1 hr plane, 3 hour drive, 1 and half ferry ride and 20 minutes tricycle before we reach the uprising beach destination located north of Cebu, Bantayan Island. Being a shooting location for a local Filipino movie entitled ‘Camp Sawi’, this not so hidden paradise continues to attract both local and foreign tourists.
In celebration of Eid’l Adha, one of the biggest Muslim festivals, the Malacanang Palace declared September 12 (Monday) as a regular non-working holiday. Eid’l Adha is the tenth day in the month of Hajj or Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca wherein Muslims pay homage to Abraham’s supreme act of sacrifice and signifies mankind’s obedience to God.
Luckily, my bestfriends and I were able to book a low fare roundtrip ticket to Cebu via Philippine Airlines months before. We’ve seen the city and the south of Cebu where we swam with the whalesharks. This time, we decided to pay a visit to the north where Bantayan Island is located.
KOTA BEACH RESORT
We stayed at Kota Beach Resort. A mid-range resort with excellent beachfront, cottage rooms, lounge area, restaurant and bar with billiards. Kota beach resort was also one of the shooting locations of the movie Camp Sawi, a local Filipino movie that tells a story of four women who got their hearts broken. We rented a De Luxe cottage located at the 4th row which was just a minute walk from the beachfront. It has a double and single bed, cold shower with soap, towel and a closet with hangers. The resort offers free shuttle to and from the wharf and bicycle rentals.
Right when I saw Kota beach or the beachfront of Kota beach resort, I was totally in awe! It’s something I used to see as desktop wallpaper but this time I’m actually in the picture. The water was crystal clear with different hues ranging from turquoise to blue. The sands were fine but there were some parts of the shore that had scattered broken shells. We played some indie pop songs, ordered some ice cold beer and had the most relaxing weekend.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
We ordered our drinks from the resort’s bar. We were also able to try the resort’s restaurant during breakfast and dinner and everything was good and priced just right. The menu had a wide variety of seafood and meat choices, fruit shakes, hot and cold drinks. One thing that their restaurant lacks is dessert. They do not offer any dessert except for fruits.
The next night, we had a Greek dinner at Mike’s Grill located at MJ Square located 2 blocks away from Kota beach resort. The serving was huge and it’s authentic Greek! I totally recommend trying out this restaurant. There are different choices inside MJ Square which includes Cupcake Cakery, Shake Me, Mexican Bistro, Value meals and a lot more.
We also dined at CouCou Bar & Restaurant for lunch. Their airy cabana was just the perfect setting for a scrumptious seafood lunch. Make sure to come in early since there are only four cabanas available for dine in customers.
THINGS TO DO
In places where it feels like paradise, the best thing to do is soak in the fresh air, swim in the clear waters, feel the sun and just relax, appreciate the view and realize how blessed you are.
Another famous activity is island hopping and visiting Virgin Island. A beach with fine white sand and crystal clear waters as well.
Tricycle drivers also offer land tours around Bantayan Island for an affordable price.
For souvenirs, there are vendors walking along the shore selling freshwater pearls. They will show that the pearls are original by trying to scratch it without leaving marks and creating chalk-like substance, they will also light the pearl with fire to show you that it’s not plastic because if it is, it will burn. I bought myself a set of pearl stud earrings for Php350 and I’ve never removed it since after purchase. I love it and I wish I bought more!
Bantayan Island is also the home of dried fish, so if you or your parents and relatives love ‘danggit’ then you’re in the right place. The best place to buy dried fish according to locals is in Bantayan main public market which is 20 minutes jeepney ride from Sta. Fe.
I will definitely recommend visiting Bantayan Island to anyone especially now that the place isn’t urbanized just yet. It’s a perfect destination for people looking for pure relaxation. Don’t worry about the budget too! Bantayan is a budget friendly destination. I tried to compute my overall expenses which include airfare, hotel for 3 nights, all transportation, food and souvenirs and the total was around Php8000 or US200.
Have you been to Bantayan Island? How was your experience and what was the highlight of your trip? I’d love to know about it!