FAQ/Frequently Asked Questions
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The "A#1 Question": where is the BEST place to stay on Bantayan Island?
answer: In short, EVERY PLACE is BEST here because there's accommodation here for everyone's budget.
There isn't any one necessarily "best" place, as what I might think of as 'best' for your budget travel needs might not be 'best' for someone looking for a first-class resort - so the 'best places' to stay at are entirely dependant upon your personal budget, tastes &/or requirements, and if you email me personally I can make some recommendations for you based on your total per-day budget, per person.
If you're a backpacker traveling on the cheap, your inexpensive room is here.
If you're looking for midrange priced accommodation, your room is here.
If you're looking for 1st. Class accommodation & amenities, your top of the line room is here.
*please see my hotel/resort listings in the above tabs (Bantayan Association of Hotels & Resorts along with an Indepandent Hotel tab listing) with accommodation ranging from aprox. $4.50USD/P200 per day, through P18,000 per day - so a wide assortment of rooms/cottages are available in the ~$5/$10/$20/$30/$50/$75/$100+ categories, with something for everyone's budget.
1. Go to the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City, near SM Mall - modern Ceres & Cebu AutoBus non-aircon coaches run all day at aprox. P80 from very early in the morning, to the port town of Hagnaya in northern Cebu - travel time aprox. 2:45 to 3 hours.
2. In Hagnaya at the Port, you'll hop a 75min. Ferry to Bantayan Island (P120 Fares vary in price during the year)
* Bus Travel time is generally 3 hours (on rare occasions 2:30min) including the 10 minute stop in Carmen Cebu for a restroom break, food & refreshments - non-aircon busses are aprox. P80 (aircon bus service has been discontinued, but once in a while an aircon bus makes an occassional run)
In Hagnaya Cebu:
In Hagnaya, Ferry Boats run all day to Santa Fe on Bantayan Island starting at 5:30am, and please remember the last Ferry of the day leaves Hagnaya for Santa Fe/Bantayan Island at 5:30pm.
Travel time for Island Shipping & Super Shuttle Ferries is 1hr. 15min, and for the FastCraft it's aprox. 35 - 40 minutes, IF it's running (it hasn't run since 2008)
"Travel time for Island Shipping & Super Shuttle Ferries is aprox. 1hr. 15min, and for the FastCraft it's aprox. 35 - 40 minutes.
Current Fares Vary During the Year at aprox. P120/P140 for a regular fare on the Island Shipping Ferries, and aprox. P150 to P170 for an aircon cabin (get a regular fare & enjoy the breeze)
*The FastCraft has not been in service since 2008 (excepting Holy Week 2010 where it ran for 3 days).
* the terminal fee for leaving Hagnaya is P10 (increased from P5 in 2009)
* movies are shown on some Ferries, and drinks/snacks, cold San Miguel beer are available on select boats.
question: can I drive my motorbike, car, van or truck to Bantayan Island?
answer: YES you can for example, drive your Car onboard the Ferry for P880 and a Pajero SUV onto the RORO Ferry (Roll On, Roll Off) for less than P1,500 and a detailed price list for major vehicles is below:
question: How do I get to Bantayan Island from NEGROS Oriental/Occidental?
answer: Please see my detailed BLOG article here that has complete directions from Bacolod & Dumaguette.
question: what's the weather like on Bantayan Island?
answer: Mostly Beautiful, Most of the Time (rainy season begins around June/July, through Sept/Oct. but days are still sunny w/mixed clouds & occasional afternoon &/or overnight rains; not a big deal at all)
question: are the Beaches crowded on Bantayan Island?
answer: Happily, NO - the White Beaches of Bantayan Island are never crowded, so there's plenty of room for solitude and enjoyment (Cebu Philippines Travel Tourism Fact: the only time the Beaches have crowds on them is during Easter Holy Week, but it's not that bad.) Enjoy the New Bantayan Island Beach Photography Below.
question: what kind of sand are the Beaches on Bantayan Island made of?
example: I shot the weekend image below on the huge stretch of White Beach between Kota & Budyong Resorts, and there are a total of FOUR people on the Beach at mid day here, including myself (a few minutes earlier there were just me & Uno watching a sail boat off in the distance, when the boat pictured in the background arrived from Malapascua Island, with two travelers)
question: is there a Tennis Court and Golf Course on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES, we have Tennis Courts in Bantayan Town (just 20 min. north of Santa Fe) located behind the Municipal Building, and NO, there is no Golf Course on the Island yet.
According to Eumel Lopez from the Tennis Club, membership is only P500 per year, and the courts are available on a first come, first served basis with no reservations necessary.
For more information, please contact Eumel Lopez at +63-928-359-5470
question: what activities (other than the Beautiful Beaches) can I enjoy on Bantayan Island?
* renting a motorbike to get around town & to explore the Island.
* renting a bicycle for the same.
* rent a kayak from Santa Fe Beach Club or Ogtong Cave Resort and explore the turquoise waters off the coastline.
* rent an airplane via Santa Fe's Airport and take an aerial tour of Bantayan Island for a truly unique view & remembrance.
* attending a local town Festival/Fiesta at various times during the year.
* getting up at 5:30am to catch & photograph a beautiful sunrise
* getting to the beach by 5:30pm to be ready to enjoy the gorgeous sunset.
* head up to Ogtong Cave Resort and see the underground cave; bring your camera & extra water to drink as it's very humid below ground inside the cave - also prepare to get wet, as there are pools of clear water at the caves bottom.
* hiring a small pump boat for out Island trips (have lunch on Virgin Island & surrounding Islands)
* having a good meal in the Santa Fe restaurants - Restaurants who Sponsor wowBantayan.com are CouCou Bar & Restaurant & Blue Ice Restaurant - ask for any 'off the menu' specials for a real treat.
* sampling cocktails in the above local bars/restaurants here.
* enjoy a delicious thin crust PIZZA at Tristan's Restaurant & CouCou Bar & Restaurant in Santa Fe. (also try it at Blue Ice Bar & Restaurant & Balikbayan Restaurant)
* taking the camera & video camera on a walking tour of the quiet streets here in Santa Fe.
* visiting Bantayan Town, 20min north of StaFe - St. Peter & Paul's Church is located there & is over 450yrs. old.
* visiting Madridejos & Kota Park at the top of the Island.
* via motorbike, get out into the small & remote Barangays around the Island where most travelers don't venture - in late afternoon & sample true local island road side BBQ treats.
* renting jet skis, banana boats & water skis at Marlins, Ogtong Cave & Santa Fe Beach Club Resorts.
* bring your personal DVD players & iPods, Mp3 players:
Please visit World Video & DVD rental store on Coyoca St. in Santa Fe, 1 block north from the center of town - fees are P20 for a 3 day DVD rental.
question: what Islands can we visit while ISLAND HOPPING? (off Bantayan Island)
answer: While visiting Bantayan Island, Island Hopping's a popular passtime (inquire about renting boats through your hotel or just ask on the beaches to hire a local fisherman's boat) so be sure to visit Virgin Island (no accommodation there, but a nice place to relax and have lunch prepared by the local caretakers) - also visit Halantaga-an Island & Silion Island (see their locations here on the MAPS Page link below), as well as PouPou Island off the west coast of Bantayan Island (there are other Islands/Islets there on the south west coast also) and of course Malapascua Island is a well known Island Hopping destination with Hotels & nice beaches, 2 to 2.5hrs off the east coast of Bantayan Island.
question: where can I find Maps of Santa Fe or Bantayan Island?
question: where's the best place to watch the sunrise & sunsets on Bantayan Island?
answer: Bantayan Island's sunrise & sunsets are truly awe inspiring and are some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen; sometimes gentle pastel colors dominate, other times cloud formations create very dynamic textures & colors - the choicest places are naturally along the coastlines or directly on the Beaches or while swimming and the Beaches in Santa Fe that have views of the eastern & western skies are the perfect theater for both - other locations are the Pier in Bantayan Town (sunsets) and the Beaches in Madridejos at the top of Bantayan Island (sunrise/sunsets)as well as the Eastern coast of Madridejos for the sunrise, along Sunrise Beach.
Sunrise & Sunset on Bantayan Island are often best seen from the Beaches, or from in the water:
question: Can I get Married & have my Wedding on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES, people get married on the Island (make sure your Marriage paperwork is in order) and the Churches host Weddings in Santa Fe, Bantayan Town & Madridejos.
Contact Catholic Church Chancery Archdiocesan Offices +63-32-253-0123 & 254-1861 Contact IFI Church: +63-929-643-5027.
For your Wedding Reception, please see the Hotel/Resort pages for contact numbers/email for: Kota Beach Resort, Beach Placid, White Beach Bungalows, Tristans, Ogtong Cave Resort & Santa Fe Beach Club, Maia's Resort, Marlin Beach Resort, HoyoHoy Villas, and tell the Hotels wowBantayan.com sent you - any of the above Hotels will help you begin the process of booking your Wedding &/or Reception to suit your personal budget.
question: where the best place for Snorkeling?
answer: the overall vote for the best Snorkeling is off the Floating Bar in Santa Fe where I shot the image below (be sure to wear foot protection or fins)
question: where to rent Motorcycles on Bantayan Island, and how much?
answer: you can rent motorcycles/motorbikes & bicycles just about anywhere on the Island; your hotel can take care of it for you or you can seek them out on your own from the brokers parked at the main intersection in Santa Fe (4 corners where ML Huillier/Khels BBQ/Burger Junction/Senor Santo Nino Catholic Church are located) priced aprox. P250 to P350 a day & up - along with some other vendors asking a fixed hourly rate.
I've had many friends report finding motors rented privately at P100/P125 per day also, so work your best deal with the vendor of your choice, and don't forget about renting Bicycles priced a bit less; starting at Ogtong Cave Resort & Santa Fe Beach Club, Kiwi Kottages and other places as well.
question: can I fly into Bantayan Island?
answer: YES you can fly to Bantayan Island on a variety of smaller aircraft from vendors at Mactan Cebu Airport - some newer companies are still sorting out their schedules and are not operating all flights all of the time.
You can fly various Private Air Charters into Bantayan's Santa Fe Municipal Airport on a small Cessna or Piper Mojave type aircraft, and most private flights come in from Mactan Airport in Cebu.
* 2010 Private Air Charters are available from Mactan Cebu Airport to Santa Fe's Airport on Bantayan Island starting at aprox. P10,500+ for the Cessna 152 (1 seater + Pilot) ~P16,500 for the Cessna 172 (2 seater + Pilot) and aprox. P20,000+ for the Cessna 206 (5 seater + Pilot)
[this charge is not per person, but per flight - so 2 people flying on the Cessna 172 would split the cost amongst themselves; a very sweet deal & excellent value for money.]
* For a round trip flight (ie. Mactan Cebu to Bantayan Island & Bantayan Island back to Mactan Cebu) double the above prices.
* Flight time is aprox. 50min. on a Cessna 172 and a bit quicker on the Cessna 206.
question: is there an overnight Ferry Boat from Cebu City to Bantayan Island?
answer: NO....years ago there used to be an overnight Ferry, but this has long been discontinued.
question: is there a Money Changer on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES - April 2009: 'Money Talks' is now the Official Money Changer in Santa Fe on Bantayan Island, and they're located in Poblacion Santa Fe, on the highway right before Talisay begins. (open 8am-5pm Changing Major Currencies)
question: is there an ATM cash machine on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES - The Allied Bank ATM in Bantayan Town accepts VISA Credit & Debit Cards, but nothing else for major "credit cards" (read: No MasterCard or AmEx)
Here is the complete list of cards that the Allied Bank Bantayan ATM currently accepts:
Banc Net, Mega Link, Express Net, Union Pay, VISA
*When Santa Fe gets a long overdue ATM machine, you'll see it reported here first on wowBantayan.com
question: Which Hotels/Resorts accept Credit Cards on Bantayan Island?
answer: Listed below are the Resorts & the cards they currently accept.
Ogtong Cave & Santa Fe Beach Club: accepting Visa/Mastercard, American Express (AmEx), JCB
HoyoHoy Villas: accepting Visa/Mastercard
Marlin Beach Resort: accepting Visa/Mastercard, AmEx, JCB
Kota Beach Resort: accepting Visa/Mastercard, AmEx, JCB
question: is Western Union on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES, Western Union has returned to Santa Fe in late 2009 in the center of town (Western Union outlets are also available in Bantayan Town & Madridejos) LBC is also available in Bantayan Town for quick cash transfers, as is ML HUILLIER in Santa Fe & elsewhere on Bantayan Island.
question: can travelers pick up XOOM.COM money transfers on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES - XOOM.com online money transfers can be picked up in PHP Pesos at ML Huillier in Santa Fe, Bantayan Town & in Madridejos, as well as many other places throughout Philippines (xoom.com is an online money transfer service that can be funded through PayPal, a bank account or through your VISA, MasterCard, Discover Cards (credit or debit)
question: Are there Restaurants offering Vegan dishes or should we bring our own food?
answer: YES - dishes with fresh local veggies are popular here with travelers & locals alike, so any number of Restaurants can accommodate your Vegan needs as long as you ask them to prepare your Vegan-specific dishes to your personal requirements (photo below: Fresh Scallops/Calamansi Lime & Prawns; sea food at D'Jungle's Grill)
...bringing some of your own food if you are very particular is also an easy option.
Restaurants to check out: Blue Ice, CouCou, Tristan's, D'Jungle, HK Kafe, Marisqueira O'Portuguese & Mabuhay Balikbayan Restaurants.
question: I've read your website & heard the rumors about Pizza in Santa Fe - is it really that good?
answer: Good? The Pizza here on Bantayan Island is Awesome, and Tristan's Restaurant along with CouCou Bar & Restaurant are creating the traditional thin crust, handmade fresh Pizzas that make your mouth water - so come & get some because the rumors are True!
question: I'm on a tight budget & need to eat on the cheap - can you help me out?
answer: YES, at the many Carendarias/Cantinas here and eateries that are typical of Philippines, you can find budget meals & local food favorites for those on a budget, or who just want to try the local fare: fresh ground pork (w/diced carrots & green beans) rice & a soft drink for less than $1/P48 (don't forget the inexpensive fresh fruits available at the local markets)
question: Are pre-paid cell phone cards available on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES - I've always written that Smart, Globe & other pre paid cards are readily available Island-wide - In Santa Fe we get our pre paid P100 & P300 cards at RIVMAR Pharmacy in town, as well as other sari-sari stores flanking the Santa Fe & Bantayan Public Markets (be sure to STOCK UP prior to Holy Week & Christmas - and before an approaching Storm)
e-Loads are readily available, and Major brand SIM cards (expect to pay P175 on the Island for a SMART brand SIM priced at P40 in Cebu City) are also available on Bantayan Island.
Travelers: You can also DIRECT DIAL your International calls to home or anywhere else, from your Philippine mobile phone & SIM, at very good rates.
question: is internet access available on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES, there are several places where you can get online with your notebook, netbook or 3G web enabled cell phone; for starters Blue Ice Bar & Restaurant & Moby Dick's offer WiFi access as of December 2009 (I do most of my updates there), WiFi is also available at Yooneek Resort & HK Kafe/Kiwi Kottages and computers are available at SeaView Apartelle, along with Riza's & Marquel internet cafes in Santa Fe for a nominal hourly fee.
Bantayan Town & Madridejos also offer several internet cafes, so the Island's basically wired - but the bandwith & speeds (~350kbps on the Island is about 1/2 the speed of the slowest DSL/cable speeds offered elsewhere in the world) are not as fast as what's generally available in North America & Europe, but it's ok for basic surfing & email.
Internet is also available on your 3G enabled Smart or Globe mobile phone (example: Smart's rates are P10 for 30 minutes web browsing with no other charges)
Internet for Laptop Computers: Smart BRO is a USB connected device - a bit larger than a flash drive - available from larger retail stores that provides prepaid wireless internet at P10 for 30 min. (web browsing is rounded up to 30 min. segments) and is reloaded via pre paid Smart BRO P100 & P300 cards & at select e-load retailers (cards/e-loads are not yet widely available on Bantayan Island; get them easily on the mainland in the larger markets before you arrive)
question: after I rent my motorbike, where do I find gasoline Bantayan Island?
answer: Gasoline is available all over the Island from many road side stands (even in remote Barangays) in 1liter Coke or Pepsi bottles (watch for the fuschia/pink colors at the side of the road) or at the 3 modern gasoline stations located in Bantayan Town (pictured) just north of the Plaza, and the new Petron Station in Santa Fe; opened Oct.2009.
question: is Sunscreen/Sunblock available on Bantayan Island?
answer: YES, but in very limited amounts, at only a few Pharmacies and it's expensive, so buy your sunscreen elsewhere and bring it with you, as a small 4oz. bottle here costs about P400/$8USD
question: are good (name brand) sunglasses available on Bantayan Island?
answer: NO - you'll have to buy them elsewhere (SM & Ayala Malls in Cebu City for starters) and bring them with you (see the Holy Week Tips below #11) Please remember *you get what you pay for* so buy quality glasses, as your eyesight is surely worth protecting.
The model below is shown wearing the Serengeti Stratus with PolarMax brown polycarbonate polarized, anti-reflective coated lens in an extremely light & strong Titanium frame (never rusts in Tropical conditions) and these fine glasses weight just a few grams, and are my current favorite for the past few years.
question: what advice do you have for Holy Week Travelers?
First and foremost, arrive here as early as you can; the week before Holy Week would be ideal as come Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of Holy Week, both the Cebu City North Bus Terminal & the Piers in Hagnaya Cebu & in Santa Fe will become extremely crowded with long wait times and everything that it entails.
The weather just prior to Holy Week 2010 was fantastic with clear blue skies and hot/humid temperatures of 34C daily (with heat indexes higher) but be advised the sun has been very hot and if you are not personally acclimated to the hot sun and humidity, you could be suseptable to heat sickness & dehydration once you get here.
Sugar Beach Resort in Santa Fe hosted sponsors San Miguel, GLOBE & Smart Telecommunications this past Holy Week, for 4 days of Beach Festivities: March 20 through 23rd. 2008 and GLOBE were back as Primary Sponsors in 2009/2010 as was Coke Zero.
Important Tips for Holy Week:
1. Please note that all Hotels/Resorts are most always Fully Booked (Sold Out) for Holy Week, sometimes months in advance - and people arriving without prior reservations either stay with friends & Family, or camp out at approved areas or Resorts, or sleep on the Beaches. (some people have a small measure of luck wandering the streets and asking to rent rooms in peoples houses)
2. Stay hydrated before your trip, and keep drinking during the day even though you may not feel thirsty (thirst is not an accurate measure of your hydration levels)
3. Oral Rehydration Salts in small sachets manufactured by Westmont labs are available throughout Philippines, and are available here on Bantayan Island at a host of Pharmacies - ask your Doctor for advice, and if you begin to get dehydrated while you're here this is a widely used product when mixed with water/juice/Gatorade to bring back proper water & electrolyte levels.
4. Sunscreen/Sunblock: buy it in Manila or Cebu at Robinsons Mall, Ayala or SM Malls and bring it with you on your trip, as there's very little sunblock available here at the moment on Bantayan Island.
5. Money: Even though we have an ATM in Bantayan Town, Cash Up before arriving on the Island, and bring plenty of smaller bills.
April 2009: Money Talks is now the Official Money Changers in Santa Fe on Bantayan Island, and yes there are a few hotels that will change foreign currency at a lower than prefered rate, so there's no longer a need to hit up the money changers on the main land before arriving here, and there are some very good money changers in BOGO Cebu, a few minutes tricycle ride from Hagnaya Pier.
The only ATM on Bantayan Island is at Allied Bank in Bantayan Town, and the only credit/debit card it accepts is VISA - along with Banc Net, Mega Link, Express Net, Union Pay. (expect long lines at this ATM if it's working)
6. Incidental Consumables: you may wish to bring items such as toilet tissue, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, powdered soft drink mix, assorted snacks etc. as many stores begin to run low or run out of many essentials during Holy Week, especially after Wednesday.
7. Bottled Water: there's plently of it here on the Island normally, so stock up on enough water after you arrive and avoid the shortages in the stores as Holy Week progresses.
8. Try to avoid arriving on Bantayan Wed/Thurs/Fri. as it's extremely crowded at the transport points...I would suggest planning an arrival on either Thurs April 2nd thru Sunday April 5th to avoid these issues.
9. Food is plentiful here with many Restaurants & road side BBQ stand for eating on the cheap, so just bring money.
10. Medicines: If you're already taking Prescription Medications, be sure to bring a personal supply with you on your trip, as Pharmacies here may not always have what you need.
11. Sunglasses: The sun here can be brutal on your eyes, so please bring a quality pair of sunglasses with you, as there are no quality name brands available here for purchase.
If you can't afford the quality real name brands (Serengeti, RayBan, Revo, Oakley etc.) please don't buy the P90 cheap garbage knock offs, as they'll just cause your retinas to burn slowly over time - just go to the optical stores in Ayala or SM Malls and check out the quality, but lesser known sunglass brands available there in the P500 to P3,000 range with legitimate UV protection.
12. DONT DRINK & DRIVE: Can everybody please understand this?
If you're going to drink, fine....just DON'T DRIVE - - - take responsibility for your own safety, and for those Families & children who live here on Bantayan Island, who walk, play & ride in the very places that are vulnerable to drunk drivers.Enjoy Your Holy Week - Stay Safe and Have Fun!
...this FAQ is updated continually throughout the year with new Bantayan Island content and information.
Thanks for reading the wowBantayan.com FAQ - a continual work in progress, so check back often.
FAQ & All articles/content/photographs on this website are property of © PJAMES All Rights Reserved.
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