Welcoming summer at Bantayan Island

I have visited Cebu multiple times last year yet I only got to see its beaches this year. I went to Moalboal last January which is in the southern part of Cebu. But to start off the beginning of summer, I decided to go up north and visit Bantayan Island.

Bantayan is five hours away from Cebu City if you include the waiting time, so if you’re planning to go there, I suggest you wake up early and ready your butts for prolonged sitting. To get to Bantayan Island from Cebu City, go to the North Bus Terminal and take the bus bound for Hagnaya. The air-conditioned Ceres buses cost 150 pesos. I love riding provincial buses because you’re forced to listen to cheesy songs you wouldn’t willingly listen to like April Boy Regino, Air Supply and Freddie Aguilar. But for people with low tolerance for this, definitely bring something to entertain yourself because it is a long ride.

The bus ride takes almost three hours, the last stop of which is at Hagnaya port where you will purchase your ferry tickets to get you to Santa Fe port. Our bus which left at 6:20 am arrived just in time to catch the 9:30 am boarding for the Island Shipping Ferry. A ticket to Sante Fe port is 170 pesos plus 10 pesos terminal fee. This will not be first class accommodations so be prepared. Basically you’ll be sitting on long plastic chairs for an hour, hopefully not nursing sea sickness.

Once you get to Santa Fe port, you will be bombarded by porters and tricycle drivers offering their services to take you to your hotel or better yet suggest a hotel where you could stay in. We researched for hotels in Bantayan and liked these three based on pictures and reviews: Anika Island Resort, Ogtong Cave Resort and Cou Cou Bar, Hotel and Restaurant. We went to our first option Anika Island Resort because it’s the hotel directly in front of the beach. We were lucky and got their last available courtyard room which is 1500 pesos per night.

Beachfront of Anika Island Resort. Photo courtesy of Mr. Lopsided.

Anika Island Resort is one of the main reasons that I would want to go back to Bantayan. I was very impressed. Even though their courtyard room is tiny, it is still very comfy and cozy. I always love it when I get to stay at a hotel or resort that uses white bedsheets and they had that as well. Plus the room is very clean and all the appliances are working. I also love their attention to detail because they have showers outside and a faucet on the foot of the stairs so that you could wash off the sand before you climb up to your room. And there’s always a staff of Anika cleaning the beach from seagrass that washed up on the shore unlike the other resorts in that area.

Bantayan Island boasts of sand as fine as powder and they were not kidding. It is the kind of sand that you could easily wash off, sand that doesn’t hurt your feet or knees, sand that’s almost as soft as clay when it’s wet that you can attempt to make a ceramic mug out of it. I could just lie on that soft sand all day and bake under the sun. Just one thing though, the water smells a little like gasoline by late afternoon, probably because of the ferries that dock at the Santa Fe port.

Super fine and soft sand at Bantayan Island

We capped off our evening with dinner at Ogtong Cave Resort which is 20 minutes away from Anika by pedicab. A pedicab or padyak, as the locals call it, is just a bicycle with a sidecar attached to it. You can also take a tricycle to Ogtong Cave Resort for a faster trip but we decided on a pedicab for a change of pace. I really enjoyed this pedicab ride because it epitomized life at Bantayan – slow, relaxed and quiet. The night was cold but comforting, and the moon shone brightly, its light peeping every so often in between the leaves of coconut trees. The smell of grilled fish pervaded the island. And the road was quiet and dark broken only by the sounds of motorbikes driving by or the barking of dogs.

Anika Island Resort at night.

If you want a relaxing summer vacation, Bantayan Island should definitely be one of the places you should consider visiting.

Read Day 2 of our trip to Bantayan.

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