Bantayan Island, Cebu
Finding the best resort in Bantayan
Bantayan Island as you may know, is one of my favourite islands in the Philippines. I like the way it’s not commercialized like Boracay, it still retains that idyllic island feel which I just love. You can also enjoy some of the most finest beaches in Cebu and probably the rest of the Philippines, best of all, without the crowds. The resorts in Bantayan reflect this as well, small low key and uncrowded, with the exception of Holy Week (Easter) when Bantayan Island totally transforms from a sleepy island to a crowded noisy place crammed with tourists. Beach Resorts in Bantayan can double, triple and quadruple in price! To help make it easier when deciding or choosing the right resort in Bantayan I have made a quick guide to Bantayan Resorts video in YouTube below, while a more details guide to all the resorts our guide to Bantayan Island.
Video guide to Bantayan including nearby islands of Virgin and Kinatarkan Island
First you will need to know is how Bantayan Island is affected by the monsoon winds. The southwest monsoon (which occur around May-October) is called the “Habagat”, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (which occur November- April) and called the “Amihan”. The majority of the resorts in Bantayan are located either on the eastern side or the southern side of Bantayan, so while one side feels the winds, the other side is protected. These winds can affect not only the sands but can blow up seaweed onto the beach. Together with the tide, Bantayan beaches can really transform. One year the beach on the southern side looked like it was eroding, the following year it looked completely different. I took a photo of a stairway in front of Yooneek Resort that is covered in sand to show you how much the beach can change! I love visiting Bantayan during its peak period when the weather is hot and dry. This means March – April when the waters are beautiful and clear and the beaches in Bantayan just look stunning. This is when the beaches on the southern side of the island, near Sta Fe, are the best places to be staying.
Resorts in Bantayan
If you’re like me and love to stay right on the beach, the best places to start to look are Kota Beach Resort and Budyong Resort. These two resorts are located right next to each other on a beautiful stretch of beach. They pretty much offer the same sort of accommodation simple bungalow cottages on the beach, some with fan and some with aircon. If you’re looking for budget the rooms, these resorts provide more affordable options at the back of their property. Further along the beach Yooneek Beach Resort which offers motel style building with various standards of rooms, their VIP rooms have refrigerator, cable TV and ocean view. Next is AJ Beach House which is a small building with 4 or so rooms. A low key resort, that tends to be more popular with locals. It offers good value on the beach. Sugar Beach Resort is a huge resort with a beautiful long strip of beach. The rooms are fairly basic but affordable. Sugar Beach is popular with locals and during Holy Week the resort is always booked out. No real reception area, just a sari store. The resort has cottages for day use as well as and option to camp with tents along the beach. The next few resorts past Sugar Beach Resort are sporadically spread along the beach, so tend to have fishermen boats on either side of the resort. Again these resorts tend to be more popular with local tourists and offer affordable low key resorts on the beach. The resorts include Queen Elizabeth Resort which offers the most basic of rooms, Roumel’s Resort which has simple but new rooms. Mayet’s and Playa Estrella Resort, both of which offer reasonable and affordable rooms. Further on is the popular Ogtong Cave, which while only having a small beach area is famous for its cave that is filled with water. Great for a dip from the heat of the day. The resort also has a swimming pool and nicely landscaped gardens. Kandugyap House by the Sea has a house complete with kitchen and dining area, as well as 2 bungalows (which are good for 2 people) and a small beach front. A few kms away is the White Beach Bungalows which has some nice rooms and is a bit secluded as a resort, although it is located in small village.
The other “main area”, with a number of resorts is on the eastern side of Bantayan. This beach runs north of the pier (when you arrive on Bantayan Island). As above the winds tend to blow on this side during on the dry season, although you can still get some great days for swimming and the beaches along here are great. Sta Fe Beach Resort is probably the most popular (the sister hotel of Ogtong Cave) and has cottages as well as rooms in the main building. It’s the first resort you will see when coming to Bantayan Island from the mainland of Cebu. Further along is Beach Placid Resort, which has a range of cottages, starting from some simple fan nipa huts to their beach front duplex rooms that have refrigerator and satellite TV. I find the staff really friendly and accommodating here. Then there is the new Anika Resort which has its rooms made from recycled containers! If you’re a lover of coffee, they have their own little cafe right on the beach! Next to this resort is the unassuming Abaniko Beach Resort with around 4 simple cottages with balconies, with one having a kitchen and dining area . St Bernard Resort is Danish/Philippine owned and has some round cottages of different standards that are shaded by a number of palm trees. The resort has an aviary full of birds. A bit further down the beach Tickety Boo resort offers hotel type rooms.
Cheap resorts in Bantayan
If you’re on more of a budget and don’t mind not staying on the beautiful beaches in Bantayan, there are a number of good options in and around Sta Fe. Most of these places are either walking distance to the beach or a short tricycle ride away. Bantayan Cottages along the highway heading from the pier to Sta Fe, offers a number of cottages set in a garden. Onde Guest house offers some simple basic rooms located right next door to Seaview Apartelle. Annies Guest House (right in front of Seaview Apartelle) has some great value rooms with refrigerator. RR Lodging has a number of different room types. Nordic Inn has some simple rooms for rent, Kiwi Kottages in Sta Fe is great value as well as. Just past Ogtong Cave, Farview Lodge also have some good value rooms although it’s a big further away from any of the beaches.
Higher end resorts
Hoyohoy Resort has some uniquely designed cottages on stilts. Rooms have TV, refrigerator, balcony as well as an outdoor shower. The resort has a small swimming pool and restaurant. The Coral Blue Oriental Villas and Suites has some beautiful rooms with balcony overlooking the ocean. Ogtong Cave also has a Deluxe Suite room with Jacuzzi (the most expensive room on the island!).
My pick of resorts in Bantayan
Over the years I’ve practically stayed at all the resorts in Bantayan Island. For me, I come to Bantayan Island for the beach and that’s where I love to be staying, so my favourite places to stay are Kota Beach Resort or Budyong Resort. These two resorts are right next door to each other and sit right on the best beach in Bantayan. They offer practically the same type of accommodation in the form of beach cottages. The rooms are pretty average, while not terrible, are good enough and reasonably priced. When I want to spoil myself I like staying at Coral Blue Oriental Villas! No matter what suites you, Bantayan has plenty of options in accommodation and our main guide to Bantayan Island has a list of all the resorts.
As for booking the resorts, I found (while not always the cheapest) Agoda is the most convenient way to book a room. In the last year or so it has added a lot more resorts in Bantayan on their website. In years gone by I had to send payment or deposit to the resort’s Philippine bank account which can be a hassle when doing it from overseas. Not only that, reservation staff constantly mess up bookings. I’ve had to double and triple check my reservations and they still get it wrong! At least doing it through a computer reservation the chances for error is far less likely.
Whatever resort you choose, Bantayan Island is an amazing tropical beach getaway, if you are travelling to Cebu for holidays, Bantayan is a must see destination in Cebu. For me I find 4 or 5 days is enough, that gives me time to enjoy the beach, do some island hopping to Virgin Island and Kinatarkan Island and maybe hire a bike and check out other parts of Bantayan such as Kota Park in Madridejos (north of the island).
For more information on Cebu visit our homepage Beyond Cebu.