Cebu – Philippines – to Bantayan Island

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MAY 2016:


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I had made my way from Panglao to Cebu City and stayed in the USDA DORMITORY HOTEL Cebu City for 2 nights so that I could have a look at the ‘Queen City’ of The Philippines – before continuing on to Bantayan Island.

Once again, I was disappointed. It is just another ‘unkempt’ Philippines city with a noticeable increase in beggars and many poor people sleeping rough on the streets (even during the day). You had the feeling that you needed to be a bit more ‘careful’ in Cebu City.


You want to start this trip early in the morning to avoid traffic.

I was up at 5:00am, showered & packed, and on the street by 6:15am.

There are no Trikes in Cebu … you either catch a Jeepney or a Taxi. A Jeepney wasn’t practical. The Northern Bus Terminal was about 6 kms from my hotel, so I decided to take a Taxi. I flagged one down on the street and asked him to put his meter on.

It took us about 10-15 minutes to get to the Terminal. As we drove in, the driver asked me for PHP10 for the ‘Terminal Fee’. We drove inside about 10m and he stopped for me to disembark. He could have just dropped me off outside! The Taxi cost was PHP90.

A steward asked where I was going and pointed me at the correct Ceres Aircon bus.


The Ceres buses are usually comfortable. This was no exception. The bus also had free wifi. They leave regularly during the day (every hour).

My bus left at 6:45am and arrived in Hagnaya Ferry Port at 10:00am.

A total journey time of 3 hours 15 minutes. The price was PHP160.

By leaving so early, I had saved about 1 hour on the journey … if you leave later in the day, you can expect the trip to take up to 4.5 hours.

We watched English speaking movies on the way.


The Ceres bus stops in the Ferry Terminal car park. It is a only a few metres to the Ferry Ticket counter.

There are several ferries leaving for Bantayan Island during the day. I caught the 10:30am (which was not on the published schedule) for PHP170. The Terminal Fee is PHP10.

We waited in the terminal and started boarding at 10:30am.

This was a RORO ferry (not a fast boat). The seating was basic.

The journey took 1.5 hours.


We arrived in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island at 12:15pm. As you approach the island you are filled with hope … it looks nice.

As you disembark, you run the normal ‘gauntlet’ of Taxi and Trike drivers touting for your trade. As usual, do not accept a ride from anyone within the terminal grounds … always walk outside of the terminal to get a better price.

I had not eaten yet, so I stopped for lunch in a local ‘tinpot’ first.

When replete, I approached a Trike driver. It was 2kms to my hotel … I used my rule of thumb: PHP10 per km plus PHP10 for my suitcase. I offered him PHP30. He asked for PHP50. I re-asserted PHP30 – he said ‘OK’.

As we drove, he asked if I wanted to rent a scooter. I said that I did and asked his price. It was PHP350 per day. This is a very reasonable price in The Philippines – on many tourist islands, they are PHP500 per day and up.

I asked him for his rate for 7 days. He said PHP250 per day. I normally do not rent a scooter sight unseen but I said that if he gave me a good one, I would take it.

He dropped me off at my hotel and said that he would return with the scooter in 30 minutes.

He returned with a 1 year old Honda Scoopy with only 19,000kms on the clock. The deal was done and I handed him my Philippines I-Card as security (not my passport).


I had done my ‘usual thing’ and pre-booked my accommodation.

I planned to stay on Bantayan for 8 nights. I booked only 1 night at the KOTA BEACH RESORT for PHP855 per night.

Accommodation in The Philippines is, generally, a problem for GRANDPAckers … the accommodation is poor value for money. Everywhere. Anything less than PHP900 per night is likely to be backpacker standard and below the required GRANDPAcker Standard.

Bantayan is no exception. On the internet, you will find it hard to find anywhere on the beachfront for less than PHP2,000 per night. A GRANDPAcker Budget only allows for PHP1,200 per night.

I booked one of the few beachfront properties that I could find and afford: a Fan Room at the Kota Beach Resort. My intention was to use my scooter that afternoon and the next day to go around the island to find somewhere better for the next 7 nights.

I checked into the Kota at 12:30pm but the room was not ready … so I headed out on my Scooter for 2 hours to do a quick review. It was obvious to me, very quickly, that I was not going to find any hotel on White Beach (the best beach) for under PHP1,500 for a Fan Room and PHP2,000 for an aircon room.

I returned to the Kota and moved in to my room.

I wasn’t expecting much (not at this price) but I was still a bit disappointed with the room … it was very basic.

You don’t get much for your money: a double bed, a single bed, a floor standing fan, a wardrobe, a desk, a small ensuite, cold water shower, and a small outside seating area.

I unpacked and got back on my scooter … surely I could find something better than this! I had a look around for another 3 hours asking for prices in several hotels. No joy … and, most were booked out over the weekend.

I had to make a fast decision.

I returned to the Kota, got on the internet, re-checked hotels, and concluded that the Kota was my best option. I would extend my stay at the Kota for the next 7 nights.

In those last 3 hours, the Kota had ‘disappeared’ from Agoda for the nights that I wanted. But, they were still on I went to reception … they were full on Saturday night.

But, AsiaTravel still showed their rooms as being ‘immediately confirmed’, so I did a ‘dirty’ … I booked the next 7 nights in a Fan room at PHP846 per night using AsiaTravel. My booking was immediately confirmed and paid for on my Credit Card. It was now the Kota Resort’s problem. 🙂

I did all of this online work sitting in the Kota’s restaurant. I fell in love with the view. In the end, I was happy to have an under-par room so that I could be in such a location.


The trip from Cebu City to Bantayan Island is a long one but an easy one.

Door-to-door it took me 6 hours.

My total cost was PHP470. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers budget PHP810.

On my first morning at the Kota, I had their Filipino Breakfast for PHP185 … this was typical of their menu prices … OK, but not good value for money. But, I had my scooter … I could eat anywhere I wanted. On my second morning I popped off to a ‘tinpot’ and had 2 fried eggs with rice for PHP30. The scooter will pay for itself over the next 7 days on food cost savings alone.


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