Philippines’ beaches can be experienced anytime of the year. I am glad I live where I don’t have to wait for a particular season to see the beaches. It is a place to hang around, celebrate love stories, family life, Christmas, Easter, any event, or just the most perfect place when you can’t think of any better one at all. Its promises are always pleasurable.
Just like Cebu, Panglao, Bohol is a renowned destination among local and foreign tourists due to its white-sand beaches and rich, well-preserved marine life perfect for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. This tourist destination is also known for its proximity to other wildlife wonders like the popular Chocolate Hills, spectacular water forms like rivers, falls, and springs, and home to the cute and cuddly tarsier recognized as the world’s smallest primate animal, which is native only to the island. Visiting Bohol is like getting a box of chocolates — you’re definitely in for a treat.
I don’t clearly remember, but the first time I came to Bohol was when I was just a child. To be honest, I was quite excited about this 4-day trip because it felt like everything on my sight was all new for me though I have heard so many great things about the place from friends and relatives.
Traveling to Bohol
There are many ways to get to Bohol if your first point is either Manila or Cebu. If you start from the airport in Manila, you can take a direct flight to Tagbilaran City, Bohol, which is the province’s capital. From there, you can hire a van or car to take you to Panglao Island which is usually around 30-minutes travel time.
If your starting point is Cebu, take a ferry boat in Pier 1. You can have two options here: a fast-craft ferry boat or a regular one. If you take the first one, travel time is around one and a half hours while if you take the latter, it usually takes you four hours to get there. For the first option, the fare is around P500 – P2,500 while the second option is P300 – P1,500. The fare rates vary per type (regular, economy, tourist, business class, etc) and they also have occasional promo rates. They also have ferry schedules at least every hour daily.
When you arrive at Tagbilaran Port, you can go to Panglao Island in a number of ways, too. You can ride a taxi/cab, a private van or car, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can ride the local tricycle / public vehicle, too. Either way, you’ll get to Panglao resort in 45 minutes to an hour depending on which hotel or resort you’re booked. The cost is around P600 per person for a taxi/cab or private car while the van costs higher or around the same as taking the cab or car.
For this trip, since I am from Cebu, I took the fast ferry boat and hired a private car to go to the hotel. We were booked at the BE Grand Hotel in Panglao, Bohol, and the place is 10 minutes away from Alona Beach, which is one of the most famous beaches in the area.
We chose BE Grand Hotel because it is a secluded place but not too far away from Alona Beach where all the bars and busy nightlife are. True to its name, the grandeur of this 4-star resort hotel is remarkable with its vast pool area, wide and beautiful beachfront, modern restaurant and bar, elegant rooms, and cool amenities like its state-of-the-art gym, recreation room with games like pool and table tennis and a section for the kids to play, karaoke room, and a lot more. We had so much fun playing pool and ping pong and spending most of our afternoons enjoying the food and cocktails by the relaxing pool.
On Day 2, we decided to go snorkeling in Balicasag Island. We asked our hotel to book us with their partner tour package company, Scotty’s Action Sports Network, Inc. for the said activity. The tour package consists of a snorkeling activity to see the turtles and other marine life in Balicasag Turtle Island and a sight-seeing activity in Padre Pio Island. There were nine of us in the motorized boat with two guides/staff and we had the two activities for about two hours. It was the best time to get underwater photos of turtles and I was in awe of the beauty of the marine animals and ecosystems that live underwater. Initially, I was too afraid to go past the deep blue ocean since it was my first time to try it, but then, seeing the colorful fishes just swimming around me took my fear away.
On the last day, we decided to just enjoy the beach and the sun one last time so we spent the whole afternoon swimming and enjoying the view together with mostly foreign tourists in the Alona Beach front. Seeing the locals and foreign tourists enjoying the warm weather and cool sea breeze and the water feels like summer in November and it should even get better towards the end of the year and the beginning of the year without having to deal with the crowd.
Indeed, Alona Beach in Panglao, Bohol is a good start towards getting a feel of what Panglao, Bohol has to offer. If you live in a Western country where it’s freezing cold because of the winter time, traveling to Bohol or any part of the Philippines for that matter is a great idea to do as we have the most perfect weather during this time of the year plus you get to enjoy the food and the places here without breaking the bank.