Where To Stay

Bantayan – Philippines – Where To Stay




MAY 2016:



Click here to read our Philippines Retirement Reviews.


OVERVIEW:

As with many other destinations in The Philippines, the cost of pre-booking nice accommodation online was too high for a GRANDPAcking Budget.

Bantayan Island prices were comparable with El NidoBoracay and Panglao prices. High. Very high.

Bantayan - Hotel MapAccommodation 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 rather than GRANDPAcker Standard.

PHP2400 / day is my total GRANDPAcking Daily Budget! As a rule, I try and keep accommodation costs to no more than 50% of my Budget; this is what a GRANDPAcking couple can afford (and still have enough money left to exist on). In The Philippines my target price is, therefore, BELOW PHP1200 / night.


WHAT’S ON THE INTERNET / HOTEL SEARCH ENGINES:

Have a look for yourself. You will find that most of the cheap options are Dorms and / or in Backpacker Hostels:

Booking.com

Now and again, you will be able to get 50-70% discounts on (what look like) GRANDPAcking Standard rooms… but, make sure that you research the hotel and read the reviews.

If you couple one of these discounts with the information that I provide in this post … you should end up with a very good accommodation solution.

Please Note: On AGODA.COM, you usually have to pay a 12% Hotel Tax and 10% Service Charge IN ADDITION TO their published rate (i.e. an additional 22%). In The Philippines, this can happen on BOOKING.COM too but, generally, with BOOKING.COM what you see is what you get.


KOTA BEACH RESORT:

Bantayan - Kota Beach EntryBantayan - Kota Beach EnsuiteI made my own way from Cebu to Bantayan Island and I had done my ‘usual thing’ of pre-booking my Bantayan accommodation.

I planned to stay on Bantayan for 8 nights.

I booked 1 night in a Fan Room at the Kota Beach Resort for PHP855 per night.

KOTA BEACH RESORT

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.

No TV, no in-room-wifi …

The room was in fairly good condition but needed some maintenance work: the roller blinds were falling away from the rail.

Bantayan - Kota Beach BedsBantayan - Kota Beach RoomOn the PLUS side, the windows had good mosquito netting and the shower water pressure was excellent.

My room was set back 30m from the beach.

The Kota had a beachfront restaurant and bar (with pool table).

And … was located on a good beach with beautiful views.Bantayan - Kota Beach Restaurant View


WHERE TO STAY ON BANTAYAN ISLAND:

The Kota Beach Resort was, now, my ‘benchmark’.

The next day, I toured the whole island on my scooter. The whole trip took 7 hours.

My tour started in the Kota Beach Resort. From there, I headed north and up the east coast.

There are plenty of resorts around the island. I will provide typical examples of what you will find.


DETAILED ANALYSIS:

This is what I found …

NORDIC INN / TRISTAN RESORT AREA:

These are 2 of the cheapest places to stay, so I started here. Both target backpackers, and the beach is average.

Bantayan - 41 - Tristan Resort Beach

EAST COAST RESORTS:

Bantayan - 1 - Beach Placid BeachBantayan - 2 - Beach Placid Huts1-2kms north of the Ferry Terminal, you find a small cluster of resorts starting at the Placid Resort through to the Tickety Boo.

This is, primarily, a budget resort area.

The beach is reasonable and one of the better beaches on the island.

You are resort-bound here with few restaurants and bars to choose from outside of the resorts, themselves. The downside of this is that your food bill comes at resort prices.

Bantayan - 5 - Tickety BooBantayan - 3 - St Bernard HutsUnless you like being isolated, you will need transport.

The BEACH PLACID RESORT has OK Double Fan Rooms for PHP1500 but all of these were fully booked. An Aircon Double was PHP2500 – over-priced (in my opinion).The Tickety Boo was very basic and unappealing.

The best option here was the ST BERNARD RESORT where you can get a (very) small Fan Cottage with double bed, balcony and cold water shower for PHP850.

Bantayan - 4 - St Bernard Beach

EAST COAST BEACHES:

Bantayan - 6 - Kid Goat Bantayan - 7 - Eastern Coast Bantayan - 8 - Baigad Road Bantayan - 9 - Baigad Road BridgeIf you continue north you find a string of very average beaches; there are no ‘hidden gems’ here and no ‘unlisted’ resorts.Bantayan - 10 - Baigad Beach

Bantayan - 11 - Sillon Beach Bantayan - 12 - Virgin Island Bantayan - 13 - San Agustin Beach Bantayan - 15 - Kaongkod BeachThe coastal road varies in quality but it is a pleasant drive and the environment becomes very rural.

You get a good view of Virgin Island … a popular tourist day trip by Bangka.Bantayan - 14 - Atop Atop Road

NORTH COAST BEACHES:

Bantayan - 16 - Malbago Beach Bantayan - 17 - Kota Beach Bantayan - 18 - Tarong Beach The north coast beaches from Malbago to Kodia are pretty average too.

In the far north you pass through Koda Town – one of the biggest settlements on the island.

There are no ‘hidden gems’ in this area either.Bantayan - 19 - Kodia Beach

WEST COAST BEACHES:

Bantayan - 20 - Patao Beach Bantayan - 21 - Patao Fishermen Again, there is nothing of note until you get south of Bantayan Town.

In Patao I stopped and talked to some fishermen fixing their nets.

Bantayan - 22 - Patao Roast PihBantayan - 23 - Patao KaraokeThen I saw some locals roasting a whole pig and stopped to have a look.

Around the back there was a party going on with a group of ladies singing karaoke. It was Netty’s birthday.

I stopped for a while and joined them. They offered me a glass of beer. I sang a love song for the birthday girl (Your Song by Elton John).

Great fun. And, they all made me very welcome.Bantayan - 24 - Baod Beach

I had lunch at Bantayan Town Public Market and continued south.

Bantayan - 25 - Guiwanon Ocean Park Kids Bantayan - 26 - Bantigue Beach I stopped off at Guiwanon where there were some disappointed children playing on the beach – they couldn’t swim today because there were jellyfish in the water.

At Bantigue, I stopped and had a chat with some guys playing cards in a treehouse.Bantayan - 27 - Bantigue Treehouse

SOUTH COAST BEACHES & RESORTS:

Bantayan - 28 - Maia's Resort Beach Bantayan - 33 - Obo Ob Coast Road Bantayan - 29 - Obo Ob Mangroves You get back to the start of the ‘resort area’ when you hit MAIA’s BEACH RESORT. But, Maia’s has no beach.

Continuing down Obo-Ob road you hit the Mangroves Swamps.

This is one of the most picturesque areas.

Bantayan - 31 - Omagieca's RestaurantBantayan - 32 - Omagieca's MenuYou can walk out on wooden bridges into the Mangroves for PHP50.

There is a restaurant where you can dine amongst the Mangroves. I made a note to myself to return at a later date to try it.

There were locals with their children swimming in the Mangroves but it isn’t really a ‘tourist’ area.Bantayan - 30 - Obo Ob Swimmers

Bantayan - 34 - Obo Ob Coast Bantayan - 35 - Obtong BayAs you go further east the coastline gets rocky and rough until you hit Obtong Bay.

There is a resort here, but the beach is nothing special.Bantayan - 36 - Obtong Beach

THE BEST BEACH:

The best beach area on the island starts at Mayet’s Beach Resort and continues east to the KOTA BEACH RESORT. Mayet’s offered me an Aircon Double room with cold water shower for PHP1800.

Bantayan - 37 - Mayet's Resort BeachThis is the main tourist area. Most resorts are too expensive for GRANDPAckers.

If you want to stay on the beachfront, you have very few options and you will need to negotiate hard for an affordable price. As I say in other postings, it is best to turn up with folding cash, make them an offer, and pay up-front – this will get you the best price.

Bantayan - 38 - Mayet's ResortBantayan - 40 - Queen Elizabeth ResortIf you are happy to be away from the beach, there are several resorts found on the coast road (all within 100m walk to the beach). Many are not listed. The quality of the rooms vary. You can get Aircon Double rooms for as low as PHP700 – but check them out thoroughly first.

The only resort that I found on the beachfront worth a mention is the Queen Elizabeth. They had Aircon Doubles with cold water shower for PH1500; you should be able to negotiate this down into GRANDPAcker range.

Set back on the road I found the Sunshine Resort which offered Fan Doubles for PHP1500 and Aircon Doubles for PHP1700; again, you should be able to negotiate this down into GRANDPAcker range.Bantayan - 39 - Queen Elizabeth Resort Beach


CONCLUSION:

The beaches on Bantayan Island are mostly average (at best) and so is the swimming. In most cases, the beaches are stony and there are stones underfoot as you wade out in the water for a swim. But, you do get some good snorkeling.

The budget resort area just north of the Ferry Terminal on the east coast might be worth a look but you are a bit isolated. The ‘pick of the bunch’ is the ST BERNARD RESORT.

Where To Stay

However, if you want to be within walking distance of a good selection of restaurants and bars, you need to target the green box area. From here you have easy access to the best beach and plenty of entertainment in the evenings ranging from live music to sports bars to karaoke.

If you are happy to rent a scooter (or use Trikes to get around), expand your search area to the orange box.

It is worth renting a scooter and spending a few hours searching to find a good place at a good price: THEY ARE THERE AND YOU CAN FIND THEM. Once again, renting a scooter pays for itself in the savings that you will make on your accommodation; accommodation which is, usually, better and cheaper than you would otherwise find online.

If you like to be on a nice beach, to swim every day and to sit on / near the beach with a beer at night … for that ‘privilege’, you will need to compromise on your GRANDPAcking accommodation standards. You have very few choices.

The KOTA BEACH RESORT is one of the only resorts offering this at a GRANDPAcker price.

PLEASE NOTE:

There is no doubt in my mind that, if I had turned up with ‘folding cash in hand’ and put it on the table, I could have discounted all resort prices down from their published rate. Some more than others. As a rule, if you are staying 1-2 weeks, offer cash up-front 30% below the asking price (accept 20-25%). If you are staying 3 weeks or more, offer 50% below the asking price (accept 30-40%). But, in the end, accept whatever discount is fair for the quality of room being offered.


MY DECISION:

As I say in my Cebu to Bantayan Island post, I felt forced to make a fast decision when I first arrived at the Kota Beach Resort. On my first night, I extended my stay at the Kota for my remaining 7 nights – BEFORE taking my scooter trip around the island.

This time, my gamble paid off. After viewing the rest of the island, I concluded that I was in the best place at the best price.

The cheaper resorts available (like the Nordic, Tristan’s, Casa Isabel, Randy’s, Ritzy’s, and the ‘unlisted’ hotels in the back streets) are just as basic as the Kota – but in worse loca