Freedom Wall is a Filipino Travel Blog sharing travel and adventure narratives, backpacking guides and tips, and getaways destinations and ideas. The blog also lists awesome things to do of the places visited by the author., shares some interesting photos, and good places to eat.
When it comes to the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines, one of the best contenders is the island of Boracay. But what did really happen after the rehabilitation of this popular beach? How are the tourists coping with the changes made in the island? With a convenient tour package in the Philippines, you can explore the new Boracay with a fresh take.
The pristine, powdery white sand of the new Boracay
Clean Living in the Pristine Island
After the 6-month rehabilitation period of Boracay, the original version of the island was restored. It went back to its crystal clear waters and powdery white sand image while parties were reduced to keep the place clean and tidy despite the influx of local and foreign tourists.
The Whitebeach significantly reclamed a lot of spaces after the removal of beach beds and umbrellas that are set up by resort operators.
Moreover, some commercial establishments were demolished in order to make way for the implementation of new environmental regulations. The beach front was cleared so that tourists will have more space to enjoy the shore. Restaurants and hotels nearby were required to follow the sewerage and disposal policies.
Stricter Controls for a Greener Tourism
The imposition of 25 meters plus 5 meters distance from the shore made the island more conducive to the environmental efforts done by the government to restore the beauty of Boracay. You won’t see beach beds and other structures in the shoreline anymore while enjoying a clearer view of the island with coconut trees.
A colorful and welcoming signage outside Cagban Port
Unlike before, you can no longer enjoy night parties in the island. However, Boracay is still a fun paradise to be with, especially during summer. There are plenty of exciting activities you can try. For instance, you can sit in the Jacuzzi while sipping a glass of your favorite fresh fruit juice and wine.
Here are some helpful tips if you are visiting the new Boracay:
At the main beach of the island called White Beach, alcoholic beverages and smoking is prohibited.
No dining by the shoreline or on the beaches.
No more beachfront partying while sand castle making is now regulated.
No peddlers, hawkers, and shops are allowed on the beach.
No casinos will be built on the island, and fire dancing that use kerosene lamp is now banned.
With so many changes made to the beautiful Boracay, it is the duty of every tourist to understand the new rules and regulations in order to keep the restoration of the island effective. Before you book your Boracay tour package, make sure that you keep these things in mind.
Mahabang Buhangin beach of Calaguas is perhaps the most awesome and gorgeous beach in Philippines (with Boracay and Malcapuya trailing behind). Apart from the long strip of fine, powdery, white sand, it also features a luxuriant green backdrop, fresh air, unobstructed lying space for star gazing, squeaky-clean water to swim, wide beachfront to hangout, and many more.
You may have plenty of reasons to see the place, but the effort to reach the island group discouraged some. Good thing that travel agencies offer assisted-tour packages. However, if you want the experience to be more solitary, exclusive, and noteworthy, I suggest you to do a DIY.
One of these days, you may be planning to see this wonder and below is the (do-it-yourself) DIY guide for you.
How to get there
You can access Calaguas either through the Municipality of Vinsons or Paracale in Camarines Norte Province.
From Manila, you can take DLTB, Isarog Bus Lines, Penafrancia Travel and Tours, Superlines, or Philtranco bus to Daet from either Pasay or Cubao terminal. Bus fare ranges from ₱580-650 and the travel time is 8-9 hours.
From Daet, ask around for jeepneys or tricycles that travel to Vinsons.
If you prefer Paracale over Vinsons, then get off at Talobatib junction (before reaching Daet) and wait for the ordinary bus to Paracale.
If you don’t have the luxury of time, you can book a flight to Naga, and then take a van to Daet (₱190.00, 2 hours).
Accredited tourists boats await in Vinsons while some fishermen offer equally safe transfer from Paracale. Navigation time to Calaguas, however, is shorter from Paracale.
Boat Transfer to Calaguas
Chartered boats are available at Vinsons for ₱3500 -5000 that can accommodate up to 10 persons. Use your haggling skills to earn some discounts.
If you choose Paracale, that means that you already have pre-contacted a boatman. You can also take a passenger boat to Bgry. Mangcawayan in Tinaga Island and walk towards Mahabang Buhangin. Note that the Paracale-Mangcawayan boat leaves Paracale at 1:00PM and returns at 07:00AM the next day. There is only one trip per way per day. Since the weather is predictable, the passenger boat schedule is not always followed.
Things to bring
Tent, hammock, or blanket for shelter. Couples can rent a cottage with room (₱450/day) but vacancies are not guaranteed.
Enough food and water for your entire stay in the island.
Charcoal and/or portable stove with enough fuel
Cooking and cutting kit
Garbage bag for your trash and to waterproof your stuff while navigating.
Angles of Calaguas
Notes, Tips, and Reminders
Restrooms and shower rooms are available in Calaguas but the water is for sale at ₱10 per bucket.
Cottages are available for rent. Regular (without room) is ₱300 while the one with a small room for two individuals cost around ₱450 per day.
Buy all your supplies in the town prior to boarding a boat to Calaguas. There is a sari-sari store in Calaguas but it’s not guaranteed that they have the item/s you need. It’s a bit pricey too.
Waterproof your bags and stuff while on board the boat from Vinsons or Paracale to Calaguas.
When I was a kid, all I heard about Siquijor were tales of sorcery and witchcraft. Thus, even though we were almost a stone-throw away from the island and despite having close relatives residing to one of its growing communities, I never asked my parents to pay a visit.
When the child’s mind has become mature and the adventurous genes are getting dominant, those stories have become a weaker hindrance. Just recently, I visited Siquijor all by myself.
The beach near Siquijor Port
Siquijor bestows an exquisite charm. Despite being a popular destination, the island retains the rustic ambiance and the tranquil milieu. The gorgeous beaches that dot its shorelines, the stunning greens that cover the hills, the beautiful water wonders, and the antiquated churches will never get you weary on your stay.
So, if you are planning to see Siquijor soon, the guide below might help you.
How to Commute to Siquijor
Via Dumaguete City
The closest airport with frequent commercial flights to Siquijor is the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport. Philippine Airlines flies from Manila multiple times daily, while Cebu Pacific flies from Manila, Cebu, and Davao. From Dumaguete City’s sea port, you can choose either take a RoRo or a fastcraft to the municipalities of Siquijor or Larena. Fare starts from ₱150 up to ₱250 depending on the vessel type.
Via Cebu City
There is a Cebu-Dumaguete direct bus from Cebu City’s south terminal. The earlieast schedule is around 7:00AM and leaves every 1 hour & 30 minutes until 1:00PM. If you won’t be able to catch this trip, take a bus that travel to Liloan or Bato. There are RoRo and fastcrafts from both Liloan and Bato port to Negros Oriental. The port of arrival is either Tampi or Sibulan where you can easily wait a bus or multicab along the highway to Dumaguete City. From Dumaguete City, follow the instructions above.
Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Siquijor, Siquijor
Maayo Shipping offers direct trip from Liloan Port in Santander to Larena Siquijor. The ferry leaves Liloan Port at 10AM. Return trip leaves Larena at 05PM. Note that this route is sometimes cancelled. Make sure that you contact Maayo Shipping (+63 917 710 7080) in advance to check if there are sailing cancellations or not.
The faster option from Cebu is to hop on a plane. AirJuan flies to Siquijor from Mactan-Cebu International Airport multiple times a week. For more information, see the airlines website. Chartered (non-scheduled air taxi) flight from the General Aviation Terminal of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Siquijor. This is offered by Midsea Express using BN 2A-21 Islander plane. The fare can be divided between 8 passengers (max). You can contact Midsea Express via: (032) 512 4241, (032) 495 6976, or +63 949 894 1129.
The man-made forest is 60 years in the making and stretches nearly two kilometers. The forest offers comforting shades and exhibits a relaxing ambiance to all beach goers.
Salagdoong Beach in the Town of Maria, Siquijor
The other end of the woodland is Salagdoong Beach, which offers cliff diving platforms to satiate your thirst for adventure.
Capilay’s Spring Park
You don’t need to spend a lot of effort to enjoy the summer. Capilay’s Spring is smack at the town proper wherein you don’t need to hike for hours, walk long distances, or battle with unpaved roads.
Old Enchanted Balete Tree and Fish Spa
Believed to be 400 years old, the enchanting balete or banyan provides a good shade to visitors who have their feet cleaned by the tiny swimmers.
Conquer your claustrophobia and prepare to get wet, dirty, and sweaty as you traverse the the dark coverns of Cantabon. To explore the cave, you must register at the Barangay Hall. With the 500-peso caving fee for three persons, you will have your own guide with free use of helmet and flashlight.
Lazi Church and Convent
Lazi Church, also known as San Isidro Labrador Parish, is one of the oldest churches in Siquijor. It seats next to an equally old and silent convent. Both are testaments to the island long history and traditions.
Mount Bandilaan National Park
During Holy Week, healers and shamans from surrounding villages converge at the mountain top. With them are herbs they collected the whole year. They prepare special mixture and perform their rituals. Guests may try their services and experience what Siquijor is really known for.
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary
As diving and snorkeling heaven, expect to see a school of barracudas, turtles, couple of reef sharks, giant clams, various species of fish and verdant corals.
We’d barely slept the night before. A friend and her daughter missed their flight so they had to re-book an alternative route. Aside from the extra chunk of cash that they needed to shell out for re-booking, the hassle of transferring to another airport and the struggle to get a seat at the busiest time of the busiest day at Cebu South Bus Terminal was a hell of peskiness. I could understand the troubles of the mother trying to secure her child a comfortable journey while keeping all the cumbersome backpacks.
While the first batch arrived early in Oslob, where they would spend their night, they could not rest until Nalie and her daughter arrive from the metro, as I pleaded. They were all gathered only after midnight.
In a parallel time at a different location, I was busy closing my projects for the week while keeping in constant communication with Nalie to guide her. From work, I immediately headed home, packed my stuff for the long weekend trip, and tried to have a power nap before taking the 2:30AM bus to Oslob.
I met the team at their hotel in Oslob around 6:30AM. The other batch from Dumaguete joined us after 30 minutes. We had our breakfast before moving to our first stop, whale shark watching in Barangay Tan-awan. Yes we did, and it was because we were too curious. I will tell you more about it in my future article.
Canyoneering was already part of our plan, but getting to the drop off point from Tan-awan wasn’t fixed yet. We thought of trying our luck with public transport. But later, we realized that it could cause us delays.
We asked around for options. With the help of some accommodating folks from BCD’s Place, we were able to rent a multicab, which was enough to carry the ten of us, for only ₱2,500. By the way, I ask the driver’s contact number but he wasn’t able to provide me one. He’s probably not interested of getting blogged.
Anyway, we met Kuya Ronald’s team, around 11:00AM. He, Cyrus, and one Kuya (sorry, I forgot his name) would be our guides for the canyoneering. We headed to his place to put on our life jackets, helmets, and trekking shoes. These stuff are already included in the package. You can also bring your own trekking sandals or shoes. Finding a suitable and comfortable size may not be easy.
Cebu Canyoneering or Canyoning: Traversing Canlaob, Alegria and Matutinao, Badian
I met Kuya Ronald during my previous attempt to do the canyoneering. It was cancelled because of the typhoon that struck Visayas days prior my arrival. So, when I got a new schedule, I contacted him again.
After the preparation, we took a habal-habal (extended motorcycle) to the drop off point. No one was allowed to go canyoning without undergoing the safety orientation. We had it at the drop off point.
Canyoneering orientation at the drop off point
The First Waterfall Jump
From the drop off, we trekked for about 15 minutes to get to the first jump off. All the ladies were reluctant, so I gathered all my courage to take the first leap. It was about 15 feet high but the narrow waterway below it made others doubt. Teddy followed me later while the rest were brought to another jump off area for them to get into the river.
Going to the next challenge
Getting ready for the slide
After that awesome jump, we carefully followed the current downstream. We climbed on a slippery rock, managed to get to the higher portion, and then slid. Again, that was awesome! Watch the video below.
The Slide: Cebu Canyoneering / Canyoning - YouTube
Our guide was waiting for us below to teach us on how to counter the current. The waterfall beside the slide could imperil us if we would not execute the escape tactic properly. The undercut of the opposing rock was menacing. It was rainy season by the way, so the river current and waterfall plunges were double in strength.
The amazing canyon
After surviving the slide was an enchanting scenery. The foliage-rich canyons blended perfectly with the blue water that cut through it. If pixies and nymphs do exist, they would probably prefer to reside there.
Seems that the guys are worried
There was an area where our guides had to set up ropes for us to hold while getting to the steeper section of the cliff; for us to land safely in the water once we jumped. We had inexperienced members in the group, and jumping off a sloping cliff could be very risky. Those who couldn’t push themselves to a perfect projectile might hit the rocks below.
We jumped four waterfalls, climbed challenging boulders, swam across strong currents, trekked on the edge of a cliff, and crawled on a makeshift bridge.
The Sumptuous Treat at Kawasan Falls
We actually finished the canyoning or canyoneering for almost 4 hours, which is quite reasonable because we are a large group. We were dog-tired, thirsty, and hungry. Good thing that a meal was waiting for us at the end of the trail. And yes, it was also included in our package. We had a feast at Kawasan Falls after that escape.
The third Falls of Kawasan
Kuya Ronald allowed us to fix and wash at his humble abode. When everybody was ready, we boarded the multicab that brought us in Matutinao to bring us to Liloan Port in Santander. We went to Dumaguete afterwards where the continuation of our adventure was waiting.
Kawasan Canyoneering Guide
Kawasan Deep Blue Canyoneering Services
Contact Person:Kuya Ronald Diluvio Contact Number:+63 905 968 2225 | +63 916 988 7319 Package Fee: ₱1,500/pax Package inclusions: Life vest, helmet, guide, environmental fees, habal-habal ride to the drop off point, dry bag, trekking shoes (if you forgot to bring one), drinking water, and a set meal
Transport Fee: Bus from Cebu City to Matutinao, Badian is more or less ₱140 per person per way. Double that for a two-way fare. Transportation from Matutinao to Canlaob, Alegria is already included in the Canyoneering package.
Guide and Environmental fee [as of May 2016]:₱1,500/pax and that also includes lunch [or late lunch] and life vest, helmet, and trekking shoes rental.
Meal: ₱100, just an estimate on how much to spend for breakfast. If you want, you can contact your guide to prepare a breakfast for you for an additional fee.
Everything happened on a random. I immediately hit going the moment I saw the Facebook invite notification. A weekend getaway to Aloguinsan is something I couldn’t afford to miss, after previous derailed plans.
Though the trip was going Dutch, resisting would mean my loss. The chance of traveling with the awesome folks of Cebu Bloggers Society is an opportunity in itself.
Spending quality time at Bojo River
Aloguinsan seats southwest of Cebu City and is sandwiched between the municipalities of Barili on its south and Pinamungajan on its north.
The place seemed closer to the metro but getting there is a bit of a frowner. The southward traffic gridlock, the crooked highway, and the cramped public transport discourages partly willing travelers. However, if you give in to your adventurous genes’ persistence, you will definitely find your way to Aloguinsan—no matter how hard it is to reach.
How We Got There
From Cebu South Bus Terminal, we hopped on a minibus to Pinamungahan via Carcar. Despite being so small, the conductor kept on compressing the passengers to fill every spaces with paying occupants. The legroom was unsurprisingly small. My knees were constantly rubbing roughly with the seat in front of me. I also had to fit my butt to the restricted space. Sleeping is nearly impossible.
Travel time was almost three hours, though private vehicles could take it in less than two.
Another option is to take a Toledo-bound bus, and then transfer to a jeepney bound for Aloguinsan. The advantage of this route is the chance of boarding a comfortable bus to Toledo. However, this route may eat a lot of your travel time compared to the track we took.
Booked our Aloguinsan Tour at The Farmhouse
We alighted near The Farmhouse, which hosts the municipal tourism office. It was close at that time, so we headed to the town’s public market to have our breakfast.
We had no specific itinerary that day but we planned to try Bojo River Cruise first before frolicking along the gorgeous strip of the Hermit’s Cove.
Walkway to the tourism office within The Farmhouse compund
We paid ₱400 each for the Bojo tour. That only includes a guided cruise and swimming.
I heard they offer packages with meals. The 650-peso package includes welcome lei, a refreshment, handicraft demo, snacks, lunch, river cruise, and swimming. However, to avail the 650-peso package, you must book your tour two days in advance.
Since the tourism fees of Aloguinson’s top tourist spots are centrally collected at The Farmhouse, we also settled our entrance fee to Hermit’s Cove, which is ₱100 each.
Bojo River Cruise
Our payments did not include the fare to the drop off areas. We had to hire a motorbike taxi (habal-habal). Good thing that the habal-habal fare had been standardized by the LGU and the tourism proponents. Excessive fare collection was avoided.
A wooden bridge to Bojo River
We received an orientation before we started the actual tour. According to our guide, Bojo actually means springs, also known locally as “tubod”. These springs are contributory to the aquamarine river.
Bojo River is saline at high tide due to the intruding seawater. This makes the riverbank an ideal ecosystem for mangroves and plankton, and at the same time, a nesting sanctuary for mothering fishes.
Our guide paddled us along the one-kilometer river while introducing us the mangrove species we met along the way. It was rather surprising to hear him mentioning their scientific names and identifying the species based on their physical features.
With Mark Monta of FaceCebu.net and Philip Pingoy of AlmostABlogger.com
Our paddler brought us past the mouth of the river and showed us the coral gardens from the surface. We were not allowed to get off because of the strong current. He paddled us back to the river and encouraged us to swim when it was safe to.
By the way, Bojo River Cruise is operated by Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS), which was recognized as the winner of the 2017 ASEAN Tourism Award (ASEANTA) for Best Community-Based Tourism (CBT) in Southeast Asia.
On the other hand, Bojo River emerged as one of the world’s Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in 2016, and that is according to Green Destinations.
From Bojo River, we headed to Hermit’s Cove. The ride was scorching, grubby, and rough. The road was already in place but wasn’t paved. Rocks shot around in projectile every time they got side hit from the rolling wheels. The motorbike riders are pretty careful nevertheless.
Hermit’s Cove stairway gate
At the end of the road is a stairway to the Hermit’s Cove. Under a bright sunlight, a picturesque blend of ivory, green, and aquamarine peeked through the cliff bush. The water was so clear that you can see the sand and rocks beneath it.
Before we walked down the stairway, we registered at the tourism booth, which is compulsory for all tourists. By the way, the ₱100 entrance fee we paid at The Farmhouse already includes a use of a cottage.
It was lunch time already, so we take out some food from the eatery near the tourism booth, and brought them to our cottage for lunch.
The gorgeous ivory beach of Hermit’s Cove
The beach was somewhat crowded that visit. Every cottage was occupied. Other guest ended up taking shelter under the shade of the beach trees.
The strip was pebbly and the water fronting it was quick-deep. We loved the spot near the cliff. Aside from getting a natural sun shield, the water below it is cool and relaxing.
We spent almost 3 hours frolicking, swimming, and picture-taking.
Fisher’s boats floating off the coast of Hermit’s Cove
Aloguinsan Travel Guide
To get to Aloguinsan, you can take a Pinamungajan-bound minibus near or at door 6 of Cebu City South Bus Terminal. You can ask the conductor to drop you in front of The Farmhouse in Aloguinsan. The fare is ₱80 and travel time is 2 to 3 hours.
Another option is to take a Toledo-bound bus and transfer to a minibus or jeepney to Aloguinsan.
Walk-in rate for Bojo River Cruise is ₱400 per person but that does not include any meal. If you want food included in your tour, book the ₱650 package two days in advance. Contact BAETA (Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association) or Aloguinsan Tourism office through (032) 469 9042, +63 997 371 5698, or +63 933 120 9480. You can also reach them by emailing email@example.com. Bojo River Cruise operates only from 08AM to 05PM.
The mouth of Bojo River
The local transportation is serviced by habal-habal and the rates are standardized by the LGU. A trip from the farmhouse to Bojo River is ₱40, Bojo to Hermit’s Cove is ₱40, and from Hermit’s Cove to the town proper is ₱50. These motorbikes can also bring you to Toledo, Carcar, and Mantalongon.
The entrance fee to the Hermit’s Cove is ₱100 per person. If you book with a group, a cottage use is already included with..
The north-westernmost island of Cebu province is not only known for its desiccated produce. Bantayan, aside from being a dried seafood supplier to the province, is also a desirable location for sojourners.
Bantayan Island, by the way, is a home to three serene and vibrant municipalities namely: Bantayan, Santa Fe, and Madridejos. Most of the islands beautiful beachfronts are situated in Santa Fe.
With multiple white beach fronts dotting its edges, interesting rock formations adorning its cliffs, and mysterious cave pools spreading at various locations, travelers won’t run out of things to do. The gentle and serene locality makes the stay a lot warmer too. You will surely feel at home on your entire stay.
Bantayan seaport, the main point of entry
Every guest is greeted with a clean seaport. The water around it is seemingly unadulterated. The adjacent beachfront is white and inviting.
How To Get There
Take a flight to Cebu City [CEB]. Direct flights are available from Caticlan (Boracay), Cagayan de Oro, Clark, Davao, Iloilo, Manila, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, etc. International flights are directly accessible from Busan (South Korea), Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Macau, Nagoya (Japan), Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen (China), Singapore, Osaka, Taipei, Tokyo, and Xiamen (China).
From Cebu City‘s North Bus Terminal, board a bus to Hagnaya (Fare is approximately ₱180 as of May 2018). The bus will take you near Hagnaya port where you can take a ferry or Roro to Sante Fe in Bantayan Island. The earliest ferry leaves Hagnaya at 07AM while the last trip is 05PM. Ticket price is ₱170 as of May 2018.
Ornamental sea shells on-sale at Bantayan
From Malapascua, return to Maya Port, and then hop on a bus to Bogo City. From Bogo bus terminal, transfer to another bus bound for Hagnaya.
If you are coming from Kinatarcan Island, take the passenger boat the leaves Bitoon Beach at 7:00AM. The fare is 70 pesos per person.
If you are coming from Carnaza Island, return to Tapilon Port, and then hop on a bus to Bogo City. You may need to take a tricycle to Daanbantayan Bus Terminal. From Bogo, transfer to a Hagnaya-bound bus.
Things to Do in Bantayan
Aside from beach hopping, you can also try chasing a jellyfish like what I did when I was on the edge of Ogtong Cave Resort. To give you an idea on the awesome things to do in the island, check the list below.
I have to slowly chase this gentle and shy jelly for this photo.
Bike or Motorbike Tour
Tour around the island and visit the serene neighborhood by renting a bicycle or motorbike. The bikes can also bring you to the island’s prized beaches and sceneries.
Bicycle rentals will cost you ₱200/8 hours. You can rent a motorbike starting at ₱500/day.
The cave is found within the premise of Ogtong Cave Resort. To enjoy the natural pool within the cave, you must pay an entrance fee of ₱200. With such amount, you will not only experience Ogtong Cave, but also the resort’s pool and stunning beachfront.
Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
The resort is an 8-hectare protected nature park. Various species of flora and fauna inhabit the area.
The nature park is also a home another natural cave pool that is situated within Santo Niño Cave. Only 20 individuals are allowed to enter the cave at any given time.
Entrance to the park is ₱200 and the use of jacuzzi is ₱500.
Foreground: dried fish, Bantayan famous produce. Background: awesome Bantayan sunset
Dried Goods Shopping
The island is a known producer of dried seafood products. If you have friends or family members who develop a good liking to this type of goods, then you may buy them some take home presents.
You may frolic around Kota Beach, star-gaze with friends at Sugar Beach, explore Obo-ob Beach, wade across the shallows waters of Ogtong Beach, or play around the white strip fronting Santa Fe Beach Club.
Kota Beach in Bantayan Island
Where to Stay in Bantayan
One thing that makes your travel more noteworthy is choosing the right accommodation that fit your lifestyle and budget. Bantayan is a host to posh and classy resorts that cater the most discriminating guests. Utmost comfort and exquisite hospitality is the primary business of these hotels.
If you are on shoestring budget, affordable inns are also available to offer you a comfortable stay.
Hoyohoy Villas offers elegant wood villas each with balcony, A/C, comfy bed, complimentary WiFi and other 3-star amenities. Hoyohoy is just one of the few resorts in Bantayan with nice pool. Rooms rates starts at ₱4,000. Address: Roska St.. Talisay, Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island Contact Numbers: (032) 438 9021 | +63 916 681 8357
Amihan Beach Cabanas Resort boast their classy, private bamboo cabanas standing on the white beach. Each cabana is equipped with A/C and fan, television, complimentary internet, refrigerator, bed with mosquito net, ensuite toilet and bath, and a terrace. The resort faces the popular Kota Beach which makes beach bumming easily accessible. Address: A. Batobalonos Street, Santa Fe, Bantayan Island Contact Number: +63 917 682 6613
Sta. Fe Beach Club – You can either choose a cottage for three or a duplex room for two individuals. Address: Santa Fe, Bantayan Island (near the port area) Contact Numbers: +63 932 541 2954 | (032) 438 9090
Anika Island Resort is an Agoda travelers choice awardee in 2015. Address: F. Roska St., Sta Fe Contact Numbers: +63 917 328 4898 | (032) 318 8402
A gorgeous beach fronting Ogtong Cave Resort
Ogtong Cave Resort gives you an easy access to its nice beach, swimming pool, and the famed Ogtong Cave natural pool. Being a checked in guest to the resort waives the ₱200 entrance fee. Address: Pooc, Santa Fe Contact Numbers: +63 932 433 6282 | (032)438 9129
Kota Beach Resort features elegant beachfront suites and cottages for ₱3,800 and ₱3,400 per night respectively. However, they also offer non-A/C rooms for only ₱900. Address: F. Duarte Street, Santa Fe Contact Numbers: +63 948 799 3787 | (032) 438 9042
An outrigger waiting for patrons for an island tour
Yooneek Beach Resort offers both fan and A/C rooms. Rates starts at ₱1,290 (off-peak). Address: Poblacion, Santa Fe Contact Numbers: +63 943 676 3303 | +63 925 555 5256
Santa Fe Church
SF Cantina Hotel is budget accommodation fronting Bantayan’s Sugar Beach. Address: Pooc, Santa Fe
Ritzy’s White Beach Resort and Restaurant – Fan rooms for two starts at ₱800. Family rooms for 4 starts at ₱3,500. Address: Talisay, Santa Fe Contact Numbers: +63 949 005 0585 |+63 977 240 6258
Notes, Tips, and Reminders
Ogtong Cave pool
Upon your arrival, you have to register and settle the 30-peso environmental fee at the tourism office. Hotels and tour operators may require you to present the receipt.
Cellular coverage is decent within the Poblacion area of Santa Fe, Bantayan, and Madridejos.
ATMs are available within Santa Fe town proper and Poblacion Bantayan
Big resorts accept credit card payment.
Transportation is serviced by tricycles. Intertown caretellas are also available for long-haul transfer.
Stay in a resort within Sante Fe. Most of the beaches are located within Santa Fe.
There is bus that brings you directly from Cebu City to the Municipality of Bantayan. Please contact Vallacar Transit (Ceres) for the schedule. If you take this, you have to pay the fare for the ferry separately.
The sun was almost touching the horizon. Its angle had caused the trees to cast stretched shadows on the surface. It radiated less heat. The alternating shade and exposure gave me a comforting mix of chill and warmth as I traversed the highlands of Candijay on a motorbike.
The setting sun seemed conducive to a long, uncovered motorcycle ride. However, despite the favorable condition, I couldn’t not rule out the possibility of running out of time. I have three destinations on my list: Cadapdapan Rice Terraces, Can-Umantad Falls, and Canawa Cold Spring. I was afraid that I could not cover all three.
A stunning man-made creation, Cadapdapan Rice Terraces
Miscalculation did cause the deviation of the plan. The late departure and arrival of the fast craft I took from Cebu, the time lost for waiting other passengers at Tagbilaran’s public transport terminal, and the influx of the crowd in various locations further caused the delay.
I also never expected for the bus to eat 3 hours of travel time. That day, all the odds were against me.
I did not raise a white flag though. I pursued my quest and accepted to the fact that I could miss one of my goals that afternoon.
Stunned at Can-umantad Falls
The scene before the dirt eat my feet.
We arrived at Cadapdapan Rice Terraces first. I was so excited to cross the field. With my carelessness, I accidentally buried my feet in the mud. Kuya suggested to wash at the waterfalls, so we immediately headed to Can-umantad Falls and decided to return after.
The stunning Can-umantad falls
The two-tier cascade and the strong downstream flow created deep, aquamarine pools that are perfect to relieve the summer heat.
Guides were provided for the safety of the guests.
Marveled at Cadapdapan Rice Terraces
We returned to Cadapdapan just in time for sunset. At the golden, the real beauty of the terraces got unleashed.
Lush vegetation decorated the stunning, flat surfaces on the slopes of Cadapdapan, as if they were cut and created by the gods.
It wasn’t all about effective farming, but a showcase of artistry and agricultural engineering.
Skipped Canawa Cold Spring, For Now
We had no time for Canawa Spring, so I agreed skip it. However, I made a promise to return to Candijay to experience it.
Tour Fees and Other Expenses
The cost for the motorcycle ride is 100 pesos per head for each way. You can haggle it to 300 pesos for the round trip tour for two persons. The tour only includes Cadapdapan Rice Terraces and Can-Umantad Falls.
If you want to visit Canawa Spring, you need to add 100 pesos on top of the 300-peso package.
Candijay collects 20 pesos as entrance or environmental fee. The property owner of Cadapdapan Rice Terraces collects another 20 pesos.
How to Get There
From Manila, take a flight to Tagbilaran City. From Tagbilaran Airport, you may take the airport shuttle to get to the Integrated Bus Terminal (IBT) in Barangay Dao.
From Cebu, take a ferry to either Tagbilaran or Tubigon, and then take any public transport to IBT in Barangay Dao.
From Tagbilaran City’s Integrated Bus Terminal (IBT), take a bus or van to Candijay or any bus that will pass Candijay, such as Ubay (via Jagna) or Alicia, and then ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Mercado Candijay. Travel time is two to three hours and may cost you up to 200 pesos, depending on the type of public transport you take.
Tips, Notes, and Reminders
Cadapdapan Rice Terraces is a lot more stunning at sunset
Candijay is two to three hours away from Tagbilaran. To make the most of your visit, book your stay in either Candijay town proper or any beach property in Anda.
Nearby areas of interest are Cabagnow Cave Pool and Anda de Boracay.
Visit Canawa Spring first, and then explore Can-Umantad Falls next. Do Cadapdapan Rice Terraces last. I suggest you wait for the sunset.
If you still need to return to Tagbilaran, take note of the last bus trip. The last bus may pass Candijay between 6:30PM to 07:00PM. If you won’t be able to catch your ride home, then you can stay at any humble accommodations in Anda.
There’s no cellular signal in Cadapdapan and Can-umantad.
Nayong Philipino transferred from a now mothballed building near NAIA Terminal 2 to Clark Field, Pampanga since November 2007. It now occupies the south to the southeastern portion of the Clark Expo (formerly Expo Filipino), the Philippine National Centennial Exposition and centerpiece for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Philippine Independence, featuring an amphitheater-type mega tent that can seat 35,000 people.
Characters of the Popular Filipino legend (Malakas at Maganda)
Nayong Pilipino features some bits and pieces of Philippine History. The exhibits start with the old legend, such as Malakas and Maganda, telling the story of the beginnings of the human race.
There are also characters from the Philippines folklore and epics, including the story of the founding fathers of the pre-Spanish Philippines. Familiar with the story of Lakan Manaul and the Legend of the Philippine Archipelago? Well, they have a synopsis here and ’twas my first time to hear about it.
As you move inwards, you will encounter replicas of the villages of tribal Filipinos who preserved indigeneity – the people of Cordillera.
An Ifugao Village Inside Nayong Pilipino
A traditonal exhibit inside an Ifugao house
Exhibited in Nayong Pilipino are traditional Aeta, Ifugao, and Kalinga villages featuring their crafts, traditional houses, and strategic counters against some natural competitions.
There is also an orchidarium on the other side of this section.
Nayong Pilipino bridge
When you cross the bridge, Nayong Pilipino will take you back the colonial times. Featured here are ancestral houses of famous Filipino heroes. Of course, the house of Dr. Jose Rizal and his family has its own replica here.
Heritage houses of Filipino heroes
The wishing well
The model of Barasoain Church, also known as the birthplace of the First Philippine Republic also stands here. Fronting the church is a well-landscaped garden and park. Beside it were souvenir shops.
Nayong Pilipino garden with the replica of Barasoain Church in the background
Also located within the vicinity is the Museo ng Nayon that showcases Filipino textiles made by the creative hands of our Muslim brothers.
Museo ng Nayon exhibits Filipino textiles from Mindanao
As of January 2015, here are the admission fees to Nayong Pilipino:
Senior Citizens: ₱120
Find your accommodation in Clark
How to Get There (Commute)
Take any Bus to Baguio and Pangasinan with stovers in Dau, Mabalacat Pampanga. Victory Liner, Five Star, and Philtranco, on the other hand, have Manila-Dau route.
From Mabalacat Bus Terminal, walk towards McArthur Highway and wait for jeepneys to Main Gate Terminal. You can also take jeepneys to Angeles, get off at 1st street, and walk towards SM Clark. The Main gate terminal is just few meters before SM.
From the main gate, take route 1 jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at Parkson Duty Free (Claro M Recto Highway cor. Centennial Road) then walk along Centennial Road to Clark Expo or Nayong Pilipino. If you are lucky, you can take the Nayong Pilipino Shuttle (not a regular offering though). Please note that Nayong Pilipino is nearly a kilomoter away from Parkson so bring sun or rain protection with you.
If you hate the walking so much, then take a taxi from SM Clark. Cab drivers usually ask ₱300-₱500 for this route.
Dining is a social event. We want to share the moment with family, friends, and acquaintances. We wanted it intimate with our special someone. Most of us dine as a reward to ourselves for a job well done or a completed milestone. For many, dining is a way to celebrate.
However, in some cases, we love to eat alone. Probably to vent
out our sorrow, to spend a me-time, to self-reward, or to simply avoid the long
hours of chitchat associated with group dining.
When we talk about dining alone, only fast food chains come
to mind. The service is fast, mostly. Food options are fewer, you don’t need to
spend that much time to choose. Lastly, you won’t get out of place because there
are a lot of solo diners around.
Max’s Rice Bowls are ideal for budget solo diners
But then, your discriminating palate wanted more. You seek
only real food. That is why, Max’s Restaurant enters the scene to offer only
real food to every solo diner.
Max’s Rice Bowl Classic
Max’s solution is its wide selection of Rice Bowls. They take
a solo serving of their best-selling dishes, and then put them on the top of
the bowl of rice. Prices are made even affordable for solo diners. The rice
bowls with a glass of your Pepsi product of choice start at 149 pesos.
Spicy Tofu is one of my favorites
Your rice bowl topping choices are:
Sizzling Chicken – Made with coarsely chopped fried chicken and chicken liver spiced up with white onions, celery, and chili.
Beef Caldereta – Tender beef chunks in thick sauce topped with fried potatoes and carrots.
Beef Salpicao – Spanish-style, cubed beef sirloin that is stir-fried in a hot pan with minced garlic and lots of spices
Adobo Ribs – A classic Pinoy adobo with a unique twist.
Crispy Pata – Deep-fried pig knuckles served with banana slices and pickled papaya (achara).
Kare-Kare – Traditional, slow-braised ox tripe and beef shanks in thick peanut sauce with mixed tropical veggies.
Bangus Belly Paksiw – This is my favorite. Premium milkfish belly cooked in traditional, vinegar-based sauce.
Fish Fillet in Black Beans – Lightly breaded cream dory fillet with read bell pepper strips, spring onions, ginger slices, and black bean sauce.
New Rice Bowl Toppings
In March 2019, new exciting and yummy flavors and topics are
also added in the menu.
The Seafood Kare-Kare Rice Bowl is topped with a luscious combination of shrimp, squid, and fish that are slow cooked in a creamy peanut sauce. Your favorite tropical veggies are also in your yummy bowl.
Seafood Kare-kare Rice Bowl includes shrimp, squid, and fish in a thick peanut sauce
Max’s Spicy Tofu is topped with deep-fried tofu cubes in a spicy mayo, served with fried egg on the side.
The Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet is made with breaded cream dory doused in a sweet and tangy sauce.
Max’s Spicy Tofu (top) and Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet (bottom)
The Chopsuey rice bowl features a symphony of sautéed fresh vegetables, pork, shrimp, chicken liver, and gizzard.
The latest rice bowl additions are perfect for the Lenten season.
“We understand our customers when they say that their mood
affects the food they want to eat,” said Paolo Serrano, Max’s Restaurant Chief
“That’s why we want to make sure that whatever mood they are
in, they can always come to Max’s Restaurant and enjoy a bowl of rice topped
with their all-time Pinoy favorites,” he added.
About Max’s Restaurant
Max’s Restaurant Rice Bowl options
Max’s Restaurant started in 1945. Thanks to Mr. Maximo Gimenez for opening his home to diners. Ruby, Mr. Gimenez’ nice served what many love and know today as Max’s Fried Chicken.
Over the years, Max’s Restaurant popularly grew and became the known as “the restaurant that fried chicken built.” The 2018 People’s Choice Award winner for Favorite Classic Restaurant has strongly established itself a household name in the Philippines, an institution, and a proud Filipino tradition.
Leaving Sipalay was heartbreaking. We could have stayed longer if time permitted. Due to the uncooperative weather condition, we missed some of its priced natural attractions, which made us feel that the trip was incomplete.
To negate the sadness, I thought of good memories and better pictures of what lies ahead of our adventure. Danjugan Island was our next stop. The stunning photographs of its lagoons and surrounding beaches started to populate my brain.
About Danjugan Island
Danjugan Island floats three kilometers off the cost of Barangay Bulata in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. It measures half a kilometer on its widest point and 1.5 kilometers long. The island is made mostly of limestone, covered with saline water-sustaining vegetation, and dotted with white, pebbly strips on its edges.
Through the efforts of Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI), the island was designated as a protected marine reserve and wildlife sanctuary. Its sustainable programs on conservation, environmental education, livelihood, and research made the island an esteemed ecotourism destination.
Today, the island serves as an outdoor classroom for students, a research area for conservationists, and a haven for tourist eager to experience nature at its purest. Please visit us with and open heart and open mind
How to Get There
From Manila or from any point of the Philippines, take a flight or ferry to either Bacolod or Dumaguete City.
From Bacolod City, hop on a bus bound for Hinoba-an, and then alight at Crossing Remollos in Barangay Bulata. Travel time is up to four hours and the fare will cost you ₱260.
From Dumaguete City, board a bus to Kanbankalan City, and then transfer to a Hinoba-an or Sipalay-bound bus. Tell the driver to drop you off at Crossing Remollos.
If you are coming from Sipalay like us, you can take a bus for Bacolod, and then disembark at the same crossing. Travel time is just 20 minutes and the fare is ₱30.
A PRRCFI staff will greet you at Crossing Remollos to arrange your onward transfers. Make sure that you have already booked your visit and communicated your estimated time of arrival.
Booking a Tour to Danjugan Island
You are required to book your tour slot 3 weekdays in advance if you wish to visit Danjugan Island. That is to allow the management to process your insurance policy, which is already included on your package.
The mud house in Danjugan Island
Here are the tour packages you can avail:
Overnight Stay at Typhoon Beach – ₱3,950/pax
You and your friends can choose a bed from their mud house and dolphin house to spend the night. The mud house has 1 room with four beds and an en-suite toilet and bath. On the other hand, the dolphin house has two rooms each with 4 beds and with comfort room.
The overnight stay package also includes full-board meals with 2 snacks, boat transfers, use of snorkeling gear and kayak, guided tour, and conservation fees.
Mud house interior
Overnight Stay at Moray Lagoon Camp – ₱2,950/pax
The inclusions for this package is the same with the inclusions of the Typhoon beach package. The mere difference is the type and the location of the accommodation. At Moray Camp, you’ll share a cabana with other guests, but you will be provided with your own bed, pillow, and mosquito net. Shower rooms and toilets are also shared.
The check in time for the overnight stays is 12:00 noon while the check-out is 10:30AM the following day. Note that on bed counts, a queen bed is counted as two.
Day Trip – ₱1,950/pax
The day trip package is an 8-hour immersion and tour around the island. The activity will start at 08:00AM. It includes boat transfers, guided tour, use of snorkel and kayak, and lunch with 2 snacks. The payment is already inclusive of the conservation fee and accident insurance policy.
Eco-Tour – ₱950/pax
The eco-tour is only a 3-hour guided tour. But if you still have time, you can do snorkeling and kayaking, yet on separate fees. The 950-peso bill only includes your boat transfers, conservation fees, and insurance. If your group does not meet the 7-person minimum requirement, you have to shell out an additional ₱600 for the group.
All guests are allowed to bring food and drinks.
Discounts are also available. Senior citizens with ID can enjoy 20 percent off. Children with ages six to 12 years old will only need to pay half the price, while children ages 5 years old and below are free of charge.
Being an ecotourism destination, Danjugan Island will bring you closer to nature while feeding your thirst of adrenaline-pumping activities. The island will revive your passion for environmental protection and fortify your love for Mother Earth. The experience will surely inspire you to participate in other ecological advocacy.
Our guide, Tikyo, briefed us about the island and the advocacy
Trekking and Nature Walk – the guided tour will bring guests to different places of interest within the island. Guests are toured around, visiting beaches, lagoons, mangroves, limestone forests, rock formations, caves, and makeshift view decks.
Lagoons and Beaches
Moray Lagoon is one of the serene locations in the island. Its calm water is nurturing to the marine inhabitants beneath it. The lagoon is also a good place to kayak. Aside from Moray, Danjugan is a host to 4 other lagoons.
The make-shift bamboo bridge
Tabon Beach is a nesting ground of the Philippine megapod or scrubfowl, also known as Tabon. So make sure to minimize your excitement when you happen to visit the beach to avoid disturbing them. By the way, Tabon Beach is one of the perfect places in Danjugan to grace the sundown.
Turtle Beach, Danjugan Island
Turtle Beach is an unadulterated white strip that faces the west. And when we say west, it is perfect vantage point to watch the sunset. Remember, sea turtles regularly lay eggs along beach, so listen to your guide before you go frolicking.
The bat cave is a home to thousands of nocturnal pollinators, the fruit bats. When visiting these creatures, keep your voices slow to not stun them.
On the background is the mouth of the bat cave
Snorkeling is an activity that you should not miss in Danjugan. The island is surrounded with beautiful coral gardens that host a variety of colorful marine organisms. Feed your senses with the amazing wonders of the deep.
PRRCFI also offers marine and wildlife camps which provides training, workshops, retreats, and even volunteer programs. Participating one of those is truly fulfilling.