I’ve had several moments when I saw a group of friends who talks about Virgin Island in Bantayan. This mostly happened inside the public Jeepney, in a busy street of Cebu, or even when I travel to other places. Perchance, because this has been a favorite Island destination for many travelers. And, with all these random moments of hearing about Virgin Island, I became curious as cat.
Actually, at first, I believed this is the Virgin Island in Bohol, where I had the chance to visit in 2014 during my backpacking trip, but it’s not. So, barely like a year ago, I had a chance to explore this Island together with my friends when we visited Bantayan Island.
Virgin Island or locally known as Sillion Island is a beautiful Island, situated close to Sta Fe, Bantayan and can be reached by a 30 minute boat ride from Sta Fe. It is actually a privately owned Island that owns a wide stretch of powdery white sand and turquoise waters that every beach worshipper can enjoy. Moreover, this island is still left in its innate state comparing it to other Islands in the Philippines, and I must say, it is very well maintained.
My friends and I arrived on Bantayan Island just a few minutes after the sun has risen, and shown its majestic light upon the Island. Indeed, a sign of good weather, which makes us grateful enough. After facing an adversity of where to stay on the Island since we didn’t reserve any hotel beforehand, and having no fix plan on what to do, we finally agreed to visit the Virgin Island first.
Upon agreeing with friends that we will go to Virgin Island first, there’s this guy outside our room who offered us a boat ride for only PHP 1,500, which includes going to Virgin Island and leading back to the main Island in Santa Fe. We find the offer good hence, we didn’t bother to haggle since we were five that time, which means – will get to split the boat rental into five. Everyone was excited, and we immediately prepare to depart. The boat wasn’t that big, but enough to render us a comfortable space to move while on the boat. The boatman was not boring at all, he appears to be very excited for us as well. He even told us what are we going to find out on the Island and what we should do.
True enough after around 30 minutes of boat ride, the boat finally reached the shoreline of Virgin Island. I instantly noticed the powdery white sand while the turquoise waters kissing the coast, which seemed to be really enticing.
Upon traipsing our feet on the white sandy bed, and walk a few meters away from the shore, we were asked to pay PHP 500.00 for 2 people and additional PHP 100.00 per person in excess of 2. I got blown out of the water, since I didn’t expect it to be that expensive at all. But, since we were already on the Island, and we have no choice, we then paid PHP 800.00 because we are five that time.
We were supposed to find a cottage, but decided not to since we won’t stay longer on the Island, and besides we didn’t bring a lot of things that time. At least, we save a few hundreds for that. Shortly after paying our entrance fee, we started exploring the Island. We then walked around, and found a bunch of cliffs, lush of green trees and coconut palms, which I guess what makes Virgin Island a tropical paradise. And since we arrived late in the morning on Virgin Island, the lush green trees have provided us a great deal of shade from the late morning sun while exploring the island.
We decided to explore the North side of the Island, we pass through a forested area, while enjoying how the fresh air from the lush green trees and the ocean breeze meet in the middle. After a few minutes of hiking, we arrived at the beautiful short stretch of another white sand beach. We saw beautiful cliffs, and how the frail waves kisses the coast. It was serene and just so sensational. We took a bunch of photos, and since it was only us on the beach that time, we truly have enjoyed it.
Shortly, while ambling around the Island, we heard a shout from afar like as if crying out his nervousness out loud. And as curious as cat, we then got closer and we found out that the place was actually a “Jumping Site of Virgin Island”. The place is really a higher cliff part of Virgin Island, but it has been improved to make it higher. They built a sturdy bamboo-scaffolding on top of the rock. The height of this “cliff jumping site” is about 20-25 feet high. I couldn’t understand my feelings that time, the excitement and my fear were meeting in the midriff. I was tempted to go to the higher part of the cliff, and was about to jump, but because I was too scared of height, It didn’t happen. My knees were shaking and I was consumed by my fear. There’s also an improvised swing where a large rope is being wedded to a bamboo where you can jump on a pristine water just like Tarzan for about 10-15 feet high. And that’s something we tried, since the cliff jumping is something we actually can’t take. Though, it wasn’t that high, but it has yielded us a space to remember our childhood memories.
Shortly after truly enjoying Virgin Island, we decided to leave and get back to the main Island in Santa Fe. It was still early when we leave Virgin Island. We were supposed to witness the beautiful sunset, but since we still need to check some of the beautiful spots around Bantayan Island, that’s why we resolved to leave.
Virgin Island still has so much to proffer, that we didn’t have a chance to enjoy during our visit. They have a beautiful swimming area for fish-feeding, and another one is for snorkeling area or their marine sanctuary, which is very enticing. Additionally, they also have ample and comfortable picnic huts, lounge chairs and hammocks, which are free of charge except for the cottage.
Perchance, on our next visit next time, we would make sure to stay longer on Virgin Island, or probably staying a night would be sound exciting and amazing!
How to Get to Virgin Island in Bantayan
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Bantayan Island is via Cebu City, since Bantayan Island is part of the Province of Cebu. Thus, here’s a guide to get to Bantayan Island.
There are daily flights to Cebu from Manila, Davao and other part of the Philippines with Major Airlines (Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia). From the Mactan Cebu International Airport, ride a taxi going to North Bus Terminal.
There’s a MyBus outside the airport near the exit gate on the right side. From the Airport, the drop off point is in Parkmall and SM Cebu. The fare is Php 50.00. Trip schedules are from 7:00AM to 9:00PM with a 30 minute interval. And since Parkmall is located near the Cebu North Bus Terminal, you just have to ride a Jeepney or Taxi going to the terminal. The Jeepney fare from Parkmall is around PHP 8.00, but don’t forget to look for 01K Jeepney. And for the Taxi, the fare is around PHP 70.00-100.00, depending on the traffic flow.
From Cebu North Bus Terminal
Take a Ceres Bus bound for Hagnaya Port. The travel time is around 4 hours and the fare is around PHP 175.00. You can as well choose to take a direct Bus to Bantayan Island and the fare is around PHP 200.00, but boat fare is still excluded. Taking the direct Bus to Bantayan Island could be a bit complicated, so I’ll recommend taking a Bus bound for Hagnaya Port then just take a ferry boat from Hagnaya to Santa Fe Port.
From Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, Cebu, buy your ticket to get to Bantayan Island. You can choose between Island Shipping or Super Shuttle Ferry bound for Santa Fe Port. In our case, we took the Island Shipping. The first trip is at 3:00 AM, and the last trip is 5:30 PM. The travel time is around 1 hour, and the fare is around PHP 185.00. You also need to pay for an additional PHP 10.00 for your Terminal Fee.
The moment you arrived it at the Santa Fe Port, you have to pay the Ecological Fee, which is around PHP 30.00. From the port, take a tricycle to your Resort and fare is around PHP 20-30. Only, if you have booked your Hotel beforehand and have pre-arranged shuttle service with the Resort, then they will pick you up at the Port.
Going to Virgin Island from Bantayan.
As you set foot on Bantayan Island, specifically in Santa Fe, since this is the best jump off point, then you can charter a boat going to Virgin Island. Moreover, you can reach Virgin Island from any part of Bantayan as well. If you have pre-arranged a schedule Island hopping trip to Virgin Island with the Resort where you are staying, then it would be better. But, you can as well do DIY, since there are boats available for rent to bring you to Virgin Island, just ask the locals.
The fare will always depend on your haggling skills. If you’re good haggling the price, then you’ll get to save some hundreds. Merely, the boat rental going to Virgin Island usually ranges from PHP 1,500.00 to PHP 3,000.00, this depends on the size of the boat. In our case, we were able to pay PHP 1,500 for the boat, and we are 5 traveling to Virgin Island that time. Thus, if you’re travelling in groups, you’ll surely save a lot.
Virgin Island Travel Tips
- If you’re traveling alone to Virgin Island, it would be very costly, since there’s no regular passenger boat that travel to Virgin Island from Bantayan Island. If you want to save on your Virgin Island trip, the best thing you can do is to join other groups from the mainland, or else, you’ll get to rent an entire boat, which is very expensive.
- Nearly everything on Virgin Island is really expensive, so if you want to save, I suggest that you buy the necessary things you need on Virgin Island from the mainland Sta Fe, Bantayan, such as water & food, or you can rent Goggles & snorkeling gears from the mainland as well.
- Though this Island is expensive, but still it is perfect for those travelers who want to just relax while enjoying the beautiful white sand beach. Moreover, there are cottages that you can rent, especially if you’re traveling in groups. The price will invariably depend on the type of cottage that you’d love to rent. And if happen you didn’t bring any food from the mainland, they also have a restaurant bar that serves delectable food.
- Bantayan island can be really crowded during Holy Week. You’ll expect a long queue of passengers upon going in and out of port. Moreover, the beach will be crowded and prices in all activities and accommodation will be very expensive as well. But in case you want to visit the Bantayan Island and Virgin Island, during holy week, I advise you to book your accommodation in Bantayan as early as the month of January or February.
- Always check the weather if you’re planning your trip to Virgin Island, especially during rainy season in the Philippines from the month of June to December.
- Perhaps getting to Virgin Island in Bantayan requires a long drive from the Mactan Cebu International Airport for around 6 to 7 hours, which includes the long line for the boat ticket and waiting time, but I tell you – it is truly worth it.
- Please remember to Leave No Trace (LNT) behind. Take good care of our mother nature. Just enjoy and be responsible enough.
Rates and other information that you should know about Virgin Island
DAY USE RATES
- Entrance fee: PHP 500.00 for 2 persons, and additional PHP 100.00 per person in excess of 2.
PHP 300.00, PHP 500.00, PHP 600.00, PHP 1,000.00 and PHP 1,500.00
Note: Day use is from 9AM to 5PM
- Cabana: PHP 1,500.00 for 2 pax (maximum of 4 pax)
- Open cottage: PHP 1,500.00 for 5 pax. An additional PHP 200.00 for every succeeding persons.
- Bamboo Cottage: PHP 3,000.00 for 2 pax. (maximum of 4 pax)
- Family cottage: PHP 5,000.00 for 4 pax (maximum of 6 pax)
- Barkada cottage: PHP 7,000.00 for 8 pax (maximum of 10pax) an additional PHP 300.00 for every succeeding persons.
Note: Rates may change without prior notice, especially during peak season (December, April, May). And during holy week, the rates can be doubled.
Operating hours: 9AM to 5PM, Mondays to Sundays
Contact numbers: Smart – +63 920 118 3521, Globe – +63 917 322 2115, Sun Cellular – +63 922 726 6579