended tour.

St. Peter & Pauls Chruch

Drive a little further and you will make it to Bantayan town. Here you can see the large old church in the middle of the town. We had a look at it from the outside, and it was quite stunning.

Kota Park & The Fortress Ruins

For the next attraction, you will need to drive all the way to the north of the island. In Madridejos at the northern tip of the island you will find Kota Park.

Just as you enter the park, you can see the old ruins to your right.

Hire a Boat

If you are feeling up for it hiring one of the local fishermen to take your around the island can be a great way to see some of the smaller islands.

The fare depends a lot on where you decide to go.

The main island that people like to tour is Virgin Island, you will need to pay your boats owner around 1000 PHP to go here. Please note that there is also a quite expensive entrance fee to Virgin Island (500 PHP per person).

The second option is to hire a boat to take you out to some of the small island outside Kota Beach to do some snorkeling.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of dynamite fishing around the island in the past. So Kota Beach have had its corals completely destroyed.

We heard a lot of different prices to go around on a snorkeling trip. But the locals and ex-pats on the island said that paying more than 300 PHP for a snorkeling trip is too much.

Rent a Canoe

Alternatively, you could also rent a canoe or kayak for a few hours, and explore on your own.

If you head up to “Abaniko Beach Resort”, and walk another 20 meters you will find a beach bar that also rents out canoes by the hour.

We don’t think you will save much on this compared to hiring a boat though, as the rate is 300 PHP for an hour. But it could be a fun activity on it’s own.

Extreme Sport

If you have some money to burn, or would like to get some real action into your life, there is also extreme sport on the island.

Your two options here are kite surfing and parachuting.

Kitesurfing is the cheaper option, at about 1000 PHP per hour, you can inquire about it anywhere in town.

Parachuting is a little more expensive at up to 20,000 PHP per jump.

Kota Beach

We have saved the best for last. Our absolute favorite thing to do on Bantayan Island is relaxing on Kota Beach.

Here is our video guide to Kota Beach

The use of the beach is completely free. You can walk on to the beach from a road in the town of Santa Fe. Just head down the road from N & F Guest House, past Marlins Beach Resort, and you’re there!

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The beach is quite clean considering how central it is on Bantayan Island. We did see some rubbish that had been dragged on to the land on some days.

While it is recommended to wear shoes, we never had any problems going into the water without them in the weeks we stayed on Bantayan Island.

There are a few restaurants and beach clubs you can buy some snacks and drinks. Stumble Inn Beach Club was our favorite for a cold drink. And Kota Beach Resorts restaurant has the best food on Kota Beach.

I recommend you watch the video to get an impression of the beach, as words don’t really do it justice.

2 Days in Bantayan Island

For your convenience, we have put together a two-day itinerary for Bantayan Island in 2020.

We have also made a detailed and realistic budget for your trip here without sugarcoating anything. We will also add most of the costs here, but for more details, you can have a quick look at the other article.

Day 1

06:00 AM: Make your way to Bantayan Island – 500 PHP/person
12:00 Noon: Arrival in Santa Fe
13:00 AM: Lunch in Santa Fe/Kota Beach – 150+ PHP/person
14:00 PM: Check in to your accommodation in Santa Fe – 600 PHP+/night
15:00 PM: Relax on Kota Beach
18:00 PM: Sunset on Kota Beach
19:00 PM: Dinner in Santa Fe, MJ Square – 150+ PHP/person
20:00 PM: Enjoy the nightlife on Bantayan Island – 200 PHP/person

Day 2

05:00 AM: Wake up early for a sunrise swim on Kota Beach
07:00 AM: Breakfast in Santa Fe – 100 PHP/person
08:00 AM: Snorkeling trip or island hopping – 300-1000+ PHP/trip
12:00 Noon: Lunch in Santa Fe – 150+ PHP/person
13:00 PM: Rent motorbikes (cheap) or hire tricycle – 200-1000 PHP/trip
13:15 PM: German Ruins
13:45 PM: Sanidra Beach / Paradise Beach – 50 PHP/person
Optional: Waterpark – 300 PHP/person for 1 hour
15:00 PM: Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden – 50 PHP/person
16:00 PM: St. Peter and Paul Church
16:45 PM: Kota Park & Fortress Ruins
18:00 PM: Back in Santa Fe for sunset at Kota Beach
19:00 PM: Dinner in Santa Fe, MJ Square – 150+ PHP/person
20:00 PM: Enjoy the nightlife on Bantayan Island – 200 PHP/person

Bantayan Island 1-day Itinerary

If you are too busy to spend two days on the island, we have also made a more condensed itinerary for the island.

06:00 AM: Make your way to Bantayan Island – 500 PHP/person
12:00 Noon: Arrival in Santa Fe
12:15 PM: Drop bags at your accommodation
12:30 PM: Lunch in Santa Fe
13:00 PM: Rent motorbikes (cheap) or hire tricycle – 200-700 PHP/trip
13:15 PM: German Ruins
13:45 PM: Sandira Beach / Paradise Beach – 50 PHP/person
Optional: Waterpark – 300 PHP/person for 1 hour
15:00 PM: Omagieca Obo-ob Mangrove Garden – 50 PHP/person
16:00 PM: Back in Santa Fe, check-in at accommodation – 600/1500+ PHP
16:30 PM: Head to Kota Beach
18:00 PM: Sunset at Kota Beach
19:00 PM: Dinner in Santa Fe, MJ Square – 150+ PHP/person
20:00 PM: Enjoy the nightlife on Bantayan Island – 200 PHP/person

As you can see, you can fit a lot of the interesting activities from the two-day itinerary into the single-day itinerary as well.

An alternative is to drop the motorbike/tricycle trip and go for a short island hopping, or snorkeling trip instead as they both will take about the same amount of time.

How to go to Bantayan Island

As you know, we wrote an entire, dedicated article on how to get to Bantayan Island. And here is the video version of it as well:

We recommend that you try to leave as early as possible to get the most out of your weekend. The travel time from Cebu City, until you set foot on Bantayan is at least 5 hours. So if you try to get going at 06:00 in the morning, you should make it there by noon as long as the weather is good.

If you leave in the afternoon for Bantayan Island, the traffic out of Cebu is going to be a problem, and extend your travel time. But the most important thing of all is that you make it to Hagnayan Port in the north of Cebu before 17:00 AM. Otherwise you risk not getting over to the island the same day.

Making Time for All the Things to Do

In order to make time for all the things to do, we recommend that you stay in Santa Fe, as it is the most central area of the island for tourists.

You will be a 5-minute ride from the Santa Fe Port. So getting on and of the island is simple. The next advantage is that all the restaurants and Kota Beach are right at your doorstep without you having to travel very far.

Of course staying outside the city, either to the north or towards Sandira beach are also good options. Staying in these areas you do lose some precious time on travel back and forth to Santa Fe though.

Check out this quick guide on where to stay on Bantayan Island for our favorite hotels and guesthouses.

Have a great trip to Bantayan Island!

Kota beach at sunset
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