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Bantayan Island is a beautiful tiny Island, and currently Cebu's not-so-secret little Island Paradise (small numbers of travelers over the years have slowly been putting the word out) located just off the northwest tip of Cebu's mainland, and I live here when I’m not in the USA.
Largely un developed and definitely not over crowded and over priced with the commercialization of some other Islands; it’s a perfect place for those seeking peace & quiet, blue skies & clean air, with spectacular turquoise water & great white sand beaches.
There aren't any huge corporate hotel chains here; there are smaller hotels/resorts with cottages & rooms in just about every price range from less than $8.00USD to $40.00USD per night & up through $100+ through a lovely South Sea studio Villa on a very beautiful property, and all the way to a honeymoon styled studio Villa on a gorgeous property (all listed & photographed below) so Bantayan Island really has something to offer everyone, on just about any budget.
About ‘Island Life’:
It's also very old fashioned and peaceful on Bantayan Island, and life is slower here as there are no big city shopping malls, mega movie theaters or metro discos, etc. (get your fill of those on Cebu’s Mainland)
Island Life here is slower and more relaxing, but that’s really the beauty of it all, as some roads are still yet to be paved, and locals who farm & raise livestock live very simply in bamboo & coco wood houses; the warmth and friendliness of the local people here only serves to make Bantayan a more unique & very special place for all who visit.
I’ve worked hard personally researching, photographing and putting together all the information and images here which basically began as email responses to people all over the world who were contacting me for accurate Bantayan Island information after searching online for that information, and seeing my scenic photography and writing of the Island on www.pbase.com/pauljames so you’ll find that this website goes well beyond the few paragraphs written about Bantayan Island in publications (many times presenting old and inaccurate information) so from that standpoint it’s quite unique.
This website is also a work in progress that is currently undergoing a redesign process, with room for adspace/Sponsors/vendors & businesses, more content, pages/links and images being added as that process gradually happens throughout May 2008.
Thank you, and welcome to Bantayan Island.
NEW! email comments from readers
Content Creation Links: Tools of the Trade I Use & Recommend
email comments - read them all at the bottom of this page
How To Get Here:
Flying into the Philippines: Manila & Cebu
If you first fly into Manila Philippines as many travelers do, Cebu’s Mactan International Airport is a 1hr.10min. flight south from Manila, and there are many hotels to choose from in Cebu City, which is a 35 to 50 minute taxi ride - depending on traffic - from Mactan Int’l Airport in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu. (I've flown USA to Manila on a few different carriers, and on Cathay Pacific Airlines via their hub in Hong Kong)
In this past year I've chosen to stay with Cathay Pacific, as they take care of you with a superior level of service and hospitality like a 5 star hotel would - the total flying experience with Cathay Pacific is simply the best.
I also recommend Plaza Premium & Travelers Lounge at Hong Kong Int'l Airport, for everything you'll need inbetween your connecting flights: wonderfull meals, relaxing & well furnished seating areas, 4 terminal internet cafe plus WiFi for your notebook, shower & comfortable sleeping rooms, day spa & more. (Plaza Premium Lounges are also at the Int'l airports of Vancouver, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Beijing Capitol Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun Airport)
It's also possible to fly directly into Mactan Intl. Airport Cebu on many International Airlines, as well as from many Philippine Domestic Airports within Luzon, The Visayas & Mindanao, and if you need specific recommendations on hotels in Metro Manila or Cebu City, please contact me.
Domestic Flights: Manila to Cebu
If for example, you fly into Manila and then need a quick 1hr. 10min. flight to Cebu, there are many travel agencies all over Metro Manila (as well as Cebu City) that can ticket you in a heartbeat, as you can walk in & request a same day flight, and the most popular domestic carrier is Cebu Pacific, and they offer good service, new planes and many flights per day from Manila to Cebu beginning around 5:30am and running every 90 minutes or so, into the evening, and you can even book online at:
Cebu Pacific's prices for 1-way flights are aprox. P1,600 (Promo Rate) up to aprox. P5,000 as of Spring 2008 and most flights fall between P3,000 & P4,000…the earlier you book, the better the rates can be.
Other carriers are Philippine Airlines & Air Philippines - infact, the lowest price I ever paid for a Manila to Cebu ticket was a P900 Promo Fare on Air Philippines in Nov.2006 (please see my section on Travel Agents)
After Landing in Cebu:
Inside Tip: Metered & Fix Price Taxis @ Mactan Airport, Cebu: As you exit the Domestic Terminal in Cebu, all the taxis you'll see are FIXED PRICE at rates up to P500/P750+, so if you want a METER taxi at a better price you'll have to walk accross the pavement and up the stairs accross the street (the Security Guards can direct you) to get in line for a metered taxi at aprox. P150 - P250 depending on your hotel destination and traffic.
The currency in Philippines is the Philippine Peso (PHP) and the US Dollar exchange rate has recently been hovering around 42 [May 2008 rate at 42+ Pesos to the Dollar]
$100US gets you aprox. P4,200 and you can change a small amount of currency in the airport for taxis & incidentals, then your hotel can direct you to where the Money Changers are, to get the better exchange rates.
Ground Directions to Bantayan Island - from Cebu City, Philippines:
North Bus Terminal Via taxi from Cebu City: make sure it’s a METERED taxi to avoid a price gouge, and insist the driver actually uses the meter (if not, just get another taxi; there's plenty to choose from without a long wait time)
Go to the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City - modern Ceres aircon coaches run all day at P90 from very early in the morning, to the port town of Hagnaya in northern Cebu, and from there you'll hop a 75min. Ferry to Bantayan Island.
*Aircon Bus Service Running Intermitantly as of Spring 2008: The Ceres Aircon Coach service has been recently experiencing interuptions in service, and I'm hoping it's only temporary - for now the NON Aircon busses are running as scheduled, priced at P55 - with only an occasional Aircon bus running.
Holy Week pricing for these non aircon busses was P150 for March 2008, so expect the same for Holy Week 2009.
Security Note: as your taxi pulls into the North Bus Terminal, be sure to pay your driver right before the taxi comes to a stop - and exit your taxi quickly to get to your luggage in the trunk, as Porters/baggage handlers will see your taxi pulling in, and will swarm it hoping to wrangle your luggage for a fee (this is a normal occurrence)
…if you don’t do this quickly, you may find your luggage has already been removed from the trunk, and is en-route to the busses before you’ve even exited your taxi - worse case, you may not recover your luggage at all.…have the driver keep the trunk closed until after you exit the taxi and are ready to wrangle your own luggage, then decide if you need help from the baggage handlers...if they become insistant with you, just tell them 'NO' firmly.
Look for the yellow & white CERES modern aircon coaches, marked HAGANYA in the windshield - step in & ask the driver to confirm Hagnaya/Bantayan Island.
* Travel time is generally 3 hours (on occasion 2:45min) including the 10 minute stop in Carmen Cebu for a restroom break, food & refreshments - non-aircon busses are P55 and the aircon bus price is P90 if you can manage to get one.
So if you're on a 7am bus, you'll arrive Hagnaya by 10am, in time for the 10:30am Super Shuttle Ferry to Santa Fe, Bantayan Island - you’ll dock at the Port of Santa Fe at aprox. 11:45am and can be at most hotels by about 12noon/12:15pm just in time for check in.
* Note: The Ceres Bus schedules are subject to changes, so just arrive early and ask for the next bus, then get a breakfast sandwich from the Dunkin Dounts booth there & relax. (busses have been known to leave as early as 4am for Bantayan right before Holy Week begins in April)
Please be advised that these busses tend to fill up quickly, and once seats run out they'll sell the isles as standing room so it's going to be cramped - I suggest arriving early to get a seat by the exit doors, so you can be first on/first off - and you may also want to consider buying the empty seat or seats next to you if you'd like a bit more room for you & your bags.
Security Note: If you’re traveling alone with luggage that’s been loaded into the bays under the bus, you’ll need to stay with that luggage and not leave it unattended while the bay is open, instead of sitting onboard waiting to leave. And yes - that means physically standing outside by the bay doors until the driver closes & locks that bay.
Remember, you’re still in Cebu City - things happen, so don’t let them happen to you.
Same goes for luggage stored inside the bus in the overhead bins - if you’d like to step off the bus (to go to the CR/comfort room/restroom or to get a soda or newspaper in the Terminal a few feet away) after you’ve chosen your seat, take your gear with you.
However with 2 or more people traveling together, securing your gear & luggage is easier as one person can stay with the luggage while the other steps away to get snacks or use the CR (if you dare) that’s all the way at the rear of the Terminal.
Keep in mind, the last Ferry Boat from Hagnaya to Santa Fe leaves at 5:30pm, so don't take a North Terminal bus later then 2pm, or you might be stuck in Hagnaya for the night. * If you get stuck in Hagnaya, there's a small Pension House there by the Pier with very small, plain rooms for aprox. P300 a night, but don't expect any amenities at that price.
Taxis from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port: It's also possible to hire a Taxi to drive you all the way in comfort to Hagnaya for aprox. P1,500 to P2,000.
I suggest choosing the car carefully & make sure it looks brand new (some taxis are quite beat up with bald tires & poor aircon; you obviously don't want those) and even better are the new 2008 KIA SUV's (bigger then a taxi but smaller then a van) with more room for passengers & luggage, and you can simply stand outside your hotel and have your pick of any of these taxis that drive by & honk at you for a fare - it's a buyers market here, as they chase YOU (I'd offer them P1,500 plus lunch in Carmen Cebu at the bus stop, and P2k for the KIA SUV's - that formula seems to work most times)
Tell them the deal is 1/2 payment at the start of the trip and the balance when they drop you in Hagnaya (this protects you during the trip if your driver 'goes bad' and starts asking for more money to continue the ride (don't ever let a driver tell you to also pay additional for his fuel - he knows fuel is his responsibility & is part of your negotiated fare) and although I've never had a driver 'go bad' from Cebu City to Hagnaya, I have had this happen elsewhere in Cebu)
I personally don't use the V-Hire 12 passenger Vans anymore from Cebu City to Hagnaya, as they will wait for the van to fill up before deciding to leave, and they also over-sell the capacity for a very cramped ride priced at about twice the non-aircon buss fare...on the other hand, you can hire the entire van "special trip" for yourself & companions at aprox. P2,000, and about P3k if that van is obviously brand new in show room condition.
An entire V-Hire Van ('special trip'/just you & your group) can be had for about P2,000 at the Port in Hagnaya Cebu, for your trip back to Cebu City when it's time to leave Bantayan Island (be sure to negotiate the price with the driver only & not with the Porters) and if you're really lucky you might be able to get a taxi in Hagnaya (if you spot one who's just dropped off passengers) for about P800/P850 or so, back to Cebu City.
* If you're curious as to what the actual taxi meter will read from Cebu City to Hagnaya Port, it's normally between P850 & P950, depending on traffic.
* Annoying Porters & Negotiating Taxis & V-Hires at Hagnaya Port: Avoiding the Stress
Make sure you always talk directly to the vehicle DRIVER ONLY, as a select group of Baggage Porters may barge in and loudly attempt to negotiate/renegotiate the vehicle & price with you, so don't let them waste your trip time.
Unless you want your price negotiations interrupted by a dozen Porters (who all want a piece of the action because they all think you're a BANK), ID the actual driver and walk him away from the Porters to negotiate your price - you need to verbally take control of the situation & conversation by speaking only to the driver & by firmly telling any Porter who interrupts you to go away - look them in the eye, tell them to get lost (you may have to repeat yourself more than once) and they'll leave you alone.
Always remember you CAN be civil yet FIRM at the same time; and believe me this always works when you need to save your time & your money and you don't want headaches from people who you are not specifically doing business with.
Don't ever let a Baggage Porter or group of Porters interrupt your personal business and negotiate anything for you except carrying your bags - further more, unless you're traveling with a half dozen pieces of luggage, just carry your own bags - if they were to drop a bag of yours & break something of value inside, you'd end up giving yourself a huge headache trying to get the matter resolved, so it's always better to avoid the stress & confrontation in the first place, so that your trip will go smoother and your time & money won't be wasted.
* Inside Tip: If you miss the last Ferry of the day:
Most people aren’t aware that there are Palm boats from Hagnaya Cebu to Santa Fe after the last Ferry leaves at 5:30pm - just ask around at the Pier, and fares can range from about P250 to P500 depending on how many people show up.
Porters/Baggage handlers are available to carry your luggage on/off the bus - currently it's appropriate to give them aprox. P50 per bag (but I've already shown above why you should wrangle your own bags) and there are also plenty of vendors at the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City, where you can get coffee, soft drinks, snacks, phone loads, DVD/CD's etc., even Dunkin Donuts is there.
Hagnaya Port Area Ground Conditions: just be advised when you step off the bus here that the ground is dirt and sand, with uneven surfaces in places - so your feet might get a bit dusty (not really a big deal) and if it's rained recently the ground will be muddy, so be prepared for muddy feet & luggage.
In Hagnaya Cebu:
In Hagnaya, Ferry Boats run all day to Santa Fe on Bantayan Island starting at 5:30am, and please remember the last Ferry of the day leaves Hagnaya at 5:30pm.
Travel time for Island Shipping & Super Shuttle Ferries is 1hr. 15min, and for the FastCraft it's aprox. 35 - 40 minutes.
Current Fares are P140 for a regular fare on the Island Shipping Ferries, and P150 to P170 for an aircon cabin (get a regular fare & enjoy the breeze)
fares are now P150 (reduced from P168)
* the terminal fee for leaving Hagnaya is P5
* movies are shown on most Ferries except the FastCraft, and drinks/snacks are available, as well as cold San Miguel beer.
Porters/Baggage handlers are available to carry your luggage on/off the boats here as well.
They can be very aggressive when coming aboard (sort of looks like a SWAT Raid by guys wearing green-blue 'Porter' t-shirts), so just smile & shake your head 'no thanks' if you're not going to be using them - if they become annoying or persistant, tell them 'NO' very firmly.
Also, don't be near the front of the line waiting to get off a fully loaded boat when it docks - the SWAT baggage handlers storm the plank and are climbing/tripping over people & baggage at this point, turning it into quite the little chaotic scene, so just stay clear.
There are also plenty of vendor stalls at Hagnaya Pier, where you can get BBQ, coffee, soft drinks, snacks, phone loads, before you board the boat.
At Santa Fe Pier, Bantayan Island:
* INSIDE TIP: Debus from the Ferry and if you have called ahead to your hotel (or arranged a vehicle pick-up) you're all set.
They can pick you up in a vehicle right at the boat, as long as you’ve told them specifically “do not wait for me in the car park - please drive your vehicle past the Security Guard’s Gate and fetch me along side the Ferry” - otherwise it’s a much longer walk to beyond the Terminal as pictured, to the very crowded car park where all vehicles will normally park to wait for you. (this is exactly what I do, and 99 percent of all other travelers are not even aware of en-bussing/de-bussing this way)
This will save you a HUGE amount of time and get you to your hotel quicker.
Otherwise walk towards the Terminal, to the left under the canopy up to the area where tricycle drivers will be waiting to take you to your hotel, or wherever you want to go, for about P50 (to hotels in town).
Along that walkway, you'll also be bombarded by "canvassers" holding photos of local hotels, with their rates, all trying to get you to choose a particular hotel - they get a small commission for that, but if you're not interested just smile & no thanks; walk past them - put your cell phone to your ear & pretend you’re taking a call, or else they might shadow you for the rest of the walk, trying to sell you.
The closest Hotels to the Pier are Santa Fe Beach Club (right outside to the right) & HoyoHoy Resort (further up the road on the left) but the tricycle drivers will happily take you anywhere you’d like to go.
Don’t get into the conversation with your tricycle driver about renting motorcycles at this point, wait until you get to your hotel and ask where to rent motors for P250 per day - you’ll be offered motors at P500 outside some hotels, but the real-world price is still P250 as of Spring 2008 - see the section on motorcycles below (hourly rentals are available at a couple of places for P50 to P70 per hour if this is what you require)
Ferry Boat Schedules: (times subject to change)
Hagnaya to Santa Fe:
Super Shuttle Ferry: P140:
7am, 10:30am, 2:15pm *75 min. travel time.
Island Shipping Corp. P145 (Island Express V, Island RORO I & RORO II)
630am, 9:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm & 5:30pm *all 75 minutes travel time, aprox.
* The Big Ship RORO II is "roll on, roll off" with a large access ramp that accomodates people, cars, motorcycles, trucks, etc.
Santa Fe to Hagnaya:
Fast Craft: P150
10:15am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm - 35-40 min. aprox. travel time.
Island Shipping Corp. P145
(Island Express V, Island RORO I, Island RORO II)
5:00am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 3:00pm *all 75 minutes travel time, aprox.
Super Shuttle Ferry: P140 - 75 min. travel time - at 8:30am, 12:30pm, 4pm
* Please Note:
The Ferry Boat times are subject to change, and they do.
Once in a while a boat is cancelled, or leaves 30 minutes earlier/later etc. sometimes frustrating locals & tourists, so it’s best to check ahead before departing Hagnaya, and vice/versa.
Hagnaya ticket booth: 032-435-2078
Santa Fe ticket booth: 032-438-0080
Cebu City Office: 032-422-6330 & 6331
Also, during Typhoons or windy weather causing high-seas - all boats to & from the Island are cancelled by the Coast Guard, and there’s nothing that can be done about that.
…boats resume once the storm passes and the seas calm down; that’s a part of “Island Life” so we just learn to deal with it.
Ferry Boats to Bantayan Town Pier from Negros:
Ferry’s come & go to Bantayan from Cadiz & Sagay in northern Negros several times during the week - usually every other day for about P200 - departures on pump boats (3.5hrs./rougher ride) & big Ferries (4hrs/very smooth ride) from Negros are at 10am in Cadiz/Sagay, and those boats also depart Bantayan Town Pier at 10am bound for Negros.
I personally recommend traveling via the larger/heavier Ferry, as
the smaller pump boats - even at 50ft/60ft. long, these pump
are in open water (deep water) - and are more suseptable to waves
high seas, so it's a rougher ride.
Schedules & departure days sometimes do change, so you’ll need to check the day before, or just arrive early by 8:30am. and wing it. (in Bantayan Town, just ride up to the Pier and confirm when the boats are leaving/arriving)
* Ferry boats to Negros do not leave from Santa Fe Pier; only from Bantayan Town Pier.
Typhoon/Inclement Weather Security Note: While on the Island during an approaching storm, you’ll need to stock up on drinking water, pre-paid phone loads, candles, dry goods, keep your cell phone fully charged, fuel up your motorbike and always have a top brand reliable flashlight/torch with you, and I’m not talking about a Mini MagLite (too dim & unreliable for serious Tropical use) with lo-power 1.5 volt Alkaline batteries (they self-discharge & can’t maintain their voltage and light output well enough to be considered totally reliable for emergency use here in the Tropics)
I personally use & recommend the best quality SureFire brand hi-power incandescent & LED (long run time) flashlights with 3 volt Lithium CR123 batteries that have a 10 year shelf life, and you can read about this essential travel tool below, made popular by Executive Protection, Law Enforcement & Military Personnel.
Fares (motorcycle w/small side car & bicycle w/side car)
Local tricycle/trisikad fares within Santa Fe to most hotels/restaurants around town are P20 per person.
* from Santa Fe Pier to your hotel in town, give P50 per person; a bit more if you have big luggage - If you're not sure what to pay from where you are to where you're going, just ask inside a bakeshop or sari-sari store at Santa Fe Pier what the proper cost should be, before getting into a tricycle.
HOTELS in Santa Fe: updated Spring 2008
* Please note that during Holy Week (March 16 - 23, 2008) hotel prices go up sharply (double & sometimes triple regular rates) and tourists make their Holy Week reservations many months to one year in advance.
Note: The two priciest properties with First Class accommodation on the Island are Ogtong Cave Resort & HoyoHoy Resort, if this is what you require. (see listing below) Otherwise, rooms & cottages are generally available with fan & cold water bathroom/CR unless otherwise noted for aprox. $8USD or less to $40+ and up, depending upon location & amenities.
*Hard Kock Kafe: JingJing and Family have nice, newly built native style bamboo Nipa bungalows at the rear of the property; nicely landscaped with Palms & local Flora - inexpensive and very convenient, as a few seconds after leaving your kottage you can walk into the restaurant and bar to sit & enjoy your meals & drinks while watching the big screen Mitsubishi TV - you can even surf the web from your laptop while sitting in the restaurant.
Kottages: P450 with fan (5 meter x 5 meter)
Kottages: P650 with Aircon (6 meter x 5 meter)
with a nice front porch and CR/bathroom with shower
(Prices are current through October 2008)
Kottages have tiled floors & screened windows, and very comfortable Deluxe Queen size beds with a real mattress.
The Aircon Kottages also feature nice hot water showers.
Spacious Restaurant & Bar with Big Screen SAT TV & WiFi wireless internet access for Guests, in addition to the HK internet computer for guests located above the restaurant.
Great food (the meal in the HK banner near the top of the page is Chicken Picatta) cold beer, drinks and a huge menu with daily specials; a very popular place.
...personally, I really enjoy their Burgers with tomato & onion; it's my favorite....and the Steak Pies (Steak/Steak & Mushroom/Steak & Cheese in a pastry crust) are also a current favorite of many of my friends here.
* An extra fold out bed can easily be added to any of the Kottages, at P100 addt'l.
* Motorcycle rentals at P250 per day - see their Promo above (110cc Honda XRM & 125cc Honda scooter style; easy to ride) HK is right in the center of town, 200 meters from the beach.Contact Hard Kock Kafé: (032)438-9075 Reservation Landline
email HK Kafe
*Kota Beach: P770 to P2,000 and up - Nipa bungalow style cottages set back a few meters from the beach, with some right on the beach - with fan & cold water CR/bathroom - on a beautiful and peaceful stretch of White Sand Beach, and the BeeHive building newly built in 2008 offering smaller fan rooms w/CR for P770.
A nice, quiet property landscaped with different types of Palms and beautiful Flora.
* P770: Standard room w/fan
* P1,079: Superior Cottage w/fan
* P1,260: Cottage, Aircon Double
* P1,300: Economy Cottage w/aircon
* P1,560: Aircon Deluxe Cottage
* P2,000: Deluxe Beachfront Suite
Good service by an attentive staff.
* Great open-air restaurant: (pictured) food is cooked fresh to-order, in a quiet relaxing environment - seafood & local dishes from P160 - P230 and up.
…even just relaxing here with coffee in the morning, the ambiance & ocean view are wonderful.
Kota has a new, larger Multi cab for 2008 (miniaturized truck) giving them 2 vehicles to use for transfers to & from the Pier.
Contact Kota: +63-032-419-6135 & 032-438-9042
*Budyong Beach: Right on the beach next to Kota, with nice Nipa hut style bungalows from P500 (one unit) in various sizes, some with aircon, and an open-air restaurant on the same beautiful stretch of White Sand Beach as Kota.
* Non Aircon Cottages: single bed w/fan: P500 - Double w/fan: P1,000
Family Room Cottage: P1,600
* Aircon Cottages: Single bed P1,300 - Double Bed: P1,500
* Family Room Cottage: P2,000
Contact Budyong: +63-032-438-5700
*HoyoHoy Resort: I like to call it 'Tastefull Elegance' on a lovely property indeed - these Beautiful Villas are P5,000 and P6,000 for Ocean Side, and include breakfast for two.
Cebu's Gov. Gwen Garcia stays here when she comes to the Island; First Class with all amenities.
Modern 2nd. story South Sea style Villas have access into a tastefully designed, open air downstairs landing & furnished sitting area (this finished outdoor floor beneath the Villa is tiled in native stone) and a staircase takes you upstairs into your fully furnished studio style Villa with a terrace, SAT TV, Queen size bed, well stocked refrigerator, CR/bathroom with very nice, modern Jacuzzi style tubs.
The view from your Villa terrace is wonderful, overlooking the beautiful Coco Palms and other Flora on the property - stroll out to the beach around 5:30am and watch the beautiful sunrise.
Spacious and relaxing open air restaurant with prices between P65 to P830, on a nicely landscaped property that has their own beach and reclining sunchairs.
* Contact HoyoHoy in Santa Fe: +63-032-438-9223 - in Cebu: 63-32-416-0905 - mobile: 63-917-326-1068
email HoyoHoy Villas
*Ogtong Cave Resort: Beautiful Studio style cottages, some with terraces, many looking like small luxury Condos, starting around P1,600 to P18,000
A very large, beautiful & landscaped property (the Island’s largest Resort) lush with Palms & local Flora, with a Great Restaurant featuring an extensive menu and 2 huge swimming pools (no beach here, but you can get down into the water - and Sugar Beach is 3 to 5 minutes away via motorbike) great service and First Class all the way.
It's a beautiful property for just a casual stroll, or to sit outside on the terrace of your cottage with your morning coffee, etc.
Amenities & ambiance increase in relation to the price.
* P1,600: Cottage, non- aircon (only 1 cottage like this available)
* P3,200: Garden Villa - twin bed, ref & TV
* P3,200: Row House - ref & TV
* P3,200: Family Room Twin - with extra side bed & TV
* P3,500: Sea View Villa - ref & TV
* P4,300: Family Room Triple - ref & TV
* P4,300: Deluxe Cottage - ref & TV
* P5,200: Duplex - ref & TV
* P7,000: White House - 2 bedrooms & kitchen
* P18,000: Newly built Deluxe with Jacuzzi (pictured) lavish Queen Bed, fully furnished with all amenities; a must see (a separate, large private pool is reserved for these 3 Deluxe Jacuzzi Condos)
Ogtong Cave & Santa Fe Beach Club also have nice full size passenger vans to fetch you & your luggage, where most smaller hotels use Multi Cabs.
Contact Ogtong Cave: +63-032-438-0165 & 438-9129
*Santa Fe Beach Club: Right on a great stretch of The Beach near the Pier - nice rooms, some with refrigerator aprox. P900 to P2,600 - with pleasant service and a very good restaurant with a varied menu.
* P900: Twin Cottage w/fan, non aircon
* P 1,000: Triple Cottage w/fan, non aircon
* P1,200: Cottage with adjoining room
* P1,600: Clubhouse Twin
* P2,000: Clubhouse Triple
* P2,200: Clubhouse Quadruple
* P2,600: Duplex Triple
Nice full size passenger van for transfers.
Contact Santa Fe Beach Club: +63-032-438-9090 (fax) & 438-9107 land line
*Yooneek Beach Resort: right on the Beach - Owners Juan & his wife Bernie know what Great Service & Hospitality means, so they know full well how to take care of their Guests.
They've built a nice property with modern rooms, some with kitchenette, Seaside open air outdoor Bar with outdoor thatched huts on the property for dining, drinking & watching the beautiful sunsets.
* P1,500: Standard Room w/aircon: Balcony & Sea View (peak season P1,800)
* P1,800: Vista Grande Room: aircon, Terrace, Ocean View (peak: P2,100)
* Peak Season is November 1 to April 30.
Restaurant & a nice outdoor bar, overlooking the sea.The lounge has a small internet café with 3 terminals for your convenience.
Yooneek has a Multi Cab vehicle for transfers, plus a nice Nissan Frontier pick up truck.
Contact Yooneek Beach Resort: +63-032-438-9124 Mobile: +63-917-999-3829
email Yooneek ResortYooneek Inn: Juan & Bernie present their brand new place to stay, newly built in 2008 - one block from the beach and few blocks away from Yooneek Beach Resort.
* P990: Standard Room w/Fan (peak season P1,290)
* Peak Season is November 1 to April 30.
This includes a daily Continental Breakfast for two at Yooneek Beach Resort & round trip transfers to and from the Pier in Santa Fe.
Contact Yooneek Inn: +63-032-438-9124 Mobile: +63-917-999-3829
email Yooneek Inn
*Sugar Beach: small bungalows starting at aprox. P500 (on Sugar Beach) for very simple accommodation.
No landscaping like other properties, but it’s on a very nice & wide portion of Sugar Beach, offset with many rows of beautiful Coco Palms.
* Basic Cottage: P500
* Basic Cottage w/Balcony: P500
* Basic Ballister Cottage: P700
* Basic Family Cottage: P800 (first photo)
* Basic Duplex Cottage: P1,400 to P1,500
* Newer Aircon Cottages: P1,500 (middle photo)
There's no restaurant here, but the staff can take care of either cooking or getting meals for you; just ask them.
Contact Sugar Beach: +63-921-775-5058
*Marlin's Beach Resort: very nice modern rooms on a nice landscaped property, starting at P900 to P2,800 right on the Beach, and they can arrange Island Hopping, boats, jet skis, fishing & all water sports, etc. in-house.
* Standard Room w/fan: P990 (Peak Season P1,500)
* Deluxe Room P1,800 - aircon, marble bath, SAT. TV, Balcony w/Ocean View (Peak: P2,400)
* Beach Front Room P2,800: (pictured) hot water, aircon, TV, radio, hairdryer, safety box, mini bar, Balcony Sea view (Peak P3,780)
* Up to 30% discount for guests staying 4 days or longer.
* Peak Season is Nov.1 to May 30
Marlin’s also have a nice full size passenger van & new Isuzu SUV to fetch you & your luggage, where most smaller hotels use Multi Cabs.
Contact Marlin's: +63-032-438-9093
*Maia's Beach Resort: North of Santa Fe on the highway going towards Bantayan Town, turn left at the Mayas sign just before Bantayan Town.
A nicely landscaped property about 25 minutes northwest of Santa Fe - nice concrete Nipa hut style bungalows with their distinctive pointed roof design are in a wood grain finish - The property goes right out to the sea and their shoreline is occupied with coral rock, so there is no beach per se - but yes, you can easily get into the ocean & swim from the property.
In & amongst the beautiful coco palms & flora you'll find a great swimming pool, and Maia's offers free transfers from Piers via their new Revo Tamaraw SUV and Mercedes Benz Passenger Van to transport you in comfort.
Good open-air restaurant, and the open air bar (right photo) has a gorgeous view of the sea.
Even if you are hungry at 3am, they’ll open the restaurant & cook just for you, with prior notice - a very nice touch indeed.
* All Maia's Cottages w/aircon & twin beds: P1,600 - breakfast for two is included.
* Breakfast from P115 to P165
* Lunch/Dinner from P145
Contact Maia's: Mobile +63-918-571-4297 Landline: +63-32-438-0077
email Maia's Resort
*St. Bernard Beach Resort: Intimate Native Style Cottages crafted out of concrete, on a property shaded by beautiful Coco Palms on a smaller beach - with Restaurant, Function Room w/SAT TV on the Dream Dish Network.
* P350: “backpacker” cottage, per person
* P750: Standard Cottage with fan - P1,000 w/aircon
* P950: Deluxe w/fan - P1,200 w/aircon
* P1,400: Big Deluxe w/fan - P1,800 w/aircon (middle image)
* P1,700: Deluxe Beachfront, with fan.
Contact St. Bernard’s mobile: +63-917-963-6162
email St. Bernard Resort
*Tickety Boo Beach Resort: Bill & Thess are gracious hosts, and they've built a very nice property on Alice Beach with 12 modern & very comfortable rooms, with plenty of space outside on the property to relax or lounge in the sun.
Treat yourself to a great meal in their relaxing open air restaurant with SAT. TV, and enjoy their well stocked bar after a game of Billiards - they also feature LIVE Music every Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
Two things well worth mentioning about their Restaurant/Bar in the middle photo is that the breeze coming through here on the 2nd. floor is very refreshing on a hot day - and besides having great food, their meals are also presented so nicely.
* P850: Fan Room with double bed
* P1,300: Aircon Room with double bed (pictured) - lots of space here.
* P1,900: Family Room with Aircon - good for 4 people.
Tickety Boo has a Suzuki Multicab for Pier transfers.
Contact Tickety Boo's mobile: +63-920-749-0743 Landline: +63-32-438-9105
*Seaview Apartelle: Newly built in March/April 2008 and located just off the beach & east of Marlin's Resort - Seaview offers 12 clean, modern aircon rooms with sliding glass doors & terraces (6 large & 6 smaller rooms) Some construction continuing on a planned business center & restaurant through May/June 2008.
It's also possible to enjoy the sunrise from the 3rd. floor rooms as you step out onto your terrace.
*Tristans Beach Resort, Santa Fe: Simple but comfortable aircon rooms with tile floors, some with TV and fridge - Tristan's open air Restauant steps down right onto the beach and refreshing sea breeze, so you can enjoy the sunrise from either place.
P1,000: Single Room/aircon - good for 2 people (Peak Season P1,200)
P1,300: Beach Front room/aircon (Peak Season?)
P1,500: Family Room/aircon (Peak Season?)
P2,500: Family Room/2 beds, aircon with TV & fridge (Peak P3,000) Pictured.
Peak Season is November to April
Tristan's landline: 438-9041
*D'Jungle, Santa Fe : Budget Rooms
"Friends & Family" BARKADA Budget Rooms with common CR at P250 per day (Discounted to P200 for more than 2 days) Details coming soon.
Contact Nina at D'Jungle: +63-910-908-9031 Mobile
*The Islander Cottages, Santa Fe: Nice Concrete & Nippa/Native style Cottages with CR/bathroom & shower with refrigerator and BBQ facilities inc. glasses, plates, etc. - these cottages are 5 meters x 5 meters and have a small terrace.
P350 per day for these nice cottages, and there are weekly & monthly rates available.
The Perk: You'll get a 10 percent DISCOUNT dining at D'Jungle & The White Sands Restaurants while you stay at the Islander Cottages.
Contact Islander Cottages: +63-919-683-6327
email Islander Cottages
*The White Sand's Beach Villa, Santa Fe: The private Residence of Robert Franco from The White Sand's Restaurant is a Native Bamboo Style fully furnished home built in & above the water, and features all amenities.
This home measures 95 sq. meters including the Terrace, and features aircon, hot water CR/bathroom & shower, kitchenette & fridge, SAT. TV & internet connection, and is tastefully appointed with modern and antique Philippine furniture throughout.
Master bedroom with aircon & Queen bed, aircon guest room with full size bed, and last but not least - the wide Terrace with its incredible view of the eastern sky for watching the spectacular sunrise.
Pricing: P2,500 per day in low season (May to Oct.) and P3,000 per day during high season (November to April) based on dual occupancy.
Email me directly to book this residence, or for this property's weekly & monthy rates.
*Lodging House, Santa Fe (accross the street diagnally from SeaView Apartelle) Details coming.
Basic rooms in a converted small house with aircon at P1,000 per day.Basic Fan room is P500 per day, with CR/bathroom.
*Jegra Johns Resort: (currently CLOSED)
LISTING in Santa Fe (updated Spring 2008)
* All the hotels mentioned above have a restaurant, except Sugar Beach & Sea View.
The White Sand's: The only Gourmet Restaurant On The Beach in Santa Fe.
Lonely Planet calls it "..a dining exerience straight out of the imagination..."
Renowned restaurateur Robert Franco offers a true gourmet experience featuring fine dining right on the beach, in a romantic shoreline restaurant and regarded as the best food on the Island.
Robert's a very gracious host, and the ambiance here is second to none - the menu features such delicasies as Scallops in brandy & cream sauce, US Angus Beef, Seafood Lasagna, Thai Inspired Grouper, French Crepes & Wafers, Sinigang & Tinola and much more - put The White Sands at the top of your list for comfortable, casual dining when you come to Bantayan Island.
The Jungle: Bring Your Appetite! now offering a fantastic 40+ course nightly All You Can Eat Buffet for P245. "Eat all you can - Eat all you want" w/Bottomless Ice Tea.
Just opened April 2007 by Robert at The White Sand's, D'Jungle Mongolian Grill & BBQ features an open pit circular grill where you can watch your dishes prepared right before your eyes: Fresh Seafoods (shrimps/Visayan Oysters/scallops/crab/BBQ local fish) 6hr. slow cooked Spare Ribs, Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Italian Meatballs, Curry & Chili Dishes, Tropical Fruit Salads & Pasteries and local Pinoy Favorites (Crispy Pata, Pata Tim, Bicol Express)
The sheer number of entries offered here nightly only entices your appetite, and you can indulge yourself to your hearts content with what I call the best value dining experience on Bantayan Island for P245!
Melo's place, an absolutely huge menu with Portuguese, German, Filipino & American foods of every sort including Pizza, and a good bar.
Hard Kock Cafe:
Great Curry, Burgers, Seafood, Filipino & American dishes with daily specials & great breakfasts - ice cold beers a specialty.
Great Steaks (Brazilian Beef) and a varied menu with Seafood, German, Filipino & American dishes, great breakfasts (pictured) and lunches as well as a wonderful place to have dinner - excellent well stocked bar.
If Andy's there - ask him what his specials are and what he recommends - he's a great host & passionate about his cusine & loves talking food.
El Paso: (currently closed)
On Batobalonas St., a lovely bamboo décor restaurant, that just opened an addition street side, in April 2007
Asian and Western style dishes, and many varieties of Pizza.
Good Bar, and a varied menu - this is a very popular place to eat.
Karlssons Gatukok & Fast Food:
The Floating Bar:
Owner Henrik from Sweden (pictured) opened his Floating Bar in Nov.2006 - right in the water, a few meters off the Beach at Yooneek Resort.
A small boat takes you right out to the bar, from the beach in front of Yooneek, and it’s a great place to relax and have a drink - enjoy the view and especially the sunsets.
The Floating Bar is a great place to have a drink and relax on the water with the refreshing sea breeze, and to enjoy the fantastic sunsets!
* Cold beers & great drinks on a bamboo platform bar floating offshore.
* Food specials from breakfast, onward.
* They also offer Island Hopping Tours with their own 8 meter Banka at P1,000 (max. 6 persons, and the passengers split the P1,000 cost)
The Floating Bar is open daily 9am - 6pm (and later if customers stay past 6pm)
While you’re there, be sure to pick up the FB Pirate logo t-shirt.
email The Floating Bar
My favorite Restaurant in Old Bantayan Town:
Kermit's (formerly Froggy’s) on Rodriguez St. open 9am-10pm (20 minutes north of Santa Fe, via the main highway)
Owner Eumel Lopez knows good food & hospitality in his modern, quaint little place with a nice décor & Jazz playing in the background, and has delicious inexpensive dishes (my favorites: Calzones P25 - thick pastry crust filled with delicious seasoned ground beef that tastes like a good spicy taco in a much thicker crust, spaghetti P40, burgers P25, cheeseburgers P35, and a great Mango Shake P25)
You have to try their chicken or beef Burritos at P25.
They’re also quite famous for their desserts & pastries, and have a huge catalog of upscale pastries & cakes you can order, priced at P200 to P800 - you absolutely have to try the desserts here.
How to get to Kermit's:
Take the highway from Santa Fe all the way up into Bantayan Town (20 minutes ride) and you’ll come to the huge outdoor “Plaza” (park) and you’ll take a right turn at the Plaza, then a quick left (all traffic coming into the Plaza goes counter clockwise) then your 1st. right turn onto Rodriguez St. and Kermit’s is a few seconds ahead on your left.
Contact Kermit's: 032-460-9472
My Favorite restaurant in Madridejos (at the top of the Island)
FIVE Wins Restaurant: 463 Conception Street - landline tel: +63-32-439-8501 & 8502
Located behind the Plaza at 463 Conception Street in the town of Madridejos, is a little restaurant called Five Wins - it’s a small local place with plastic tables & chairs, and the food is great - and very inexpensive.
The menu is extensive (Filipino & some Japanese favorites; beef/pork/chicken) with my personal favorites being the sweet & sour pork - you can get it as an appetizer for P40, or if you ask, they’ll double the serving and make it a dinner, for only P60 - it’s absolutely delicious and totally filling.
That P60 dish at the hotels & restaurants in Santa Fe is about P150+, and all the 5 Wins dishes are priced much lower like that; the food is fresh & cooked to order, with very attentive service.
Better food than any of the local Canterias, and just about as cheap.
How to get to FIVE Wins:
Take the highway from Santa Fe all the way up into Madridejos at the top of the Island; aprox. a 40-45 minute motorcycle ride.
…stay straight on the main road all the way into Madridejos and you’ll eventually come to their huge outdoor “Plaza” (park) which will be on your right hand side.
…take your first right past the Plaza, then your next right, and Five Wins is located all the way down the street, on the left.
The Beautiful Beaches
The Beaches in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island are the gorgeous white sand beaches with crystal clear turquoise water that I was never able to find while living on Cebu’s mainland.
All of the hotels & resorts in Santa Fe either have a beach or are very close to one, and they’re not crowded at all (save for Holy Week in April & Sinulog in January) so you can enjoy the sun & fun without bumping into lots of other people.
The best beaches are located in Santa Fe in the south near all the hotels and resorts, and are fantastic for swimming, cooling off and sunrise/sunset strolls; waves are light to moderate and manageable due to being in the Tanon Straight which separates Bantayan Island and Cebu, and the surf on the south side near the Pier can come up a bit in windy weather - but the beaches on the south west side of Santa Fe are wave free all year long, and most often times the water is smooth as glass.
I’ve always said there are only 3 real ways to cool off on Bantayan:
* turn on the aircon (if you have it)
* get on your motor (if you have one) go for a ride & enjoy the breeze
* or just get into the water - if your hotel doesn’t have a pool, get to the beach!
5:30pm is a perfect time to stroll the beaches at low tide, and wait for the beautiful sunset (this image shot from Yooneek Resort)
Bantayan Island's beaches are also perfect for couples who enjoy the sunrise & sunset romantic strolls along the white sand, enjoying their time together without bumping into lots of other people.
No matter how hard I’m working on my photography here (shooting, editing, writing, etc.) I always break around 12 noon and head down to Sugar Beach; the cool water and the warm sun have always relaxed me, and I use that time to think clearly and focus on planning the rest of my day & week, etc.
The beaches and warm sunshine here have always relaxed and invigorated me, and hold a special place in my life.
My Personal Favorite Image of Bantayan I Shot on Feb.12, 2005 - It’s Also Been Published Several Times.
Local Islanders - Bantayan Island's Treasure
Santa Fe is full of small Filipino Canterias/small street side eateries featuring basic local food (fish & pork soups, ground pork dishes, afritada, noodles, all with rice) at cheap prices for those on a tight budget or just to taste something different and local.
These meals are usually around P20+ and the cheapest dishes I've had there are the 'egg omelet' at YAG‘S (small piece - egg with veggies) at P10, and a delicious bowl of spicy noodle soup at P5 at an un-named place run by a gracious old woman, due west across the intersection from Khel‘s BBQ
At these prices, 'ambiance' is bamboo or coco lumber with plastic tables & chairs on a dirt floor - and the food is home-cooked good, with dishes that change daily.
* pictured below at YAG‘S in Santa Fe: fresh ground pork w/vegetables, rice & soft drink: P40
in Santa Fe:
The only place to get BBQ chicken (other than a very small number of roadside bbq’s) pork & other BBQ unmentionables is also the best place: KEL'S BBQ, in the center of Santa Fe, at the main intersection in town.
*ask for the tender breast chicken on a stick at P25, as the other native chicken is very tough and chews like bubble gum.
*hanging rice is P3 (sticky rice wrapped in woven palm leaves)
Say hello to Amy at Khel's BBQ - she's one of the hardest working people in Santa Fe.
Other then Santa Fe, you have to go into Bantayan Town at the Pier (about 20 minutes ride time on a motorbike) past the Main Plaza, to the BBQ stalls to get good BBQ - there were 12 stalls there which have since been taken down in May 2007, and they might be replaced in 2008 with newer, more modern ones, so for the time being the current BBQ stalls in Bantayan Town have been moved to a lot on the south side of the Pier. (BBQ is also available on various small street side stands all over the small Barangays on the Island; featuring the native chicken)
Local Fruit, Pork & Fish Market: Santa Fe
Right in the center of Santa Fe is the local Public Mercado, where you can get fresh Pork & Fish when you'd like to cook - as well as a good assortment of fresh seasonal fruits & veggies, (fresh mango, Fuji Apples, banana, watermelon, small oranges, delicious star apples, sweet pineapple, jackfruit and more) spices and condiments like fresh ginger, spicy vinegar and chilies are also available at the Market.
There’s also a few canteria local food restaurants there in the market that serve tasty & cheap meals: see “Canterias” above.
In a word, it's HOT here year 'round, with high humidity.
get better weather here then just about anyplace else in Philippines,
as the sea breezes seem keep the clouds over Cebu & Negros, and
away from Bantayan Island - plus the air is still clean here, without
the big city smog and pollution.
It's hot & very humid here, with beautiful blue skies and turquoise water at the beautiful white beaches - but every once in a while, maybe twice a month there are days where the humidity just disappears, and those are the best days ever, because you feel stronger with more energy, etc.
Nights are mild to warm and only occasionally cool in the winter months (70's) with high humidity and a nice breeze - by 7am it's 80 degrees & climbing, with temps during the day between mid 80's & low 90's, with heat indexes that can sometimes go higher, so dress appropriately: t-shirts & shorts are the norm here, and don't forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and hats.
Every Jan. & Feb. I've encountered occasional rain here, and a few nights got down to 65 degrees or so - but once that's over & done with, the sunny weather does return.
The rainy season officially begins around late May/early June through the summer months, and usually lasts into Sept./Oct.
best sunrises & sunsets I've ever photographed here are during
December through April, but the colors of the Island are indeed dynamic
all year long.
sunrise/sunset: The Colors of Bantayan Island
Island is officially below the Manila Typhoon Belt, so we really don't
get hit directly when Typhoons blow through - but we do feel the brunt
of most Typhoons that are passing the Manila/Luzon area to the north -
so it pours rain & wind, and we seem to make it through without
too many serious issues.
One area that's directly affected by Typhoons & high seas is the Ferry Boat system here:
During a Typhoon, all boats stop coming to Bantayan from Hagnaya, and all boats stop going from Santa Fe to Hagnaya.
all boats are stopped coming & going to Negros from Bantayan
Town and this period usually lasts a few days where nothing can get on
or off the Island, and after a few days the boats all resume - it's
"Island Life", so plan for it.
However in an emergency, I know experienced locals with small Banka boats that can get me off the Island (at my own risk) if I absolutely need to go.
We have a new Power Plant that came online in 2006 on the Island, so brown outs don't occur too frequently, where we used to get a lot of them before Banelco's new plant came online.
Holy Week: Is celebrated the first weekend in April (3rd. week in March 2008) and there are many Festivals and Processions that take place on the Island, but Holy Week also means huge crowds of tourists flock here, and hotel prices skyrocket.
I have mixed feelings about Holy Week - I know it’s good for the local vendors & businesses here to make their money, but Bantayan is a small island that’s actually not set up for the many thousands of mostly Filipino tourists that come here that week, as hotels quickly sell out, the small local streets are quickly overcrowded, and people just start sleeping on the beaches and in tents, etc.
Hotel prices double & triple, as do motorbike rentals (IF you can find one) store shelves are picked clean, and there can be shortages of everything from gasoline and bottled water, to phone cards & toilet tissue, etc.
Some smaller restaurants might begin to run out of food, the beaches are over crowded, and traffic’s a nightmare - in fact highway traffic from Santa Fe up to Bantayan Town during the actual Holy Week weekend can be down right dangerous to try and navigate, with a maddening mix of motorbikes, tricycles, cars, vans, SUV’s, Jeepneys, with people & Families trying to walk through it all.
Once Holy Week passes, Bantayan Island is returned to a quiet and peaceful place, so I always recommend that travelers come & enjoy the Island either before or after April, if they like their peace & quiet.* BEST OPTIONS for HOLY WEEK TRAVEL: Try getting an early V-Hire from the Ayala Mall, or better still - grab a TAXI from Cebu City for P1,500 to P2,000 and multiple passengers can split the fare (please remember as it gets closer to Thursday March 20, 2008 the Hagnaya Pier will also become very crowded, so if you're traveling, remember to travel as early in the morning as possible!)
* HOLY WEEK UPDATE/Busses: Week of March 16 through 23, 2008 - The North Bus Terminal is extremely crowded this week, and many people are experiencing difficulty in finding busses with room onboard, as everyone is traveling this week - try to be at the Terminal by 4am/5am for the best chance at getting a seat on the busses (Holy Week pricing on the busses was increased to P150 per person, so expect the same come 2009)* HOLY WEEK UPDATE/Ferry Boats: Week of March 16 through 23, 2008 - Ferry Boats leaving Hagnaya for Santa Fe are running throughout the day (expect HUGE crowds & long wait times) and late into the night - Boats were arriving here on Bantayan Island as late as 1am March 20, 2008
Locally known as a "motor", 110cc/125cc Motorbikes are available most everywhere for rent at P250 per day - there's no need to pay more than that, and you can usually negotiate a discount for extended rentals, just like for extended stays at hotels (hourly rentals are available at a couple of places for P50/P70 per hour if this is what you require)
The motorbike I have personally ridden here since 2005 & highly recommend is the Honda XRM 110cc/125cc off-road/trail bike (pictured below) as some of the roads on the Island are not paved (i.e. dirt & pressed beach sand, with volcanic rock) and the XRM with hybrid tires & off-road suspension handles these roads & bumps much better then other "scooter style" bikes (i.e. 125cc Honda WAVE, etc.) as even the paved roads are in need of repair in places.
Semi-automatic, no clutch - electric start + kick start, easy to learn to ride, but you do need to practice a bit on the off roads if you've never ridden one before, so do not race off into town if it’s your first ride on one of these.
Many foreigners who live here or who are here for extended stays just buy one outright at the local Honda dealership in Bantayan Town, and store it at a friends place until they return - current cash price for the XRM is about P54,000.
* available in Red, Blue, Yellow, Black - and new for 2008: 125cc engine size.
4 speeds, all down, no clutch - 2 liter fuel tank - gear & fuel gages are very easy to read.
Quick, agile (especially in-town & in tight spaces) and relatively light.
* If you can ride a bicycle, you should be able to learn to ride a motorbike.
*update Spring 2008: I occasionally ride the full size Honda XR off road motorcycle, and you do not want to rent this unless you personally ride a full size motorcycle all the time - this is a big bike for experienced riders, and it has a BIG ground clearance - your center of gravity is much higher then on a scooter or cruiser, and this bike is also much heavier, so you can really get hurt when you dump it, but it chews through rough roads & skips over rocks & potholes like nothing else.
200cc (Honda also makes a 400cc & 600cc version) electric start only - 5 speeds with manual clutch: 1-down, 4-up - fast acceleration and good speed with a 9 liter fuel tank (inc. a 2 liter reserve) - no gear or fuel level indicators, but I'm using about 2 liters of fuel for every 150 kilometers traveled, so it's very good gas mileage - but watch your odometer and watch your speed!
The big XR pictured below was fitted with a custom Moto FIX pipe that’s very LOUD; I call it a ‘safety pipe’, as people and other riders ahead of this bike can hear it coming, and that’s a very good thing from a safety point of view.
The sound says ‘there’s something BIG approaching you from the rear, so please, no U-Turns, no blowing through your intersection, no running out into the road’ - it’s my early warning system.
Motorcycle Issues: There are no stop signs or stop lights on the Island - so you need to use caution when riding, especially in Santa Fe, in Bantayan Town, and in Madridejos (in town) as the concrete paved roads are SMALL, with children & people walking along the roadsides, as there are no sidewalks either...so take it slow, especially through the intersections.
Many vehicles here drive at night without using headlights - be prepared for it.
* Communities on Bantayan Island along the highway from Santa Fe to Madridejos often have outdoor ‘disco’s’ at night, and the poorly lit roadsides are full of kids & teens walking to & from them, as well as males who are either passed out, lying down &/or sitting from too much drinking, so you need to watch your speed on the highway at night, and don’t drive too close to the right shoulder!
your motor rental's headlights aren't bright enough for you, have the
owner swap it out for a model with a brighter lamp, or just stay off
the highway at night.
One of the first things I did to the Honda XRM I used from Nov.2006 - March 2007 was to get rid of its stock hybrid tires & replace them with new, bonafide off-road tires with the big tread.
The other thing I did to improve driving was to have a small 55 watt off-road driving lamp installed over the stock headlight, and it was wired to come on when I hit the hi-beam switch, and this lamp literally lit up the road like nothing else, and was the perfect safety addition to the XRM so I could enjoy my night driving again, as many of the streets here are not lit, or are poorly lit at night.
Children and small animals will sometimes dart out in front of your bike without warning, and local riders on bicycles, motor scooters & tricycles will often make U-Turns in the middle of the streets without warning, or simply ride through an intersection without slowing down, or fail to yield to you, etc.
* this is the 'normal' accepted style of driving here in Philippines (the US State Dept. calls it 'un-disciplined' driving) so you need to get used to it & drive defensively at all times.
In Philippines driving is on the right side of the road and "Overtaking" is practiced here - meaning vehicles behind you will always attempt to pass you on your left side, sometimes with a toot of the horn, but most times without - so traffic does not flow in an orderly fashion (just get used to it), and I've even been passed on my RIGHT side without warning, and have had a few close calls.
Riding on & off road is enjoyable for me here; I ride every day & I absolutely love it - but accidents do happen here, so use caution.
* always drive defensively
* use common sense & keep your speed down
* Don't Drink & Drive!
* wear SUNGLASSES during the day, or goggles at all times when riding, as vehicles in front of you will kick up small rocks or road debris, and those beautiful Palm trees lining the roadsides will drop seeds onto your head & face as you ride by, so you don’t want these things smacking you in the eyeball at 60KLM speeds on the highway!
* wear a helmet
If you find yourself at a bar or restaurant in no shape to drive home from too much Tanduay or San Miguel beer, just leave your motorbike there & take a tricycle home - it's a common practice here.
in Rural areas/off road:
KEEP YOUR SPEED DOWN and enjoy the ride, but watch for small livestock (goats, cows) as they might dart out in front of your bike, and the babies do move very fast (the bigger animals will pretty much stay out of your way)...also watch for Children, as they can move faster then anything.
These roads are dirt & sand, with bits (sometimes BIG bits) of rock, so respect the road and the people who live in the tiny Nipa huts in these barrios, as they also work the fields & roadsides you're riding through.
*Use your REAR foot brake (gently) when on dirt roads!
Often times, trying to brake with your FRONT right-hand brake on dirt will cause the bike to fishtail &/or SURF - you do NOT want to SURF the sand while on your motorbike!
You'll really wish you hadn't used your front brake on dirt/sand when your surfing instantly turns into a nasty skid, and your bike dumps you in a heartbeat, onto the sharp rock - dump it on it’s right side & you may end up with a very nasty burn requiring medical attention, when your leg hit’s the hot pipe/muffler.
If you think you may have to dump the bike, think LEFT if at all possible to avoid that burn.
Simply driving your motor up to one of the nice beach resorts here that are surrounded by sand is asking for trouble - don’t ever drive on the sand; park it elsewhere and walk in.
on Bantayan Island:
Besides English, the dialect spoken here in Cebu is Visayan, otherwise known as Cebuano.
The Tagalog dialect from Manila may, or may not always be understood here.
The Philippines is GMT +8
* example: If USA non-Daylight Savings Eastern Standard Time is 8am, it's 8PM in the Philippines; 12 hours ahead.
in Philippines is 220 volts
Some hotels in Cebu & Manila have dedicated 110 volt US outlets, but make sure whatever you plug into the sockets here is 'dual-voltage' 110/220 volts.
(most USA camera, camcorder, & laptop power supplies are 110/220 dual voltage) so check the power brick first before you use it.
laptop & iPod's power supplies are dual voltage, but chances
are your portable, powered speakers are not.
I have most of my entire digital workstation here with me (SLR digital camera, laptop, 3 external hard drives, external monitor, all dual voltage - but my Bose MediaMates powered speakers are USA 110 only, so I had to buy a small voltage converter for them at the local hardware store in Bantayan, P300)
Plug a 110 volt item (including a US 110 volt 'surge protector') into a 220 volt electrical socket and you'll burn it/fry it/melt it - if you need to use a surge protector or power strip with multiple inputs, be sure to buy the 220 volt version at the Malls in Manila/Cebu before you come, or pick up a small one at 688 Store, or the hardware store in Bantayan Town.
Satellite TV services all of Bantayan Island, mostly on the DREAM Satellite Network, and channels include CNN, BBC World, MTV Philippines, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, HBO, Cinemax, AXN (movies & USA programming) Star Movies and much more - it also includes the Filipino Channels PBO (Philippine Box Office/action movies in Tagalog) ABS/CBN, GMA for Philippine programming, news & soap operas/novellas.
* costs: aprox. P10,000 gets you everything you need if you want it installed at your place, even a rental - and you own all the equipment, so if you rent a different place next time you come, you have your SAT TV.
* includes the SAT Dish, set top box, and a 6 month programming card which plugs into your box - after 6 months of service you just buy another card at about P860 per month, to continue service.
Some of the larger hotels in Santa Fe have SAT TV in-room, or in their bar/restaurant, and Hard Kock Cafe in Santa Fe has a Mitsubishi big screen TV in the restaurant - everyone goes there to watch the big sporting events like soccer/football, boxing, etc.
Cable TV is available in Bantayan Town, but not yet in Santa Fe.
available at Riza's Internet Cafe in Santa Fe for P30 an hour - there
are 6 computers available, plus 2 separate tables for those who want to
work on their laptops, like me.
Located in Santa Fe on the main highway that goes towards the Pier: hours are 8am - 8pm Monday through Saturday, and 1pm -6pm on Sunday - broadband speeds are similar to slow 384KBPS DSL/cable internet in the USA
* internet here is adequate for surfing & emailing, but don't expect to be downloading music or video; the bandwidth just isn't there to support that as yet (the service provider is GlobeLines)
Mar-quel Internet Cafe has 10 terminals (P20 per hour/P25 w/webcam) and is now open in Santa Fe accross the street, east from Khel's BBQ - it's popular with local kids gaming & can get a bit noisy.
In Bantayan Town, CLICK internet is located just past the west corner of the Plaza, beside Municipal Hall, and is located inside a huge blue cargo container - the service provider is SMART Communications (the same mobile phone provider) and the same slow speed 384KBPS broadband.
have many more terminals available, but you can not bring your laptop.
In Santa Fe where I stay (Pooc, by the sea) there are also no land-line phone lines that carry an internet signal - Ogtong Cave's resort just got a phone line installed March 2007 that might supply them internet in the future, and none of the private homes in my area have land line phones either - so internet at residences here in my area will hopefully be available sometime in the near future.
Internet on Philippines 3G mobile phones:
3G/3rd. Generation mobile phones are 'hi-speed' data capable so you can surf the web on the SMART & Globe Mobile Phone Networks here.
Prices on the SMART network are P10 per 30 minutes, and better then that - you can also use a data cable from your 3G phone into your laptop to surf the web, so you can connect your laptop to your phone where ever you have a cell phone signal.
Bantayan Town has a small Hospital, as does Madridejos at the top of the Island, and there are smaller clinics in Santa Fe, Bantayan Town & Madridejos to treat simple issues, but if you are seriously injured or need urgent care, you may have to get a Ferry off the Island and go to Cebu City (Chung Wa Hospital, etc.) Bantayan Hospital also has a Dental Clinic.
I know of situations involving motor crashes, kidney stones, etc. where people arranged for an ambulance to transport them to Santa Fe Pier so they could board a Ferry Boat to Hagnaya, and be fetched by a waiting ambulance at Hagnaya Pier, taking them to a Cebu City Hospital for urgent treatment.
Payment is in cash when services are rendered, and in some Cebu City Hospitals, before services are rendered.
* Most US Health Insurance plans are not accepted here in Philippines - it's wise to purchase some travel insurance before beginning your trip (do a search online; there are many companies specializing in this, at reasonable prices)
Dentists are also located in Santa Fe,
Bantayan Town & Madridejos, and there’s an Eye
Doctor in Bantayan Town located
off the Plaza’s south corner, for eye exams & glasses if you
need them there. (get your contact lens solution there if you run out)
* Dr. Jupiter Batayola is a General Practitioner of Medicine in Bantayan Town, and treats many foreigners on Bantayan who need to see a doctor - he’s an easy going guy with a very good reputation, and is located beside JCB Pharmacy on the Plaza’s south side - just ask at the Pharmacies, or in Bantayan Town Plaza and he’ll be easy to find, and I can personally recommend him.
The best & biggest are in Bantayan Town in the Plaza area and at the vendors plaza by Bantayan Pier, and many prescription meds in the USA are available over the counter here (you’ll need a prescription for painkillers & the like)
Rivmar Pharmacy is a good small Pharmacy in Santa Fe, and is a 60 second walk from Khel’s BBQ in town, just ask around and locals will point you there.
I personally keep a supply of CIPRO (Ciproflaxin) the latest 5th Generation Antibiotic with me for emergency use only, as do many travelers - but since I'm not an MD you'll have to ask your own doctor for medical advise regarding your international travels.
* CIPRO is not usually available in Santa Fe - you’ll have to go to Bantayan Town’s Pharmacies to get it.
* Please remember that you are subject to the local laws of the host country you are in.
Your local laws in your own country do not apply here in Philippines, so in case you find yourself in trouble with the PNP/Philippine National Police, etc - always have the contact numbers of your State Department/Embassy on your person at all times, and also leave those numbers with your Family & friends in your own country, and also with your hotels in Cebu & Bantayan.
Your Embassy or Consulate can not & will not "get you out of jail", but they can assist you in recommending English speaking council, alerting your Family, and begin a process of assisting you to resolve your issues.
Before coming to the Philippines, you should register your visit with your Embassy and provide them with all your hotel numbers and the number of your mobile phone - US residents can easily do this online at the US State Department website, before they leave the USA, or anytime after arriving in the Philippines:
* Before you leave your country, make a
hi-resolution scan on your computer of your Passport & drivers
license - make sure it's a 300dpi hi-res scan, and print several copies
on 5x7 photo paper; keep 2 copies with you, and leave a copy
with your Family in your home country in case of emergency.
I've even used my 5x7 copy as ID when at money changers in Cebu & here on Bantayan, while my Passport was at Immigration in Mandaue, Cebu for a VISA extension.
US State Department, Manila: 2-528-6300 (as dialed from within Philippines)
on Bantayan Island:
There are Police Departments here in Santa Fe, Bantayan Town & Madridejos, with uniformed PNP/Philippine National Police Officers present 24 hours a day, and most times they might be dressed down in a t-shirt & camo pants - but make no mistake, they are fully-empowered PNP Police Officers who can arrest and jail you if you commit a crime here.
The jail cells in Santa Fe look like bad Turkish prison cells from 100 years ago, so behave yourself - thankfully the Santa Fe Jail is almost always empty, as it's very safe here.
are also jails just as nice in Bantayan Town & Madridejos.
Santa Fe Police landline: 032-438-9096 (as dialed from any Philippine phone)
Santa Fe Police mobile: 0919-827-7637 (as dialed from your Philippine mobile phone)
The Philippines may have some serious crime issues throughout the big Provinces, most notably in the southern Mindanao Province and especially in all the bigger cities, but that's what makes Bantayan Island so very special as it's very & quiet safe here - nothing really happens here, so Bantayan has almost none of the major crime issues of the bigger cities on the mainland.
The Chief Of Police in Santa Fe is Chief Inspector Felix Lapera, and he's a great guy who's come here from Lapu Lapu City Cebu, and he has some very polite & helpful Officers working for him.
Island Life is slower then on the mainland, and if something happens here it's usually a foreigner who's had too much to drink at a bar.
My personal feeling has always been that one really has to make a serious effort to get ones self into trouble here - so just enjoy the Island, use your common sense and be respectful to those around you and you shouldn’t have any issues - Bantayan Island is a very beautiful, quiet & safe place.
A Passport valid for at least 6 months prior to its expiration date is required for entry into the Philippines, as is proof of an outbound airline ticket - for US residents, your Passport is stamped upon arrival here in Philippines with a 21 day Tourist Visa/Immigration stamp, and if you plan to stay longer you'll have to apply (pay for) for a Visa Extension at Immigration in Mandaue, Cebu or in Manila.
Be sure to dress appropriately in long pants & shoes - shorts & slippers/sandals are not allowed inside any Immigration Office - if you're wearing shorts/slippers you'll simply be refused entry.
Old Visa Extension Pricing, prior to March 2008:
Visas are extended first, for 38 days at aprox. P1,500 and after that, you can apply (pay for) a 59 day Visa Extension if you'd like to stay longer, at aprox. P2,200 - same day 'rush service' is available for an extra P500 (which is NOT mandatory as other publications might have you believe) otherwise they keep your Passport for a few weeks and issue you a payment receipt with a date for you to come & fetch it.
If you are quietly told by an
Immigration Officer that the P500 ‘rush service fee’ IS mandatory, look
them straight in the eyes, smile and say “excuse me, but no it’s not,
and I do not want it” - call his bluff and he’ll drop the subject
immediately, but do be polite about it.
Make sure you make a few hi-resolution 5x7 scans of your Passport and keep a copy on your person, and leave copies with your Family in your own country, as this will ID you until your Passport & Visa Extensions are ready.
New Visa Extension price increases starting March 2008:
Your 38 day Visa Extension is now P2,500
Your First 2 month/59 day Visa Extension is now P4,300
Your Second 2 month/59 day Visa Extension after that is now P2,330
Visa Extension INSIDE TIPS:
If you’re here anywhere in Philippines for an extended period of time that requires one or more VISA Extensions, you can save yourself a great deal of time and money (especially if you’re on Bantayan Island) by letting a broker take care of the legwork - specifically, certain Philippine Travel Agents do provide this service.
Typically for a fee of P500 or so above the actual cost of your Extension, the Travel Agent will secure your Passport at their facility in Cebu City (you’ve already made a hi-resolution copy to keep with you, right?) and will physically go stand in line at the Immigration Office in Mandaue, process the paperwork, and secure your Passport, the receipt and the Visa Extension, until it’s time for you to go collect it before your trip back to your country.
Otherwise, you’d have to take time away from your Bantayan Island Paradise to get a 5:30am Ferry from Bantayan to Hagnaya, a 7am bus all the way to Cebu City, find a HOTEL in Cebu City for the night in case Immigration in Mandaue is too crowded (they close at 3pm) for you to try and rush back to the North Bus Terminal by 2pm, for your return bus back to Hagnaya and the last Ferry of the day - get the picture?
Of course, if you know you'll only need one VISA Extension while in the Philippines, you can always get it done ahead of time at Immigration in Mandaue, before heading up to Bantayan Island.
Nautica Tours & Travel Services: RainTree Mall & Gen. Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City's Fuente Osmena area has been providing this service to travelers for some time now - their contact information is below in the Travel Agents section.
Money Changing: It's Better to Cash Up in Cebu City before arriving on Bantayan Island
Officially there are no money changers here on the Island, but in a pinch you can try Laysan Commercial Inc. and Allied Bank in Bantayan Town, but you will not get the good "city money changer" rates from the mainland.
* Be sure to bring smaller bills here with you (P20's P50's & P100's) as no one's going to make change for you on the Island when you try to pay for a chicken BBQ lunch with a P1,000 note.
* Khel’s BBQ has often made change for me when paying with a P500 or P1,000 note though, but they know me there.
do know of a little local sari-sari store in Pooc, 2 minutes from the
middle of town in Santa Fe where I can get change for ridiculous small
purchases (eg. buy a pack of Marlboros for P30 & pay
P500 or P1,000 note & get change every time), but know this is
absolutely not typical of Bantayan Island, or anywhere else in
Philippines for that matter.
Most people in the know who need to change money just take a Ferry Boat off the Island and go into Bogo, Cebu ( a short trip from Hagnaya) where there are excellent Money Changers offering the best rates for all major currencies.
Marlin's Beach resort in Santa Fe has been known to change currency occasionally, but at less than the going rate of money changers on the mainland.
In Santa Fe You’ll see Jumic Shop: a small gift shop next to Hard Kock Kafe, with a large sign that says “Money Changer” - they do sell nice gifts but they DO NOT change money; they'll send you to Marlin's Resort.
Allied Bank in Bantayan Town (on the western corner of the Plaza) does change American Express Travelers Checks for a small fee, and you'll be there an hour trying to do it, as they must verify each serial number on every check with a call to AmEx , and you’ll also need to have the number of the issuing bank handy, as well as your Passport to ID you.
Travelers Checks & hard currency are better cashed in Cebu City before you leave for Bantayan Island, at my favorite money changer ALCO Credit & Foreign Exchange: great service/great rates and they're located inside room 108 at RainTree Mall, corner of Osmena & 528 General Maxilom Ave. in the Fuente Osmena area (look for the big Jollibee restaurant on the corner near Robinson's Mall)
Crisp, new bills (i.e. USD $100 & $50 notes) will get you the best rates & fastest service - older, worn bills or older bills without the current security features will often times be flat out refused at some money changers and $20USD/$10USD/$5USD notes may get you a lower rate still.
Just be sure to cash up before coming to the Island, or for extended stays open a US Dollar account at a bank in Cebu City and use your ATM card for cash withdrawals from your local or overseas banks.
Equitable PCI Bank in Cebu City (near SM Mall) will let you take a cash advance on your VISA/MasterCard, but be prepared for long lines, paperwork and a long wait. (bring your Passport & US Drivers License, etc.)…plan on being there at least an hour or more, as all the foreigners in Cebu City know about this bank.
It's a quick taxi ride to the North Bus Terminal from there, and onto Hagnaya & Bantayan Island.
There's a new Western Union right in the middle of Santa Fe, across from Khel's BBQ in town, open 8am -6pm, and they can pay out in either US Dollars or Philippine Pesos.
Getting or sending money from Santa Fe is very easy now, and there are Western Unions in Bantayan Town & Madridejos as well.
Expect them to request & and keep a Xerox copy of your Passport for their files - give them a low-res black & white copy, and they'll also take your thumb-prints - DO NOT give them your hi-res color copy of your Passport!
LBC is a local/international package shipper and sends/receives money (Philippine Pesos) for you within the Philippines at very inexpensive rates (i.e. friends in Cebu or Manila, etc. can go to an LBC office there and send you Pesos, and vice/versa)
LBC is centrally located in Bantayan Town, off the Plaza’s eastern corner - next to the local HONDA sales & repair center, near St. Peter & Paul's Church.
A new ATM machine is available outside the Allied Bank in Bantayan Town, for VISA/MasterCard (CIRRUS Network & others)
Fairbank is also located in Talisay, Santa Fe - but has no ATM.
In Bantayan Town, Peipings Restaurant rents a large Mercedes Benz passenger van: P1,500 for 10 hours (rental office open 8am to 5pm)
During Holy Week a few hotels can organize van rentals for larger groups.
Bantayan’s Santa Fe Municipal
We do have a small airport in Santa Fe with an 18 meter wide by 900 meter long runway, servicing smaller private aircraft only (ie. no commercial flights at present)
SeaAIR Airlines does not currently fly to Bantayan Island: unfortunately some old information is still circulating about their "past flights" into Bantayan Island (SeaAir used to fly here a few years back, but the flights then stopped) so the airport was still trying to negotiate with SeaAIR in February 2007 about scheduling regular runs here from Cebu, and vise/versa - we were hoping flights would begin this past March/April 2007, but they never did - so when that situation changes, you can be sure to read about it here.
Private Air Charter:
I’ve met with Mr. Joselito Seville, the new Officer In Charge of Bantayan’s Santa Fe Municipal Airport since July 2007 (replacing Lory Orteza) and will be formulating a plan to interest small Private Air companies to be featured on my new Bantayan travel website, as it seems Private Air Charters will need to begin flying into Bantayan and establish a precedent, to help pave the way for commercial carriers small aircraft in the future.
So for now, affordable Private Air is the “only game in town”, and is the market we’ll be concentrating on for the near future.
If you are seriously interested in flying here to Bantayan, or from Bantayan to Cebu, PLEASE DO SO, as there are private air companies based at the Mactan Int’l Airport in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu that will fly you here on a beautiful PIPER Mojave (pictured) for about P13,000 as of Summer 2007.
Flight time is about 20 minutes, and the best kept secret is that you buy the plane - so 2 to 4 people flying with luggage split the cost for an even better deal!
Again, that fare is not per person, it’s per plane and it’s a super deal.
Please call or text Mr. Seville and he will completely arrange your Private Air needs to get you to Bantayan Island quickly:
0919-530 -1501 from within Philippines.
+63-919-530 -1501 from other countries.
Current Airport Fees in Cebu & Manila:
The airport “users charge” taxes in Philippines have changed:
Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport: The departure fee for leaving the Philippines on an international flight is now P750 (up from P550) payable in US Dollars or Pesos.
Manila Domestic Airport: The departure fee for domestic inter-Island travel is now P300 (up from P100)
Cebu’s Mactan Airport: The departure fee for domestic inter-Island travel is now P300 (up from P100)
* Mobile phone: VERY IMPORTANT! (Philippine GSM cell phone with local SIM/number)
Even if it’s your first trip to the Philippines and you don’t think you’ll actually need one, get one and call it an insurance policy - program it with your hotel manager’s number, your Family numbers, local Police & Embassy numbers, and just keep it with you in case you run into an emergency here. Remember to keep a good pre-paid LOAD on it.
The first time you find yourself suddenly ill and in need of immediate medical attention, you’ll be glad you had your cell phone with a full charge, and a decent load on it.
light clothing for hot weather (dress code here is very casual;
t-shirts & shorts)
* sunscreen (buy it before you get here, it‘s expensive in Philippines when you can find it in the cities; aprox. $10 for a 4 ounce bottle of Coppertone) and insect repellant - some people seem to need it and some don't.
* GOOD name brand sunglasses (I personally wear Serengeti STRATUS) - the sun's very strong here, so don't wear cheap sunglasses that only open your eyes more to the burning sun, and don’t ride your motor without glasses of some sort.
* hats, caps (buy them here in the markets for cheap)
* bottled water - there’s plenty of it here, so no worries.
* pace yourself during the day - you can get into heat exhaustion in this weather before you know you're in trouble, so take it easy on the really hot days & drink plenty of fluids; maybe take an afternoon nap.
* getting drunk or drinking lots of beer will dehydrate you faster in this weather, so pace yourself. (beer & alcohol are cheap & plentiful here in Philippines)
* comfortable footwear - off road the footing can be treacherous, and you can twist an ankle easily, so make sure you're not wearing cheap footwear.
...on the other hand, all I wear are local sandals for P30 a pair, or my Islander slippers (sturdier) for P200 a pair, so if you live in your sandals this is the place to be.
* bring your personal DVD players & iPods, Mp3 players: Please visit World Video & DVD rental store on Coyoca St. in Santa Fe, 1 block north from the center of town - fees are P20 for a 3 day DVD rental.
* Personal Security Tip - Flashlights: bring the BEST ones, with plenty of spare batteries as batteries bought here in Philippines are expensive garbage - leave your wimpy lights and non-dependable, low power AA & D-Cell Alkaline batteries at home, and purchase the best made lights for harsh Tropical environments that use the more dependable & powerful Lithium 123 batteries, before you get here.
SureFire Model 9P (105 lumens brightness) $79USD - SureFire Model G2 LED/nylon polymer body (80 lumens/12hrs. run time) $60USD - SureFire Model E1L Outdoorsman: 30 lumen LED - 10hrs. total run time. $98USD
I personally use & recommend SureFire Brand high power flashlights powered by 3-volt lithium CR123 type batteries - even better are their new LED hi-power lights with much longer run times - their lights are small & compact, and throw more blinding light than the old D-Cell MagLites that are half the size of a baseball bat.
New SureFire LED Lights 2008: My current favorite SureFires above are the new polymer bodied G2LED (middle in the image above) which throws 80 lumens of beautiful pure WHITE light for about 12hrs total light/9hrs tactical level light, but that small E1L you see above in my hand throws more bright light for aprox. 5 hours from its "little" 30 lumen LED than I ever thought possible on one battery - it's my current favorite and you really have to handle & use one to fully appreciate its capabilities when traveling.
You’ll appreciate having a dependable, aircraft aluminum, weather sealed 65 to 100+ lumen high power flashlight the first time you’re out at dusk on the back roads and get a flat tire on your motorbike, or run out of gas, or if a brownout/power outage occurs when a TYPHOON passes just south of Manila/Luzon Province, or just out sightseeing around 6pm out on the back roads of the little villages here, and just lighting your way back to your room or cottage, etc.
We’ve had 3 Typhoons blow through Philippines & Bantayan Island from November 2006 through January 2007; a few brownouts during Winter 2008, and the only light available around me through those power outages came from my SureFires.
Remember - towns, properties and streets here are either under lit, poorly lit, or not lit at all - so I use my SureFires daily here on Bantayan Island.
My small SureFires even lit up downed power lines on the roads, and fallen trees on the back roads & in town, when my Landlord & I were out reporting the damage to the Mayor and to the power company after the Typhoons hit. (try getting that accomplished with small low power AA battery flashlights in Typhoon winds & blinding rain; it won't happen)
I’ve personally used these tools for years working in Celebrity/VIP Protection & Special Events, and SureFire lights are used by Police SWAT and Hostage Rescue teams the world over & they also supply many Elite Military Units (Marines, Army Rangers, Navy SEAL teams, GSG9, etc) with the best built, mission-critical lights money can buy, period.
Dependable, rugged, weather-sealed, and especially well engineered for harsh Tropical environments - priced at $36.00 to $179.00+ and worth every penny; I take 4 SureFire lights to the Philippines & whenever I travel; using 2 and keeping 2 as a backup.
Philippine Mobile Phones
Filipinos live on their mobile phones with pre-paid calling cards, they’re not very expensive & relatively cheap to use, and you can buy or rent one before coming to Bantayan Island (purchase your mobile phones on the mainland in Cebu as the selection on the Island is limited)
Even if it’s your first trip to the Philippines and you don’t think you’ll actually need one, get one anyway and call it an insurance policy - program it with your hotel manager’s number, local Police & Embassy numbers, and just keep it with you in case you run into an emergency here.
You can rent one from your local hotel in Manila or Cebu like I did on my first trip in 2003 - it was a few dollars a day, and at the end of my trip I just bought it from my Manila hotel (Nokia model 3315 at $60USD in 2003)
My current phone is a 3 year old Nokia 6822 with a flip open keyboard to make texting faster for me - I got it in the USA from a store selling 'open line' unlocked GSM mobile phones, so any open line (‘open line’ will work with any SIM from any service provider) unlocked GSM phone will work in Philippines, you don't have to buy your phone here - but since phones purchased in Philippines have all the correct current settings for the specific networks here, I'd recommend getting one here.
Just go into the Malls in Manila or Cebu and buy the phone of your choice, new in box (you can spend P5,000 to P30,000 and up, depending on the model & features)
phones are also available if you know where to find them, at prices
starting around P2,500/P3,000 & up - I've bought several of
these phones over the years for the poor Families I help in Manila
& Cebu, and a good sturdy Nokia recon phone will last quite a
while (Nokia models specifically 3210, 3310 & 3315)
Then, get yourself a SIM card for P150 on the SMART or Globe network (SMART is the #1 provider in Philippines, with Globe a close 2nd) - on your SIM card is your mobile number, and memory to store your phonebook entries & more.
prepaid phone card is P300 (P100 & P500 cards are also
available) and will buy you a LOT of texting, as Filipinos mostly just
text on their phones, at P1 per text - it's also free to receive all
texts on your phone, and even if your friends have no load on their
phones they can still receive your texts and your calls for free (the
person you’re calling or texting does not need to have a load on their
phone to get your calls &/or texts)
You can also direct dial all your international calls from your Philippine mobile phone.
"phone loads" or 'loads' are available everywhere, from cities to remote areas you can always manage to find a sari-sari store for an electronic "e-load" of P10, P20, P30, P60, P115 or more, so even if you don't have money for a P300 phone card you can always afford some sort of e-load.
can even share the load you have on your phone, with a friend in
Philippines who needs a load - it's called Pasa Load, and on the SMART
network you just create a text with the person's phone number ex.
0921XXXXXXX, leave a space, key in the amount you want to send them,
and send to 808
* So your text would look like this, if I was Pasa loading you P10 from my phone: 0921XXXXXXX 10 and after sending it to 808, you'd get a text confirming the load you just sent, along with your current balance, and your friends will be able to text you back now.
SMART is also offering 'unlimited' texting called "ALL Text" at P20 for 1 day, P30 for 2 days, etc. via an 'all text' e-load, available almost everywhere e-loads are sold.
International texts will cost you P22.50 per text, Philippines to USA for example.
If your GSM mobile phone is a modern tri-band or quad-band phone, it can roam on networks outside the Philippines, so you can take your new cell phone home with you when you leave Bantayan, to make & receive texts from Philippines in your country. (older dual band phones like the recon's I mentioned above are not able to roam internationally)
* Phones on Int’l roaming were never able to make or receive calls, only texts - but this has just changed as of July 25, 2007.
Phones on the SMART Network in Philippines can now make & receive phone calls on the T-Mobile Network in the USA, providing Int’l Roaming has been activated, text “ROAM ON USA” [without the quotes] to 333 at the following prices:
Dialed Calls: P120 per minute
Received Calls: P80 per minute
Dial +63 plus the 10 digit number
SMART suggests: “Please keep at least P500 balance for seamless voice service”
Your phones’ SIM card (a small memory chip) needs to be activated for international roaming (via a single text message) right before you leave the Philippines - so what I do at the airport is this:
make sure I load one or two P300 SMART prepaid cards before I go to the
airport, and right before I board the plane I send my last text, which
activates international text only roaming, and I type ROAM
(space) ON and I send it to 333 - it'll look like this:
Then just send it to 333 and you'll get a receipt text stating "thank you for using SMART'S service - pre paid roaming will be activated in a few minutes"
* You must have a MINIMUM balance of at least P100 on your phone, in order to use the SMART Int’l Roaming feature.
At this point I shut off my phone & board the plane - after I land in the USA I turn on my phone, and now the SIM knows to seek out a US carrier that SMART has roaming agreements with, so it quickly finds either a Cingular or T-Mobile mobile signal, and any texts that have been sent to my phone since I left Philippines will now be received, and I can begin replying to them at P22.50 per text (the fee has increased from P20 in July 2007) , all the more reason to have a good size load on your phone before you leave Philippines.
Conversely, if you’re flying into the Philippines from the USA or elsewhere and you have your Philippine mobile phone with you (on roaming of course) - roaming needs to be de-activated right before you get on the plane, by simply sending a text to 333 that says ROAM OFF (“roam (space) off”)
After you get your de-activation text receipt, just shut off your phone & board your plane.
After you land in Philippines, turn your phone on and it’ll pick up the local SMART network signal, and you can begin texting again for P1 per text.
Online Phone & Load Card Vendors:
* If you're in the USA and NEED a SIM card, or a phone - I use & recommend:
www.manilaforwarder.com in Los Angeles 1-800-210-1019 - ask for Christine & she'll take care of you.
* if you're in the USA and need a SMART/Globe or Sun Cellular LOAD for your phone, I use & recommend www.myayala.com
have the best prices on SMART & Globe pre-paid P300 cards at a
minimal service charge. (I've seen other online vendors selling P300
cards for as much as P500 & up) They processes your online
credit card order and then send the calling cards PIN number, right to
your email so you can load your phone from the USA or other country.
* a good variety of phones is available from www.filgifts.com in Manila: their prices are reasonable - they'll even ship cell phones & other gifts to your friends in Philippines when you order online with your credit card.
Texting Philippine Mobile Phones From Your Computer:
CHIKKA Text Messenger is a free program and a quick download from www.chikka.com that lets you send 20 FREE texts per day from your computer to SMART numbers, and 30 FREE texts per day to GLOBE numbers - to your friends mobile phones in Philippines, and supports SMART, Globe, TM/Touch Mobile Networks.
Other Providers Supported:
USA: SPRINT, AT&T, Verizon, Altel, Nextel, Boost, Cingular.
DTAC (Thailand), Japan, 1528 SMART (Hong Kong), India, Guamcell/Saipancell
UK, Spain, Excelcomindo.
Install CHIKKA and it looks like a simple
instant messaging program on your PC - you input those numbers you want
to text into a message box, and you get 320 characters that will be
sent to your friends mobile phones in Philippines, and they can reply
back to you from their phone for only P2.50 per text, with their CHIKKA
message popping up on your computer screen when they reply.
For each reply your friends send back to you, you get and additional free text credit - you can even send load to their phones through CHIKKA text, via a PayPal link from within the program.
Don’t forget to bring your camera to Bantayan Island!
Since 2004 I’ve been shooting the Olympus E1 weather sealed digital SLR and Zuiko Digital 14-54mm lens exclusively, and you can see all my images from the Philippines at:
The Olympus E1 is over-built like a tank, in a very rugged magnesium alloy body that’s weather proof with 65 rubber seals & gaskets throughout, making it a perfect photographic tool to use in harsh climates, and it’s never let me down - I can’t say enough good things about my E1, it’s taken all my Bantayan & Philippines images since Dec. 2004 (I used the Olympus E10 SLR in Philippines in 2003 through late 2004)
My E1’s been a totally reliable tool that I’ve come to absolutely depend upon, both when I’m street shooting in Metro Manila, Cebu, off in the mountains or by the sea on Bantayan Island.
In November 2007 Olympus introduced the E1's successor - the E3 digital SLR (10MP LIVE MOS sensor) with a host of new features including a LIVE View LCD screen and in-body image stabilization, amongst others...see it on the Olympus website below.
It’s got a 5MP CCD that captures beautiful images with wonderful colors that do not require a lot of post-processing in Adobe Photoshop, and the Zuiko Digital 14-54 lens (28-108 35mm equivalent) is an amazing travel lens for the E1 - it’s a great piece of glass, and it’s also weather sealed.
I’ve used Olympus Digital cameras since 1999, starting with their 1.3 mega pixel D340R, and began using the E10 digital fixed-lens SLR in 2003 on my first trip to the Philippines.
Olympus also makes some fantastic little compact point & shoot cameras that are weather sealed in brushed stainless steel bodies, and are perfect for travel shooting in hot tropical climates like Bantayan Island - they are very easy to use & create beautiful images with that famous Olympus color.
I personally recommend and buy all my photo gear from B&H Photo in New York City - their New York Showroom is a wonderland for photographers, computer geeks, graphic designers, video enthusiasts and audiophiles, and I highly recommend them.
Their customer service is beyond compare, they stock almost everything, and their website makes it easy to get what you need, as they ship all over the world.
Phil Askey's Digital Photography Review (now owned by Amazon.com) is a fantastic website out of the UK that has online forums, reviews & news of all the latest camera gear and accessories for the working Pro as well as the camera novice, and everyone else in between.
You can gain more knowledge in the DPReview camera user forums than just about any place else online, so I’d suggest browsing their Forums before you’re ready to buy your camera.
Travel Agents: USA
I use Custom Travel Concepts in Massachusetts USA, owned by Charlene Corris.
Charlene’s a personal friend of mine, and she’s very good at what she does, working hard at finding you the best deals based on your personal requirements, either flying rock-bottom coach prices, or for business & first-class travel.
She’s always come through for me, especially concerning my flights to Manila on NWA, and when using select ticket consolidators for rock bottom prices from USA to Philippines.
I use Manila Forwarder in Los Angeles California - a full service Travel Agency specializing in travel to Philippines, with an additional office in Manila.
They speak English & Tagalog/Filipino, and can ticket you on select airlines, including NWA/Northwest Airlines, Korean Air, China Airlines, JAL/Japan Airlines, and others.
Manila Forwarder is also a cargo shipper/freight forwarder to Philippines (cars, furniture, etc) as well as a re-mailing company that will ship your small & large packages & Balikbayan boxes to Philippines & vice/versa.
I deal with Plam & Christine and they’ve always taken very good care of me, especially concerning my flights to Manila on Korean Airlines, and they were even able to ship me a new Smart SIM (already on Int’l Roaming) on short notice, after my Nokia 6820 was lost in June 2005 in the USA.
Call them toll free in the USA: 1-800-210-1019 (9am-6pm Pacific Time)
* after 9pm EST, their Manila Office picks up all calls, so they’re a 24 hr. operation - and they’re also available on yahoo messenger.
Yahoo messenger ID: travel_livehelper
Travel Agents: Manila Philippines
I use Filipino Travel Center in Metro Manila, 1555 M. Adriatico Street, Ermita District, Metro Manila 1000. (032) 528-4507 to 09
Excellent personal service from Hans the owner, concerning my flights from Manila to Cebu, and within walking distance from hotels in the Ermita/Malate District and Adriatico/Mabini Street area, and a short walk from Robinson’s Mall, Manila.
* Last minute & promo fares a specialty, especially on Cebu Pacific Airlines.
Travel Agents: Cebu Philippines
I use Nautica Travel & Tours in Cebu City (Fuente Osmena area) corner of Gen. Maxilom & Osmena.
144 Raintree Mall, 528 Gen. Maxilom Avenue, Cebu City - across from Jollibee at RainTree Mall on General Maxilom Ave.
2nd. Level LRT North Mall (Monumento Station)
Rizal Ave. Extension, Caloocan City tel: 364-4791
email Nautica Travel & Tours
Excellent personal service concerning my flights from Cebu to Manila, and within walking distance from hotels in the Fuente Osmena area.
* Last minute & promo fares a specialty, especially on Cebu Pacific Airlines.
Enjoy your travels - See you on Beautiful Bantayan Island!
Equipment I'm currently using and traveling with:
Olympus E1 Digital SLR Camera
I've been shooting Olympus digital cameras since 1999, and the E1 is my 4th. Olympus digital camera and is a fantastic travel camera, especially considering the heat, humidity & dusty conditions in Philippines, due to its tank-like build quality in its magnesium alloy body , weather sealing on the body, switches & lens, its processing & shooting speed, and of course quality of the JPEG files, straight from the camera. (it's also very easy to use - very quick for street shooting)
...I shoot SHQ JPEG at a very low 1.2 compression which is very close to lossless and its 5MP CCD gives me an aprox. 3.4MB file size (I don't currently shoot RAW) and it produces beautiful files that do not require a ton of post-processing in Photoshop.
The E1 is absolutely a top quality pro camera, and especially well-suited for harsh environments, with wonderful ergonomics and feel.
Gateway MT6841 15" widescreen notebook
(Intel Core Duo CPU, 2GHz, 2GB RAM) for daily backups to the WD Passport drives & DVD-R disks; the 14" 3550GZ (since sold) at just over 5lbs. has never let me down, even in a tropical climate like Philippines.
The M series notebooks are fast and have a beautiful 1280x800 resolution screen and support the Gateway 24" monitor's native 1920x1200 screen resolution on the VGA out connection for my dual monitor setup - Gateway has always been a very strong performing notebook & monitor for me when traveling.
Gateway 24" LCD monitor
The FPD2485W is an S-PVA professional panel perfect for image editing & graphic work; it does not change the horizontal or vertical contrast of images when viewed from different angles like the lower quality TN panels on the market, and the colors are gorgeous - bright & fresh.
...at 20lbs. with its stand attached (15lbs. for just the panel alone) it is clearly not intended for 'traveling', but my tools are my tools, and just the panel itself will go carry-on onboard the aircraft in a special shoulder tote (in a fabricated closed cell foam sleeve & end-caps, with a hard plastic screen protector embedded into the foam) and I'll carry it along with the Pelican 1510 hard flight case which contains the notebook, E1 & lens, Western Digital Passport hard drives, cables & SureFire flashlights.
Here's the complete listing of all the gear that I currently travel with (this is all my personal gear, as I'm not yet Sponsored by any companies)
* Olympus E1 digital SLR (one of the best built and performing travel cameras made, period)
* Olympus Digital Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 lens (weather sealed, excellent glass; a perfect travel lens at a 35mm equiv 28-108mm focal length)
* Olympus SHLD-2 battery grip set (makes vertical shooting very easy and houses a powerfull 7.2V, 3400mAh Li-ion battery)
* Olympus FL20 flash (28mm. equiv. wide angle coverage, very small & compact)
* SanDisk Ultra II 2GB Compact Flash: great speed & perfect reliability, even in the 95/100 degree heat they've never failed.
* LowePro TLZ-2 top opening holster bag - LowePro makes the best & toughest soft-side bags, period. (I use a Black Diamond carabineer to attach this bag to the front crashbar or rear luggage rack on the motorcycle)
* Pelican 1510 waterproof hard side flight case (airline carry-on) The BEST Insurance for my gear, period: if you travel w/a 15" or smaller laptop &/or cameras etc. that absolutely can not get damaged, wet or dusty, you need this case - it's tough as nails with a proprietary polymer shell, GoreTex membrane pressure valve, o-ring sealed and originally built strictly for cameras & lenses, the closed cell padding can be easily configured to the gear I need. (it even floats in salt water w/a full pack of 30lbs.)
My Pelican 1510 case has been personally Typhoon-Tested in 2006 when I needed a local and very experienced Fisherman to fetch me in Hagnaya with my case on his 17' open outrigger boat, in 8ft. high seas after I got stuck in Hagnaya on Cebu's mainland during a storm and needed to get back to Bantayan via the Tanon Straight (all the Ferries had been cancelled) - even though my 1510 case was banged around during the 90 minute ride & completely soaked in salt water; my camera & notebook were never disturbed and stayed perfectly dry. (this is a true story, but I do not recommend anyone attempt this, as many people over the years have drowned in small boats that were out in storms on these waters, so I won't be doing that again anytime soon)
* Pelican waterproof micro cases (models 1010, 1020, 1030 & 1040) tough, small o-ring sealed cases for the Passport Drives, phones & such - I strongly recommend these hard cases for travelers.
* WACOM graphics tablet: I use the Intuos3 4x6 tablet and find it absolutely essential for image editing, since the pen & tablet replicate a perfectly natural pen-on-paper feel. Once you try WACOM you'll never go back to a mouse.
* Western Digital Passport portable external hard drives (250GB & 120GB) small bus-powered 5,400 RPM drives I really like: very well built, reliable, quiet and very small - absolutely essential for content creation while traveling.
* Nokia 6822 GSM tri-band cellphone on the SMART Network: perfect for texting in Philippines with a split QWERTY keypad. Nokia makes very reliable, well built cellphones, and everyone in Philippines seems to want a Nokia.
* BOSE MediaMate powered speakers (no sub, just 2 desktop wedges) Now called the 'Companion' Series; they're the best sounding (non-sub) powered speakers for their size, and very durable for traveling.
* SUREFIRE hi-power flashlights & 3Volt Lithium CR123 Batteries: SureFire builds the highest quality, weather proof tough & brightest illumination tools on the Planet, and their flashlights are used by many Federal Law Enforcement & Police Depts., as well as Elite Military & Special Forces Units worldwide - I personally own 4 of them (using 2 and keeping 2 as back-ups) and they've never let me down; they've always worked flawlessly.
My SureFire lights helped me get through 3 Typhoons which passed through Luzon and we felt them on Bantayan Island in Cebu Philippines in 2006/2007, and they were the ONLY source of light available in my location during those power outages, and their long run-time LED lights have also gotten me down from Jungle Mountains in Cebu after dark, as well as helping friends locate me at night when I've had flat tires with my motorcycle on the Island, and the one time I ever ran out of fuel on the highway after dark.
I don't travel without SureFire lights and I highly recommend them to everyone, especially travelers.
Thank You to my Sponsors:
Vaughn & JingJing @ Hard Kock Kafe & Kottages in Santa Fe
Eumel Lopez @ Kermit's Restaurant in Bantayan Town
Henrik @ The Floating Bar in Santa Fe
Archie & Pastora @ FIVE WINS Restaurant in Madridejos
Thank You to my Family:
My Father Harold (Sept.1924 - Dec.2007) My Sister Karen & my nephews Justin, Alec & Evan
Thank You to all my friends on pBase.com, dPreview.com, and Trek Earth/TrekLens.com
Thank You to my friends on Bantayan Island:
(Coca Cola) Steven Roughly
Rosalinda/LittleFish, Kuya David, Mama Helen & Family
Shane & Grace Preston
Patricia Hudson, John Hudson & Family
Leif & Family
Alan & Leah
Roan & Family
Les in Australia
Robert at White Sands
Riza & Lindo Gigante
Mr. Saturn at GraphicStar in SM Mall Cebu
Ronan Lim at Robbie Stickers in SM Mall Cebu
*and to all the local people of Santa Fe, Bantayan Town, Madridejos & the small Barangays around the Island
I am currently looking for ADVERTISERS on wowBantayan.com
wowBantayan.com is the worlds first ever travel-specific website for Bantayan Island featuring professional photography and current Bantayan Island travel/tourism and related information, and I get daily emails from people all over the world who have found my Bantayan images & information online and are consistently asking for more information on where to spend their money here (where to stay & eat, how to get to Bantayan Island, where to stay in Manila & Cebu, etc.) and for Philippine and international travel advise and recommendations in general.
People from all over the world who are searching Google for information on Bantayan Island are finding MY IMAGES, Website & INFORMATION ON PAGES 1 & 2 OF THAT SEARCH - USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE AND ADVERTISE HERE.
If you are an individual or business located in Philippines or the Americas - or Asia to Europe & beyond, please consider advertising your business, service or website here on wowBantayan.com
This website is ripe to bring travel & recreation/leisure seekers from all over the world, to your business or service, be it domestic Philippine or International travel & tourism, commercial airlines, private air charter, domestic and International Airports servicing the Philippines & the World, hotels and restaurants from Manila & Cebu City, to Hong Kong, Bankok, Sydney, Paris, New York City and beyond.
Please contact me if you or your business would like to see your custom banner, logo & images here on wowBantayan.com
Hotel & Restaurant owners on Bantayan Island:
To the local hotels, cottages & properties I've featured here: Please consider advertising your business, hotel, and accommodation here on wowBantayan.com with a Promo Custom Banner ad featuring your logo, with more photography & information about your place.
This website is being re-designed in May 2008 with individual pages, easier navigation and a home page where Sponsors will be boldly featured, and where wowBantayan.com readers from all over the world will see your local business first, and will know where to spend their money as soon as they arrive on Bantayan Island.
NEW! email comments from readers:
I get emails, comments and questions on a daily basis from people all over the world who are searching for Bantayan Island information (Travel & Resort info/budget & trip planning requests from first time travelers, etc.) and I reply to all of them via email or in the comments sections on my pBase.com Bantayan Island image galleries.
I'd like to share some here, and say "Thank You" to everyone who's taken the time to email me.
Service Marks from SureFire, Olympus, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Gateway, WACOM, WD, Plaza Premium Lounge, SMART, CHIKKA, B&H, dpreview.com, pBase.com, CTC & others are property of their respective owners.
Please contact me if you are interested in licensing my images or the information contained here
You can also contact me at yahoo