Back to You : Bantayan

What I like about Bantayan Island is the barrio-tic and rustic feel the place offers aside from the clear blue waters and white sand. Of course, there is a slew of tourists from the mainland but visitors here are mostly Caucasians and the usual singkits and sakangs. It is amazing that the island has maintained the barrio charm amidst the imported visitors.

For the past 3 years, my bestfriend Shirly and I visited the place. The first time I saw a pic of Kota beach from a friend, I immediately fell in love with the view. With that in mind and some notes on how to get there, besty and I embarked on a journey that will start the annual visit to the island.

The following year, we brought along Rhiza. Like us, she loved everything the island offered, including the grilled Cebu chorizo on the side street and the Virgin Island.This time around, it’s newbie April getting introduced to the beauty of  the island.

Fast forward Day of the Trip.

Our travel started with a 2am tambay at the new NAIA terminal. Aside from the checking-in liquids brouhaha, we were able to board the plane at 4 am and left for Cebu at 430.

sleeping beauties

We had breakfast at McDo in Fuente Osmeña. Why at Fuente? We just want to be in the middle of uptown and downtown Cebu for our first meal in the province. Well, not really. It’s actually the only McDo place we are familiar with. We took the ordinary Ceres bus going to San Remigio. Welcome to the provincial bus trip! Two stops lang daw and the unavailability of a/c bus til 11am made us decide to jump in.

The trip was uneventful. After passing several cities and small town,s the three of us fell asleep and just woke up when we were approaching the long and winding road on the way to Bogo City.

We were at the San Remigio port (most northern part of Cebu province)by 10am just in time for the 1030 ferry to Sta. Fe, Bantayan. What’s great about the ferry ride was the free tickets. What’s not so great about it was the hour and a half trip. i dunno what happened to the 30-minute trip with fast craft.

Sta. Fe pier

Our new home for three days is the German-owned Marlin’s. We’ve stayed in Kota for the last trips and we made a good decision of trying out Marlin’s. Main reasons? No water shortage and new rooms.


First order of the day was lunch.

There was a carinderia near Mama Tita’s bakery. We grabbed a seat and had humba and hipon okoy and 35 pesos steamed little crabs arranged as a necklace. The food was delish!

Let the real vacation begin!


Beaching in Bantayan

I can’t get enough of the Bantayan Island experience. The very early morning flight to Cebu, the rush to the Cebu North Terminal and almost -“naloko ng taxi” in Mactan airport to the eternal Air Supply album being played in the bus while seated in a extension seats (read: monoblock stools in the aisle)…to the first sight of Bantayan and the sighs you get to hear from first time visitors (Shirl and I, included).

Shirl and I were bloated, sleepy and a bit cranky an hour after we boarded the bus to Hagnaya in San Remigio. We were seated in the extension seats which I realize upon my butt cheeks touched that monoblock stool that the trip ain’t very good.

Save for the ocassional cries of the kid in front of me, the Inday who sang with Air Supply, the lolo who seemed senglot, the urge to ask manong driver “are we there yet?!” and the uneasiness of sitting in a stool for 3 hours – the trip went smoothly.

Upon reaching Hagnaya, we trooped to Fast Craft which leaves at a later time but travels faster (reminiscent of TAR, maybe?)…so we had an early lunch of grilled hotdog, barbeque and puso.

The island from the Fastcraft was a sight to behold. White beaches on our left…and on our right. When we set foot on the pier, all we could muster was “Wow!”

We rode a pedicab to Kota Beach which is a few minutes from the pier. Take note, di napagod si Bernie sa kapapadyak. The scene while traversing the narrow road reminds one of home. Rustic with the fiesta feel. Well, it will be the island’s 425th anniversary on the 25th. FYI.

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One can’t get enough of the awe of the view in this side of the beach. For the next three days, we soaked up the sun, frolicked in the beach, took lots of fotos, talked with the locals and everything in between.

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Was the almost 7-hr air-land-sea trip worth it? Every single nanosecond of it.

P.S. These are some of the things to do in Bantayan Island:

1. Ride the pedicab.
2. Read under the coconut trees.
3. Lounge…Lounge…Lounge…
4. Drink that 30 peso-buko.
5. Dangitsilog!
6. Buy bibingka from the little store on your way to Ogtong Cave.
7. Walk on the sandbar at Kota Beach.
8. Beach resort hopping.
9. Kayak at Sta. Fe Beach Club.
10. While at Sta. Fe, admire the view on top their TREE HOUSE.
11. Visit the Ogtong Cave and swim with the fish.
12. Do some swimming laps at the beach club’s pool.
13. Eat at Sta. Fe’s ultimate tambayan – the only barbeque stand in town!
14. Visit Bantayan town proper.
15. Say a little prayer at the Sts. Peter and Paul Church – the oldest in the island.
16. Walk through history at the town’s musem.
17. Listen to the amazing mixed dialect of the locals.
18. Walk around the main street of Sta. Fe at night.
19. Lie in one of the benches facing the beach and listen to the waves.
20. Walk around the sandbar and GATHER shells.
21. Eat mangoes with your hands.
22. Feel the sand.
23. Ride with the waves.
24. Watch the skimboarders doing their thing.
25. Wake up early and watch the sunrise.