SUMMER ESCAPE: BANTAYAN ISLAND

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If you’re looking for a neat place away from the city buzz with an ideal gateway to paradise, pack your bags and hustle your way to discover the island of Bantayan Island in Cebu city.

Bantayan is located north – west  part of Visayas, about 215.7 km away from Cebu. There are no cities in the island, instead it comprises of 3 municipalities Madredejos, Santa Fe and Bantayan proper (all of which you can tour in just a week!).

 

From the roots

 

Bantayan, which literally means ‘guarded’ in Cebuano, derived its name from Philippine history, being a forefront to protect the island of Visayas from muslim marauders. The town of Bantayan has high stone walls that were the closest outpost and a great view for lookout of invaders who approached the island.

The same stone walls were used in constructing the Saint Peter and Paul’s church that can still be viewed up today. So chill! If the island has been protecting the town folk, tourists won’t have to worry while on vacation mode. Or maybe?

Victim of Calamity, Place of Serenity

Despite being a victim of Typhoon Yolanda/ Haiyan last November 2013, the island still remains an ideal place visited and adored by many tourists, especially foreigners. Apparently, international agencies like United Nations organizations have helped in the restoration of the island, especially beaches. The camaraderie with the locals has resulted in the island being a place driven with warm hospitality and serenity from the beach and the island activities.

Personal Encounter

I visited the island on the first weekend of May and we stayed at Santa Fe, Kota beach.  I was amazed by the incredible view of white sand with long coconut palm trees along with wooden beach benches facing the shore, just the perfect typical setup of a summer break.

To describe the beach is like describing Aphrodite, beautiful & mesmerizing. The shore line stretches to the 3 towns in the island, it reminded me of a Boracay setting only difference would be the population of people, non-existence of commercial establishments, and the easy-go lifestyle. I would choose to relax any day on this island.

Bantayan Island is not only surrounded with communities comprising of 3 municipalities, but also a community of the visiting islands. Virgin Island is a must visit. You can enjoy swimming with fishes in the water! Perfect place to go snorkeling!

Aside from frolicking in the sand and splashing in salty waters, we did a lot of activities in the island. Exploring the island is better getting on bikes and driving motors to discover more of the island and the people. We spent the whole afternoon laughing our way riding on bikes (in straight lines.) We were greeted by islanders and distracted by good food in their small ‘carenderia’ (little stores).

Oh, did I mention that the bikes have little baskets on them? How’s that for starring in an “Eat.Pray.Love” movie.

At night we continued to venture our way through the restaurants and experience the night life of the province. Since we were a big group, we were catered by a small eatery  owned by “Manang Eden
, which I must say has incredible tasted in delicious cooking. Being a province lady, I expected the sea foods served would be the specialty of the island, and it was.  In Bantayan, you can find a line of good restaurants that hail from different cuisines, aside from Filipino dishes.  The island is famous for it’s good pizzas, hence we were recommended to eat at the HR Native restaurant and music bar. Fellas, if you love pizza, you’ll never grow hungry in this restaurant.  Hustle and chomp your way to the best pizza place of the island.

Why Urban? –(these are like reasons why the island is good set  for urban go-setters)

  1. I intended to make this review a good one, because I advocate to an urban lifestyle and I love the fact of selling it. Being urban for me, is about getting away from reality and live the present. It’s preserving culture. We can never tell what the future holds for the present.
  2. Summer goes perfectly well for urban inspired fashion lovers. The heat brings out the persona in our urban clothing. This is where we find our most comfortable side whilst being ourselves and enjoying time. Plus, you won’t have to mind what people would think about you.
  3. Aside from diverging into a beautiful island, you will meet people that will welcome you with warm hospitality. Blending in with the locals, and being a part of their town will make you discover yourself more than the island.
  4. Becoming urban does not only tell through clothes and stories, it’s about becoming the adventure. No matter the ups and downs, we hustlers will always venture ourselves to either find ourselves or discover more of the country’s greatest treasures.

For me, I found the calm side of the island at night, where the moon is at its brightest. It becomes the center of attention, no matter how many times you take photos the output will always be different from the actual. (else if you have good photography skills or an advanced smartphone). Nevertheless, after a long day in the beach, nothing is better than lying in the sand with a beer on your hand. “

Just by staring at the ocean during high tide, you can almost hear the beach calling you. A perfect setting to forget about the outside world and diverge into the real world.

Landscape Beauty

 

It’s not a question of a frequent traveler to set foot in the Philippines without visiting the country beaches. But I remain persistent to the thought that every beach has almost the same landscape of where the sand touches the sea. But rather, it is the memories that we leave that make hustle traveling memorable.

 

About getting there:

First point would to find yourselves to the North Bus Terminal at, Subangdaku, Mandaue City, this located near SM Cebu City mall.

 

From the North Bus Terminal, find the bus/coach with the sign going to Hagnaya. The fare would cost about P150-200 (just be prepared) and the trip would be approximately 2-3 hours or longer. You would probably find these:

 

CERES coach buses (yellow & white)

CEBU Auto Bus Corp. (orange & white)

Once you reach Hagnaya’s port, make your way to the ferry boat that will take you to the port of Santa Fe, Bantayan. The ferry runs from 5:30am early morning and the last boat leaves Hagnaya port at 5:30pm.

 

Fares:

 

Northern Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Terminal: P50-80 (depending on the bus whether air-conditioned or not)

 

Hagnaya Port to Sante Fe Port: P65-120 (this includes P10 terminal fee)

 

Total time: 4 hours

 

 

 

 

 

Article by:

Kimi Siao

Photos by:

Francis Tapia

Kimi Siao

 

 

 

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