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Virgin Island (Sta. Fe, Bantayan) : A Brief History

Visiting the Island soon? Take a quick read, and know what it has to offer!

Bantayan Island is a world-renowned beach destination in Cebu. With pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and historic attractions, one can always get a tour on the island with exciting experiences. 

One of Bantayan’s pride is the islet of Virgin Island. Day after day, it drives more and more tourists, be it local or all around the globe. Of course, with its awe-magical crystal clear waters and milk-white sand views, no one would ever dare to resist. 

But did you know that this Island has an amazing history too? Let’s delve deeper into what we’ve discovered about the Island’s known to none story. 

Diot (dyut) and its people. 

Virgin Island or what was originally called “Hilantagaan Diot” was once lived by a family of fishermen – the Escarans. Generation to Generation, the Escarans lived on the Island for several decades. They’ve made a living not just by fishing but also by diving pearls, creeping to catch “kagang” (land crab) and hunting “sawa” which they would sell for 300 to 500 pesos. 

Why named it Virgin Island? 

The name Virgin Island was given by one American that’s first to visit the Island, saying it was perfect for the Island since it is sublimely “untouched”. Rita, an elder of the Escaran clan oftentimes travels to Cebu to sell dried fish from their catch. She was able to meet several business people and made friends with boat tour guides from the main town of Santa Fe, and arranged charter tours for visitors to the Islet. 

“Pansag” or cottages were handmade by the elder father of the clan – Arsenio. 

The Elder Escarans had a large number of families, Rita and Arsenio (the last Escarans that set foot on the Island), were blessed with twelve (12) children and lots of grandchildren. They were able to maintain Virgin Island to its best keeping until they died. However, it is a mystery why none of the remaining Escarans followed to maintain their birth Island after the elders have passed. Over 20’s of “Tadjao” (huge jars) can still been seen in the Island up today, remaining to what was more than 50 jars that was gifted and bought by the elder Rita years ago. 

VIRGIN ISLAND TODAY

A 30-minute boat ride from the ports of Santa Fe, you’ll reach the docking point of Virgin Island. It became a huge hit with tourists and became more popular when it introduced exciting activities like snorkelling, cliff jumping, coral sightings, and many more. 

Though more expensive than usual and may not be ideal for budget-conscious travellers (see rates below), Virgin Island has become a private hideaway for anyone who has a heart for beaches. A decade ago, overnight reservations were totally not allowed to avoid disturbance in the Island’s calm ambiance and seas, now cottages that you can rent for a price are being offered. Some hammocks are free and there’s also a restaurant bar for meal or drink orders. 

It is, still after many years, perfect for tourists who’d love to experience one of the hidden gems of Bantayan Island. 

THINGS YOU CAN DO

✔ Snorkleing

✔ Tadjao (huge jars) Photo Opportunity

✔ Beach Volleyball

✔ Chill. Drink. Eat

✔Cliff Jump

✔ Pristine White Sand Beach

✔ Sunest/Sunrise Watching

 BEFORE YOU VISIT THE ISLAND

Virgin Island is ideal for groups (at least 5pax). If you are a solo traveller or a couple, you might need to shell out more. It’s best if you join other groups from the mainland or book a tour package.

Everything is expensive on the island. If you want to save, bring:

– Water & food (You can save a lot if you buy from the public market on the mainland)

– Goggles, Snorkelling gears (or rent ahead from the mainland) 

RATES & OTHER INFORMATION

BOAT RIDE

There are no regular passenger boats from the mainland. Make sure you ask around if there are no boats. Or plan ahead with the hotel or resort you’re in. ESTIMATED BOAT FARE

– ₱1,500 one-way good for 12 persons (or ₱125 each)

– ₱1,000 one-way good for 8 persons (or ₱125 each)

DAY USE RATES

Entrance fee: ₱300 per person

Cottages: ₱300, ₱500, ₱600, ₱1,000 and ₱1,500

– Day use: 9AM to 5PM

OVERNIGHT RATES

NON-AIRCON COTTAGES

– Cabana: ₱1,500 for 2 pax (maximum of 4 pax)

– Open cottage: ₱1,500 for 5 pax

– ₱200 for every succeeding persons

AIRCON COTTAGES

– Bamboo Cottage: ₱3,000 for 2 pax. Maximum of 4 pax.

– Family cottage: ₱5,000 for 4 pax. Maximum of 6pax

– Barkada cottage: ₱7,000 for 8pax. Maximum of 10pax.

– ₱300 for every succeeding person.

*Rates may change during peak season (December, April, May).

OTHER INFORMATION

Operating hours: 9AM to 5PM, Mondays to Sundays

Contact numbers: 0920-118-3521 / 0917-322-2115 / 0922-726-6579

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