Things to Do
Exploring the history and culture of any new place as seen in its architecture and lifestyle of people is always an interesting endeavor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for this. From my few glimpses, the town of Sante Fe has evidently maintained a simple and laid back lifestyle – a welcome haven to those longing for a quiet respite from the hurly-burly of big city life. The churches, Rizal’s statue and the town center plaza, as well as the fishing communities by the sea all speak of a story not so old but filled with endless discovery.
Head to the beachfront at dawn and eagerly anticipate the sun’s glorious ascent. Watch the sky
transform from pitch darkness to a golden hue and then to a heavenly blue. Likewise at dusk for the sun’s slow descent. Truly priceless!
Get on a motor-pumped boat and visit the neighboring smaller islands. This is one adventure never to be missed whilst on the island. Inquire from your resort regarding boat rentals and organized trips. The boat can be rented for a day’s use at a very cheap price of Php1000 more or less, inclusive of gas and the guide’s professional fee. It accommodates a maximum of 10 (15 for bigger boats) and brings you to Calatagan and Virgin Island. If you negotiate well, and if the weather is good, you may even have a bonus trip to Ogtong Cave or Paradise Island. These guides are seasoned fishermen, so you can relax all throughout the ride.
Calatagan Island’s surrounding waters are best for snorkeling. The guide will prompt you a few meters away from the shoreline, so be ready to jump into the waters with your gears. Swim as long as you wish. Time is yours to spend and the sea yours to explore.
Virgin island, developed by the mayor of Madridejos, is the ultimate beach rendezvous. This is definitely paradise for beach-bums who enjoy both swimming and snorkeling; or simply anyone hanging out, frolicking in sun and sand, crystal clear waters and cool sea breeze. Unlike Calatagan, Virgin Island asks for Php100 entrance fee per head and Php500 cottage rental. Construction of a bigger cottage is well underway to accommodate visitors wishing to stay overnight. Tourists, as well as locals, stay here for most part of their trip. Some leave after lunch while others stay longer and leave at sundown, or before the waters get rough to avoid a bumpy sail back.
There is no restaurant so guests bring their own food and water, including provision for the guide/s. No worries about bringing cold softdrinks and disposable eating utensils. These can be bought in the island. For our lunch, we bought rice from the market and had it cooked in a BBQ restaurant, where we also ordered grilled chicken, squid and fish. The locals are friendly and easy to negotiate with. Just ask around and you’ll certainly find your way. Make the arrangements the day before your trip, and explicitly inform them of pick-up time.
Bantayan: the center of business and commerce, often referred to as the fishing capital of the Visayas. During the Holy Week, all roads lead to the biggest municipality to celebrate the feast of the Holy Sepulchre (Santo Intiero). It is the only archdiocese approved by the church to prepare and eat meat on Good Friday.
Madridejos: visit Kota park for a great sunset view. The Poblacion comes alive during the Holy Week for its devout Catholic practices; as well as on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady’s image enshrined in the Church, magnificently clothed and adorned is believed to be miraculous. Just one last practical tip: head to the fish market for the early morning catch and feast your eyes on fresh-from-the-sea produce. Believe me, they’re way much cheaper than in the mainland, and undeniably guaranteed fresh. Bring home a bucket or two and you certainly won’t regret it.
So if you haven’t been to Bantayan Island, take a reroute from your usual summer getaway and head up north of Cebu.
- Serenity at Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island (beachloversoul.wordpress.com)
- Photo Series: Bantayan Island (feelgoodavenue.wordpress.com)
- Bantayan Island: 12 best things about this sweet haven (cebutraveljunkie.wordpress.com)