Monday, March 4, 2013

Sugar and Salt (Bantayan Island Part 1)

Bantayan Island

In honor of the month of March, we decided to go for a short trip to another beautiful island that is still part of the province of Cebu. This time our roomie Azi had to pass for the trip due to a hectic work  schedule. But we brought along other friends, Lyda and Ruzz.

Hagnaya Port. This is where we embark on a boat to Bantayan Island

Our stop was the beautiful island found at the west of the northern end of Cebu, Bantayan island! On a Saturday morning, we got a taxi to take us to the North Bus Terminal (the same terminal we went to when we set out for Camotes) and from there to Hagnaya. It was an unusually long trip because we got stuck in traffic in Lilo-an due to a triathlon event that caused a very long traffic jam. Don't worry, this doesn't happen everyday. But after we got through that part of the road, the trip the was smooth sailing. It took us 4 hours to reach Hagnaya and we still had to cross TaƱon Strait for next two hours. We arrived at the port of Santa Fe around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, welcomed by the tropical warmth of the afternoon sun. Unlike the weather that welcomed us in Camotes, we had blue skies and bright sunny days in Bantayan.

Upon our arrival, there were "pot-pot" rides ready to take us to the resort. From what we saw on our way to the resort, the island's common mode of transportation are pot-pots, bikes, motorcycles and some multicabs. It was refreshing to breathe their air because the place is very green. It felt like I was in a scene in one of those romantic episodes of a famous Philippine drama anthology.

Bantayan Island
Our friends Lyda and Ruz enjoying the "pot-pot" ride. We were right behind them so we had the chance to take some pics!

Bantayan Island

After the 10-minute pot-pot ride we finally arrived at Sugar Beach resort. The blue skies and coconuts showered by warm rays of the sun set the mood for a perfect getaway. We chose sugar beach because of it strong online presence, good reviews from other blogs, but most of all we were on a budget. If you are expecting a posh resort with fancy infinity pools, and elegantly designed rooms, you wouldn't find it here in sugar beach. But why come this far if you wish to find something you can get in the city. Surely it's not bad to get a little elegance but sometimes the fun comes out in situations where you need to struggle a little. The first problem we had with the accommodation was there were no towels provided, and we didn't bring one. There weren't any soap or toiletry products provided as well, so if your planning to stay there, you'd have to keep this things on the list. Our Sugar Beach experience was generally positive. It provided us with a homey cottage and an ambiance far from the modern ways of city living.

Bantayan Island
This is our cottage. It has two double-sized beds and one CR with shower. We planned to go to the Sta. Fe market once in a while so we had to rent some bicycles. 

Our last meal was about 6 hours ago, so after we had our bags settled, we immediately ordered fresh sea-foods for lunch.You can select from their available fresh supplies of fish, shrimps and shells. On quick reminder though, never forget to bring antihistamines just in case you develop some food allergies. My allergy to shrimps went away along time ago but the shrimps here in Bantayan triggered the same reaction again.

Bantayan Island

After the meal we immediately explored the resort. The sand was indeed white and fine as sugar. There were cottages and coconut trees here and there. There was one blogger who complained about the bermuda grass in sugar beach but I found it rather attractive here. With the cool wind perfectly contrasting the warm feel of the sun on your skin and with the view of the beach and coconuts along the shoreline, this place is almost close to perfect.

Bantayan Island

We couldn't wait to see what we came here for, and so we set out for the beach and there, we found heaven. How can I not dip myself in  this water rippling sparkles on the surface and the white sand lying beneath it. If no one's been ever diagnosed yet of having addiction to white sand then please let me be the first. The color gradients slowly changing from blue green to deep  blue made the scenery an exquisite sighting.

Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island
look at those ripples.Its so clear I wanna die!!!

Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island
As I was taking this photo I was constantly reminding myself that I had gadgets on me so I won't fall for the tempting water. 

The shoreline lined by young coconut trees and some of these walking species here .. Oooh there are a lot them in this island. I hope they don't end up destroying the view. 

When we finally decided to take a dip, we immediately discovered something! The water here is extra salty. Like no-joke-dead-sea-like kind of salty (although I haven't been to the Dead sea). We had o problems floating here because everything feels extra buoyant. This might be the reason why my allergies to sea-foods resurrected here because the shrimps were very high in sodium and iodine. Nevertheless that didn't stop us from enjoying the water and from swimming and diving to here and there.

Here are some of the photos we took. If you noticed there was a change in the feel and color gradient of the photos. This is because we had to switch to our new Nikon Coolpix S30 waterproof camera, and we're not so good with the adjustments yet, but here are the photos anyway.

We all felt like we were in this giant pool all for ourselves !!!

Because the water was extra salty, we had no problems making ourselves float. 

Aquamaine : Exotic edition !!!

A tribute to Azi.. incorrect spelling, thanks to Lyda

We had the luxury to take underwater shots too. But we always end up being pulled to the surface whenever we attempt to hit the shutter button. We had some epic fail shots and some decent ones too. Don't worry guys we'll try to figure out how to take real good underwater pics soon. Here are some of our successful and not so successful attempts at underwater photography.

Ooops! Don't go too low, you're almost out of the frame !!!

Well, this is one of the decent ones. 

Well this is one of the epic-fails I was talking about.  Better spit it out Ruzz, its not helping! c:

I'm not exactly sure where to put this photo. 

After we've had enough of the beach, when our fingers were prune-like and our skins tingling with warmth, we set out to explore the town of Santa Fe. The easiest way to go around the island is to ride a bicycle, which we rented earlier. I didn't expect it to be this way but the idea of riding a bicycle brought back some of my adventurous childhood memories, so I said, "Why not!" I think I may want to spend my old age here so I can be healthier with an active lifestyle and minimal pollution. There will always be perks in living within the city but often times it brings more bad than good. The simple way of living of the local islanders and their efforts to preserve their heritage makes Bantayan Island a more interesting stop.

We already picked the bicycles we wanted for ourselves and by coincidence what we were wearing complimented their colors. We were like the Power Rangers , the Island version. 

On our way to Santa Fe ! Rangers Unite !

Unlike any conventional market place, this one looks organised, neat, and refreshing. 

The church at Santa Fe, currently under construction, but still compliments to the town's laid back feel.

After getting what we needed in town, we had the chance to visit one of the resorts nearby. The Marlins Beach resort looks a lot more comfortable than sugar beach. It has very good facilities almost close to the ones that you would find in expensive hotels. They also have a bar and an interesting shoreline. The only drawback is you can see the port from the resort and the costs is double compared to Sugar beach. I'd say Sugar Beach still has the best shoreline. But you can always sneak in and have your own photo shoot with the more expensive resort, like what we did.

Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island

Don't be too confident, this isn't our resort. 

It was already dark when we got back to our Cottage in Sugar Beach. After we ate some of the food we bought, we hanged out in the beach and sat on the sand. Like what we did in Camotes, we gazed at the night sky adorned with stars. They were as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. We had a really good time talking about a gazillion things while staring at fisher men lighting up the shores like fireflies.

That ends our adventure in Bantayan Island for now. We had to rest for an even more exciting day that awaits tomorrow. 

On our next post, we will explore 
the Virgin Island.

Bantayan Island

To be continued .. 


  1. wow! super nice ng place! this is why Mom wanna visit Cebu! :)


    1. It is a very nice place indeed, you should go with her when she visits Cebu. :)

  2. Cebu is just perfect. nice photos and probably a great vacation too. It was nice to drop by your blog!

    1. Thanks for dropping by! It was a great vacation and can be perfect for family getaways too.. feel free to drop by again !