Life is best lived spontaneously. Just like what happened last Holy Week of 2010 when my cousin and I went to Bantayan on the spot. With no plans, no enough money, and no idea at all, I pack my stuff and left for the most exciting trip of my life. It was a dream destination for us since it was supposed to be part of our plans when we first went to Cebu.
Bantayan is known for its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters making it as one of the perfect destination for Summer. If you are a pork/meat lover, and you are worried about abstinence during Holy Week, then do not fret. Pope Leo VII exempted the island from abstaining from eating meat. Locals only living is fishing and during Holy Week, fishermen could not find any fishes or were not allowed to go fishing which makes them lose their main source of food.
The travel was a grueling experience since we had to endure waiting for 8 hours and travel for almost 9 hours from Bacolod City. We faced detours and endured the heat and the waves, but it was all worth it when we got to play with the powdery white sand of Bantayan with our toes.
How to get there:
If you are coming from Negros Occidental, you can reach the island by a boat at Cadiz City or Sagay City pier. But if I were you, I will choose the latter. Cadiz City maybe closer to Bacolod but the ride we had was really bumpy. Trip lasts for around 4 and a half hours and it will take you to Bantayan town pier. From there, you will have to take a trike and travel time to reach Sta. Fe for approximately 20 minutes.
If you are coming from Cebu City, which for me is the most convenient route, you will be taking a bus bound to Hagnaya at Cebu North Bus Terminal (first trip leaves at 3 am and last trip at 5pm). Travel takes around 3 hours and fare costs around 200 php. From there, you will have to take the ferry going to Bantayan Island and it costs 170 php (first trip at 6am and last trip at 5pm daily).
[Note: There is a 10 php Hagnaya port terminal fee]
Last 2010, we were in Bantayan for only 3 days and 2 nights (1 night spent at Sta. Fe and 1 night at the town proper). The experience was short but it was one of the most unforgettable escapes that I have had. I did promise myself to come back that when I was already working in Cebu, I joined my former office mates for their Holy Week trip to this island. This time, it got a lot crazier.
We went at Cebu North Bus Terminal at around 2:30 AM to catch the 3:00 AM trip going to Hagnaya. That time, we only paid 132 php for a non-aircon bus. From Hagnaya, we took a super shuttle (ferry) and paid 170 php and the 10 php terminal fee. After almost five hours of traveling, which was way better than my previous trip, we reached our destination. We stayed at Sugar Beach, one of the famous beaches in Sta. Fe.
Since we were on a tight budget, we decided not to get a room and just camp instead. We only paid 525 php each for the entrance and the camping fee.
It has been two years since I last set foot on this island but Bantayan still never failed to amaze me. It is still the same beach that I have fallen in love with. It still has that fine white sand and shallow crystal clear waters. Good thing was, that time, the population was not as big as that of 2010.
Thursday night was spent drinking to the point of me sleeping in the bathroom. Thanks to this bullies for not letting me pass a drink.
Friday night, we went to Bantayan proper to take part of their annual procession. After an hour of walking, we went back to Sta. Fe, and decided to tone down our drinking so we only had a few shots. That night, the wolfpack met a probable prey but unfortunately she got too drunk and too emotional about this local singer named, JR.
The following day, I tried skimboarding and I also played beach soccer. Both weren’t that easy. I was too chicken to fall and bruise myself during my turn for skimboarding that I end up just watching the kids flawlessly balance their selves on the board.
Saturday night was the night of lights. It’s when fireworks did light up the sky, when the sight of paper lanterns caught our sight and when we had a wonderful time watching poi dancers playing and dancing with fire.
We went home early morning of Sunday, and we were lucky to catch the first trip of the ferry back to Hagnaya. It was an epic holiday and I would like to thank the wolfpack for the experience even if they bullied me, got me drunk and used me as their bait.
Budget: We spent less than 3000 php all-in for four days and three nights stay at this island. Food here is pretty expensive but you can look for nearby karinderyas if you are really keen on your budget. Make sure as well to bring your own tent if you would want to save more.