Last Saturday, my boyfriend and I went backpacking Bantayan Island.
To get to Bantayan from Cebu City, we took a bus from the North Bus Station. The taxi fare from Cebu City to the terminal cost us around 70.00-80.00Php. We left Cebu City at 2:30am. Just in time to get the 3:00am bus, the first trip to Hagnaya. From the North Bus Terminal, we rode a bus to Hagnaya port. This is a 3-hour bus ride that cost us 70.00Php per head. By 6am, were already at the port of Hagnaya. From here you will ride a Roro Ferry which next to tectonic plates is probably the slowest moving thing in the Philippines’ ocean today. The ride cost us 145.00Php per head and the trip took 1 hr and a half. The ferry canteen offers instant coffee, cup noodles and beer. It doesn’t make the trip faster but like many things, alcohol helps you forget. Word of advice: don’t get the aircon seats. Don’t ask why, there’s no difference between the regular and the aircon seats. You may also be surprised with the deluge of porters (men who carry baggage for you). The second the ferry hits the dock, they come flying into the gallery from every conceivable entry point: windows, portholes, chimneys CR etc. like pirate ninjas off to carry your luggage.
Bantayan Island is located at the Northern part of Cebu and is probably what Boracay looked like before it was developed. The island is named after the term “Bantayan” which means “To guard”. Based from my research, in early years, this was what the island used to do against Chinese pirates. Nowadays, the task has been passed on to the media and the island has become a getaway beach of sorts (less the Chinese pirates and plus the Korean tourist).
We arrived in Sta. Fe Bantayan at 8am. It was a cloudy Saturday. I was disappointed with the weather but when you’re an intrepid traveler, that’s really how it is. You can’t really be friends with the weather all the time. Sometimes this adds more adventure to your trips. We stayed in Kota Beach just 2km away from the port of Sta. Fe. You can rent a motorcycle for 250.00Php per hour for you to tour the whole island. Bantayan is home to 3 rural towns. Sta. Fe is the only town I know of. Most of the resorts are here. I was disappointed when I saw the beach. There were lots of brown seaweeds on the beach. They said it has been a rainy week and these seaweeds were washed on the shore. Had it not rained early that week, I think the beach in Bantayan would look very artistic. The sand is white and the beach is shallow but the sand is not as powdery as Boracay. There are not much people on the beach that day maybe because if the weather. The ambiance is ideal for a little bit of romancing at the beach.
I ordered Tinolang Lapu-Lapu for lunch, a viand I’ve only seen, heard and tasted here. In all fairness, it tasted great! Wowoo ordered Beef Curry (he’s not much into seafoods). One thing I noticed from the city and here in Bantayan was, Cebuanos like to cook rice and stuff them in an intricately prepared leaves (which I don’t know what to call, it looks like a coconut leaf) the size of a fist. They call it “puso” and it’s probably the greatest innovation to rice eating ever since it lets you eat rice with just one hand, while standing up, on the go, or taking a dive.
Though I was disappointed with the weather and the seaweeds by the beach, I still enjoyed the trip as I, together with my boyfriend, discovered some place new for us. If you’re planning to go there, I highly suggest summer. When it’s not rainy and when the beach is clean. If you’re taking a day tour, take the 3am bus to Hagnaya then 4:30pm ferry ride back from Sta. Fe to Hangaya, though I recommend going there overnight because day trip is short to fully discover the island.