I have been really wanting to visit Bantayan Island in such a long time but never had the chance to for some “wrong timing” reasons. Camp Sawi feels all over my head whenever I see photos of the island, not because I am broken hearted but because I am questioning myself why I have not gotten to visit the place after all this time.
Almost is never enough
as I sing with Ariana Grande because I almost went to Bantayan Island for so many times… But yeah, almost is never enough (sighs).
But this time is different. We made it to Bantayan Island after almost three months of planning, talking, thinking, and daydreaming about it. So enough of all the drama and let me share with you our travel experience at Bantayan Island, Cebu.
1. Decide on your travel dates
My friend and I had to agree on when we should travel to Bantayan Island. Actually, our original plan was to visit our friend in Bukidnon (we decided on this July of last year). But since I was planning to stay in Cebu for a week before we head to Bukidnon, we just randomly came up with the idea of going to Bantayan Island (I’d be staying in Hagnaya which is the gateway to Bantayan Island so why not!). My friend then gave me the dates where she can travel so it’s easy for me to book our tickets.
2. Ready yourselves FINANCIALLY
We targeted to visit Bukidnon sometime in October. So that’s 3 months to be financially prepared. Our first agenda was to book our tickets and we agreed to pay it in cash. Accommodation and all other expenses will be estimated and then divided by two. Our plan was to pool our funds by the time we go to Bantayan Island so we can monitor our expenses and avoid over-spending. You wouldn’t want to travel and end up being broke.
3. Book your tickets | “Sana may pisofare/seatsale/promo…”
We booked our tickets the first week of August last year, and my flight to Cebu was last week of September. So that gives us 2 months to ready ourselves for the other expenses.
4. Research, research, research | Then prepare your own travel itinerary and budget
It’s always good to do some research to know what to expect and also you get to learn from other people’s experiences thus allowing you to have a better travel experience along with their recommendations. My friend created an excel file for our itinerary and budget. Made some changes after further research, and also talked about the things we didn’t want to miss to prioritize it better when things don’t go as planned.
5. Book your accommodation
Search for good accommodation that’s accessible based on your travel itinerary. Weigh in cost vs. experience, accessibility, and all other things that matter to you. If you can book it in advance the better, that way you have one less problem and you can also finalize the expenses and focus on your itinerary.
6. Save up for the estimated budget + emergency money/pocket money
You wanna make sure that you get the most out of your travel experience and usually, it costs money for you to do something; may it be entrance fees, boat fees, etc. Plus, you’ll never know what you might want to do or buy so be sure to have extra money so you don’t have to mess up your budget.
7. Gear up!
Be ready. You probably would’ve known the activities waiting for you out there so ready yourself. In my case, I bought a dry bag so I don’t have to worry about my valuables when we’re on an adventure and a water-proof phone case (avoid the cheap ones please, #lessonlearned). Think about how you can have a seamless experience and try to gear up. May it be organizers to pack your things the best way you can (which provides a better travel experience for a long trip), medicines (don’t let headaches ruin your day), and anything that you can think of.
8. YOU make it happen!
Be there. I mean, not just physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Disconnect to connect. Create memories that you can’t wait to share when you get home, instead of sharing it real-time on all your social media accounts. Make every moment count. And keep that connection with whomever you are with instead of keeping your WIFI/mobile data connection ON.
Expectation VS Reality | 1N2D Travel Itinerary
I have been used to Do It Yourself itineraries but looks like my partner in crime during this Bantayan Getaway was better than me. She sent me an excel file which was amazing and it was so detailed from the schedule, transportation, food, tours, and budget. To add on to the itinerary, we talked about the things or places that we would not want to miss just so we know the priority order and make sure that we do not miss a thaaaang!
Expectation | The Excel File
|North Bus To Hagnaya Port||12:15 AM||3:15 AM|
|Hagnaya To Bantayan Island||4:00 AM||5:30 AM|
|Breakfast||6:00 AM||7:00 AM|
|Sts. Peter and Paul Parish||7:00 AM||7:30 AM|
|Bantayan Market||7:30 AM||8:30 AM|
|Omageica Mangrove Garden||8:30 AM||10:00 AM|
|Paradise Beach||10:00 AM||11:00 AM|
|Lunch||12:00 PM||1:00 PM|
|Check-in At Hotel||1:00 PM||2:00 PM|
|Kota Beach||2:00 PM||3:30 PM|
|Snacks At Kota Beach|
|Ogtong Cave||3:30 PM||5:00 PM|
|Last Spot To Hotel||5:30 PM|
|Dinner||7:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|Tricycle To Bantayan Port|
|Bantayan Port To Hagnaya|
|Hagnaya To North Bus|
|Lunch At Parkmall|
Initially, we were decided to stay at Casa Isabel. It was a hostel, and it was only for P650.00 per night that is good for two persons. Then we tried to check the rates of hotels and resorts with a beachfront so that we can really just chill at night while we hear the humming of the waves, count the stars above us, feel the caress of the wind, and talk about anything under the moon (the typical lines you would read from a novel, and the best lines to paint you a picture of my imagination. Hahaha!).
It was days of debates, not against the two of us, but against ourselves – budget vs. experience. Beach Placid was on top of our list so what are we going to choose? P650.00 or P1189.00?
Sino ang pipiliin mo?
And mind you, the rate for Beach Placid that time was already discounted. Regular rates are around P2,400.00 per night. But then we weighed things… it would cost us twice as much as it would cost us if we are to change the original deal with Casa Isabel. But that amount would allow us to really enjoy the night and make our imagination happen. That is something we definitely can’t experience if we are to stay at a hostel. So we decided to just close our eyes on the price and went with Beach Placid. And we are very happy that we changed our minds and you will know why as you read through this!
Reality | Drum Rolls
If you are traveling from Visayas then you can just skip this part and head on to Day 1. But for the benefit of those traveling from Luzon like me, go on and continue reading.
|Tricycle to Bayan||3:40 PM|
|Van to Pasay||4:00 PM||6:00 PM|
|Taxi to NAIA Terminal 3||6:30 PM||7:00 PM|
|Flight||8:45 PM||9:45 PM|
|Taxi to I.T. Park (Pick up my friend)||10:15 PM||10:45 PM|
|Taxi to North Bus Terminal||10:45 PM||11:00 PM|
|Bus to Hagnaya||11:15 PM||2:30 AM|
|Ferry to Bantayan Island||3:30 AM||4:30 AM|
|Tricycle to MJ Square||4:40 AM|
|Breakfast at Tapa Master||5:00 AM||5:45 AM|
|Walk to Amihan / Sunrise||5:45 AM||6:30 AM|
|Walk to Market / Tambay||6:30 AM||7:30 AM|
|Day Tour | En route to Obo-ob||7:30 AM|
|Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park||8:00 AM||8:30 AM|
|Paradise Beach / Sandira Beach||8:30 AM||9:00 AM|
|Cliff Diving Spot | En route to Ogtong Cave||9:00 AM||9:20 AM|
|Ogtong Cave Resort||9:30 AM||11:30 AM|
|Lunch at Carinderia||11:45 AM||12:15 PM|
|Beach Placid||12:20 PM|
|Early Check-In||1:00 PM|
|Nap Time||1:30 PM||4:15 PM|
|Resume Tour||4:30 PM|
|Kota Beach||4:30 PM||5:45 PM|
|Dropped by Sto. Nino Church||6:00 PM||6:15 PM|
|Back at Beach Placid||6:30 PM|
|Dinner at Beach Placid Restaurant||7:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|Chill by the beach||8:00 PM||10:00 PM|
|Lights Off||11:00 PM|
|Wake up||6:30 AM|
|Pack-Up||6:30 AM||7:00 AM|
|Morning Swim (low tide)||7:00 AM||7:30 AM|
|Breakfast||7:40 AM||8:30 AM|
|Swim||8:30 AM||9:30 AM|
|Prepare||9:30 AM||10:30 AM|
|Tricycle to Port||10:40 AM|
|Ferry to Hagnaya||11:30 AM||1:00 PM|
Mara Travel Photography
See our Mara Travel & Tours 🙂
Read my very first article published on Travelista Club: “How To Spend 1Night And 2Days In Bantayan Island, Cebu”
Expectations VS Reality | Budget Guide
To keep it simple and easy to compare, I had it listed down based on the itinerary that we had.
(The prices below are on a per pax basis. For food, tour and hotel, it is the total amount divided by two. )
|Day 1||Expectation||Day 1||Reality|
|North Bus To Hagnaya Port||175||North Bus To Hagnaya Port||160|
|Hagnaya To Bantayan Island||230||Hagnaya To Bantayan Island||185|
|Bantayan Tour||400||Bantayan Tour with haggling expertise||300|
|*includes fare from port to MJ Square – 20|
|*includes fare from Beach Placid to Port – 25|
|Sts. Peter and Paul Parish|
|Bantayan Market||Bantayan Market|
|Omageica Mangrove Garden||50||Omageica Mangrove Garden||50|
|Paradise Beach||50||Paradise Beach||50|
|Check-in At Hotel||350||Check-in At Hotel||591.54|
|Kota Beach||200||Kota Beach|
|*Buko Juice (bottled + fresh in a coconut shell) 20+30||25|
|Snacks At Kota Beach||150||Snacks At Kota Beach|
|Last Spot To Hotel||Last Spot To Hotel|
|*Seafood Boodle – 810|
|* Mango Shake – 85 x2 – 170|
|*Service Charge -98|
|*Tip – 22|
|Day 2||Day 2|
|Tricycle To Bantayan Port||25||Tricycle To Bantayan Port *included on Bantayan Tour|
|Bantayan Port To Hagnaya||230||Bantayan Port To Hagnaya||185|
|Hagnaya To North Bus||175||Hagnaya To North Bus||160|
|Lunch At Parkmall||150|
And remember that I traveled from Luzon so…
|MNL-CEB round trip||3,000||MNL-CEB round trip||3,119.27|
|Day 0||Expectation||Day 0||Reality|
|Tricycle to Bayan||30||Tricycle to Bayan||30|
|Van to Pasay||90||Van to Pasay (paid for 2 seats)||180|
|Taxi to NAIA Terminal 3||150||Taxi to NAIA Terminal 3 (pakyaw)||300|
|Taxi to I.T. Park (Pick up my friend)||200|
|Taxi to North Bus Terminal||200||Taxi to North Bus Terminal|
|Grand Total||6,755||Grand Total||6,717|
Just to let you know, my flight back to Manila was from Cagayan De Oro. But still, during the time I booked our tickets, round-trip ticket for MNL-CEB would still cost me around P3000. And also, air tickets were already paid upon booking so that was 3 months prior to the travel date. Definitely enough time to save money! Saving around P1000 a month should work and is doable for everyone!
Traveling to Bantayan Island is not only hours of travel but I had to travel by air, land, and sea (this is so true especially for people coming from Luzon and Mindanao). I really did my best to travel light, not literally light ‘coz my bag was heavy and my shoulder hurts but at least my things were manageable. I only had a backpack and a shoulder bag. And it is very helpful ‘coz it just sticks to your body and just goes wherever you go. Another reason why I love to use backpacks and shoulder bags is that it keeps my hands available. Showing your tickets, IDs, paying fees and stuff…
Avoid bringing along liquids and toiletries
These are all bulky. Anyway, if you are planning to just go with hand-carry baggage you are just limited to a hundred ml of liquid (if I am not mistaken). What I do is I just buy all these stuff at a supermarket or drugstores since there are drugstores that are open for 24 hours.
Avoid using your phone – write it down yow
There are things that we need to be reminded of…constantly. Like I have this habit of checking those things multiple times just to be sure. The terminal number, gate number, flight number, hotel name, address, etc. And this is the reason why I have been using up my battery so fast (plus turning your mobile data on) and since my powerbank was not working, I had to think of ways to help myself save my phone’s battery life. So what I did is I wrote everything in a piece of paper, folded it to 1/4 of its original size and put it at the back of my phone. I can just see it through the silicone phone case and it actually worked!
Enroll in online and mobile banking
It is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to manage our finances even when we are on the go. Need to pay bills? Send money to someone? Most bills can be paid thru online and mobile banking and you can transfer funds anywhere, anytime! Along with this, Mara Travel & Tours also offers Bills Payment and Money Remittance now!
Drybag in the bag
I brought a drybag with me to be able to bring all the gadgets and valuables when we are at the beach or anywhere near the bodies of water. Then after using it I just fold it and put it inside my backpack.
Sunblock is a must
Reapply as often as you can. How I wish I did it. I am more like burned without the sunburn.
Capture memories rain or shine, even underwater
Many people now have invested in cameras, action cameras, and stuff and we all know that it is a little bit expensive. But that does not mean you should stop right there. I know that phones nowadays have better cameras even if it is in the mid-price range so find ways to maximize it. You can buy waterproof phone cases instead. Avoid buying those very cheap ones ‘coz in my case we had to stop using it since it looked like the inside was having moist or was it the water coming in(?)(not really sure).
Start the tour early in the morning because it is mostly outdoors.
Travel more, worry less. Get insured now!
When we travel, we are usually accompanied by “uncertainties”. We are new to the place, we don’t know the people around us, and we are out of our comfort zone. Accidents happen unexpectedly but that does not mean we can’t be ready for it. If your budget can do monthly premiums go for it. If not there are options for an annual coverage with a one-time payment. For Life Insurance and Accidental Insurance, you can send a message to Mara Travel & Tours for proposals and quotations. You can get your Life Insurance for as low as P1,000 monthly premium bundled with investment, and Accidental Insurance for as low as P500 one-time payment good for one-year coverage with P100,000 accidental death benefit and more!
- Virgin Island Tour Package starts at P800 for the boat fee + P500 entrance fee good for 2 persons and P100 for the succeeding persons.
- You may rent motorbikes for P350 a day and bicycles for P150 a day. Usually, hostels, hotels, and resorts have these offers.
- Tricycle and Motorcycle drivers are trained to accommodate Tours so you don’t have to worry (according to one local that we spoke with). When you arrive at Bantayan Island, they will ask you if you want to tour around. For a better travel experience, you may contact Mara Travel & Tours to arrange your tour, accommodation, and transportation (from flights, bus, to 2Go bookings).
- If you are planning to stay at Beach Placid (where we stayed the night) the best time to swim at the beach is around 4:00 PM. Mornings are usually low tide. And lunchtime would be too hot.
- If you arrive early in the morning, try to contact the place where you would be staying and see if you can do an early check-in without added cost or if they would allow you to at least leave your things at the place before you tour around.
So there you have it. Everything has been said and done. And I think I have said a little too much (lol). I did not realize it was this long but anyway I hope this would be helpful to anyone who is planning to travel to Bantayan Island. 🙂
Feel free to reach Mara Travel & Tours and we can’t wait to unravel your next travel!
See more photos from Bantayan Island.
Watch our vlog 🙂
Next in line is our Camiguin Getaway! Stay tuned 🙂
Travel To Be Whole,
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