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Cebu's Boracay-like area is Bantayan Island
For many tourists, one choice destination in the Philippines is Boracay, a place with white sand beaches and lush scenery that will amaze. That is up the upside, the downside is the cost and lots of tourists. If you are in Cebu City for a few days, the island of Cebu has just about all you need, it even has an equal to Boracay- Bantayan Island, just off the northern tip of the island.
The upside is that it is much cheaper in accommodations and equal pristine beaches with awesome views. The downside is getting there. Well, I guess it is not a downside, depending on your point of view. There are three ways there:
- Take your car from Cebu City. Drive the National Hwy through Danao, Bogo to San Remigio to Hagnaya Port. The problem is where to park long term that is safe because you must take a ferry across to Bantayan. Of course, you could stay at hotel in the area.
- Take the yellow and white Ceres Bus at 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 am for 150 peso ($3) each. The ride takes the same route and is about the same amount of time: 2-4 hrs. It will take you to the port. You can chill and see great scenery from the city to Sogod. From Cebu City, you catch the bus at the central or main bus terminal. Total mileage is over 100 km or 62 miles.
- There is a local flight from Cebu City from the International airport in a small twin prop airplane for $35 one way, per person, takes 35 min. This is on Mid-Sea Express airlines. Phone (032)495-6976 / (032)512-4241.
Once at the port, you will take a small ferry or 135 peso each. The ship is small and they have an air conditioned section with dubious effectiveness. The key thing is to synchronize arrival time at the port. Ferry times are 0500, 0630, 0930, 1130, 1330, 1500, 1730 hrs in either direction. The ferry will dock within a mile or two of the island's largest town of Santa Fe. English and Tagalog are the main languages. I would suggest that you get a hotel in that town because you can easily take a taxi for very little or just hike in.
As far as hotels, you can get a basic hotel on or near the beach in Santa Fe for less than $30 easily a night for two. I like being in the town for it allows you to just walk around and explore and eat. But there are a few places you must eat at, one is, Ogtong Cave Resort. Yes, it is a hotel, but one can eat at the restaurant for a decent meal. The same at Placid Beach Resort. Even if you do not have a hotel on the beach front, the beach is near for sure.
I recommend renting a scooter for $7 a day and just tour the island. The town of Bantayan is only 10 km from Santa Fe and Madreidejos, 16 km from Bantayan. One thing you must do besides chilling on the beach and clear water is visit Nino Spring. It is a cave pool that is totally awesome and the largest in the area. It is located in Tamiao within Bantayan Island Nature Park some 8 km from Santa Fe (20-30 min). You can take a dip in it for 200 peso. There is snorkling on the island but really,like Boracay, it is just a place to relax and chill before the long trip home to the USA.