I just arrived from an almost week-long trip to Bohol in the Philippines, where we stayed on this gorgeous island called Panglao.
Bohol is a province in the Visayas region in the Philippines, an hour by airplane from the capital city of Manila. I’ve heard so many praises of its Panglao, a little island off the coast of Bohol’s capital city Tagbilaran, from many fellow travellers I’ve met during my travels, so I’ve decided to go check it out. Panglao indeed lived up to the hype.
Panglao is beautiful. Fine white sand, turquoise clear waters, pristine shores—it was literally a paradise. It’s like Boracay, but without the stifling crowd of tourists, which was one of the things we love. Only a few would mill on the beach so it’s quite peaceful and you can enjoy your vacation more.
We spent most of our beach time in Alona Beach, the most famous one in Panglao that has a great underwater scene. It’s a bit pricey in the area, but since it was the nearest beach from our hotel, it was convenient for us to be there.
For those who love diving or would like to try it, there are some dive shops around to help you do that. Many would say that Panglao’s underwater scene is excellent so diving in this area is really a must try. We haven’t had time to do that given the limited stay we had, but we’re planning to go back soon and get some diving done.
Another beach to try is Dumaluan Beach, around 30 minutes by trike from Alona Beach. It has that more “virgin” feel and far more lesser crowds than Alona Beach, so it was immediately a hit with us. The only downlow, though was that, it would cost P400 (Philippine Peso) for a round trip by trike. Actually, we paid P300 since we did some serious haggling with the driver.
Island hopping is also very famous in Panglao. For a private island hopping tour for 3, you will pay around P2000.
Panglao’s night scene is milder than Boracay; not too crowded and not too noisy.
How to reach Panglao
From Manila, we boarded a Cebu Pacific flight to Tagbilaran, which should just have taken an hour, but since it was raining and foggy in Bohol at that time, the pilot couldn’t see the runway, and the flight turned out to be a 4-hour grueling one. We had to make a rerouted landing in Mactan in Cebu, and then wait for a couple more hours for Tagbilaran’s runway to clear. Good thing it did, otherwise we would have made a trip back to Manila. At any rate, we arrived in Bohol safe and sound.
It takes around 40 minutes to reach Panglao Island from Tagbilaran City. Since we were a group, we took one of the vans for hire at the airport that costs P600.
Where to stay in Panglao
We stayed at Franzen Residence, a place that’s not beachfront, but accessible to the beach by a 5-10 minute walk (only possible during the day since there are no lights in the area at night). It was a good place to stay with lovely, friendly owners. A triple room costs us P2,500 per night.
Where to Eat in Panglao
Alona Hidden Dream
We went crazy over seafoods during our trip and our favorite go-to place was Alona Hidden Dream. It was at the back of Alona Beach, just around 5 minutes walk. You can pick out any fresh seafood you like and have it cooked in ways available. Check out their prices.
We also love the organic dishes offered by the Buzz Cafe, a branch of Bohol Bee Farm, located just along Alona Beach.
Their salads were superb, and we particularly love the Organic Vegetarian Chips. We made a beeline for their bestselling Malunggay ice cream, which we were skeptical at first, but turned out really good.
They also sell honey in bottles, pesto spreads in jars, and other organic stuff that you can bring home as gifts.
In closing, Panglao was the best! It perfectly met our criteria of beautiful beach with less crowd. If you’re like us who want that, then we’d say you’ll definitely love Panglao!