Before you continue reading, I would like to emphasize that this is not a budget trip. This travel guide is intended for families vacationing with toddlers and/or senior citizens in tow. Unlike your usual barkada or couple trips, traveling with them will make you choose comfort over savings and rest over adventure. 🙂
Ever since my sisters started building their own families, our family has not gone out on a proper summer vacation like we always used to. So when AirAsia and Cebu Pacific seat sales came knocking on our door last year, we grabbed the opportunity and booked tickets to Cebu for 5 days and 4 nights.
We wanted a laidback beach getaway, so out of all the wonderful sights and activities Cebu has to offer, we decided to go to Bantayan Island. We stayed at Kota Beach Resort and went on a quick trip to the nearby Virgin Island. Even though we were quite a big group, composed of four adults, two senior citizens and two kids, I’d like to believe we managed to balance fun and relaxation in this trip. Watch how our 5-day getaway went, here:
HOW TO GET THERE
Bantayan Island is located in the northern tip of Cebu, and is about 4-5 hours away from the city. Directions are pretty straightforward since there’s not much options to choose from.
Cebu City ➟ Hagnaya Port: Hagnaya Port is the main jump-off point to Bantayan Island. You can catch a bus going there at the Cebu North Bus Terminal near SM City Cebu. Travel time is 3-4 hours and fare is P170 (as of May 2016). We considered this option and tried to buy tickets the night before our trip, but we learned that there was no seat reservation system to accommodate this plan. You just had to wait for the bus on your actual trip and pay as you board. Given the situation, we decided to book a private van through Harry Balais that same night.
He hooked us up with a reliable van rental service which we got for P8,000 round trip. With a private van, our travel time was cut down to 2 hours. We left our hotel at 3:30am and got to the port at 5:30am, just when the Island Shipping Corp. Booth opened.
Quick Tip: Make sure you leave Cebu City before 2pm if you want to catch the last ferry to Sta. Fe, which leaves Hagnaya Port at 5:30pm.
Hagnaya Port ➟ Sta. Fe Port: We got 6:30am tickets from the first booth that opened, which was Island Shipping Corp. The ferry was 30 minutes late but we didn’t mind because we were entertained by the dreamy sunrise as we were waiting.
My sisters were initially worried about the safety of the ferry since they were with their toddlers, but eventually felt at ease when we got to our seats. It looked well-maintained and the ceiling was lined with life jackets in case of emergency. Also, the ferry was open on the sides so ventilation wasn’t a problem. The 1-hour ride was smooth and the kids were mostly asleep, thanks to the cool breeze.
For ferry schedules, see images below.
Island Shipping Corp. Fares as of May 2016:
- Regular: P170
- Child (1-11 years old): P85
- Senior Citizen (must present an ID): P119.68
- Student (must present a valid School ID): P144.56
5D 4N BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU ITINERARY
Day 1: Manila > Cebu City (Rest Day)
Day 2: Cebu City > Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island
Day 3: Virgin Island, Kota Beach
Day 4: Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island > Cebu City (Rest Day)
Day 5: Cebu City > Manila
Quick Tip: Ask assistance from the resort staff to hire a boat to Virgin Island for you. Aside from taking you to the island, your boatman may also cook fresh seafood for you, so better bring some from the Bantayan Market. Don’t forget to give a generous tip for the service.
This is by far, the most relaxed itinerary I ever made. It may not be my usual kind of travel style, but I had fun and I know that my family enjoyed as well. At the end of the day, ain’t that what truly matters? 🙂
So would I recommend a trip to Bantayan Island to those travelling with toddlers? My answer would be yes. Just make sure you allot rest days in between the actual trip and your flights so that they have time to regain their strength. Also, I suggest that you skip the option to take the bus to Hagnaya Port and hire a private van instead. The North Bus Terminal isn’t that bad, but chances are there won’t be enough seats for them to wait for the bus comfortably.
It’s also better to buy enough snacks & drinking water for them in Cebu City, before heading to Bantayan Island. Not only because they’d surely be cheaper, but because options are limited in the island, even in resorts. If they want to eat a particular snack, there’s no guarantee that it’s available there. I’m also not saying that drinking water is unsafe there, but it has been my family’s habit to bring mineral water for the kids during trips. Better safe than sorry, right?
Specific directions to listed destinations, travel time & costs, plus activity guides and reminders can be seen on our mobile-friendly Bantayan Island, Cebu artinerary. Download it HERE. (You have to be subscribed to this site to get access to our freebies. Click here if you haven’t.)
Make sure to save all images on your mobile phones in proper order. Enjoy!