A Relaxing and Blessed Weekend in Bantayan Island

Going to Bantayan without expectations made all the unexpected surprise all the more enjoyble and satisfying. A great trip with wonderful friends!

Sta. Fe Beach Club

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by manlalakbay on November 23, 2007

Sta. Fe Beach Resort is one of the first resorts in Bantayan Island, particularly in the town of Sta. Fe. IT has been there since 1982 and is still one of the best resorts in the area. The beach front is lined with concrete umbrellas to shade anyone who hangs out on the white lounge chairs. From early to mid afternoon, the beach is quite low tide. No matter how far you walk, the water is still ankle level. But it is a good time to explore for interesting sea creatures like hermit crabs, small crabs, starfish, mudfish and white clear striped fish.

A small dive shop is in front of the resort, run by what sounds like an Irish Man. They also offer boat rides to the nearby island of Hilantagaan and Pulo Diyot where tourists can snorkel for a fee of P1,500. Visitors can also choose to kayak for P200/hr. Some of us tried kayaking. It was my first time. Since the water was calm, it was actually quite easy for me. My kayakmates were also did quite well in teaching and guiding me to steer.

For those who prefer to travel on land, they have bike rentals of P150/day. Most of the roads in Sta. Fe are already paved so the ride can be quite pleasurable. There are also several resorts you may be able to check out while taking your bike ride. The town of Sta. Fe is quite quaint and charming, with some old houses to see, and flower gardens in most of the neighborhood.

The resort itself is three floors with all rooms air-conditioned. The rooms are quite comfortable and very clean. Each of the room has a window so it feels airy and big. Towels, toothpaste, soap and shampoo are provided for the guests. The bathrooms have hot and cold shower which is a welcome comfort after a day of swimming in salt water. Non-aircon cottages are also available outside of the main building.

What I consider the best thing in Sta. Fe is the delicious Chinese food the restaurant serves. Each of the meal we had was hearty and delicious. Servings are plentiful and can be shared by everybody. Whatever you choose to eat, it is certainly satisfying to the stomach and the palate. Try their beef with onion, the crab foo yong, crab omelet, curried crabs, pork steak, squid rings, chop suey and probably everything that you can find in the menu. The food is definitely value for money!

There are regular trips between Sta. Fe Beach Resort and Ogtong Cave Beach Resort. One only needs to pay P30 for the transportation and Sta. Fe guests can already enjoy the amenities in Ogtong Cave (see related entry).

You may visit their website (www.stafebeach.com) for pictures and more details about the resort.
Santa Fe Beach Club
Municipality of Sta. Fe
Cebu, Philippines
+63 (32) 438-9090

Ogtong Cave Beach Resort

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by manlalakbay on November 23, 2007

The resort belongs to the same owners of the Sta. Fe Beach Resort. It is much newer, and actually quite more beautiful than its predecessor. While Sta. Fe is just a building in front of the beach, Ogtong Cave resort is landscaped, with grassy lawns and concrete walkways leading to the beach and the swimming pool. The swimming pool uses fresh spring water which comes from the cave.

For those staying in the Sta. Fe Beach Club, you can get to Ogtong Cave Beach Resort for just a fee of thirty pesos. They have regular trips in the morning and the afternoon to and from SFBC. Once you are at Ogtong Cave, you can enjoy all the amenities for free if you are lodging at SFBC.

The cave is not the usual bat infested (though there are a quite a few farther down the cave’s belly). The water inside it is quite clean and clear, in varying depths with the deepest at chest level. It’s actually quite relaxing to take a dip inside, since the water is fresh and you are protected from the sun since you’re inside. 30-40 people could probably fit there, but 20 or less would be ideal, just so it won’t be too crowded for everyone.

When the sun is a little lower in the horizon, it is the perfect time to go down the beach. It is not actually very ideal for swimming since the water just reaches the shin to knee height a few hundred meters from the shore. But it has a spectacular view of the sunset that hangs over the resort. The sand is also quite soft and fine, that staying too long in one spot, you’d sink a few centimeters. It’s actually quite soothing to burrow one’s feet into the sand. Sunset is the best time for picture-taking too!

We were also able to enter the exclusive area of the honeymooner’s villas which was usually exclusive to those renting in the area. The villa is quite luxurious, with a canopied matrimonial bed, wide-screen television, a sofa set in the bedroom, as well as an elegant bathroom with a Jacuzzi.

It costs P12,000.00 which may be a little steep, but is actually cheaper than most honeymoon resorts. There is a separate pool for this exclusive area, also equipped with a slide and a bubbly jacuzzi. The area was also surrounded by fragrant trees which bloomed white flowers which probably adds to the romance for the newlyweds.

Ogtong Cave Beach Resort is quite relaxing and beautiful, and probably the best resort I have been to. You may also check the website of Sta. Fe Beach Club (www.stafebeach.com) which has features and photos of Ogtong Cave Beach Resort as well.
Ogtong Cave Resort
Santa Fe
Bantayan Island, Cebu

Sta. Fe Beach Club Restaurant

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by manlalakbay on February 7, 2008

One of the best things about the Sta. Fe Beach Club was the wonderful food their restaurant had. We were blessed that one of our companions was a relative of the owners so we were able to try their specialties at no cost!

Since it is a Beach Club, you can actually dine in your swim wear. After hours of swimming, the food would taste more delicious.

There is a portion that is air-conditioned and another area that is open-air. Usually swimmers prefer to hang in the open area lest they catch a cold.

Highly recommended are their crabs cooked in coconut milk. The crabs are quite big and meaty, plus the coconut milk adds more flavor to the dish. And it becomes more delicious when eating with your hands!

A must-try also is their egg foo yong. Not only is it generous in serving, it is also very good. There is generous amount of crab in the omelette.

You should also try their squid rings which were deep friend to perfection. Dip into their catsup and mayo mix and you have the perfect appetizer!

They also recommend their chopsuey with elephant clams. It's nothing different from usual chop suey (maybe just a little more delicious) but at least you get to eat a giant piece of clam.

Every meal at the restaurant was satisfying and delicious. You always finish feeling full and a little happier.

The price is a little more expensive than usual, but definitely worth your buck.

Hilantagaan Island

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by manlalakbay on February 7, 2008

From the Sta. Fe Beach Resort, across it you would be able to spot an island, which they call Hilantagaan. The dive shop at Sta. Fe proudly calls it "One of the Best Marine Sactuaries in the World."

While I sincerely doubt that boast, I was actually curious as what made them say that. Considering that our objective was beach bumming, my gang and I had to go and rent a boat to the place.

So off we went at 730AM the next day. The trip took about 30 minutes. The wind was blowing gently and the sun was still kind with its shine.

The boat stopped around 500 meters from the island so we can snorkel. Once we had our gears on we jumped into the water. And wow! It was indeed beautiful. Still not sure about the boast, but in itself it was a coral reef teeming with life. It was vibrant with different colors and kinds of corals. There were a variety of fish like puffer fishes, clown fishes, angel fishes, and many more which names I don't know. Their colors were very vibrant, from blue to orange to red to green to white to black. It was like being in an aquarium with swimming exotic crayons.

The corals and fish were as far as our eyes can see! The water was clear blue and the weather was very cooperative, making more creatures visible and their colors more vibrant.

One of our friends was smart enough to bring some biscuits so we could feed the fish. As we broke the pieces into the water, schools of fish immediately surrounded us. It was such a glorious feeling to feel like of them!

It didn't matter that the sun were beating hard on our backs. The reef was just too interesting that we had to explore it! Our originally intended two hours snorkeling extended to three! We only decided to go home when we realized that we were awfully hungry and that it was way past lunchtime!


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