Bantayan Island and Cebu
Updated: Feb 26
So, our first week in the Philippines has flown by! Our initial plans had to change slightly when we found out the Philippine government had closed Boracay Island for 6 months for some island rehabilitation (essentially tourists had ruined it so it needed some down time). So after some research I chose Bantayan Island off the North of Cebu for our first few nights. Although it took us 48 hours (3 planes, two buses and a ferry - which I was sick on, classy) to get to the island it was soooo worth the travel. We stayed in a beach hut about 10 mentres from the sea in the most picture perfect area of Santa Fe. Honestly, we had to blink a few times every morning when we woke up to bright sunshine and the beautiful view from our hut. We spent the entire first day relaxing (in and out of the sun for me as it was about 38 degrees) and I have never felt so properly relaxed before in my life. Whilst we were in Santa Fe we visited Virgin Island, a private Island not too far away and it was here that I realised that I need a Hammock in my life ASAP - they are so comfy - however note to self thqat it is best to apply suncream before you get so relaxed you fall asleep, my face will be peeling until I get to New Zealand...
After Bantayan Island we got the ferry back to Cebu where we stayed for 2 nights. I'd read and heard that Cebu is sketchy AF so we were only there for one thing - to swim with some whale sharks. Getting to our hotel was a story in itself, we got a coach from the ferry port and they (no lie) dumped us (politely) in the moddle of a random street in a city we had never been before outside a mechanical garage and were just like BYE you are here. Me and Vicky haven't quite perfected our Flipino so after a lot of wandering (not quite miles though) we found a man in a uniform who got us a taxi. We gave ther taxi man the hotel address and it wasn't until 40 minutes of driving the wrong way that we realised booking.com had the wrong address written in the wrong city. mint. When we finally found the hotel, the coach had actually dropped us off about 1km away LOL.
Anyway, swimming with the whale sharks meant a 3.30am wake up - and it was worth every alarm that we set. It was absolutly incredible. I won't lie, I was bricking it before hand, but by the time we got there and had our briefing I was fine. 6 yeras ago the whale shakrs started coming right to the shores of Oslob and no one knows why. The fishermen started looking after them, they got a marine biologist in and now almost every morning anywhere from 1 shark to 20 sharks rock up between breakfast and lunchtime, have a swim and then leave again. They are such gentle giants and aren't meant to get closer than 4 metres but they swim right at you and their fins get very close (I had tro dodge out the way when one came at me mouth wide open, it was amazing). Seeing them right up close in their natural habibtat was was just an amazing experience.
I've really surprised myself by actually ttrying Filipino food. I mean, it is mainly rice and beef and I'm still not eating oni0ons or tomatoes but I'm trying new things, their milk is so gross, not as gross as Rwandan milk but close. A Filipino breakfast consists of rice and some meat with an omlette and fruit - weird but I enjoyed it, their omlettes are incredible and the mango is INSANELY good. The best mango I have ever had, I've eaten it every day so far and will be taking some dried mango away with me, it's that good.
We have just arrived at the Puerto Princesa bus terminal ready to get the 6 hour over night bus to El Nido for our final week. There is some absolute tunes playing out the speakers and we have a constant supply of snacks and noodles so we are set. El Nido is meant to be paradise and the weather has been decent to far with no rain during the day so fingers crossed!