If the mainland beach of Bantayan Island at Sta Fe is not enough for a true-blooded beach bum, which, mind you is already a lovely stretch based on my personal standard, visitors still have options to explore the nearby islands. Second day, mid-day of our Oceana Photo Safari, we’re still at the start of our exploration of Tañon Strait in which the Bantayan Islands is a part of. The small Virgin Island, about 45 minutes off the coast of Sta Fe by outrigger boat was our destination.
Not So Virgin Island
Commonly known as Virgin Island, the island also goes by the name Sillon Island (sometimes spelled as Silion) and in Google Maps as Pulo Diyot. A low elevation island at about 14 meters on its highest terrain. The island has good vegetation cover on its 25 hectare land with most of its stunning white beach stretch concentrated on the southwestern part of the island until limestone rocks separate and hides shorter span of beaches on the other sides.
True clear aquamarine waters surround the island, inviting enough to jump-off early even before we docked on its shores. The island is not really as virgin as I thought. It is inhabited and there are already a few provisions for visitors like cabanas, restrooms and other tropical adornments scattered through the beach. No resorts though which is a good thing. Our group found a nice tropical cabana with sawali roof, a curtain of shells and a ceiling fan mounted nicely on a wooden board.
Though there were already a few creature comforts on the island, the gleaming sand under the mid-day sun, the refracting light dancing on the seabed seen through clear ocean waters, the deep cobalt sky with thick cumulus clouds just steadily hanging up in the air, and coconut trees bending gracefully to the sea as if beckoning me to take a dip is simply a picture perfect tropical paradise. We enjoyed our swim, but I guess not as much as the two young boys already dark skinned from playing under the sun since we came in around 10am up to way past our lunch time.
It was hard to resist the waters and even harder to leave. Even from the numerous coaxing from my companions that lunch was already served and there wouldn’t be left for me if I don’t come up yet. Water was absolutely clear. There weren’t as much corals and only a few fish there but it definitely was fun to swim around. A natural pool I’m sure families would enjoy. After a quick lunch, as tempting as to lay down on our cabana floor for a siesta, we looked at the ocean having the same thought in our heads. One more swim before we leave.
Virgin Island has an entrance fee of Php 500 for 1-5 persons and and extra Php 100 for additional head. Cottage or cabana rental starts from Php 300-800. Boat rentals from Sta Fe is from Php 800-1000 depending on the size and haggling skills. Guest can bring their own food. Anika Island Resort can also arrange a tour.
About Oceana Philippines
Oceana Philippines seeks to restore the health, richness, and abundance of the Philippine oceans. By working closely with civil society, academics, fishers, and government, Oceana Philippines will promote the use of sound science based policies to help ensure sustainable fisheries and vibrant marine ecosystems.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.