Philippines: VISAYAS

September 29 – October 1, 2010

Bantayan Island Mid-week Escape

Day 1: Sept. 29,2010 Wednesday

Half a day of research, full backpacks, some loose cash & everything was good to go.

We ditched sleep & headed to the North Bus Terminal beside SM City Cebu to catch the first trip bound for Hagnaya Port in San Remegio at 4:30AM on a non air-conditioned bus. A 2.5-3Hour ride didn’t sound too bad. Oh boy.

Traveler’s Tip #1: Stay on the left side if you don’t want glare in your eyes (or premature sunburn to add to that). Going North one passes through the different towns on the East coast. Here they are respectively,

Mandaue –> Consolacion –> Lilo-an –> Compostela –> Danao –> Carmen –> Catmon –> Sogod –> Borbon –> Tabogon –> Bogo (then transverses West) –> San Remegio

We just had one pit stop by an eatery out in the middle of nowhere, near Tabogon most probably. If you’ve got limited bladder space, a potential for road sickness, & immense breakfast hunger pangs — YEY you!

The bus finally arrived at the Hagnaya Port just in time for the first boat to depart for Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island at 7:20AM.

Thankfully, you’ve got 3 options for the boat trip:
1. Super Shuttle Ferry
2. Island Shipping Corporation
3. Aznar Fast Craft

Boat schedules posted online are a tad tricky so you’d fare better if you inquired for them on your own. As far as we know, busses & boats are set to depart in sync for the ease of travelers. It is best to arrive at the bus terminal by 1-2PM at the latest to make it to the last Ferry of the day which usually leaves at 5:30PM.

There used to be a plane that flew straight from Mactan International Airport but that’s currently suspended for reasons we don’t really care about.

Traveler’s tip #2: Don’t bring a watch so you know how it is to be stranded. Bring extra underwear just in case.

We recommend taking the economy class on the boat. Besides saving a couple of pesos, the sea breeze and early morning air are priceless! Why would you want to get stuck inside a cramped air-conditioned space for an hour? Light quality is perfect for budding photography enthusiasts as well.

Arriving at the port of Sta. Fe was like being jacked on Coke. Imagine this… a perfect shoreline lined with coconut trees, the golden sunshine reflecting on the clear green-indigo-dark blue waters, the peaceful skies up ahead… & the promise of an unforgettable mid-week vacation.

Porters & drivers swarmed like a welcoming committee of fruit flies as the boat docked but the idea of backpacking around town searching for the best deal (& best location) kept us from hopping unto the first trisikad that offered to take us to wherever resort they were commissioned to bring people to.

A tandem so impossible they hardly left you alone managed to talk us into it though. Twiddle Dum & Twiddle Dee we called them. After having managed to haggle P10 off the usual fare, we rode into town. It takes approximately 5 short minutes (give or take, depending on how fast your driver can paddle), to get to the heart of Sta. Fe, which includes bike rental shops, bars & restaurants, lodging, sari2x stores & souvenir shops. The local market, schools and churches are also a walk away if you want to assimilate yourself into the community even more.

There are 2 directions you can go from Sta. Fe port if you’re on the hunt for a place to stay. West, where we headed out to, is where the good long stretch of beach is. On peak seasons, such as Holy Week or summer time (March-May), you may have been out there together with a bazillion other people claiming half a square meter each as his own personal space. No, seriously!

Twiddle Dum & Twiddle Dee took us to the Poblacion, just by Coucou Lodge, where we bluffed we had a reservation. Instead of the promised fare, they hiked it back up to P40 (P20 per head) as expected. We handed them the P30 anyway as was part of the deal. It’s a must never to fall into the whims of some of these locals who exploit unwitting tourists. After checking the place out, Jake decided we look around some more. It took too much work to get to the actual beach from there.

So, backpack and all (with the ever so persistent tricycle driver & friend trailing so closely by), we scoured the shoreline for more options. {CLICK HERE TO VIEW BANTAYAN ISLAND: ACCOMMODATIONS!!!}

After more than an hour, tired from dehydration, heat stroke & empty stomachs, we finally settled on a small house for rent just behind Tristan’s Resort. Jake was a master at haggling. With the unbelievable price of P600 a day (down from P1,200+), we scored a full ground floor complete with kitchen amenities, a bathroom, a living room and an air-conditioned room jam-packed into one. A place for grilling was also available at the back per request. This one’s perfect for families or a group of friends who prefer extended stays on the island having affordability, accessibility & lots of leg room.

Perhaps renting the entire house (the ground floor is a complete “pad” with 1 air-conditioned bedroom, while the 2nd floor has 3 air-conditioned rooms… 1 with a private bath & the other 2 with a communal one) wouldn’t cost too much as well.

Finally having a place to bum, we stole a short nap before we headed out for a late-afternoon swim. We thought we’d be able to take breathtaking sunset pictures by then but the sky was overcast & rainfall was looming. Boo. It would’ve been real hard on us if it weren’t for the excellent beach.

Roughing it is okay as a last option. But some of these resorts charge as much as P500 just by renting an area where you can pitch your tent. Let’s not forget that it was off-peak season so the beach was extremely empty (& dangerous) at night.

Jake: I told you it was a better idea not to stay in a tent.

Belle: High five! I thought it would’ve saved us some cash.

Jake: Sure, but can you imagine staying in one in this high heat? Or worse…

Belle: Yeah, looking for place to poop.

Jake: I meant thieves & mosquitoes.

Nightfall in Bantayan was cold & breezy, with the occasional drizzle as was expected in the –ber months. The locals shut their doors & retired for bed at about 8 in the evening but tourists (mostly Caucasians who’ve gone native) hounded the town center for a bit of nightlife.
Starving here is impossible as there are a lot of dining options. {CLICK HERE TO VIEW BANTAYAN ISLAND: FOOD & DINING!!!}

Traveler’s Tip #3: If you’re with a date, go for a nice restaurant on your first day where the ambiance is perfect, & other people prepare the food for you… In that way, if you decide to scrimp in the next couple of days, she won’t put sand in your boxers.

Drinking by the beach seemed like a swell idea after stuffing our faces. There are all kinds of alcohol stocked up for your entertainment in the many establishments strewn around town. They aren’t even as overpriced as we thought, keeping in mind how some of these are bought all the way from Bantayan Town up north.

That plan didn’t work out so well after our liquor pick was nowhere to be found. We ended up walking around real slow from engorged stomachs while getting lost along the way. Those minor streets looked the same, especially when unlit.

As soon as we got back to our little house by the shore, 2 days (give or take) of being wide awake finally kicked us in the face.

To be continued…


6 thoughts on “BANTAYAN ISLAND, Cebu: Day 1

  1. thank u for your reply. I will try to get in touch with allan today coz we are running out time… thanks again! god bless.. 🙂

    1. You’re very welcome, Len! Hope the number still works. Anyway, you can always look up the blog entry for more ideas for your Bantayan trip. Godbless you too!

  2. hi would like to ask if u have a contact number of the house for rent that u stayed in? My family is going to bantayan this march and we are looking for a affordable place to stay in.. thank u.. looking forward to ur reply… 🙂

    1. Hi, Len! Sorry we just got to read your comment now. Are you still pushing through with your family vacation for this month? Anyway, we’re not sure where we kept the number but you could try this one! Allan – 09093548713 😉 Much luck and have fun!

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