[Cebu] ~ Bantayan in Sky and Sea

Sometimes all you have to do is jump and enjoy as much as what you can at sea  – 05.21-23.16

Skydive was the highlight for this trip but memorable extras would be spending a stormy night as lone guest in the resort and swimming in most number of fish so far in that shallow water.

Getting to Bantayan

One of the things I’ve read prior to going to this trip is that it takes time to get there as it takes hours of bus ride to reach port where there are ferries bound to Bantayan. What is helpful though is that there are trips that run early from planes to bus to ferry. In my case, I took an early morning flight to Cebu via Cebu Pacific, hopped on one of the earliest bus that by half past 10 in the morning, I was aboard the ship to the island.

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Where passengers wait at HAGNAYA PORT

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10AM too early for this sleepyhead

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Someone couldn’t help but get curious

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Slightly visible from the ferry’s deck

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Island and its general theme of perky blue

While I have seen in some reviews and friends’ travels that Bantayan has nice beaches,  I had little expectation of the island because the very reason for being there is to go skydiving.

But having reached the island a bit after noon when sun was at its peak, what a fine surprise when I was greeted by the amazing blueness of the water. A quick dip in the water after setting up my tent made me love this beach even more for its shallow and calm water.

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How many shades of blue and white

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And now with touches of grey

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And some touches of green

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Between dips

(and yep, those were my blonde days)

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Sun too bright I looked such too

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By mid-afternoon, I noticed how tide was starting to get low. When that happened, I decided to explore the strip more. I went towards the left side and discovered this bar where I can beer while observing how others were spending that fine afternoon.

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Tide now getting low

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Walked towards this side

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For your accessories needs

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That scene-stealer of a boat

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I came in as a wrecking boat

(admit it. you almost sang it)

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Harsh punishment for violators on that signboard

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My chosen spot-slash-shade

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Busier part of the strip even though tide was low

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When it was almost sunset, all the colors seemed to blend into one. The water significantly got farther away from the shore that boats which used to float were then parked on sand. (This reminded me of a typical sundown in Koh Phi Phi in Thailand)

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Not your usual sunset colors, huh

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This small town for sure had nightlife but for some reason at that night I wasn’t just in the mood. Probably for a number of reasons –  it could be I’ve had enough beer during the day, or maybe it was a combination of excitement, fear etc for the following day’s jump. Needless to say, I called it early that day – having woken only quickly when it was dark, witnessing these people under the moonlight.

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Moon-bathing

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THE day

Having slept more than enough, I woke up groggy the following day. My jump was scheduled as the earliest at 9 and that meant I had plenty of time to kill in the morning. I spent some of it walking and most just sitting near my tent and people-watching. I could not eat nor have my breakfast beer as I was scared I might throw up up there. 😛

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Early risers

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I slept for many hours yet this photo suggests I am up for more sleep 

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Where I zZZzzed

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Giant hat with a pointed tip

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I don’t remember why I took this photo but probably a premonition that this would be my home for later that night

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Sandplay buddies

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No backing out

By around 830, I was already in the Santa Fe Airport. I came in rather early and place was a deserted airport with only a security guard. Around 10 minutes later, I noticed someone else walking around asking for hot water for his coffee while I was just there quietly sitting on one of the monobloc chairs waiting and calming myself. (I remember peeing quite a number of times too which was weird considering I had little water intake since the previous day. Must be the nerves!)

It was a little before nine when I was handed a waiver which according to the guy, I should take seriously. And yes, I really had to as there were several lines per page where I had to put my initials on. The document detailed every aspect that could go wrong and that none of those is liable for my safety. At some point I was nervously laughing to self as it even included items like the manufacturer of the parachute etc and even the jump venue. (Such a relief when midway while reading the document, two girls arrived and started reading on theirs as well. Two other brave souls).20160522_083806

What took me high up

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Nope, not May 20th

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And now I am suddenly not sure which of these two took me up

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I think I was literally shaking when I took this photo 😀

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Unprepared on proper attire for activity, I went all beachy with my bathing suit, loose pants and a T-shirt. As I was told it could get cold up there, they had me wear a long-sleeved one. Since I also had only slippers on, I was about to jump in bare feet.

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Sneaking in a selfie before the jump

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Most of the experience was documented by my instructor via a GoPro, kicking off with a quick interview. Prior to that, I remember having this funny conversation with him telling him I don’t want to die which he wittingly responded to – “oh you are going to die. Not just today.” He added that he had dinner later that night so that’s a sure thing.

The jump happened between 5-10 minutes but it took us manyfold to get to the right spot where we would be jumping off. As the helicopter had no door at that time (I came back this year/2017 and it had its door already), at some point it got really windy and cold that I had to put on my safety glasses and I could no longer discern whether I was getting chills because I was getting nervous or because it was literally chilly.

When we have reached the right altitude, this Taiwanese student who was on his first solo jump that day was first to go. Less than a minute after, it was us. As instructed, I just had to put my feet either on the ramp or right over (since as advised, the former is going to be difficult given the wind). From then on, I entrusted my life to my instructor/tandem. It was not up to me when we would jump so when I felt a little push, I had no choice but to let it go and just enjoy.

During the first few seconds during FREE FALL, it could be my instinctive defense mechanism but I had my eyes closed. Although I was trying my best to make myself like a banana, I remember feeling some sort of being disoriented – could not discern whether I was falling with head or feet down. For an instant, it was even seen on video how I looked as though I passed out because it was if my feet dropped but my instructor was quick to grab these with his feet to get us back ‘on track’). I am not sure if it felt the same for others who tried this but to me, I liken the experience to being on a seat by an open window of a bus that is ultra-speeding along a highway – only that I was not seated or essentially anchored anywhere.

After my instructor’s tap on my shoulders which meant I can uncross my arms, instinctively I opened my eyes, finally could smile and shout – a lot.

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In 3, 2, 1 …. 

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Let my distorted earlobe do the talking

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At least at this point, I could smile

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The parachute got opened once we have dropped a certain altitude (which on my second dive I will remember to be anywhere between specific points on my altimeter). For this first time, it was my instructor who opened the parachute for us. I was asked to navigate it mid-air but I was scared to try.

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There was a moment of shock when the parachute was opened so this was that moment of relief

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My instructor Chris Walker with all my blonde hair 😛

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Two other girls were waiting for their turn when we landed back to airport. I was still on some high as I sat there while the guys prepared the certificate, photos and videos.

Back to sea from sky

It was almost noontime when I was back at the town center so I  quickly grabbed some taco then went back to the beach to dip and drink.  I had some more time in the afternoon that upon a friend’s recommendation, I took a boat ride to VIRGIN BEACH. 

(Just a note with photos below that I could not remember which of the sea photos were from the main beach in Bantayan vs Virgin)

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Where I could not go

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… ’cause I was scared of that sudden shift in color 

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Just to give an idea how clear the water is

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Me on frame

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My shadow on frame

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Clear

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Finally some beer

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In between beer and beach photos were ‘swimming’ and more photos under.

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Right after lunch, I was on my way to a nearby island. There was some construction going on so I was a little disappointed. Luckily, I was able to find a place where I sit and beer in between wading in the water.

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Yep, let us not teach the garbage to swim

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Where the fish are (but most likely for food)

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When I got back, it was already low tide and I was greeted back with interestingly strange lines on the sandbed.

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Excuse my feet

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Don’t give up on me

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You stand out there, buddy

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Faint sunset

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Messy

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When it got dark, I went walking around town and ended up eating from street food. It started drizzling once I got back to my tent. (This was weird considering that it was summer at that time of year).  I tried to sleep but after a while, it started raining harder I had to find refuge in a nearby cottage.

Resort crew seemed sound asleep already and I was the only one camping that night I felt alone at that time. In hindsight, I was feeling melodramatic that time even! It could the reverse of the adrenaline I had from the morning dive.

For a few minutes, there was a corner in the open cottage where I felt I together with my backpack can escape the rain. After a while though, rain was coming from everywhere due to the winds. I had to keep on moving my stuff. Looking back now, I could not remember how I was able to sleep that night.

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Barbecue

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Nope, that was the lightning speaking

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Calm after the storm

It was back to summer the following day as except my wet stuff, weather was if nothing happened.

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The previous night, this was witness to heavy rain and thunderstorms

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I wonder whether this dog was hiding in there the previous night

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Now how do we dry all these

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Waiting for who is to come

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My kind of table

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Almost Hachiko

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On my last day, I wanted to see more of town during that time. I was happy to have taken a glimpse of how local life is like – which was surprisingly quite vibrant even though it was still early. There were stalls of food, clothes that the streets smelled like calories and filled with people with their early bargaining.

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When back at the beach, I switched again to sleepy mood.

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Don’t get me started, you two

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Inclined by how many degrees

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By noon I was getting out of Bantayan and out of Cebu by 7.

Will I be coming back? I definitely did.

How to get to Bantayan

From Manila, Philippines, there are flights via local airlines Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific with the latter offering more frequent and affordable rates. There are also direct flights to Cebu from certain countries for latter.

From Mactan International Airport, go to Cebu North Terminal and take bus that goes to Hagnaya Port. Travel time via said bus is 3-4 hours.

From HAGNAYA PORT, ride a public ferry to SANTA FE PORT in Bantayan for Php170. Travel time is 1-1.5 hours. Please refer to photos below for schedule as of March 2016.

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At ticket booth in Hagnaya Port

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Waiting area in Sta Fe Port

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Schedule as posted in Sta Fe Port

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