Apr 12, 2013

Exploring and food-tripping at Santa Fe, Bantayan Island

A couple of weeks ago, I embarked on a voyage across the Tañon Strait and into the dazzling white shores of Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.

My adventures did not end at the gorgeous Anika Island Resort, click on READ MORE to find out what other exciting things I did during the rest of my stay and discover how you too can make the most out of your Bantayan Island vacation. 

In the first part of my Bantayan adventure, I mentioned the importance of embracing the unfamiliar and facing your fears when going on vacation to someplace new. Once you've overcome your qualms and reservations, you're ready to head on to the more exciting parts of your trip:


Heritage house of Senyor Fortunato Duarte, municipal president during 1926-1930 and 1942-1946

Part of what makes a vacation or trip exciting are the discoveries and new experiences that you encounter. There are plenty of amazing places to discover in Bantayan Island. The quaint little town of Sta. Fe alone is home to many natural, cultural and historic attractions. 

There is a strip at the town proper lined with restaurants that offer local favorites and international cuisine! Perfect for those in the mood for gastronomic adventures

During the times that I left the comforts of Anika Island Resort, I felt a little adventurous and decided to forgo the usual mode of transportation (tricycles). Instead, I rented a bicycle from a nearby resort called Beach Placid.

Beach Placid is found right next to Anika Island Resort. They rent out bikes for P30 an hour and motorcycles for P350 for twenty-four hours (exclusive of gasoline). From experience, I can say that biking is the fastest and cheapest way to get around Sta. Fe. With biking, you don’t have to worry about refueling or parking and you have full control over your time and itinerary.

Also, the streets of Sta. Fe have very light traffic and is it me or are the local drivers very sympathetic towards noobs such as myself? There was one time I accidentally bumped into a parked car and the passengers were the ones asking me if I was alright. Haha. 

Beach Placid Resort Restaurant & Bar fast facts:
  • Resort location: Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu 
  • Contact numbers: (63)32-406-5686 / (63)917-722-2993

If you’ve never ridden a bike your entire life, I think it’s a good idea to start practicing before you head off to Sta. Fe. I personally have not gotten on a bike for over ten years but when I saw Beach Placid’s adorable bicycles (equipped with fancy little baskets in the front) I just couldn’t resist trying one out. 

My biking experience added so much thrill to my Bantayan Island sojourn— never mind that I gave my travel companion a heart attack every now and then because of my occasional road blunders. Biking also made exploring the town a more intimate and immersive experience and it helped me find these great places to eat in Sta. Fe:

Blue Ice Bar & Restaurant

Serendipity! This place had one of my favorite books on display near their big chess board!

Santa Fe’s Blue Ice Bar and Restaurant offers mouthwatering international cuisine in an open-air setting. Unfortunately their specialty steaks were unavailable when I went there. I decided to order their tuna penne and squid instead:

Tuna Penne and Mushrmoons, P195 @ Blue Ice Bar and Restaurant

Grilled Squid, P80/100 grams @ Blue Ice Bar and Restaurant

Blue Ice Bar & Restaurant & Bar fast facts:
  • Shop location: Batobalonos St., Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu 
  • Contact numbers: +63-918-400-7035

HR Native Restaurant

Along the same strip as Blue Ice is another cozy restaurant that offers a wide selection of both native and international dishes: HR Native Restaurant. Their food comes in big servings (particularly the ones priced at P130) and may be shared between 2-3 people (depending on how big your appetite is!).

Fried Shrimp in Sweet & Sour Sauce, P130 @ HR Native Restaurant 

Caramelized Apple Crepes, P165 @ HR Native Restaurant  

Regular Halo-halo, P45 @ HR Native Restaurant

HR Native Restaurant fast facts
  • Shop location: Batobalonos St., Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu (right next to HR Music Bar) 
  • Contact numbers: +63-915-797-3016 / +63-943-41-9662 / +63-949-710-3442


On my last night in Bantayan Island, I got a text message from a friend, Kai. It read:
“We  cannot travel and be tourists without ferrying home images of the place we have visited— as if the purpose of the trip were the collection of the images, not the being there.”
– Susan Sontag
This line, like the one I quoted from The Beach, struck a chord. It’s so easy to say “enjoy the moment!” but when you’re armed with a camera and the vain desire to capture everything you see around you, you’ll find it hard to pause, be still and remember why you took a vacation in the first place. 

I’m sometimes guilty of seeing the world through my camera lens instead of my own eyes and enjoying the moment through a blog post instead of when I was actually there. But at least I’ve learned my lesson. I’m teaching myself to remember that the important thing about journeys (and life in general) is to make the most out of the experience and not to make a big fuss about the little things— like whether you’ve taken enough pictures or discovered enough places worth blogging. 

So the next time you go on vacation let go of your worries, forget about the little things, savor the here and the now while it lasts and simply enjoy being.

New experiences and unfamiliar places help us momentarily forget the daily pressures we face. My vacation in Bantayan Island let me unwind and find my inner peace. More importantly it reminded me that the world is a big place and life and living is more important than all the superficial things we might consider essential combined.  

I was sad to leave and end my sojourn but the memories of my stay, the image of the island and the thought that something beautiful and breathtaking was waiting just a bus and ferry-ride away always puts a smile on my face. I can't wait to go back!

{Wrap-up} The noob’s guide to planning and enjoying a vacation in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island:
  1. Check the weather forecast on your planned travel dates. I used this website and found it to be pretty accurate 
  2. Learn as much as you can about your destination. In my case, I asked friends who regularly visit Bantayan Island for bus and ferry trip schedules, travel time and general traveling tips. I also skimmed through countless travel blogs and websites. I personally recommend wowbantayan.com, it is a very useful resource for bar, restaurant and hotel listings in the island.   
  3. Bring enough hard cash with you. A friend told me in advance that ATMs are hard to come by in Santa Fe.  I also found out from a local that the nearest bank with an ATM was in Bantayan proper. 
  4. Ask the hotel/resort staff if they can pick you up from the port. This is practical advice especially if you are unfamiliar with the place and are bringing a lot of luggage with you. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask directions and talk with the locals. I’m not very talkative to strangers but there are instances when you just really have to step out of your comfort zone and talk to someone who knows the place a lot better than you do.

This post is the second and final part of a series on how I kick-started my summer 2013. Click here to read part one which covers the journey getting to Bantayan Island and my stay at Anika Island Resort.

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1 comment:

  1. where you should still exercise caution, particularly late at night and in the early morning. travel packages