One place I surely was not going to miss was the sandbar in Bais City.
I know February is not really the right season for it. A family friend had warned me that we may not even get a boat to take us out there because of inclement weather. Besides, he said, “wouldn’t you be cold?”
This is an early city with workers and joggers sharing the dark streets. Most businesses were still closed but people were already at the many bus stops we passed. Since traffic was relatively light, our driver pulls an Andretti and slaloms his way around tricycles and motorbikes. Luckily we got out of the city in one piece.
The hour-long drive north gave us a look at the remnants of old Negros. We cruised through valleys of sugarcane fields and fish farms. Banana trees lined much of the highway. Nipa trees stuck out of the marshes. Sadly, we mostly saw more development and construction along the road to Bais City. The old plantation estates were either gone or abandoned. The hacienderos have their palaces in town or on the beach.
As the sun rose over Cebu island, the nipa (palm frond) houses along the beaches and sitting on stilts looked like a watercolor painting. At each town we passed — Sibulan, San Jose, Amlan and Tanjay — throngs of people were waiting at the bus stop in the middle of town for the next bus into the city.
Finally arriving in Bais City, our friend had to make a call to his guy so he could guide us to his boat. We do not have marinas on this island. Boats are either tied up on the beach or anchored off of it. And the boats are motor-powered outrigger canoes with some big enough to accommodate 20 passengers. Ours was a white boat about 30 feet long with a blue tarp for protection from the sun.
We pushed off into Bais Bay as the bright morning sun beamed down on us. Fishermen in their outrigger canoes were paddling out to the bay. Another fisherman checked his fish trap for the bounty from last night. Children sat on the concrete jetty curious about the visitors so early in the day.
From the jetty you can see the four cottages on the sandbar. In the distance clouds loomed. Cebu island was getting a little rain. Our captain pushed on the throttle as the wind picked up. Our friend worried about the conditions. Silly him.
As we slid to a stop on the sand, the deckhand leapt off the bow and sets the ladder for the rest of us. We were finally on the sandbar. This piece of sand is roughly 1,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. The municipality of Manjuyod, the next town north, built and operate the four cottages on the sandbar. They rent these cottages on stilts for $60-$80 a day. The boat is a separate transaction and can cost you $40-$50. Depending on your hotel, arrangements can be made for you.
The sandbar provides the ultimate private beach experience, unless you own an island. Walking on the sand and looking at the islands and water around you is magical. It was not cold. It was just perfect. Our captain even snatched out of the water a nokus (sweet squid) that was about a foot long. Lunch caught. Well done sir.