Bantayan Island

Cebu Bantayan Island

ISLAND-WORLD. Our trip to the island-world began as we boarded a bus at the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City. First we’ve traveled for three hours along the glittering northern coast of Cebu. Passing the towns and cities of Li-loanDanao City, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod, and Bogo City, we admired at the beautiful churches and manicured town plazas from the bus window. From Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, we then sailed for an hour across a channel on board a fast ferry. As we approached the port of Sta. Fe, the tropical scene became more vivid as we get closer to Bantayan Island.

Bantayan Island has more than a dozen of white sand beaches skirting its coastline. But beyond the tropical paradise are its busy fish markets, interesting caves, a centuries-old church, and the ruins of a Spanish fort.

Cebu Bantayan ferry

Cebu Bantayan port

GUIDED TOUR. L-shaped Bantayan Island is composed of three towns namely, Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos. While Bantayan and Madridejos are known to be the centers of fishing and commerce in the island, Sta. Fe is the resort town.

At the port, we immediately identified Randy among the crowd welcoming the newly arrived because of the placard his holding up with our names on it. He drove us to our suite in Sta. Fe.

Cebu Bantayan Sta. Fe

Cebu Bantayan beach

BANTAYAN IN THE RAIN. It was not sunny as we expected it to be when we arrived at the resort. But the dark clouds that continued to gather over the beach and occasional rains did not stop us to appreciate the pristine white sand set against a background of lush green coconut trees.

While walking by the wide beachfront that stretched nearly half a kilometer, the gentle drizzle suddenly turned into a wall of rain once more.

Cebu Bantayan Church

Cebu Bantayan Island church

YGLESIA DE SAN PEDRO Y SAN PABLO. The rain kept us indoors most of the time. The better part of our stay in the island was spent touring the towns of Bantayan and Madridejos. The next day, we went to the town of Bantayan to see the old Church of Saints Peter and Paul. The church was the first parish to be established in Cebu by the Augustinians friars in 1580.

Although the current structure could be the fifth to be erected on the site, the green moss on the thick coral stone walls and its earthquake baroque architecture suggest its antiquity.

Cebu Bantayan market

Cebu Bantayan fish market

DRIED FISH IN BANTAYAN MARKET. Blessed with the sea’s bounty, the Visayan Seas yield tons of short-bodied mackerel, herring, snapper and other fish and squid varieties. In Bantayan Market, we found different varieties of dried fish and squid being sold all over the marketplace.

Cebu Batay sa Hari

Cebu Bantayan Madridejos

BANTAY SA HARI. Being surrounded by an open sea, several forts and watchtowers called Bantayan sa Hari were built all over the island during the Spanish period to serve as lookouts for the raiding Moors. In time, the local named the entire island using such long phrase.

Perhaps the locals eventually became tired of saying the entire phrase that they decided to just call island as Bantayan. One of the ruins of Bantayan sa Hari is in Madridejos –the farthest of the three towns in Bantayan Island. Although I am not sure of its purpose, part of the attraction in Madridejos is the bridge way by the beach that is protruding towards the sea.

OGTONG CAVE. On our way back to Sta. Fe, we stopped at Ogtong Cave Resort for brunch. Within the resort’s landscaped grounds is the underground cavern called the Ogtong Cave.

EPILOGUE. There are more interesting caves in Bantayan, says Randy over brunch. The one in Barangay Atop-atop became a favorite hang out of the guerillas during World War II. The Juagat Cave in Barangay Silion was said to be the anchorage of an elegant warship of the legendary Capitan Tiwi. Today, fossilized table and table wares are the only surviving proof to the legend.  Only if it’s not raining, we can visit the other islands and marine sanctuaries. Randy enthusiastically implied to us on our next visit. We just found another reason to go back to this island-world in whatever weather.


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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In Madridejos, I never heard of “bantayan sa hari” term being used. We call it “Kota” … 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Jace |

  2. cebu a perfect place for those adventure seeker, island hopping, and beach lovers.. i love cebu more compared to my home town..

  3. TY. for all the info. you made. Really it’s so nice to see Bantayan even by pictures only.Ive been there way
    back 1950’s when I was at the age 10 years old. I do
    remember my Dad use to tell us some enchanted stories.
    How I wish I could go back there for a visit soon..
    Daghan salamat.. Mon

  4. Hi, just want to say that i got a lot of useful info in my friend’s preparation to visit Bantayan. I went there in 2008 but just stayed at the resort. I regret not visiting the church. Great post!

  5. When I went to Bantayan last year, the shore under that bridge in Madridejos is full of water. I think the water gets that near during high tide. I never got to see the dried fish in their fish market but I was able to tour the island through motorbike.

  6. My pleasure TOF! I consider myself a student of the Philippines and it’s people, and your site really holds my interest. I’d like to continue looking for your Cebu highlights, but will remain fascinated with all the other places that there are to see here…

  7. Hi TOF, Well I guess that concludes your sojourns around Cebu for now, I hope that you can come back and see more. You would have enjoyed seeing the church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Bogo too. Next time hopefully it won’t be raining. I think that the churches in the north, although not as lavish and old as many in the south, are still worth studying. Thanks for all the great pics!

    • yes bantayan island concludes the series about our brief stay in Cebu queeniebee. I would still be posting some entries specific to a church, museum or an ancestral house in the future. Thanks for following this series and for your kind feedback.

  8. Are all those fishes salted before they are dried in the sun?

    • yes bertN. they are salted, well at least those we have brought home.

  9. Looks like the perfect place for fish lovers!
    Great documentation of the place as usual !

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