Commuting to the North Terminal in Cebu city is a breeze, the initial point where to kickstart your voyage to Bantayan. There are lots of buses to ride on headed for Hagnaya port. A/C bus is around P150 per head. Over two hours of traveling. At Hagnaya port, you will have to board on a ferry going to Sta. Fe at P120/head. You’ll get there within 2 hours.
The good side of Bantayan is that you get way more than what you bargained for. The accommodations are not pricey either, starting at a mere P300 for a fan room.
Bantayan has a very minimal tourist density compared to other island getaways. It also has a small circumference for an island and the idea of touring it was hard to resist, so we rented a motorbike at P150 for the whole day, fueled it up at a Petron station and drove off. Not too far from our pension house in Sta. Fe, we dropped by Ogtong Cave but at P120 per head entrance fee but it was a turnoff for us because a resort was built around it.
We pursued lunch as it was fast approaching noontime; tried our luck at their public market to look for seafoods and just have them cooked Pala-pala style. Unexpectedly, we discovered the bad side of Bantayan – fish vendors selling juvenile sharks for P60/kilo. The ugly aspect to it was the actual demand for them. Malapascua (it’s neightboring island) is famous for their Thresher sharks, but here they are a food item. Nobody seemed to care, which added more insult to injury.
Melo (or Binga in the vernacular), upto a couple of kilos in weight.
After our land tour, we returned to our hotel to scout for a boatman. Bantayan island hopping is the best thing to do in northern Cebu. Hence, a motorized outrigger boat was assigned to us at P1,000 for a day’s worth of island hopping.
Virgin Island is 30 minutes away from Sugar beach. There was an entrance fee there of around P100/head.
Bantayan Island Hopping
Postcard-perfect Virgin island! This stunning view is certainly living up to its name.
There was a scarcity of corals and marine life in this area, but the clear view under the sea, chasing small fishes and the occasional appearances of small octopi (our first time ever to encounter them) made it worthwhile.
The beach was so clean, there were no people around in this segment of the island.
We were preoccupied with snorkeling and exploring the other parts of the island that we forgot about lunch. Luckily, a couple of fishermen were hauling their catch consisting mainly of shellfish. We approached them and tried to lower the price, even though it was already a steal.
We only paid P200 for the shells (including rice and drinks) and another P50 for the cooking fee. A total of P200 down the drain for lunch.
I asked our boatman if there’s a house reef nearby, to which he nodded. There’s another island but the corals and fishes are at a distance from the shore and around 20 feet deep. Leny was already tired and decided to stay on the boat.
There were coral formations down there, but not a lot. Schools of fish were passing by and I spent over 30 minutes just appreciating the scenery under the waves.
We went back to Bantayan island in the afternoon. It was already low tide, revealing a wide expanse of white sand beach.
Like I said, Bantayan may have its drawbacks, but one could not resist the fresh ocean breeze, white sands overlaid with coconut trees and being an inexpensive escape. It’s safe to say that feelings of nostalgia would haunt the traveler after saying goodbye to Bantayan, a jewel in the northern tip of Cebu.