Bantayan Island Travel 2015
Expectations about Bantayan Island
This is my first travel log about my fantastic and short travel to Bantayan Island – the island I dreamed of seeing for a long time.
Bantayan Island is popularly known for its great white sand beaches, especially along the southeast coast of Santa Fe Town area. However, you can also see and experience nice beach anywhere on the island for certain. The other two towns are Bantayan (the name of the island but a town) and Madridejos in the north.
Now, excuse me but I should probably start this conversation from Cebu City where I started this journey. If you already know how to get to Bantayan Island then you can skip this part and see my experiences beyond this. Here I go…
Travel from Cebu to Bantayan Island
I arrived in Cebu City early and took a taxi straight to Cebu North Bus Terminal to catch an early bus. It was around 6AM and I noticed the wide and open roads and we just rushed through and arrived at the terminal in a jiffy. It only took about 10 minutes from Pier 1 to the bus terminal. Then I searched for the bus I wanted to try and found one among the many choices with dispatchers convincing you to take theirs.
I was welcomed by the calmly ‘conductor’ who then ushered me inside. The bus has just started welcoming passengers and so I had lots of choices to get the best sit – somewhere in the middle and by the window side for an unobstructed view of the scenery along the way.
This aircon bus is with a video playing all the way. Since Filipinos mostly love action movies, the conductor/operator showed two films in a row – which were unfortunately movies I have already seen. Anyway, you don’t watch a movie inside a vehicle when you have great views of nature, towns, old structures or other sceneries along the way.
It took us around or less than three hours to reach Hagnaya Port in San Remigio Town where you have to take a ferry. It was around 10AM and seemed like a perfect time to arrive on Bantayan Island for lunch. (I only had bread for breakfast which I bought from a store inside the bus terminal but it kept me ready to keep moving!)
I was quite excited when I reached the port and rushed to search and buy my ferry ticket (PhP170). I could smell the fresh seawater and the cool breeze. Yeah, you will find it a bit chilly if you are not used to the sea breeze blowing constantly during day time. The sits are quite comfortable and you’ll get great views of the sea, islands and all. My only complain was about the uncomfortable ‘comfort room’!
We left as scheduled and was traveling for about an hour. Along the way, you could see fisher folks mending their fishing nets along the shores while others are inspecting their nets spread in the open waters hoping for unsuspecting fish during high tide. In a distance you can see islands topped with green trees and leaves of coconuts dancing with the breeze. More prominently, you could see the white sand/beaches lining along the islands’ shores. Observing intently and enjoying deeply the grandiose spectacles and being absorbed by all such wonders, I realized we were getting close to the pier of Bantayan Island – Santa Fe Port.
With great expectations and excitement I decided to wait closer to the ferry’s exit area to get ahead of others. Yes, I was dragging my luggage with my backpack on my back. I could see porters trying to lure newcomers to any vehicle or accommodation they offer. Since, I have my resort already booked I can simply and kindly refused their offers knowing that a vehicle somewhere is waiting for my coming. I searched the pier with my eyes and immediately caught the logo of my resort. I approached the sturdy-looking guy who seemed like the one driving it. He asked me and I was glad to answer back that I am taking his van. He helped me settle my luggage inside the van and off we go for the resort – Anika Island Resort.
My excitement reached its top when we arrived the place. Amazing! Then the driver guided me to the Front Desk where the nice lady greeted me in Cebuano and asked for my arrangement documents. I told her my name and presented a copy of my booking receipt. Without waiting for long, she handed me over the key to my room pointing to the direction where I should head to.
My resort (Anika Island Beach Resort)
My Anika here I come. The name ‘Anika’, according to Mr Wikipedia, is a feminine name and it could refer to a lot of good meanings depending on the origin of the word.
For example, Anika in Hebrew language means “grace, favour, beautiful”, which share similar connotation in Latin. In Arabic, Anika means “unique”, which I would say can also mean something beautiful or anything with positive connotation, right?
Anyhow, coming and picking this place is my personal choice. In fact, I booked one resort but cancelled it due to my personal preferences. Such as, staying in a resort where I could use as my base and reference point for my first Bantayan Island travel experience. And I was right.
Anika Island Beach Resort was my perfect place for both resting and working. My air-conditioned room is a perfect and comfortable space for resting. I was literally inside a metal container that is creatively transformed into a cool and well-designed room with complete bedroom facilities, including the washroom.
So, from this room or resort, I walked
the long and wide stretch of Alice Beach where most of the popular
resorts in this southeastern part of the island are to be found. I took
great photos of children playing joyfully with no worries about life.
Most importantly, I had to capture photos of the resorts you can find in
this website. I covered almost all resorts, unfortunately I wasn’t able
to discover more resorts (especially the smaller ones) which need
promotion through this travel guide.
The Sun Rises
The sunrise on Bantayan Island is gorgeous. It was my first experience to fully observe the sun rising from behind the horizon emitting various colors and shades as it tries to slowly lighten up this part of the world for a day… each day.
Yes, I had to get up earlier than usual (which I used to do when I was younger then!) – that is around 5:15 in the morning. In the Philippines, 5 AM is already bright and is not early for Filipinos.
I did got up twice to get a good sight of the sunrise and, of course, snapped nice shots of this amazing spectacle. The first morning wasn’t that perfect due to the cloud that covered the view of the sun in my position. I waited but was a bit disappointed that the sun showed its face fully when it was already up above the horizon and breaking the day.
The second morning was a perfect timing and it was amazing. I captured it from every angle and perspective as an amateur photographer. (Personally, and proud to say it publicly, I want to become a good photographer ^^ !). And I kept saying I need a good camera! I was satisfied with the photos I took and hopefully they please you as well.
Motorbike Tours to resorts
Three days on the island is not enough to fully cover places I wanted to see. I decided to visit those that are in my website and the ones I desperately wanted to see and take photos at. To do that I need to move quicker and decided to rent a motorbike, no, a scooter!
I was a bit ambivalent to rent one but I thought this is the only way to move around the island quicker. I haven’t operated a motorbike alone before, however, a scooter might be okay I thought. There was fear of accident but I was confident because I ride a mountain bike myself. Balancing could be the same but controlling the speed could be different, I thought.
Whatever… I challenged myself and tried turning on the start button with the operator’s instructions. There it was, the machine started and I thought I just have to remember clearly that turning the accelerator in opposite directions mean high speed and low speed, wow!
I could feel my heart pumping and blooding rushing to my brain but told myself to feel confident and could do it. And, there I go testing and listening carefully to the accelerating sound (like bikers do!) and started to glide forward, yey!
I moved around the island seeing places and enjoying the wind touching me and keeping me cool while the sun is up. Most roads are paved but others are only dirt and could be dusty – but a perfect scene for an island worth traveling. Trees, coconut trees, children, dogs, ducks, pigs, chickens, fighting roosters, small stores, sea, ponds… yes you can observe them all while riding your vehicle.
I was able to visit resorts that are quite unreachable if you don’t drive a car or a motorbike. I met the co-owner of Bantayan Nature Park Resort and was kindly guided by one of their staff explaining their facilities. It was a great experience of the nature and great facilities, and I was able to capture some good photos.
Then I proceeded to another secluded resort called Beach Montemar. There I met with the staff managing the restaurant and entertaining some visitors inquiring about the place. The place is serene, facilities and rooms are great, and their beach is clean and well-maintained lined with open cottages.
Conscious about time, I moved on and asked people by the roadside the direction to Maia’s Beach Resort. Finding this resort was quite a challenge but fun as well. You need to ask more people to find your way. There I arrived and was greeted by a staff who kindly guided me around. I thought the place is quite unique since some facilities are built on top of the coral stones. They have nice gardens with greens and flowers everywhere. I certainly didn’t miss taking photos, and I had a piece of sandwich for my late lunch at their homely restaurant and bar located close to the sea.
On foot tours to resorts
On my last day, Friday - I remember, I was supposed to check out before noon. I was aware that I didn’t have much time to spare to cover all the remaining resorts I had to visit.
This time, I didn’t rent a scooter since I thought I can move around via the shores where the resorts are mostly established. I got up early, had my leftover food eaten and started shooting with my camera (I borrowed a Canon from a friend and backed up with my own smaller camera and a phone camera to make sure I didn’t waste time and resources).
It was a fine and sunny morning and the white sand on the shores is glittering. Lucky that I brought my tainted glasses which also served as my sunglasses. Without wasting time I greeted staff who have just started their day’s toils and asked if I could take photos for my website.
Although my travel guide website mostly provides directions and other vacation resources, it also sells products indirectly through the ads I put up online. In that manner, my site can be called a travel agency – but not the one that directly sells products to visitors or customers.
Okay, back to the resorts… At this time I have already seen nice resorts and took photos of the ones which have pages in this website. They are great resorts and each one is unique and has various facilities, rates and services. It means that a visitor to the island can have lots of options in terms of price and other features and preferences.
You can find the resorts I have visited and some that are still waiting for my return through this link here.
Overall, it was a great short holiday for me. Actually, it was more of a work on a holiday. Unfortunately, my eldest sister was supposed to come with me but due to my ailing mum she had no choice but to stay with her for some more days together with my other siblings.
The great part is that I have finally physically experienced the popular Bantayan Island. I have heard so much about it and had never doubted it as a great island. Some of its nice features include its being away from too much development, which means there are no huge hotels and things are not so commercialized.
The beaches are natural and you can tell that the
sea is very alive and full of life due to the seaweeds that regularly
being washed to the shores. Less fecund seas (like the Maldives and such
island beaches – sorry for saying that but I know much about
environment and sea ^^) have great white beaches and nowhere can you
find seaweeds – that’s its great advantage I suppose. It means the
waters in such seas have lesser biodiversity compared to the signs that
Bantayan Island’s waters have shown.
Going around the island with a private car is possible and a great idea if you bring your family or friends around to see places and enjoy an outing. Just like I did, you can rent a motorbike or scooter or a bicycle to see places.
One of the most popular activities, which I wish I did, is island hopping (or island tour). Without any doubt it will be a great experience. Of course, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and skiing among other activities are also being offered by some resorts.
I found the people of the island quite friendly and accommodating. I asked for directions and I always get answers with so much willingness to help. Bantayan Island is generally clean and safe from pollution being away from the developed cities or urban areas. That’s what makes this island best for anyone who wishes to enjoy the sea and beach and have time to be healed from the busy and demanding world outside.
I would certainly come back and get ready to spend longer days to fully relish the wonders of the island’s gifts of nature.
Thanks a lot if you got this far!