The Philippines is a country of some 7107 islands (depending on what time of the day you asked and whether it is low tide or high tide) and surely, there are quite a number of those islands that present themselves as a perfect island get away. One of the world’s famous islands frequented by tourists in this part of the globe is the Boracay Island in the Province of Aklan. But that is not what this post is all about.
This is about another island with pristine white beaches in the northernmost tip of the Province of Cebu. It is called Bantayan Island. It is in the Province of Cebu but not in the same island as Cebu City. Just like the way Mactan (where Cebu International Airport is located) is in another island.
The word “Bantayan” came from the root word “bantay” which in Filipino means “guard” or “to guard“. Local folks said their small island was named Bantayan Island as it was the place where the brave Cebuano fighters used to station their first line of defense against their seaborne invaders or enemies. The town of Madridejos, the second biggest town in the island, still has the old guard and observations posts used by their ancestors.
By the way, for the clueless, Cebu is the second biggest city in the Philippines. It is located in the Central Visayas about an hour away by commercial plane from Manila.
Money may not be able to buy everything but, it certainly can buy comforts and, if money is of no object to you, a chartered plane may prove to be the most convenient way of getting you directly to Bantayan Island. Just don’t bring your big war machines the size of C-130s (or bigger) as the island only has a small strip that can accommodate very light planes.
Ordinary mortals, like many of us, can take a little comfort by renting an air-conditioned car or van from Cebu City to bring us to Hagnaya Port in the town of San Remegio some 60 kilomenters away to the north. A forty five minute boat ride from Hagnaya, San Remegio will bring us to Sta. Fe where those pristine white beaches are located.
The place is far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city life (and perfect for those who would like to get away from it all) but not too far away that one is totally cut off from civilization.
You can choose to ignore unwanted calls but competing mobile phone service providers have good coverage in the area and even surfing the internet is a breeze using your mobile phone as a modem.
There is cable television and you have access even to TV channels that you do not want or do not understand. In fact, it has more TV channels than a polyglot would be happy to have.
They have jet skis and kayaks and diving equipment and almost practically anything that you can find in any other popular resorts – but with lesser crowd and definitely, a lot lesser pollution.
Here, you can have all the sun that you want (just don’t forget your sun block lotion as the tropical sun can be harsh to anyone who lives in the temperate zones), but if you are not crazy about getting that tan, you can still have a dip in the crystal clear saline water of the island by going into their own version of a river underground.
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