Because there is always a place that never leaves your head until you touch it, smell it, taste it. And that's how I exactly feel for Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort. Its cave pool—the main attraction of the resort—reminds me of Camotes' Timubo Cave—only deeper, wider, and wider entrance. The water is brackish and its depth can reach up to 8 feet during high tide. With the two lights, "the place looks mysterious," as P put it.
"Wow, sir, the place is really raw," I said, because I was expected a manicure kind of wilderness. "Yes, we are not developing it, we are enhancing it," Allan said. His wife, Tetet—whom I later met—called it the uncontrolled chaos. But the delighting surprise is that almost everything is actually grown by the owners themselves—Sir Jun and Ma'am Susan. But how did they manage to make everything look so natural and wild? It is a gift to be able to grow a wild paradise from an almost barren place, a gift that this couple possesses. Yes, it is never hot in BNP. The paths are all canopied.
Garra Ruffa, better known as doctor fish, enjoying their meal. They appeared shy at first, appearing and disappearing between the cracks of the rocks. A minute or two, their shyness swam away and started nibbling my feet, which didn't fail to elicit giddy giggles. (Fish Your Feet Spa P50/head/15mins)
The fish, I've observed, are actually very sensitive to the sounds and motions around them. One jerk can send them scurrying away. So, be still, relax, enjoy their nibbling presence. The fish are like combfishes in that they only consume the affected and dead areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow, with the outdoor location of the treatment bringing beneficial effects. The spa is not meant as a curative treatment option.
A swimmer's place during high tide, a crab/shell hunter's during low tide. And I enjoyed being both: a swimmer and a crab/shell hunter. The shore is teemed with seashells and crabs! The staff cooked my catch for P25! I had a crabby/shelly dinner. A separate album will be uploaded for the eats we devoured at Nature Park.
After enjoying the cave pool, these guests dipped into sea. During our stay, the longest and widest infinity pool on Bantayan Island was underconstruction. Too bad, it wasn't finished yet, P and I could have had our usual ego-boasting swim race.
Our last night at Nature Park. Ma'am Susan danced while one of the judges for Bantayan Idol crooned. "They are both outgoing," P commented, while watching Ma'am Susan and Sir Jun danced. I felt privileged to witness their affection for each other. The restaurant is equipped with a flat screen TV, billiard, and dart board. And sometimes, the restaurant turns into a disco bar once the night arrives.
The sineguylas tree in front of the restaurant. There are several sineguylas in the 8-hectare property. Summer bears the sweetness and sourness of sineguylas.
Sir Jun is a pilot and based in India. While Ma'am Susan's character can bee seen in the myriad plants and flowers around, the bar is definitely Sir Jun's. Paw noticed the propeller above the doorway. I was fascinated by this plane light. Now, I know why it is named the Captain's Bar and Restaurant.
Small details strive from the chaos of things: a shell keyholder, a kagingking towel holder, a mat ceiling, a wall mosaic of rocks, termites-eaten wood sculpture, wood-mosaic tray.—Diary entry, 06|15|12. And this is the termite-eaten sculpture I'm alluding to. The man behind these creations is the guy walking around with his hair tied.
With the grand wilderness around us, I find myself admiring the small details subtled in the grand scheme of things. Take this mosaic of sand and seashells as the frame of the bathroom mirror. Creative.
The WiFi area. And interestingly, this bougainvillea has a story to tell. Tetet shared that her mother, Ma'am Susan, originally planted red and white bougainvilleas, locally known as bumbil; yet as they matured, the trunks intertwined, mated, and became one. It is now called the couple with its pink-white blooms.
The view from the Villa's Veranda with the islands teasing the skyline. | Villa for 6 persons 3 BR, 3 T&B, ac, living room, sea view, balcony, front porch (breakfast included) | Regular rate – P 7,700 Special Holidays rate – P 11,000 | Extra person, max of 6 single mats or 6 persons at P 440/head | Option for fully furnished kitchen P1,000/night
Many lives surround the cottages: the lives of plants and flowers, the lives of birds..| Deluxe cottage for 2 persons - Double bed, T&B, hot shower, balcony, sea view - Regular rate P 1,320 (air-conditioned, breakfast for 2 included) - Special Holidays rate P 1,980 (air-conditioned, breakfast for 2 included) - Fan room only at P660 (breakfast not included, not available during special holidays)
"Where are the windows?" asked P. "There are no windows. Just a lot of doors." It is quite innovative for Nature Park to build sliding doors from amakan (woven bamboo panel). And the insect net eased P's worries about insects crawling on to the bed.
"It is a labor of love," Tetet informed. I called it the love for art. It was my first to see a rock mosaic for a wall. In front of the cottage, the house of the fire extinguisher is made of seashells, sand, and rocks. It wowed me. | Superior cottage for 2 persons - Double bed, T&B, hot shower, balcony, sea view | - Regular rate P 2,420 (air-conditioned, breakfast for 2 included) | - Special Holidays rate P 3,300 (air-conditioned, breakfast for 2 included) | - Extra person, max of 2 single mats or 2 persons at P 440/head (air-conditioned, breakfast included) | - Option for satellite TV & fridge P300/night
My favorite wall. I really toured all cottages to see their wall's design. This design captured my heart. It reminds me of mountain paintings during Sung Dynasty. | Bungalow for 2 persons | Queen size bed, ac, living room, T&B, hot shower, balcony, partial sea view, fridge, kitchen counter (breakfast included) | Regular rate – P 3,630 | Special Holidays rate – P 4,730 | Extra bed in living room, max of 2 persons at P 550/head
The ceiling of all cottages are varied patterns of banig (mat). Isn't it beautiful?
Barkada Rate –max 6 pax, 3 x double decks (breakfast not included) | Regular rate - Air-conditioned P 2,750 | Special holidays rate
- Air-conditioned P3,300
Inclusions are as follows:1. FREE pick-up/drop-off Sta. Fe pier-Resort upon check-in/out.2. Use of the amenities – tour of the park, swim in cave pool (proper swimming attire), access to sea, use of The Captain ‘s Bar (cabanahs, videoke, billiard, pool and party floor).
Two more albums will be uploaded: the eats and the floras and faunas found in this 8-hectare wilderness named Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort. The travel narrative will go live on Backpacking with a Book. To know more about Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, like their page on Facebook or check their website.