Getting Around The Island
Locally known as a "motor", 110cc/125cc Motorbikes are available most everywhere for rent at P250 to P350 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 several places for P50/P70 per hour if this is what you require)
Update January 2009: some motorbike vendors have raised their prices in late 2008/early 2009 to P350 per day, and I believe most other vendors will be following suit.
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 coral 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 new XRM/125 is about P56,900.
* available in Red, Blue, Yellow, Black - and new for 2008/2009: 125cc engine size is now standard.
4 speeds, all down, no clutch - 3+ liter fuel tank - gear & fuel gages are very easy to read.
Quick, agile (especially in-town & in tight spaces) and relatively light - very well built, and the Trail Bike Standard here in Philippines.
* 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 (P109,000 MSRP) 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 Trail Bike 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 if 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.
Fuel is available in Bantayan Town at the Petron & CalTex Stations (en route towards Madridejos on the highway) and from small roadside stands Island wide - even in remote areas, in Coke/Pepsi 1 liter bottles.
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!
If 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.