When in Cebu: Laze around Bantayan Island

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The first time I ever set my eyes on the perfect imagery of Bantayan Island, I could not ask for more. It is the perfect epitome of my dream beach and I keep on going back here everytime I get the chance. With its fine and powdery white sand likened to White Beach in Boracay, and its crystal clear and unpolluted blue waters, there is no denying that Cebu is very blessed to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

Due to its remoteness for being one of the isolated towns of the northern part of Cebu, Bantayan Island is a little exhausting for some travellers because there is no easy way like having direct flights going there and you have to commute from the city proper taking up to six hours travel. Sure it will all be worth it once you take a glimpse of this picturesque heaven. It’s very lucky for me since there are scheduled boat trips directly to Bantayan Island from Cadiz City in Negros so it’s one hell of a shortcut for this paradise with only a three hour travel from my hometown.

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Bantayan Island owns unexplainable white sand with the consistency of that of a flour. It is rich with aquamarine waters and when it reflects the warming sunlight, the water becomes so luminous that it’s like you’re swimming in the pool with nothing but water and a flat sandy surface. This paradise conveys a sense of serenity and lavish relaxation. Even the world renowned beaches like Kauai Island could not be compared with the pristine waters of this jewel as it has maintained its naturalness and purity. Moreover, there are only a few tourists and resorts lined up at the beach and this has exempted the island from overdevelopment.

Activities:
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Beach Bumming
It is undeniable how the beach of Bantayan Island is one of the best I’ve been to. When you just want to get a tan or relax with a drink in your hand at Sta. Fe Beach, then it’s the perfect place to laze around and think happy thoughts.

Swim at Ogtong Cave
Ogtong Cave can be found in Ogtong Cave Resort. It is a small cave which extends to about fifty meters filled with freshwater. With its crystal clear aqua waters, it is definitely soothing for the intense warmth this summer. One must be a guest of Ogtong Cave Resort or its sister company, Sta. Fe Beach Club to swim in this beautiful wonder of Bantayan. The resort itself is the most luxurious in the island but for a hefty price, it’s definitely worth it once you get to swim in the mystical cave. Natural rocks surround the resort and it is lined with white sand and picture worthy scrim.

Hop at Virgin Island
Picture the perfect beach of Bantayan Island. Then imagine a finer and whiter sand and transparent waters that glitter as the sun touches the calming waves of the sea. There are nipa huts at the beach front to give you shade and enjoy the alluring landscape. Rocky formations can be found at the end of the white beach that make this terrain a wonderful backdrop for the name of Virgin Island that welcomes the boat upon docking. Sumptuous lunch is served on the island at a very worthy price. With their seafood fresh and abundant, tourists can definitely enjoy eating there.

So much has changed at Virgin Island with my recent visit there.  Before, it was all barren and just an island and some huts.  Now, tourists flock them and several boats line up on the shore.  There are numerous tables and rooms you can spend the night in. Or you can bring a tent to indulge in nature.  Irregardless of the development, although I am deeply saddened, it still remains a beauty.

Discover Sto. Nino Cave
Little do people know that there is another cave at Bantayan Island worth seeing.  When I saw a picture of the cave from a friend, I found a way to revisit this gorgeous island to check this out for myself.  Found at Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, Sto. Nino Cave is named as that since a statue of the beloved Sto. Nino was spotted inside upon its discovery.  It is a larger cave compared to Ogtong Cave.  Similarly, it is filled with freshwater that one can lavishly swim in.  With its gorgeous lighting, it gives the impression of yellow to orange luminescence that one can stare in awe.  If you choose a day tour in this resort, the cave is open until ten in the evening.  Moreover, the resort offers an overnight stay, fish spa, swimming pool, mini zoo and garden.  You will never get bored.  Just a 40 minute drive from Sta. Fe Beach, there is definitely no hustle.

Move In to Kota Beach Resort

Have you watched the famous movie Camp Sawi? Well, they shot almost all of their scenes here in this resort.  After having seen the most exquisite beach and unpolluted water, I don’t wonder why the producers picked this as a prime location.  With two beautiful sandbars within your reach at the beachfront, you are definitely in for some natural rehabilitation.  If you’re not planning to check in, you can pay 50 pesos as entrance fee just to see and swim on the beach.

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How to go there:

From Bacolod: go to CADIZ City port (1 hour)
take a ferry to Bantayan Island at 9:00am daily (2 hours)

From Cebu: take a bus from North Bus Terminal near SM city
bus leaves every 45 minutes at 150 pesos (3 hours)
head to Hagnaya Wharf in San Remigio (30 mins)
take a ferry to Sta. Fe Port (1 hour)

Super Shuttle Ferry
+63 916 905 2348 / +63 919 525 1388
Hagnaya to Sta. Fe – 4AM / 7AM / 8AM / 10:30AM / 12:30PM / 2:30PM / 4:30PM
Sta. Fe to Hagnaya – 6AM / 8:30AM / 10:30AM / 12:30PM / 2:30PM / 4:30PM / 6PM
Island Shipping Corporation
+63 922 284 5892 / +63 922 875 9769
Hagnaya to Sta. Fe – 5AM / 6:30AM / 9:30AM / 11:30AM / 1:30PM / 3:30PM / 5:30PM
Sta. Fe to Hagnaya – 5AM / 7:30AM / 9:30AM / 11:30AM / 1:30PM / 3:30PM / 5:30PM

From Leyte: take a bus from San Ildefonso and Tacloban to Bogo City in Cebu via RoRo
take a bus from Bogo City to Hagnaya Wharf
take a ferry to Sta. Fe Port

From other provinces and countries : take a direct flight to Cebu City

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Where to stay:

Ogtong Cave Resort
Santa Fe, Cebu
(032) 438 0165 / +63 920 899 9456 / +63 932 433 6282
info@stafebeach.com
http://www.ogtongcave.com/
*rates for 2 pax at least 2500

Sta. Fe Beach Club
Sta. Fe Beach Club Rd, Santa Fe, Cebu
(032) 438 9090 / +63 928 778 7770 / +63 932 541 2954
http://www.stafebeach.com/
*rates for 2 pax at least 900


Anika Island Resort
F. Roska Street, Santa Fe, 6047 Cebu
+63 917 701 4168
http://www.anikaislandresort.com/
*rates for 2 pax at least 1500

Beach Placid
F. Roska Street, Sta. Fe Beach, Cebu
+63 32 406 5686 / +63 32 438 9070
+63 917 722 2993
beachplacid@gmail.com
contact@beachplacidresort.com
http://www.beachplacidresort.com
*rates for 2 pax at least 1600

Virgin Island
Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu
+63 917 322 2115 / +63 922 726 6579 / +63 920 118 3521
*rates
entrance: 500 for 2 pax and 100 per additional pax
cottages: 300, 500, 600, 1000
tables & chairs: 300
overnight: 1500 for 2 pax (bamboo house) 1500 for 5 pax (open cottage)

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Kota Beach Resort
F. Duarte St. Sta. Fe, Cebu
+63 32 438 9042
+63 956 276 4410
*rates for 2 pax at least 900

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Travel Expense Estimate: for 3 days 2 nights good for 2 pax

  • Bacolod to Cadiz – 140
  • Terminal to Cadiz Port – 40
  • Ferry Fare – 500
  • Trike from Port to Resort – 100
  • 
Resort – 1800
  • Meals – 2400
  • Island Hopping – 1000
  • Entrance to Virgin Island – 500 (2pax); 100 additional pax
  • Trike from Resort to Port – 100
  • Ferry Fare – 500
  • Cadiz Port to Terminal – 40
  • Cadiz City to Bacolod – 140

Total: 7260 (3630 each)

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When in Siargao: Island Hopping at Naked, Dako and Guyam Islands

I just have a thing for beaches and island hopping to these three beaches of Naked, Dako and Guyam Island added excitement to my decadent trip in Siargao.  There is just something about the aquamarine waters and powdery white sand that I couldn’t get enough.  The sound of crashing waves and the relaxing warmth of the sun give tingles down to my spine and you know that you’re in love with summer forever.  And you, too, would fall in love with Siargao.

On our second day, we went on a tour to Bucas Grande Islands in the humble town of Socorro, Surigao del Norte and on our way back to the mainland of Siargao, we passed by these three equally gorgeous islands situated near General Luna which is hailed as the surfing spot in Siargao.

Naked Island is named as it is because there is nothing you can find there but white sand and clear blue waters.  There are no trees to give you shade or even cottages built to host tourists.  The rawness of the beach gives simplicity and quality appreciation to the eye.  The bareness of the island however must not be overlooked because its uniqueness is comparable to the best beaches in the Philippines.  If you have visited Boracay Island in Aklan and Virgin Island near Bantayan, Cebu, then Naked Island is likely similar to these.  If you have walked barefoot in the said beaches especially in Station 1 in Boracay where the sand is most fine and powdery then imagine wandering into finer and whiter sands of Naked Island.  The beach remains to be untouched and swimming in its transparent waters is refreshing and ultimately picture worthy.

Next stop was Dako Island.  Dako came from the word “daku” which means big as it is the biggest of the three islands.  Our boat docked into the white beach.  We arrived there almost sunset and it was low tide, half of the beach was almost elevated and you had to climb against the exquisite pearly sands to get to their cottages made of nipa.  There are also available “bahay kubos” or stilt houses for tourists to spend overnight in.  The rest of the island is filled with coconut tress, probably about 80% of the area and that just give you the best natural shade from the scorching heat of the sun.  The sand in Dako Island is the most beautiful among the three in my own opinion alongside with its clearest waters making it the most ideal beach to swim.  An added attraction to the island is that you can practice surfing here.  The waves are calmer and much smaller compared to the surfbreaks of Quicksilver and Cloud 9 in General Luna.  If you’re a newbie, then you can definitely try to learn surfing here.  Even just practicing the right stances and balance is already an advantage when you try to conquer the unforgivable waves of Cloud 9.

Guyam is the smallest among the three.  But size doesn’t really matter when you get to seek this wonderful islet.  The setting provides the usual island vibe but what makes it different is the stony formations that are covered with mosses giving it a foamy texture.  During low tide, natural pools form with these corals and stony structures that create a naturally rustic version of Magpupungko Pools.  Guyam Island is highly similar to Dako Island wherein it also has cottages that visitors can lounge in.  In addition, corals are also widespread along the reefs for marine explorers.

Tips:

  • Go on snorkeling along the reefs of Guyam and Dako Island.  Enjoy the lovely views of the corals, seaweeds, seasnakes, etc.
  • Do sunbathe on Naked Island.  Dare to go topless.  It’s not called Naked Island for no reason.
  • Stay overnight at Dako Island and lounge in the white sands.
  • Practice surfing at Dako Island.
  • Explore the whole island if time permits.
  • The three islands are bereft of electricity so make sure to bring your powerbank with you.
  • Drink coconut water to experience the island vibe.

Island Hopping Boat Fee – 1500 for whole day