While most people were heading back to the city after the holidays, I was heading out – a freelancer perk I am soooo loving. First agenda for 2013: backpacking Northern Cebu with younger cousins in tow. Newbies to traveling, the goal was to have them experience how it is to step out of their comfort zones and just give in to their sense of adventure.
Bantayan is the perfect show opener. An island west of Northern Cebu, getting there gives them a primer for long haul commute – a total of 4 1/2 hrs travel by bus and ferry, which is already an adventure in itself! Among tourists, the island is best known for its white sand beaches and killer sand bars. But with a land area measuring 16kms N-S and 11kms E-W, there’s more than enough space to go treasure hunting as well. So the set-up is there’s Kota beach at our doorstep for quality beach bumming, and then there’s the rest of the island waiting to be explored. In my mind, there’s only one way to go about this exploration…
Oh the simple joy of being able to recreate this scene! And yes, did the shoulder shimmy-shammy too! I’m such a sucker for music moments in film. Being a ’90s kid, this particular bit is in my Top 5.
So instead of four, there were five of us pedal pushers. Bicycle rentals abound in Sta. Fe town for Php 150 a day. We rode on these vintage Japanese bicycles, complete with basket and bell effects. We were headed north to the small barangay of Tamiao via the island’s east coastal road.
The road was generally empty, maybe an average of two scooters passing by every 15-20 minutes. The level of difficulty increased as we went farther. Planes developed into slopes, and paved roads gave way to chunky rocks. At some point, I kinda wished we rented mountain bikes instead. But then again, I didn’t know how to ride those, and more importantly, the whole experience will no longer be that Now & Then-ish.
Biking Bantayan was like rediscovering a forgotten playground. A throwback of what used to be our definition of child’s play – body, the elements, and at most, just simple machines. Although far from being a remote island, Bantayan still managed to give us a feeling of seclusion, especially in between towns. It spoiled us with its varying hues of green that are sometimes disrupted by yellows, pinks, purples, and oranges. The coast to our side at times hid itself to make way for mangrove gardens or a canopy of towering coconut palms. The fresh air filled our lungs with the distinct scent of countryside, and as we sped downhill on our bikes, the wind blew heavy on our faces.
I didn’t get to take decent photos on the way. Needless to say, I was preoccupied with the act of biking (I’m not too good at it) and taking in the sights. But I was able to scour the web for an amazing one. I do remember passing by here.
Seven towns and 10kms after, we arrived at our destination: Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort.
Quite self-explanatory what the place is all about. The resort offers a day tour package for walk-in guests at Php 150 per head. This already gives you access to most of the resort’s amenities like the beach, cabanas, swimming pool, videoke, billiards table, etc. They also offer health and wellness treatments at an additional cost. It’s a quieter alternative to the already quiet beach resorts of Sta. Fe.
However, the main draw of this resort is its cave pool. Forget about the more popular cave pool in Ogtong. This one here is the best and largest in the island, where the water could go as deep as 8ft during high tide. To dip into its waters was our reward for all that pedaling.
We didn’t go exploring elsewhere, and just slowed the pace of our already adventurous day. Besides, going back to our resort equated to another 10kms worth of leg power. That’s just about the ideal break-in exercise for my kaladkarins-in-training. Or maybe went overboard a little?
Oh well, we soon learned that’s nothing (a handful of) Salonpas patches couldn’t fix! I’m so proud of them!
Bantayan Travel Notes: Most of the details you need to know about traveling to Bantayan are already found in the links I provided. There’s just one crucial detail that I’d like to add: Make sure to ride the green ferry and not the blue one. We had the misfortune of riding the blue one in Hagnaya and the ferry ride lasted us almost 2hours! The green ferry is operated by Island Shipping Corporation.