Island Hopping with Children

MOMMY ON BOARD - Kristalle Marie Garcia-Kekert (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2012 - 12:00am

First thing that comes to mind when crossing the waters on a boat to go on a holiday with a young child/children is (1) the hassle of transporting a huge amount of luggage and (2) looking after your little one at the same time. But I can tell you that it isn't impossible to accomplish this, even without any help. Instead, it will even make your holiday a lot more fun with your child who tags along with you!

Among Cebu's group of islands, I would choose to travel either to Bantayan, Camotes or Olango, where you have the opportunity to take your vehicle on board the ferry. I figured that since children normally have a lot of things to take with them, you could easily take advantage of packing as much as you like without having to worry about any excess luggage. It's a fact - the younger the child, the more items they seem to need. This absolutely makes it one of the best and easiest options when going island hopping with children. It also makes a lot of sense if you choose to drive around the island for a bit of sightseeing, as well.

Bantayan Island - one hour travel time from Hagnaya Pier to Sta. Fe Pier. Showcasing the local flora and fauna, I highly recommend the Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort (www.bantayanislandresort.com) as the one of the best places to be on the island with children. This fun resort, around half an hour drive from Sta. Fe Pier, is the only one on the island that has a mini zoo, a fish spa and soon to open, an Olympic sized swimming pool!

Apart from that, this nature park and resort offers a subterranean wonder on the island, which is the cave pool that is at least eight feet deep (adult supervision required). This cave pool, having a mixture of fresh and salt water combined, makes it the biggest one on the island. Partially underground but thoroughly lit, it feels like another world down there! Children would absolutely love it so don't be too surprised if your child/children gets super-glued to the sand, beach and sea.

Camotes Island - two hours travel time from Danao Port to Consuelo Port. Highly recommended is a resort called Mangodlong Beach Paradise (www.mangodlongparadise.com), considered a family friendly resort. A playground for young children is available, as well as bicycles, kayaks and snorkeling gear for the older ones. One of the best rooms to stay is the two-bedroom suite complete with a kitchen and appliances such as a digital stove, a microwave oven, an electric kettle, cutlery, pans and a refrigerator. It's absolutely helpful to have a kitchen or kitchenette when traveling with your child as it makes it easier to store food and sterilise bottles and other food containers most especially if you opt to stay for a few more nights.

Swimming is the main thing to do for adults and children in Camotes and it is suggested to wear aqua shoes if you choose to spend time being in the water all day. Popular caves to see are the Bukilat and Timubo (with adult supervision required).

Olango Island - half an hour travel time from the Moevenpick Pier to Santa Rosa. Enjoying nature at its best, you can't go wrong staying at the all-exclusive Talima Beach Villas and Dive Resort (www.talimabeach.com). This private little island resort is complete with a pool/jacuzzi and a restaurant. The villa, one of the resort's accommodations, offers a kitchenette, a living room, a porch and an attic together with a huge amount of overall space, which is highly recommended if traveling with children. Baby cots/cribs are available on request.

Other fun things to do at Olango are to drive to one end of the island called San Vicente for the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will find the largest group of migratory birds found in the Philippines. Best to go during high tide and in the peak season and stay there all day if you choose to "swim with the birds".

You can also have a freshly cooked seafood lunch meal at one of Olango's floating restaurants on the western side of the island. Children would absolutely love the exclusive short boat trip (2 minutes max) onboard the pumpboat, making it a very simple but wonderful experience for them!

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