Best Things To Do In Santa Fe, Cebu: A Quieter Boracay

things to do in santa fe philippines

Bantayan Island, Philippines is probably the answer that comes to mind when people are asked about Boracay’s equivalent in Cebu, owing to its long stretches of white sand beaches. In actuality, only one of the three municipalities within the island has powdery sand and clear waters, and that is Santa Fe. Its main differences from Boracay — smaller crowds and quieter environment — are what attract visitors and invites them to come back over and over again.

1. Spend a leisurely time at Beach Placid

Beach in Santa Fe
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Martin PERRY used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Santa Fe is well known for its beautiful beaches, and you have several options to choose from if you want to laze under the sun, but the top option is Beach Placid.

Beach Placid is aptly named because it can lull its visitors into a relaxed state. The beauty of this beach is that it never becomes overcrowded with tourists, despite being arguably the most popular beach on the island. Those who want to enjoy peace and quiet while vacationing will be able to do so here.

Beach Placid’s popularity may be due to its pristine shoreline and powdery sand. This is a good option for those who are traveling with their children, because the water deepens gradually, unlike some other beaches.

Snorkeling is possible in the waters along Beach Placid, owing to the rich underwater vegetation there. Make sure to bring or rent snorkeling gear so you can explore the aquatic life there. Owing to its clear waters, you will have no trouble meeting and greeting the various underwater creatures there.

Those who can afford to spend more than one day on Sta. Fe can opt to stay at Beach Placid Resort. The beach houses are near from the shore, so you will literally have the sea right in your front yard.

Beach Placid Resort

Address: F. Roska Street,Sta. Fe, Cebu

Price: Room rates start from 1,700 PHP (34 USD)

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Contact: +6332 406 5686; +6332 438 9070; +63 917 7222993

Website: Beach Placid Resort

2. Go to a secluded beach

Bantayan island beach, Santa Fe
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mats Sjödin used under CC BY 3.0

Those who want to go somewhere a little quieter can opt for Paradise Beach. Like Beach Placid, it has powdery sand and clear waters. The difference is that this is a bit more secluded. There are even times that there are only a handful of people on this beach, particularly during off-peak seasons, so you may even have the beach all to yourself.

Paradise Beach

Access: The beach can be accessed either by boat (via a 15-minute boat ride) or by land (a 30-minute ride going to Bantayan)

3. Explore the depths of Ogtong Cave

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Limor Noah used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Ogtong Cave can be found near Sugar Beach and Paradise Beach. The cave itself is actually inside a resort, but it does not mean that you have to check in as a guest to explore Ogtong Cave. The main attraction of the cave is its pool, which you can swim in.

Note that children 15 years old and younger are not allowed to swim in the pool.

Ogtong Cave

Contact: +6332 438 9129/+6332 438 9436/+639324336282

4. Go island hopping

Bantayan island
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daugilas used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bantayan may be an island, but it is also a jump-off point where visitors can explore a few secluded islands. You can hire a boat starting at 800 PHP (40 USD), which covers round-trip travel and use of life vests. However, the rate does not cover rental of snorkeling gear. If you were not able to bring your own equipment, do tell the boat’s operator that you want to rent sets, so he or she can have them ready for you. Rental of snorkeling gear is priced at 100 PHP (2 USD) for one day of use.

You can also negotiate with the boat’s operator if you want him or her to purchase food, usually seafood, for you while you are going around the islands. He or she will be the one to purchase and cook your meal for you.

The Entrance Fee to Virgin Island, the most popular island, is 500 PHP (10 USD). You can snorkel and go boating there. Cottages are available for rental on the island. While it is possible to stay overnight on the island, do note that it is practically bare of amenities, so make sure you pack your own toiletries and bring your own food and water should you wish to spend the night there.

Virgin Island

Price: 500 PHP (10 USD) for the first two people, and an additional 100 PHP (2 USD) for every additional person in the group

5. Go biking

Sibonga Cebu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user dbgg1979 used under CC BY 2.0

It is actually possible to explore the entire island within a day, given that there are only three towns here. In fact, locals and seasoned travelers alike recommend visitors opt to rent a bike. Not only will you not have to worry about catching public vehicles, you will also be able to better appreciate the slow-paced lifestyle of the residents of Bantayan Island. Most of the roads are paved, so you will not have that much difficulty in navigating across these towns. All you need to is to have a map app on your phone, and you’re all set to explore the island. Just make sure to be careful, as there might be other vehicles on the road with you.

Bike rental

Price: from 150 PHP (3 USD) for a whole day bike rental

6. Visit Saints Peter and Paul Church

Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Bantayan, Cebu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joelaldor used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Once you have rented your bike, be sure to pedal your way to Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan, the oldest church in Cebu and formerly part of the Archdiocese of Mexico. The first church was constructed in 1580, but was burned within the same year by invaders. It was then re-constructed using coral, with the structure completed in 1863.

As a note, the only ATM on the island is in Bantayan. As such, make sure that you brought sufficient funds when you go to Sta. Fe. Otherwise, take the opportunity to withdraw some money while you are in Bantayan so you do not need to go back here if you find yourself short on cash.

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Address: Bantayan, Cebu

7. Brave the skies

Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Since you have explored the waters and the land of Sta. Fe, why not the skies as well? Sky diving is offered in Sta. Fe for the brave of heart. The rate starts at 18,000 PHP (360 USD) per person for a tandem jump. This is inclusive of the certificate, photos, and raw video footage of your jump.

Skydive Greater Cebu

Price: 18,000 PHP (360 USD) per person (tandem jump with instructor)

Contact: +63 923 875 1689

Website: Skydive Greater Cebu

Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island is not Boracay — and that may be a good thing

Sugar Beach Bantayan
Source: Photo by user TheCoffee used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bantayan Island may not offer the party scene that Boracay is known for, but for some folks, that actually ranks Bantayan Island higher. If you want to explore the white sands and the cool waters of Boracay without the noise and crowds, then this is the place for you.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Melanie is a freelance travel writer. She considers freelancing for Trip 101 to be a combination of two of the things she loves: writing and traveling.

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Santa Fe
Good things are meant to be shared!