One week before the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA, which means "hope" in Tagalog) officially declared the onset of the rainy season, our office went on its annual teambuilding and R&R. Last year, we went to Boracay; this year, we went to Bantayan Island in the province of Cebu (which is also an island). From Metro Manila, it's a one-hour plane ride, two-hour van ride, and one-hour boat ride away. It was worth the long trip.
We stayed at Anika Island Resort in the small town of Santa Fe. It's right on the beach and the rooms are unusual because they're all made from freight containers. Needless to say, they all have airconditioners.
There are only a few resorts in Bantayan so it's very peaceful. There are still quite a number of fishing communities on the island and fish pens near the shore are not uncommon. We were able to buy freshly-dried danggit, naturally salted by the sea water, to take home to Manila. On our side of the island, the tide is very low in the mornings, but even when the tide is high, you can walk 200 meters from the beach and the water will only be waist-high.
We were told that there was a smaller island just off Bantayan where the snorkeling was good, so we rented a bangka to go there.
It's a really small island—basically a rock with some palm trees growing on it, with a tiny strip of beach on one end.
Welcome to Virgin Island! It doesn't have its own electricity or water, and all supplies have to be brought in by bangka. There are no resorts, either, though more adventurous souls are welcome to pitch tents on the beach and stay overnight.
You don't have to go far from shore to to see schools of yellow and silver striped fish (I have no idea what they are), but you have to swim farther to get to the live coral.
For those who don't snorkel, Virgin Island also has a nice stretch of shallow water with no coral, rocks or sea grass—perfect for little kids.