After landing at Mactan Airport, the first destination I hit was Bantayan Island. From the airport I flagged a cab going to the North Bus Terminal where I caught a bus going to Hagnaya Port to take a ferry boat ride to Bantayan Island.
The trip from North Bus Terminal took 3 hours speeding along the countryside passing through sleepy towns, scenic beaches along the side of the road and zigzag lanes through hills and then long stretches of the highway again until arriving to Hagnaya Port.
The ferry boat from Hagnaya port was calm and uneventful, passing small fishing boats along the way. I sat at the back of the boat, stretched my feet and rested while anticipating my arrival on the island. Along the way of the one and a half hour ferry ride I managed to steal some sleep in between waking up from the sound of the water splashing from the back of the ferry boat.
After a total time of 6 hours from a trip that started in Manila to Mactan, to North Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port and culminating in Bantayan Island, I arrived at about 12:25 PM at the port of Bantayan.
Finding a place to stay is relatively easy. I asked someone where I could get a cheap room for about 500 pesos a night and he pointed me to this resort called "Beach Placid" at Sta Fe. I settled on a fan room knowing I'll do more exploration than sleeping.
After resting a bit tired from the long trip I put my backpack on the bed, changed my shirt and picked up my camera and I went out to explore the beach. The resort has a long stretch of white sand along the coast with half a dozen and more expensive duplex type rooms situated on the beachfront. It was low tide at that time in the afternoon so the seaweeds are clearly visible from the shore where I was standing. Nevertheless, I really didn't mind as I was in no mood to swim yet, rather I kept on walking and I ended up on nearby resorts like St. Bernard and the nearby fishing villages.
After doing much walking I rented a motorcycle to take me around the island. I rode at the back of the driver, Mang Antonio, who was friendly enough to also serve as my tour guide, explaining with detail the history and some facts about the places we went to. For 300 pesos plus 100 pesos worth of diesel you can have the motorcycle take you around the island for the whole day. In my case I spent the remaining afternoon riding at the back of the motorcycle while being driven by Mang Antonio at a high speed rolling along the smooth paved road with the hissing sound of the wind passing through my ear and the blurred images of sleepy towns, golden rays of sun, poultry houses, corn fields, rice paddies, rolling hills and smiling people greeted my sight.
We stopped by the Saints Peter and Paul Church - the oldest parish church in Visayas and Mindanao, founded on June 11, 1580 and was constructed with corals and stones. It is one of the must see places at Bantayan Island and is located near the town plaza, market and town hall.
Mang Antonio also took me to the town of Madridejos, one of the three municipalities in Bantayan Island and where one can also visit the "fort ruins of Madridejos". Actually, Cebu is known for having many "forts" built around the province as it was used to be one of the hot spots of Muslim uprisings in the early 1700 and 1800's and these forts served as the main point of defense not only by the Spanish, but also by the Christian residents and traders from the Muslim marauders of that time. A detailed explanation can be read here: (click this link)
We also passed by Ogtong cave, the Bontay baywalk and other beachfronts in the area before heading back to Beach Placid where I took a fulfilling dinner buffet (for only 250 Pesos) at a nearby restaurant.
Most of the time even from my previous experience of traveling to one of the islands in the Philippines, I just sit back and relax at the resort not knowing that the best experience can be attained through exploring the whole if not the majority of the island and the best way to do it is just by riding through at the back of a motorcycle or "habal-habal" (which I also did with my then-girlfriend at Samal Island in Davao and with my friend Jacobsladder at his hometown of Marinduque), by foot or riding at the back of a truck, it doesn't matter as long as you move your feet and try to see as much as your time would allow.
Island experience in the Philippines is most rewarding when you keep in mind that staying in one place is not paramount to making your trip truly worthwhile.