Bantayan Island is one of the most popular destinations in Cebu, and for good reason. This tiny tropical paradise is made up of stunning beaches, uninhabited islands and epic experiences that will leave a lasting impression long after your vacation has ended. We’ve rounded up the 12 best tourist spots in Bantayan Island for you to add to your itinerary so you can start planning your dream island holiday.
Best time to visit Bantayan Island Cebu
To make the most out of your Bantayan Island trip, you’ll want to hit the sweet spot when the weather is good but the crowds are minimal. This means aiming for November – April when it’s the dry season, but avoiding weekends, public holidays and most importantly, Holy Week. Unless, of course, you happen to like crowds of tourists.
How to get to Bantayan Island Tourist Spots
What to bring to Bantayan Island
12 Best Tourist Spots in Bantayan Island
1. Virgin Island
First up on our roundup is Virgin Island, an uninhabited paradise just off the coast of Bantayan Island. Known for its picturesque white sand beaches and crystal clear water, it’s also one of the best beaches you can visit in Bantayan.
If you’re wanting to do more than just beach bum around on the sand, Virgin Island has a number of activities to keep you busy. Take a stroll around the island, have a fresh seafood lunch, explore the underwater world or get your adrenaline pumping with cliff diving!
To reach Virgin Island, you’ll need to arrange a boat to take you there from Santa Fe. This can either be done through your accommodation or by heading to the public port. The more people you have the better, as you can split the fare between your group
2. Kota Beach
Kota Beach is arguably the most popular beach on Bantayan Island, and for good reason. This stunning stretch of coastline is defined by its shapeshifting sandbar and turquoise blue water.
Kota Beach Resort sits right along the beachfront, but the beach itself is public and everyone is welcome to enjoy its beauty. At the entrance to the beach you’ll find SUP Bantayan, where you can rent standup paddleboards by the hour.
3. Paradise Beach
Paradise Beach is not only one of the best tourist spots in Bantayan Island, but it’s also our favourite beach! This somewhat hidden gem is tucked away from prying eyes behind a limestone cliff wall, accessible only by a small staircase leading to the sand.
When we visited there were just a few locals enjoying the calm waters and spearfishing in the deep, but aside from them we had the place to ourselves. At the far end of Paradise Beach sits a row of beach umbrellas where you can find respite from the blazing sun.
4. The Ruins
The Ruins of Bantayan Island are not what you’d typically expect of a tourist destination – they’re not ancient nor are they historically significant, but they are very photogenic.
This old, derelict house was once owned by a German expat, but it was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. The concrete remains have since been covered in graffiti, drawing crowds from all over to check out its colourful facade.
Aside from the ruins, it’s also a popular cliff jumping spot with the locals and the occasional adrenaline seeking tourist. Just be sure to jump at high tide, as it’s not really the deepest spot!
5. Obo-Ob Mangrove Eco Park
Something different from the many beaches of the island is the Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park, one of the must-visit tourist spots in Bantayan Island. Also known as the Omagieca Mangrove Garden, is famously the location where much of Filipino romcom, Camp Sawi, was filmed.
Here you can wander through the lush mangroves, along a bamboo boardwalk leading to the sea. Another way to explore the mangroves is via kayak, which can be rented on site. If you find yourself hungry, there’s a community run restaurant by the entrance for you to quell your hunger.
6. Balidbid Lagoon
Balidbid Lagoon is a must-visit Bantayan Island tourist spot, not far from the main town of Santa Fe. Since it’s a little off the beaten path, Balidbid Lagoon is a secluded and peaceful place, with small sandy beaches and a winding waterway leading to the sea.
You can simply relax and enjoy the banks of Balidbid Lagoon, or you can do what we did and rent a paddleboard from the guys at SUP Bantayan. We met them at the lagoon and set off on a guided tour into the mangroves. There wasn’t another soul in sight, and we were surrounded by the stunning sights and sounds of nature.
7. Ogtong Cave
Ogtong Cave is an awesome natural, water-filled cave located within the Ogtong Cave Resort. If you happen to be staying at the resort, or Santa Fe Beach Club (they’re owned by the same company) you’ll have complimentary access to the cave. If, however, you’re staying elsewhere, you can visit the cave for a day-use fee of 100 PHP.
The cave has been developed for ease of access, so it’s not the most natural of tourist spots in Bantayan Island, but it’s still worth the visit. The water is insanely blue and clear, the water level depending on the tides. We took a refreshing dip at Ogtong Cave, marvelling at the water clarity.
8. MJ Square
Your visit to Bantayan Island wouldn’t be complete without spending an evening eating out at MJ Square. This popular food market is one of the must-visit tourist spots in Bantayan Island if you want to experience the island’s famous fresh seafood! Think scallops, squid, fish and crabs, bought by the kilo and cooked to order. There are also a number of souvenir shops selling trinkets and keepsakes, as well as dessert stalls.
9. Sts Peter & Paul Church
If you’re wanting to switch up your trip from beaches and mangroves, St Peter & Paul Church is a beautiful addition to your itinerary. The church is located in the town of Bantayan, in Bantayan Island. The current structure that stands today was completed in 1863, however the parish was originally founded in 1580 during the Spanish occupation. Everyone is welcome to visit the church, and there is even an old museum with artefacts dating back to the church’s conception in the 1500s.
10. Coconut Road
For a real taste of island life (and an Insta-worthy photo to boot) you definitely need to visit the (unofficial) Coconut Road. Located on Obo-ob Marikaban Road just after the Marikaban Barangay Hall, this dirt road is lined with lush coconut trees, making it the ultimate tropical photoshoot location. Ride your bicycle here – or in Zowie’s case ask a friendly local if you can take his bike for a spin – and snap some photos on this provincial path.
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping and try out one of the most exhilarating sports there is, kiteboarding on Bantayan Island is a must-do! KiteBantayan is a kiteboarding school operating from Amihan Beach Cabanas in Santa Fe. Whether you’re a total rookie or you’ve tried kiteboarding before, there are lessons available for every experience level.
12. Yacht Tour
Another epic activity you can do from Amihan Beach Cabanas is sail around the coast on your own private yacht. We set sail just before sunset so we could enjoy the beautiful golden hour lighting from sea. We sailed for a few hours, stopping to take the kayak and paddleboard out on the open water. We also enjoyed plenty of snacks, drinks and R&R time on the sun beds. It was an unforgettable experience and one of the best activities you can do on Bantayan Island.