Discovering the Beauty of Bantayan Island
Iv Crisostomo writes about her memorable trip to Cebu's Bantayan Island
Bantayan is an island north of Cebu known for pristine white beaches that are almost comparable to the more well-known Boracay. It is a small island, and not a lot of people go there, probably because of its distance from mainland Cebu.
From Cebu, some friends and I took a three hour van ride to Hagnaya Port, where we took a one-hour ferry ride to Santa Fe, Bantayan's port of entry, the ferry ride costing Php135. The view that welcomed us was amazing. Sta Fe is the cleanest port that I have ever seen, with white sand visible beneath clear blue water. Seeing such beauty made us eager to see the beach and the resort.
We were booked at Kota Beach Resort. Their shuttle picked us up at the port and it only took five minutes to get to the resort. The nice thing about Kota Beach Resort is that it is located at the tip of the island, so it offers the widest beachfront. Even if there are lots of guests, one can still have privacy and enjoy the nearby sandbar, the clear waters, and the view.
The following day, we went island hopping to three nearby islands that boasted the same white sand beaches we saw in Sta. Fe. We were disappointed, however, to find that the corals near the first two islands were dead, so we didn't get to go fish feeding or snorkelling. We perked up, however, at the thought of lunch and the food our guide was to prepare for us. We docked at Virgin Island, where our guide prepared grilled fish, grilled pork belly, scallops, and some local shellfish, capped by a dessert of ripe mangoes. It was a great experience to have our senses enhanced by everything around us--the sound of the waves, the breathtaking view, the feel of the sea breeze, and the aroma and taste of the food in front of us.
After lunch, we had a short trip to Ogtong Cave located in Sta. Fe Beach Club (SFBC). Since we were not staying at SFBC, we had to pay an entrance fee of Php120 per person, which also allows one to use the swimming pool. The fee was worth it because it is amazing to see a cave in the middle of a resort. It would have been more exciting if guests were allowed to explore the cave. I would have wanted to see where it led to. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to do anything except take pictures by the cave entrance.
We stayed in Bantayan for two days, which, I think, is just enough time to explore the island, since there isn't much to do if you aren't a diver except enjoy the beach. Which sometimes, is all you need to do to have a great time. Bantayan isn't like Boracay, which is full of restaurant and bars and populated by tourists. The island is relatively calm and peaceful, not to mention clean. It's a good place for people looking to escape city life, as the island offers a serenity and quiet not found in the metro.