Bantayan Island, Cebu: Exploring The Egg Basket
Did you know that 80% of eggs consumed by Cebuanos came from one island alone? And, the epicenter of the egg-producing industry happens to be a paradise blessed with gorgeous beaches and man-made marvels that will capture the hearts of travelers who seek a more laidback and rural travel destination. Here’s a quick tour of Bantayan Island‘s famous destinations from Santa Fe, Bantayan, and all the way to Madridejos.
Standing bow pulling posture by my sister in Bontay Baywalk, Madridejos (a.k.a. Lawis)
1. Bontay Baywalk (Lawis)
Watch the sun descend on the horizon and paint vibrant hues in the sky from Bontay Baywalk, a promenade that stretches 187 meters built with a two-storey tower on the end. Construction took only a flat-out 40 days and 40 nights time period before it opened to the public. Bontay Baywalk is located on the northernmost town, Madridejos, also known to the locals as, Lawis.
2. Kota Park (Lawis)
Bantayan Island’s name was derived from the stone towers of the island referred to as Bantayan sa Hari (watchtowers of the king) used as lookout vantage points for approaching Moro raiders. The Spaniards built 18 towers but only few has survived the test of time, one of them is the surviving Kota of Madridejos. Today, the fort is converted into a park, thus the name, Kota Park. It is located adjacent to Bontay Baywalk.
Stone pillars of Kota Park.
3.Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church (Lawis)
The tragic Typhoon Haiyan devastated Bantayan Island leaving structures, tourist spots, and establishments in ruins. However, the statue of the Immaculate Concepcion Parish stood unscathed while surrounded by uprooted century-old trees.
4. Saints Peter & Paul Parish Church (Bantayan)
Saints Peter & Paul Parish Church was originally built from light materials such as bamboo, nipa, and wood which were easy targets for the persistent Moro raiders. The fifth church (yes, the 5th) finally used coral stones, limestone, and tree sap strengthening its foundations and walls which can withstood further attacks. Saints Peter & Paul Parish Church was founded in 1580 and the 5th church was completed around 1860’s which makes this historical site one of the oldest churches in the country.
5. Carlito’s Fried Chicken (Bantayan)
Where else could you get the best two-piece crunchy fried chickens paired with the local poso or hanging rice for P70.00 only? Carlito’s also have branches in Santa Fe and Lawis, thus, wherever you are in Bantayan Island, there’s always a Carlito’s Fried Chicken nearby.
6. Santa Fe Beach (Santa Fe)
The untouched appeal of Santa Fe’s white-sanded beaches captured the hearts of many travelers including our friends from across the oceans. In fact, many foreigners fell in love with the island, and decided to stay put. Soft powdery sands, stunning sunsets – Santa Fe’s Beach is truly one of the best yet underrated beach destinations in the country.
7.Ogtong Cave (Santa Fe)
Its cavern is certainly not as big as Cagayan’s Callao, and not as arduous as Sagada’s Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection but Bantayan Island’s Ogtong Cave is one of those interesting local attractions you might want to check out.The cave features a clear freshwater spring-fed pool only a few meters deep.
Ogtong Cave is conveniently located only a few kilometers outside Santa Fe town proper and sits within the confines of Ogtong Cave Resort.
8.Explore the egg basket… on a bike.
The best part of using the bicycle as my mode of exploring the island gave me flexibility. It’s not the fastest way around the attractions but the ride was more laidback sight-seeing tour beyond the famed attractions – the country side, taking photos of places I never really had the chance to stop like the welcome arches, the roads, the cornfields.
Like many big and small poultry farms in Bantayan Island, these destinations also suffered from the onslaught of Yolanda. Two days after Yolanda, as the ferry approached Santa Fe Port, you can see wrecked fishing boats, and coconut trees swept by the strong winds. Even the mighty walls of Kota Park, and the roof of Saints Peter & Paul Parish Church collapsed. It doesn’t seem like the paradise we once knew. But a lot has changed two weeks later. Farmers rebuild, structures restored, and beaches were cleared off from debris. Day by day, the unparalleled efforts of the locale brings back life and beauty to the paradise – welcome, once again, to Bantayan Island.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Directions to Bantayan Island from Cebu City:
A. From North Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Hagnaya (travel time is approximately 3-4 hours). Fare is around P160.00.
B. From Hagnaya Wharf, take a ferry bound for Santa Fe Port (travel time is approximately 1 hour). Fare is around P170.00 plus a P20.00 terminal fee.
2. Getting around the island. If you’re going to stay in Santa Fe, you could take a tricycle or pedicab and ask the driver to bring you to a resort. But if you’re going to Bantayan (town proper) or Madridejos (Lawis), there are multicab jeepneys passing by the three towns. From Santa Fe Port to Madridejos (end to end) fare is approximately P50.00
3. Bicycle rental costs P150/day while single motorcycle rentals costs P250/day
4. Where To Stay in Santa Fe. Annie’s Rest Haus has an air-conditioned room good for 4 persons, and costs P1,500.00 only per night. But there’s more, rooms are equipped with a refrigerator, cable TV, clean T&B and my personal favorite, cabinets. They have a communal kitchen, wi-fi access but most importantly the staff is really nice. Annie’s may not have a beachfront location (well, it’s almost beachfront) but it certainly is my place to stay while in Santa Fe. Contact Annie’s at 0908 309 4752 or 0919 865 2061
5. Entrance Fee in Ogtong Cave Resort costs P100.00 each which includes access to the cave, swimming pool, and beach.
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8. Always be safe. Happy travels.