Bantayan Island is known as the “island paradise in the Philippines” and is sometimes a perfect substitute for Boracay. Tourists, ranging from local and foreigners, fall in love with its fine white sand and its luscious beaches were backed with crystal clear blue waters.
This butterfly-shaped island is composed of three municipalities, namely Bantayan, Santa Fe and Madridejos.
My recent trip to this island was one of the most memorable and enjoyable, spiced up with a little bit of a scary experience in my life. From the moment I’ve set my eyes on its long stretched powdery white sand while the ferry was approaching this island paradise, till the time we departed for home, I knew I’ll never regret coming to this so-called safe haven despite my father’s wishes not to pursue this trip.
Here’s a list of things I’ll never forget:
1. Enticing atmosphere
This little island paradise gives off an alluring aura the minute you catch a glimpse of its long stretched powdery white sand near the Santa Fe wharf and will definitely make you feel giddy.
2. Affordable motorbike rentals Let’s face it, local transportation is very hard in this island. So for smart traveling, we rented a motorbike for the whole course of our trip, which costs us only Php 400.
Don’t fret if you don’t have any driver’s license, you can still rent a motorbike and negotiate your terms with the owner. He/She may ask you to pay at least half of the price and will ask your number for communication purposes.
3. A combination of safe and scary streets
Due to light to no traffic roads and limited vehicles, Bantayan Island can definitely ensure your safety while driving through their streets, but, if you are someone who’s up for some adventure, try driving at night. I’m pretty sure it will turn into one spooky ride. Just try to imagine those hair-rising Wrong Turn movies you’ve ever watched (minus the killing) where you’re traveling in the middle of a quiet and secluded road and you’re part of this motorbike parade and you happen to be the last biker. You looked behind, and all you can see are those tall trees covered with darkness and the only light came from the bike’s headlights. Creepy!
4. The historical Kota Park Kota Park is located on the north side of the island in the town called Madridejos. It was built in the 1790s which served as a Spanish fort. Inside the structure, we found relics and artifacts displayed in each of the four corners.
The boardwalk is famous for getting an exquisite sight of the sunset. If you want to capture a perfect picture of a sunset, then you must never miss this site.
When we got here, it was already low tide and we saw some local kids playing with the sand and were actually looking for something kinda like a sea shell. We also saw some tiny little crabs along the shore.
Well, I’m really a sucker of grilled foods that’s why on our first night on the island we decided to try eating on one of those barbecue stalls near Bantayan’s public market.
7. Saints Peter and Paul Church
Bantayan is also known for its age-old churches.
The Saints Peter and Paul Church was finished in 1863, making it over a century old.
So after dinner, we strolled around the park just in front of the oldest church in town giving us the opportunity to fully appreciate the architecture of Saints Peter and Paul Church. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take a picture of it because the camera that time ran out of battery. Sad.
A friend told us to have our morning bath in Kaligoan – a place where the salt water meets the fresh water. Some nearby villagers also took their bath there.
This might not be one of the best known tourist spots in this island but we gave it a shot though. We were able to enjoy ourselves in the cool water of Kaligoan and was able to mingle with a few locals who were also taking a plunge in this mini pool.
9. Sugar Beach Bantayan beaches are well kept and uncrowded. Therefore, it is an ideal spot to go out for a stroll and have a sun kissed skin. Sugar Beach Resort is the most famous amongst the public beaches in Bantayan. The resort caters to the general public and to those who are looking for budget and affordable facilities.
The very item on our Bantayan itinerary. We were able to fully enjoy ourselves without having to think of paying a very large sum of amount.
10. Support local crafts Filipinos in general are good in crafting. Walk around town and you can find finely- crafted art pieces to buy, wear or even display in your homes which can be a perfect souvenir and it can be purchased at a very affordable price.
Personally, I think one of the best souvenirs on a trip (well aside from pictures) will be one that would remind you of the beauty of your destination.
11. Home of the best dried fish and squid
Who wouldn’t love to bring a piece of Bantayan with them as they leave the island?
Just near the ticketing office at the port area and in their public market, you can find a lot of stalls full of mouth-watering dried fish and squid and since I’m a sucker of both, I decided to buy lots of it to bring home.
No better way to say it but Bantayan folks are friendly and caring in general. They sometimes give you talks about life, just like the conversation we had with that lady in Kaligoan. I also find them very welcoming.
Bantayan is truly a sweet haven for island dwellers. It really captivated my heart and the wanderlust in me. I am hoping to visit this place again soon.