The Philippines is blessed with breathtaking beaches. In fact, tourists from all walks of life swarm in my country for the tropical beaches, and the weather is never an issue because the sun is almost always up all year round.
I have been to numerous famous beaches, but it is my first time to set foot in Bantayan Island. You see, traveling to the island is not a walk in the park at all; BUT, once you’ve reached the destination, you will realize it was worth all the hassle.
When traveling to Bantayan Island on a public transportation, you head to Cebu Northern Bus Terminal, and from there, you take the bus that leads to Hagnaya. Make sure to bring with you some drinks to quench your thirst and some snacks to keep you from feeling hungry, and brace yourself for a four to five hour travel time to reach Hagnaya. Once there, you take the ferry ride going to the island itself. Enjoy the ride for an hour or so.
It’s 170php (3.8 usd) for the bus and 10php for the terminal fee.
Tip #1: There is also a bus that goes straight to Bantayan, but for an additional cost, which is more convenient IF you’re headed to the Bantayan, Bantayan. Tip #2: Don’t eat anywhere in Hagnaya. Rumor has it that the locales tend to put poison on the food.
Where to stay
Bantayan Island is home to three municipalities: Santa Fe, Bantayan, and Madridejos. For roughly two months of staying here, I have realized that Santa Fe is where the tourists flock, Bantayan is the center of business bruhaha, and Madridejos, this I still need to explore.
Santa Fe is the first municipality of the island and it is where the harbor is located. Among the three municipalities, Santa Fe has a lot of beach resorts you can choose from. The rates could go from the cheapest to the unimaginable. Since this is the area where foreigners usually stay, expect that the prices ANYWHERE rockets up as well. Try Blue Placcid or Anika to spend the night or two. You’ll spend between 1,200-1500php (26-33USD) per night on any of these fabulous resorts.
Where to go
If you’re in Santa Fe, don’t forget to put in your itinerary to visit Ogtong Cave. It has a pool, a beach, and a cave where you can take a dip amidst its very clear waters.
Get your snorkeling gears and head to the Virgin Island, if you have a budget, or just turn the other way and head to Hilantagaan Island where you can find your own private spot and have a grand time exploring under the sea.
If nature tripping is your forte, then head to OMAGIECA Mangrove Garden and Eco Park in Obo-ob, Bantayan. Enjoy their bamboo trail, or perhaps you can go boating and kayaking.
It will be a sin if you won’t hit at least one of the many beaches in Bantayan Island. The public beaches are still abundant that you can choose any place to your heart’s content.
How to get by
Bantayan Island is the ideal place to hide when you want a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It amazes me that the islanders go around here by bicycle, some would even use bicycles when going to work. But when the distance is quite far, the most convenient would be traveling by motorcycle. Life here is so simple that I can just walk to get around.
You can rent a scooter for 250-300php (5-7usd) a day or a bike for 50-100php (1-2.5usd) a day.
What to eat
When in Bantayan, condition yourself that the closest to fast food that you can eat is the lechon manok (grilled chicken), liempo (grilled pork belly), and fried chicken. There are definitely no fast food chains in the island. On the contrary, you will be satiated with different kinds of seafoods. The main source of living of the Bantayanons is fishing. Fish here are so fresh that the ones usually served are fresh catch. You can choose from fishes to shells to squids, and eat your heart out. Just a head’s up, if you’re allergic to reds, fret not. Prepare ahead of time a couple of antihistamines.
The first thing that will be associated with Bantayan when it comes to food is dried fish, particularly, Danggit. They are the source of the perfect danggit in the country. But personally, there’s another kind of dried fish I’m currently going gaga over, and that is the fish tapa. It may sound weird but the sweetness and saltiness of the dried fish when fried is mouthwatering. Just a warning, the fish tapa is sooooo delectable that you won’t notice you have already consumed 3 cups of rice- at the minimum. So be cautious enough. Hahahha
It’s only a couple of months since I stayed here in the island, but I have adjusted well enough. Though there are still moments that I find myself longing for the city spirit, but I’m still good.J
About the Author:
Marvi Maglipong is a Registered Nurse by Profession, but spends more time volunteering to various non-profit institutions. She’s a bookworm by heart. Currently, she’s working as a humanitarian at Islamic Relief Worldwide and lives in Bantayan Island.