It’s been said that if you have “Island Fever” you may be incurable. Why not visit the country that has over 7100 islands where you can travel until the cows come home and you still haven’t even touched the hundreds and thousands of discoveries that ARE JUST WAITING FOR THAT ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT.
After arriving in Manila for some dental work I visited an Internet Cafe and learned from the original Bantayan Island website (wowBantayan.com) owned and operated by Paul James about an island in the north of Cebu providence that was laid back, peaceful, had many white sand beaches, and had very reasonable accommodations … and best of all not very touristy by any standards.
When you visit Bantayan Island you can find Paul James working on various photography projects at the Hard kock Kafe. He has valuable information on his website and will be glad to chat with you on any subject. Click on his website to find weather updates and questions and answers on Bantayan Island. It’s invaluable information and will save you many steps by researching his website… plus he’s a great fellow to learn to know.
To reach Bantayan Island you simply take the bus from the north bus terminal in Cebu City going to Hagnaya for 80 pesos about three hours… then take a ferry to Bantayan Island a little more than an hour for 120 pesos and you can begin to see the palm trees outline the resorts as you come into the port of Santa Fe.
As a landmark on the north side of the pier is the Santa Fe Resort with it’s main building and restaurant and individual beach huts. From the pier you can take a tricycle for about 25 pesos per person and head along the beach toward the center of Santa Fe town which revolves around a central market and a street with several places to stay including the Hard Kock Kafe. If you want beach resorts directly on the beach you have many choices which include: Tristans, The Marlin Beach Resort, Kota Beach Resort, Budyong Resort, Yooneek Resort. Ogtong Cave Resort and if you head north of the pier you can stay at The Ticketyboo Resort and the Saint Bernard.
If you want a longer stay or like the comfort of an airconditioned room you should check into the Sante Fe SeaView Apartelle with seaviews located on the main road in Santa Fe and owned and operated by a Filipiino couple Mr. and Mrs. E Ybanez. From this location it’s just a short walk to the beach, the central market and the restaurants.
You have an excellent choice of restaurants which include The Blue run by a Swedish x-pat Andy, D’Jungle run by Robert German x-pat, The Rock Cafe run by Swedish x-pat Henry and the Yooneek bar located directly on the beach… and a good place to end the day by sipping a cold beer and watching the incredible sunsets.
If this isn’t Jimmy Buffet enough and you can either swim out to The Floating Bar located just off Yooneek Beach or be rowed out like royalty and spend the afternoon taking in the sun and splashing into the water for a cooling dip. And just maybe you may discover this is your own country and all you need is your flag of choice.
There is also the newly opened Moby Dick run by John US -xpat which serves excellent oven baked pizzas, The Oasis which has excellent Portuguese food and a new restaurant run by Belgium-French owner Dennis named Zenith. As you stroll up the street past the two churches you will come to a Restaurant named Balikbayan which has excellent decor with fresh flowers, birds, native rocks, and a live fish aquarium not to mention a nice local menu.
There are also many local eateries where you can grab a fast-food hamburger, barbecued chicken, fried bananas and one local restaurant that stands out named Arjaymay operated by Jerry Tan that serves fresh seafood grilled to perfection and comes with a healthy salad all for about 200 pesos or 4 us dollars. Located just across from the central market.
Bantayan island offers the tourist good swimming on white sand beaches, excursions to other islands, motor scooter rental …where you can tour the entire island in one day by going south to Bantayan City and then heading north to Madridejos where you can shortcut back to Santa Fe.
The island is vibrant with many festivals, schools, and church activities. It also exports crabs from Madridejos, and is nicknamed the egg basket of the Philippines because of all the chicken farms located throughout the island. If you are not used to hearing the rooster crow: “cock-a-doodle-do” your senses will be stirred at sunrise from almost every point on the island.
It is an excellent island to meet new travelers and foreign x-pats and is easy to get around either by walking, using the tricycles or for a longer trip you can use the motorized tricycles. A German has a resort near Bantayan City called Maia’s, which he carved out of the coral and would be worth a visit.
There is only one ATM machine which is located at Allied Bank near the Bantayan City town square and takes about 30 minutes on tricycle for about 25 pesos. While in Bantayan City you can visit the wet market and bring back the highly prized Lapu Lapu fish and have any number of restaurants fix it the way you like it.
So there you have it… an island of friendly people where you can live like a king on a modest budget and if you are not careful …you like so many x-pats from before might just call Bantayan Island your home.
QUOTE: “Not to be bound by rules, but to be creating one’s own rules–this is the kind of life which Zen is trying to have us live.”
– D. T. Suzuki
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