Bantayan Island is located in the northern region of Cebu Island and is part of a group of islands that rest in the Visayan Sea. Those wanting to adventure or vacation in this region can easily do so as the entire area is supported by transportation system of all kinds. Bantayan Island itself is only accessible by ferry and is a 2 hour ride from the port in the town of Hagnaya, just west of Bogo City.
Not only is the island of Bantayan itself a beautiful place to see and wonder through, but the surrounding islands are just as beautiful with a multitude of natural and personal adventures awaiting you. During low tide several of the outlying islands are accessible by foot; many others make for a great island hopping adventure with a local rented pump boat.
The history of Bantayan Islands is from the 18 fortress watchtowers that were built in the early 16th to late 17th century. These towers were built to protect the region from Moro Muslim pirate attacks which happened up and down the waterways of the Philippines for 100’s of years. The inhabitants of Bantayan Island called the fortresses “Bantayan sa Hari”, meaning “Watchtowers of the Kings”. In the late part of the 17th century the common outcry for incoming pirate attacks was “Bantayan, Bantayan”, meaning “keep watch, keep watch” and over centuries of use this is how Bantayan Island got its name. On a side note, today there are little remains of the 18 fortress watchtowers that protected this great region.
Bantayan Island is often referred to as “The Tranquil Version of Boracay” as the same stunning white sand beaches and the beautiful coastlines mimic that of Boracay, but without the typical influx of tourists and party going people. The Santa Fe region of Bantayan Island is the main spot for beautiful resorts and stunning places to see and visit.
Those that enjoy time away from the resorts and tourist spots can find their calling on the west side of the island where mangrove forests, bird watching and many other nature trips can be found. Several rare and exotic birds call home to Bantayan Island and often during their migration many come to see them rest here. The islands, as mentioned before, that rest nearby the main land mass can be accessed by foot at low tide, making bird and animal watching easy for those that love this type of adventure.
For anyone that loves the beauty in the water instead of looking at it, the clear blue waters of Bantayan Island will be calling you. From snorkeling on the nearby island rims to the deep scuba diving regions, the beauty of the marine animals and corals are simply never ending. A unique factor to the waters around Bantayan Island is that it is home to some of the most beautiful multi-colored starfish you will ever see. From colors ranging red, orange, and yellow you may also see the rare blue colored starfish that rest in the warm waters around this unique group of islands.
Bantayan Island and the unique complex of islets that make up this beautiful region are a place to vacation, see and wonder through. Keep in mind like all places in the Philippines, if you are coming to vacation on a budget, then stay away from the so called ‘hot spots’ and you’ll do just fine. The tranquility of this area is a ‘must’ for the western minds in all of us. Sure it’s a good thing to get out and party like its 1999 but in the end we all somehow seek the quiet and calm of an island adventure like this. On your next trip to Cebu where you have a few days to venture onward, take a trip to Bantayan Island as this little ‘must see’ destination is sure to please even the grumpiest of vacationer.