The Sands of Panglao


This island was one of the reasons why I moved to Visayas for work and I’ve been itching to visit this place ever since. Thus, since I’m about to leave Cebu I tried harder to insert Panglao in my schedule. I initially planned to visit Panglao early December but Typhoon Hagupit went in forcing me to abandon my plans. Nonetheless, I successfully get on a ferry to Bohol the next weekend.

Boards, sand and shorts...
Boards, sand and shorts…
Rainbow: Rain, sun and sea. The weather in December is quiet unpredictable.
Rainbow: Rain, sun and sea. The weather in December is quiet unpredictable.

For starters, Panglao Island was ranked in 2014 by CNN as number 4 among the Best Beaches in the Philippines. Its sand is comparable to those in Boracay- fine, white and powdery. Nightlife is also alive at Alona Beach where bars and hotels dotted the shore. And since the island is located at the heart of the coral triangle, the Visayas region, diving spots are a few minutes away.

The night is alive at Alona Beach
The night is alive at Alona Beach

Getting There

One can either visit Panglao via Manila or Cebu. Regular flights directly from Manila to Tagbilaran, Bohol are available via Cebu Pacific , AirAsia or PAL. If one is coming from Cebu, a ferry to Tagbilaran via OceanJet or SuperCat is available daily. From Tagbilaran, taxis are available at Php 500 while tricycles are at Php 300.

Backpackers Haven

What I love about Panglao is the vibrant tourism industry. If you are traveling solo, you won’t be having a lot of problems. From the terminals to the white beaches in Alona Beach, locals are offering group tours for solo travelers. Island hopping, snorkeling and dolphin watching will cost you around Php 400 per head for groups tours but if you want it solo, it can go up to Php 1,500. Group tours are also available for a countryside tour starting at Php 400 per head. All you need to do is sign up and its up to the locals to look for other solitary travelers to join you.

Sunrise at Panglao
Sunrise at Panglao

To Do

Beach

Bested only by El Nido, Boracay and Palaui, Panglao Island has one of the most beautiful beach and sunset in the Philippine Islands.  Sun worshipers and beach lovers flock to this island yearly to adore its powdery white sands and turquoise water.

Sun worshippers at Alona Beach
Sun worshipers at Alona Beach
Beuatiful sunset at Alona Beach
Beautiful sunset at Alona Beach

Island Hopping and Dolphin Watching

Your trip to Panglao is incomplete without an island hopping and dolphin watching. Trips are available early in the morning when the water is calm and the heat of the sun is not that punishing.

Early morning race with the dolphins
Early morning race with the dolphins
Sandbar at Virgin Island
Sandbar at Virgin Island
Sandbars at Virgin Island
Land bridges? at Virgin Island

Snorkeling and Diving

I am not actually a fan of snorkeling but my trip here in Balicasag Island made me appreciate it more. It was my first to see for real a vertical drop by the sea. Approximately 70 meters deep, swimming at Balicasag Sanctuary is a bit scary but thanks to the locals and I made it. Clownfish a.k.a. “Nemo” can be found here together with other school of fish with vibrant colors from blue to yellow.

Vertical drop at Balicasag Sanctuary, Balicasag Island
Vertical drop at Balicasag Sanctuary, Balicasag Island

Panglao is also home to a number of diving centers and surprisingly Balicasag Island is their favorite spot. Barracudas, jackfish, sea snakes and various corals can be found here so if you’re a diver, I think a trip here is a must.

Countryside Tour

Since transport to Tagbilaran would cost you around 300 pesos, it would be best to take a countryside tour on your last day where it usually cost Php 400 for a group tour. Countryside tour is available early in the morning but make sure to inform your guide with your trip back to Cebu or Manila for them to check is it’s feasible. Since I only stayed in Panglao overnight, I took a “habal-habal” for a countryside tour to compress and personalize the tour around Bohol. Together with  a friend, a “habal-habal” cost me Php 400 only. Included in the tour are sightseeing at the Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary and Loboc River.

An endangered Tarsier, the smallest primate in the world.
An endangered Tarsier, the smallest primate in the world.

Where to Stay

Alona Beach is the place to be for affordable accommodations. For those who wants to spend less, Alona Grove Tourist Inn, around 3-5 minute walk away from the beach offers accommodation starting at Php 600 which is already good for 2 persons.

Best Time to Visit

Starting June or July, more than 20 typhoons visited the Philippines thus it is safe to visit between January to May each year.

Overall, my trip to Panglao is one of the best for money this year. Its affordability and a fun filled activities is worth a try.

 

 

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