Most travelers stay in the micro-community of Santa Fe, right by the beach on the northwest part of the island. So, depending on where you stay, you can either wake up and step right out onto the beach or get there with a 1-minute walk. The area there is called Marikaban Beach, and it follows the jutting portion of the island and an almost 9-degree right-hand turn along the beach. The sand is nice enough here but not quite the finest powdery white in most areas, but it’s also where most hotels, resorts, and activities take place. You can just hang out and swim or try snorkeling, kite surfing, or hang out with other travelers over beers at Youneek Resort, which is sort of like the epicenter of that beach. I’ve also seen plenty of people camp in tents right on the beach at night!
A Closer Look at Marikaban Beach
Bantayan has its own skydiving outfit! Based right out of the anthill-sized airport, the organization is actually totally legit, safe, and well-run (by Americans). You can only jump from around 9,000 feet if I remember correctly, but the view falling over the green jungle interior, white sand rim, and aqua green waters as you parachute right onto the beach would be CRAZY! However, they charge upwards of $350 for one jump because aviation fees are so high, but that does include a videographer, which could easily be $100 or more at any other skydiving outfit.
On the other side of the island opposite the popular Santa Fe area, you’ll find Paradise Beach. It truly is one of the chilliest and coolest little setups I’ve ever seen, with natural closely cropped grass among groves of palm trees and plants right up to the perfect white sand. It’s also harder to get to (which makes it more fun), since you have to take a roughly 1km dirt road off of the main highway to find it.
M G Plaza
At night, I was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant/bar scene on Bantayan, and I’ve seen less dynamic nightlife options in much bigger cities. This single avenue-like plaza is open to pedestrians only and features some great little outdoor bars and food choices like an iconic Mexican joint and a great Greek place.
Whoa. Wow. Holy smokes. I’d have to think of about 1,000 other superlatives to describe Virgin island, only about 30 minutes off the coast of Bantayan Island. Once there, you can lounge on the perfect (and I do mean perfect) beaches, chill in the shady palm groves, order fresh fish, and lunch as well as beers, swim out to shaded pavilions in the water, hike around the island paths, and go cliff jumping off of bamboo towers. Insanely cool!
While you’re out on the water and have rented your boat, stop by Kinatarkan Island, either on the way to Virgin Island or on the way back. The beach is just ok there, but the cool thing is that there are no resorts or hotels – just a charming little fishing village. Go ahead and stroll through the narrow streets, saying hello to the locals and children playing, witnessing a real slice of Filipino island life devoid of commercialization – and probably no other tourists.
There is so much there, so much to do, this adventure travel blogger will have to come back and write more when time permits!