Bantayan Island, Cebu, Part 1 (Apr. 10-15,'07)

Situated north-west of Cebu province is Bantayan Island, whose charm lies in its friendly locals and serene white sand beaches. The island has yet to become an extremely popular tourist destination, so its beauty, simplicity and tranquility are wonderfully preserved.

How We Got There

From Cebu City’s Northern Bus Terminal, my friends and I rode an air-conditioned bus to Hagnaya Port for PhP88.00 - the trip took around three and a half hours, but was fairly comfortable as the bus was clean and well-maintained. The scenery on the way to the port was mostly of small towns, sprawling mountainside, and every so often we got a glimpse of coastline.

From Hagnaya Port, we rode a ferry to Santa Fe, Bantayan Island. The hour-long ride cost us about PhP130.00/head.

Where We Stayed

Numerous resorts line the shores of Santa Fe, and as suggested by our friend’s brother (who had been to the island a number of times prior), we made reservations at Kota Beach, a resort that was a few minutes’ ride from the Santa Fe port. Along with some other guests, we rode a van sent by Kota Beach to pick us up at the port, and after a few minutes we arrived at the resort.

Kota Beach (Tel. no. 438-9042)

We rented (and actually haggled for) a cottage that cost us around PhP 1,400.00 a night, to be shared by six people. The cottage was air-conditioned and had one bathroom, 1 double bed and 1 single bed (we requested for two additional foam beds). It also had a little terrace in front with comfortable wooden chairs and a clothesline (very important, as six people living in one cottage for four days meant that there would be at least six wet swimsuits that needed drying for the most part of our stay).

The beach at Kota was beautiful. Besides the fine white sand, the best part about it was the huge sandbar right in front of the resort. Various portions of it would sink and rise depending on the time of the day. From talking to the locals, my friend found out that prior to a big storm that hit the island a few months back, the sandbar extended to the other resorts, but during our visit only the portion in front of Kota Beach remained. Also, the water was a beautiful blue, and we couldn’t wait to jump in when we first arrived.

Food! Food!

One thing’s for sure at Bantayan island: you won’t go hungry. For the most part, we ate a lot of grilled stuff, from chicken to fish to pork. The seafood, however, was amazing – not to mention, extremely affordable.

For our first meal we decided to try the food at the resort restaurant. We ordered mostly grilled stuff, which was delicious, but fairly expensive compared to the meals we would be having afterwards. That’s because my Cebuano friend (who was also our host for the trip) met one of the locals, Remy (cellphone 09063578703), who was basically an all-around man, i.e. whatever you wanted, he could get for you, pretty much. My friend would ask Remy to shop for fresh seafood and meat at the public market, which his wife would cook for us. We would have grand dinners of delicious fish, shellfish, pork and chicken every night, and only for PhP 150.00/head or less.

Behind Kota Beach was a small town that was a ten-minute walk (pedicabs were also available for PhP 10.00) from the resort, and we would often visit to buy ice, water, toiletries, etc. We also got to try the grilled chicken and chorizo sold from a barbecue stand on a street corner. Apart from being totally affordable, eating at the stand made for an authentic Bantayan experience.

For breakfast we also had the nice lady at the meat shop cook for us, for which we spent less than PhP 50 for a huge pot of adobo, rice and bananas.

Now I’m not a soda fan, but one discovery at Bantayan Island might just change all of that: it’s called Sparkle, and it costs PhP 7 a bottle. Fondly pronounced “Sparcol”, it’s like Mountain Dew or Lift but with a lot of fizz. And maybe it was also the summer heat and the whole beach atmosphere, but Sparkle now stands as my favorite softdrink, and probably one of the things I will miss the most about Bantayan Island.

Read Part 2: What Happens in Bantayan, Stays in Bantayan...


Anonymous said...

Daene, I love your site! This is such a great idea. Who knows, maybe you'll write a travel book someday? Hey, let's make our trip an annual event to look forward to. Maybe we can go to Coron next time? Take care! Miss ya! JEN =P

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Hehehe writing a travel book - that's the dream! Ris and I are already doing research for next year's trip, and Coron is definitely part of the list of possible destinations! Miss you too! :D

Hank Freid said...

Yes i agree, this is really nice island to visit. Here you can tips, ideas how to manage your travel.

Shai said...

Hey! I would love to visit this place soon! Will be in Dumaguete and Siargao this December!

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Hi Shai! Hope you were able to visit Bantayan Island while you were in the Philippines. Here's to more travelling! :)

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