I woke up early the next day to catch the sun rise after a tiring trip from Davao to Cebu to Hagnaya Port to Sta Fe Bantayan Island. As the sun rises, slowly revealing the landscape along the stretch of white shoreline, I just couldn't help humming the song "Da Coconut Nut". That was my first impression of Sta Fe, coconut trees are abundant.
Waiting and watching as the sun rises can be purifying and healing to the soul. After working hard last year and surgery early this year I finally had a chance to take a break, to recollect what I have done last year and what to do this year. It was a long communion with myself and God until I noticed that there were other people walking along the shoreline.
I stood up and started walking also. The beachline was a long stretch of white sand not as powdery as the sands of Boracay but it has its own beauty that captivated my desire to walk barefoot as far as my feet can take me.
|Facing the beach, Sta Fe port can be seen far left, other beach resort are just along the beach line.|
|Facing the beach, (far right) other beach resorts along the beach line can be easily found by just walking along the shore.|
The sun was already high, I went back to our cottage and woke my friends Dave & Emily to join me for a swim.
|The clear waters of Sta Fe Bantayan|
Before we headed for Bantayan Island, I searched the internet about resorts or hotels in Bantayan. I also asked some friends who has already been to Bantayan for some info. And it's true, it isn't very hard to find a place to stay at Sta Fe.
We arrived at Sta Fe Port a little past 7 in the evening. I didn't make any reservations though I already have a resort name in mind. We hired a trisikad (bicycle with a sidecar) driver to take us to Budyong Beach Resort. I chose this place because of the nice reviews I read from different websites and blogs. The driver was very friendly and even offered to take us to other resorts if there is no available room for us at Budyong. While we were cruising the dark hi-way I asked the driver about where to eat, transportation in going around and safety. He told us not to worry walking around the place because there are no lawless elements living in the place. Most of those who get into trouble are tourist and not the locals. He also told us that there are many restaurants near Budyong Resort.
|Beach front cottage|
We were tired and hungry from the trip so I told her we will get the available cottage for the night and we will try to find a place to stay the following day or if they would allow us we will just sleep on the shoreline. Hope it will not rain because we did not bring tent or maybe they have a tent for rent there :)
Fortunately the following day, somebody cancelled their reservations and we didn't have to go around and look for a place to stay. Instead we had the whole day to enjoy Bantayan Island :) Thanks to the receptionist and staff of Budyong Beach Resort, they have been very helpful and accommodating.
After we checked-in the resort, we immediately dropped our things went outside to find a place to eat. We were already starving at this point. There are a few trisikad waiting outside the resort gate offering to take us to a restaurant but we decided to walk and explore the safe streets of Sta Fe. There's only one street where you can find the restaurants, eateries and bar-be-que stands. Not very hard to find from Budyong Resort because it's just a short walk away.
Thursday (Feb 23, 2012)
It's our first night and we decided to try the farthest restaurant first Le Petit Bonheur centrally located at Poblacion Sta. Fe. The service is really great, the food taste good at a reasonable price and the ambiance is nice and comfy. For our first night it was a nice welcome :)
Friday (Feb 24, 2012)
I am an early riser person and no matter how tired I was from the trip the other day I was able to wake up early and had a great time watching the sun rise. Emily & Dave joined me on the shore later for a short swim and photo taking. We then rented a bicycle as suggested by Kuya Eddie so we can easily go around the poblacion of Sta Fe. We drove around and decided to have breakfast at The Blue. We were the first costumers and the lady took our orders immediately. While waiting for our orders we had a leisure time for picture taking. Breakfast was good, the serving is generous, the service is nice and the price is not expensive.
|Emily & Dave playing or posing on the chess set :)|
|corned beef combo|
It was our last night in Bantayan and Emily treat us to a dinner for advance celebration of her birthday. We went to Coucou Bar, the place is nice. It has a main restaurant and on the ground was a few huts. We decided to eat in one of the huts because it looks comfy. The menu has a wide selection, we chose beef with broccoli & cashew nuts (what was served to us was beef with cauliflower without informing us that they run out of broccoli), fish in coconut milk, fish kinilaw, steamed crab and as they say never leave Bantayan not trying fresh buko juice. We had high expectations of this place considering their price was a bit higher than the other restaurants.
|The birthday celebrant - Emily|
The buko juice was a bit sourish, it was fresh and new but don't know why it tasted like that I have tasted fresh buko juices in different places and this is the first I tried with that sourish taste. I loved broccoli and I was disappointed when what was served was beef with cauliflower, it was not bad but I would have enjoyed it if they served me what I have chosen. The fish with coconut milk was ok but we were shocked to see the fish kinilaw. It was not like the ones we are used to. The fish was a fillet, 2x2 inches wide & half inch thick, what we are used to is 2x2 inch cubed fish. Maybe we have to slice it ourselves first before eating but they didn't serve us a knife. We were already laughing our frustrations at this time. The good thing though was the crab was perfectly steamed and it saved the evening.
Saturday (Feb 25, 2012)
It was our last day in Bantayan. I called Eddie to get us a banca (motorized boat) for an island hopping. It was fun but we need to get back to the resort by noon to check out and get back to Cebu City. We brought our things already and asked the trisikad driver to take to a restaurant for lunch before we head to Sta Fe Port. The driver took us to Amigo, it was already lunch time but we are the only customer there, though when we passed by other restaurants along the way it was noticeably empty or with just a few people dining. Maybe the tourist are still asleep or in an island hopping.
We immediately made our order because we need to catch a 1:30pm ferry boat back to hagnaya port. We had steamed lapu-lapu, chopsuey (sauteed mixed vegies), sotanghon guisado & fried rice. Everything we ordered taste good and they are not very expensive.
1. Biking - I was talking to Kuya Eddie (a staff of the resort) while Dave and Emily was doing their photoshoot on the beach. I ask him how can we go around the town of Sta Fe or reach Bantayan town. He told us that the best way to enjoy the place is to hire a motorcycle and drive it myself. Sadly I don't know how to drive a motorcycle :( . Our next option was to rent a bicycle (P100-150 for 8 hrs) which seems to be a good idea. And so we did just that!
We didn't make any plans how to spend the day. The 3 of us agreed to do what comes in our minds in a moment. So after our breakfast at "The Blue" we thought of going to Bantayan town on our bike. The distance from Sta Fe to Bantayan town is 10km. It seems to be a short distance only and so off we go to Bantayan town. We were having fun talking while driving our bikes and we passed by the airport, schools, poultry farm etc etc along the way. We saw a waiting shed and stopped for water break. I asked an old man who was sitting there how far is Bantayan town from the shed. He told us that we were already halfway.
Wow, still another halfway ahead of us and we are a bit tired already. Well we decided to continue since we are already halfway to the town :)
After about an hour and half we finally reached Bantayan Town, noticeably un developed, not crowded and no big malls that can only be found in the City. Transportation are mostly motorcycles, tricycles and bikes with a few private cars and small cargo trucks. The people are friendly and willing to help when we asked for directions.
I asked a local if there's a bank with ATM in town and she gladly pointed me where to go. I only saw 1 commercial bank with ATM there, others are Rural/Local Banks. I withdrew some money and we proceeded to Bantayan Public Market.
2. Buying Pasalubongs - We drived around until we found Bantayan Public Market where we bought dried fish for pasalubong. Bantayan dried fish are known and liked by us Filipino tourist because their products are not very salty or unsalted unlike dried fish in other places.
|No wonder Bantayan Public Market is very clean.|
After paying the dried fish vendor, we went around and bought some other stuff. We asked a fruit vendor where we can take our lunch. She pointed to a nearby kitchenette but it was crowded, we then asked for other place and she told us to go across 2 blocks passing the town plaza where we can find Äbuhan Ni Paulin Restaurant"and have our P200 lunch (for the 3 of us).
We left our bikes outside along the sidewalk, there was no parking area and the bikes have no locks. We ask the waitress to look after our bikes while we're having our lunch inside. The waitress told us not to worry, it won't get lost because there are no carnapers or bikenapers nor pickpockets in Bantayan. I am beginning to love this place, people are honest, minimal vehicular accidents, no lawless elements . . . . . its a peaceful place to live. After lunch, we went out and our bikes are still there on the sidewalk just like the way we left it.
We went back to Sta Fe via tricycle with our bikes on topload. Di na namin kayang mag bike pauwi. ha ha ha ha ha ha . . . . . :)
3. Swimming - The waters along the beach of Sta Fe was very inviting. It is clean and clear that you even see silver white fishes swimming with us.
Whether on land or water we can't help to pose and be with the beauty of nature.
4. Island Hopping - We were short of time and have to go back to Cebu after lunch, but it didn't stopped us from hiring a motorized boat to do island hopping. There are only 2 islands near the Town of Sta Fe, these are Hilantaga-an Island and Silion Island (mostly referred by the islanders as "Virgin Island". Since our time was limited, we asked the boatman to take us directly to Virgin Island so we can do snorkeling immediately.
The beach on this island was said to be privately owned and we are made to pay P450 for the 3 of us with free use of a hut and snorkeling. There are a few residential houses at the back portion of the resort, a nipa sari-sari store and nipa dressing room/toilet. It's a bit expensive considering the resort is undeveloped, well maybe the owner wanted to preserve the island and its name.
5. Snorkeling - The motorized boat cost us P700 with free use of 3 snorkels. When we plunge into the water it was only waist deep. Even if without a snorkel you can clearly see the corals and different species of fish beneath the clear water. We were not disappointed and we had a great time feeding the fish so they would come near us. It was awesome :)
6. Sunset Watching - Anywhere we go sunset always comes and each time I witness the sun setting in different places I had been I am always in awe.
7. Stargazing - I was in the cottage when Dave and Emily texted me to go to the shore. There's a group who are having a bonfire and we spread a "malong" not very far from them. The water was already rising and the the sound of the waves are very soothing to the ears. It was a clear evening and as we lay our backs on the malong we were amazed by the sight of the dark sky. These are the sight that you can never see anymore in the city because of the lights that illuminates our surroundings. Not only that, smoke from big factories and smog from vehicles causes us to hardly see the stars in the sky. Sadly our camera failed to capture the heavenly sight.
1. From North Bus Terminal in Cebu take the Ceres Bus to Hagnaya Port. Aircon Bus Fare P150 and travel time is approximately 3 hours.
2. At Hagnaya you can buy a ferry ticket to Sta Fe for P185 (aircon) or P170 (non-aircon). Travel time is more or less 1 hour.
3. Terminal Fee of P10 at Hagnaya Port.
4. At Sta Fe Port hire a motorbike or trisikad. We were generous that night and there are 3 of us plus our backpacks riding a trisikad, my friend Emily gave the driver P100. I asked a local though and told us that fare is only P10/pax.