I have been living in Cebu for years. I am ashamed to say that in all those years, I have only gone island hopping recently.
Hubby S was feeling extraordinarily stressed from work so he insisted on getting away that Sunday. Since it was summer and the weekend promised clear skies, we decided to give island hopping a try.
The top-tier island hopping supplier in Cebu is Island’s Souvenirs’ sister company “Island Banca Cruises”. It was a Saturday and we called their company in order to make a booking for the following day. Normally, they are fully booked but we were in luck and there was a last-minute cancellation. We were able to get a banca for the next day. There are a lot of cheaper bancas available around Cebu but we heard that Islands Banca is more suitable for families.
We decided to take their most popular package which includes two stops: Nalasuan Marine Sanctuary and Pandanon’s Sandbar. We also opted to book their lunch meal of Barbecue Packed lunch and extra lechon for an extra-special meal. Since we booked the meals with them, we asked if they would allow us to bring some food and drinks of our own without charging us the corkage fee and they kindly agreed which is terrific asset for us as we had a lot of children who would join us on the trip.
That morning, we went to their pier early, excited to start our little family adventure. The parking is small so it’s lucky we went early. We realized it was important to go there early to get a nice shaded spot for our car. Luckily, they had a comfortable waiting area for us to stay in while the boat was being prepared for our departure.
Onboard the banca, it was very comfortable. The flat deck made it easy for everyone to move around and it didn’t feel claustrophobic. There were plenty of seats for everyone to sit comfortably during the trip. The bean bags gave an added touch of comfort and ambience.
Comfortably settled, we set out for our first stop.
The views from our banca were breathtaking all the way. The sky was such a beautiful clear light blue while the sea a rich navy. It was literally picture perfect. The white deck of the banca allowed for us to take beautiful photos during the whole duration of our trip. All of our shots were perfect.
Our first stop was Nalasuan Marine Sanctuary where the kids experienced snorkelling for the first time. It took a few minutes for them to get used to it but once they did, they had the time of their lives. They loved seeing the colorful schools of fish in their natural habitat and there were so many different kinds to see. They had such a rush that when it was time to go, they didn’t want to leave.
We had a simple barbecue lunch with lechon on paper plates that Islands Banca provided for us. Since we took the food on board when we departed it wasn’t hot anymore but it was filling and tasty nonetheless. It was good we got their meal because it allowed us to eat on the way to our next stop. When we arrived in Pandanon, there was a throng of people in the picnic huts it would have been impossible to eat a meal there.
Pandanon was beautiful. It boasts white sands and clear water. The water is shallow and safe for children to wade in. However, I think it would have been more beautiful a few years ago because the huge number of people enjoying the sandbar has resulted in pollution in the official docking area of the island. It would be in Cebu’s best interest if we maintained Pandanon because not only would this be better for the environment but it would be better for the future of the island as a tourist destination. At the rate I saw people were polluting the area, I’d say Pandanon wouldn’t be such a beautiful place in a few years. I really hope the Cebu province can police tourists and pollution in order to preserve this natural beauty.
We wound down our day relaxing and napping onboard our banca. The staff even gave us cool towelettes to wash our faces and hands with on the way back home which was a nice touch.
Needless to say, our experience island hopping with Islands Banca was a good one. We hope to go island hopping again one day if the weather permits. It was a blast.
For more information: Islands Banca