Bantayan Island 2014
The Island of Bantayan in northern Cebu was hit by one of the most powerful typhoons in recorded history. Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Typhoon Haiyan) first stuck the Philippines at Leyte (where the most death and destruction occurred). Then tracked across the northern tip of Cebu, causing massive destruction to Malapascua, northern Cebu (Bogo, Medellin, Daanbantayan) and Bantayan Island, as well as other islands as it moved through of the Philippines. For more details on Typhoon Yolanda you can read further on the Wikipedia website.
I travelled up to Bantayan Island in April 2014, 5 months after the typhoon hit. I have to say my initial impression of the place was pretty much of shock. The first thing I noticed (if you have never been to Bantayan before) as the ferry neared the island is just how much vegetation had been lost. All the greenery I’m used to had dramatically changed. I had just been to Malapascua a few days before, which also sustained heavy damage from the typhoon. If I was to compare the both Bantayan and Malapascua, definitely Bantayan looked a bit better (greener) than Bounty Beach in Malaspascua. Still it was a lot less palm trees than I’m used to. The other thing you will notice is how many tents are around. Many people are still homeless and rely on tents for shelter. Below I tried to match a photo from 2012 and then when I arrived into Bantayan Island in 2014. I also did a video update of Bantayan which I think gives a better idea on how the place is faring.
This is a video update of Bantayan Island and how it looks in 2014, 5 months after typhoon Yolanda.
First night I stayed in Bantayan was at Santa Fe Beach Club, while generally the resort was running as normal there were a few cottages that still had been damaged that had yet to be fixed. See photo below
The beaches of Bantayan still look as amazing as ever, a walk down Alice Beach right in front of St. Fe Beach Club Resort down past Anika Beach Resort, Beach Placid Resort and Abaniko Resort (which all seemed to be running back normal) you can see how this island is still a paradise.
As expected the tourist numbers were down on my previous holiday to Bantayan. The touts I usually use for hiring a motorbike and island hopping around Bantayan were offering some of the best prices I’ve got in years. Normally I have to negotiate and haggle for a price, but this time I was able to get some really fantastic prices. Normally I pay between 300 – 350 Pesos a day for a motorbike (if I hire for at least a few days), this time it was 250. One guy even offered me 150 per day! I’ve stuck with same guy over the years (if you want to contact – Glen is the guy I use, his number is 09098825989). The resorts in Bantayan where pretty flexible with prices too, one of the nights I stayed at Marlin Resort and was able to knock off 1000 P off the room price and this was in April! Marlin’s beachfront area is looking really nice too (better than before the typhoon! – see photo below) I don’t know how long tourists will be able to be able to get these fantastic rates on accommodation in Bantayan, so if you ever thought about going to the island, this is definitely the best time to go. Not only that, they really need to tourist dollar to help Bantayan and its locals get back on their feet.
Other Resorts in Bantayan update 2014
As far as the resorts on the island, generally most were running as normal with a few exceptions. Two resorts re opened after repair while I was there in April, Hoyohoy Resort and Maia’s Resort. Operations were back in full swing although a little less green than previously, in time that will grow back.
As you can see in Hoyohoy Villas the resort lacks the greenery of before. Hopefully this won’t take too long to regrow back.
Maia’s Beach Resort above just reopened again in April 2014
Budyong Beach Resort had a very noticeable bare look to the place, it and Kota Beach Resort were hit pretty badly by the typhoon. Budyong had its cottages open again although at the time I visited the restaurant was still guttered. They informed me that (the restaurant) would reopen in the next few months. Directly across, Kota Beach Resort wasn’t in quite as good shape, many of the cottages were under renovation and were due to reopen in the coming months. The good news is that they should look a lot better, as they were getting a bit run down anyhow. They had already opened a few cottages and the main concrete building at the back was open and being used by people.
This is picture of Budyong that I took when I stayed back in 2012.
Some photos of Kota Beach Resort Below. With some cottages already open, the remaining cottages should be reopened by the time you read this, or by early in the 2nd half of 2014. Kota still has a beautiful beach at its doorstep.
Down the beach a bit at Yooneek Beach Resort the front area of the place had been damaged including its popular beach Bar.
Some of the resorts further up the beach were still damaged; this included Sugar Beach Resort with half of its cottages still damaged. The cottages here were not the most well maintained anyhow, but it does offer pretty affordable rooms by the beach and it is popular with the locals.
Mayet’s Beach Resort rooms where all open, as was Ogtong Cave Resort, Sunday Flower. Queen Elizabeth Resort was still under repair as of early April, but should be open by the time you read this or very soon.
White Beach Bungalows still had the bungalows out of action but 2 rooms in the apartelle building where open for business.
Back in Santa Fe Town the accommodation was pretty much as it was before with the exception of Kiwi Kottages which was closed. D’Jungle Restaurant was at my time of visit closed and under repair, not sure when this was to reopen. Micky Santoro Hotel was a new hotel that had recently opened in town.
Outside of the resorts and Santa Fe, even when you travel from the pier to the resorts you can’t help but notice the number of tents that the locals are living in. The typhoon really ripped through a lot of the houses leaving thousands homeless. Unfortunately it’s always the local community that recovers slower than the tourist resorts that make the money. Thankfully relief agencies have helped the local people tremendously, and while there have been a good number of these operations, no one stands out more than OXFAM. Just travelling around Bantayan there are so many signs thanking OXFAM for all their help.
The nearby island of Kinatarkan (I’ve also seen it spelt as Guintarcan Island) was also badly affected by the typhoon. If you have never been to this island, as it’s not so much on the tourist map, I can tell you this is a beautiful white sandy island with postcard perfect scenery. As of April, this island still did not have electricity which is just a disgrace! When I visited the people were really pleading for help here, it was just heartbreaking.
The bottom line is Bantayan Island is recovering from Yolanda although it’s a huge job and process is slow. Many charities are there to help but more is needed. Tourism will bring in extra dollars to the island which is needed for the island and people to get back on their feet. New resorts have opened in the past few months (I will do an update on this in the future) so people have confidence in the future of the island. If you don’t know much about this island I have done a previous blog on Bantayan Island which you can see how amazing this piece of paradise really is. In fact it’s one of my favourite islands in the Philippines and I hope other people can see what an extraordinary island Bantayan really is. It’s time to take a holiday in Bantayan Island!