In the middle of the Visayan Sea, just off the main island of Cebu lies Bantayan Island, a former Spanish stronghold against Moro invaders. According to local legend, the island gets its name from the watchtowers that used to protect the area. Named Bantayan ng Hari (Watchtowers of the King), these towers kept an eye out for any Moro invaders that may come to the island’s shores.
But Bantayan Island’s military days are a thing of the past. Nowadays, the island is more known as a popular destination for those hoping to spend their days lying down on a beach.
The town of Santa Fe, in particular, is famous for the beaches that line the town’s shores, such as the pristine Sugar Beach, which has some of the finest white sand in the country or the small and private Paradise Beach, surrounded by crystal blue waters and shaded by coconut trees.
Virgin Island, which is just a short boat ride away from the island proper, is another must-see destination in Bantayan. It features clear turquoise waters that you can freely snorkel in as well as powdery white sand where you can lie down and soak up some sun. Don’t worry about lunch, as you can enjoy a seafood one right on the shore, provided by the island’s caretakers.
Sun isn’t the only thing you can soak up in Bantayan though. Make sure to pay a visit to some of the historical sites that dot the island. There’s the Saints Peter and Paul Church in the heart of Bantayan town. Finished in 1863, the church is built entirely with limestone and coral that’s found on the island.
There’s also the ruins of Kota Fort, found in the town of Madridejos. Formerly a military fortress, the ruins and the surrounding areas have been transformed into a park where locals and visitors alike can enjoy a picnic lunch.
Speaking of lunch, make sure to head on over to Bantayan Public Market to pick up some local
products. The island is known for its fishing industry so make sure to try out some of Bantayan’s famous dried fish. It’s best eaten with garlic rice, a sunnyside up egg, and plenty of vinegar.
Bantayan is beautiful all year round, but the best time to visit this island is between the months of January to June. But one thing’s for sure: If you’re a beach bum or a history fan, a visit to Bantayan Island in the Visayas should be next on your agenda.