Welcome to a new post about Bohol, an island in the Visayas in the Philippines. We spent Christmas and New Years Eve with Cris’ parents on Bohol, to be more exact, on Panglao island, which is a small half-island on the south. There is also Alona Beach – the most popular beach on Bohol with all the Resorts, Restaurants and Dive Shops.
How to get there
Before Bohol we were on Siquijor Island so we took a fast craft boat from Oceanjet (3h) from Siquijor Town to Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol. You can also fly in or take a boat from Cebu City. When you travel with a fast craft you have to “check in ” your luggage where you get a number and you have a reserved seat, like in an airplane. So when we arrived at Tagbilaran we did not know where the “baggage claim” will be. I fact they just unload the boat right at the pier and everyone will just stand in front of the boat to get his luggage first and you have to fight to get through the crowd to get your luggage.
Where to stay
Because we were very late with booking and because of the holidays almost all accommodations were fully booked. Normally you stay near Alona Beach because there is nothing else to be honest. But we stayed first at Nickles Park Apartments which is owned by a Swiss. The apartments have a fully equipped kitchen and are very big. They are also very clean and the service “staff” is extremely friendly. We rented a Scooter from them for 500P per day to get to Alona Beach, because they have no restaurant. Unfortunately we had to look for another accommodation for NYE and we found the White & Greens Beach Resort right next to Nickles but I really don’t recommend that to anyone. We knew that the rooms would be very minimal equipped but the service was also bad. We waited almost 2 hours for our scooters we rented, the beddings were dirty and we did not have any towels. It was also very overpriced. We spent most of the time relaxing and eating at Alona Tropical Beach Resort because the atmosphere there was the best of whole Alona Beach. Unfortunately they were fully booked so we could not stay there. But we also spent our Christmas and NYE there to enjoy the buffet and the show.
What to do
Besides Alona Beach there are no really nice beaches on Panglao Island unfortunately. And because Bohol is so big you can not just drive to the other side of the island to look what the beaches are like. The only nice beach we found was Panglao Beach on the west side of Panglao Island. Unfortunately most of the beach belongs to a resort so you have to pay an entry fee of 500P to stay on the beach. The other side is used by local fishermen so you have to share the beach with their bangkas.
Alona Beach has nice sand indeed but it is so crowded and so touristy. As there is no other place to eat or stay you are forced to be there. You can see in our film that the beach is full of restaurants, dive shops and massage beds. The only place to relax on the beach is at Alona Tropical Beach Resort or at Henann Resort if you are willing to pay 700P to use the sun beds and the pool.
Of course we did all the tourist attractions like the Chocolate Hills, the Butterfly Garden, the Zip Line at Loboc Adventure Park and the Lunch Cruise on the Loboc River.
As you can see in the video we also visited the Loboc Tarsier Sanctuary. Actually I wanted to visit the Chlorella Tarsier Sanctuary because there they are kept in big free range compounds and you are walking through them with a guide to see the Tarsier. But because we were very “intelligent” and made the tour at 25th December it was closed. So we went to the Sanctuary in Loboc. There you are also walking through a compound but when you see the Tarsier sitting on a branch with a banana leaf attached you know that they have been placed there for the tourists and maybe they are kept the rest of their lives in small cages like some critics say. So I would really recommend to go to Chlorella instead of Loboc.
One day we also drove to Mag Aso Falls with our scooters, which is about 1 hour north of Alona Beach. The fall is not really big and when we were there there was also very little water coming down. But I really liked the steep steps going down to the falls through the rainforest.
We also visited the Bohol Bee Farm which is really lovely and which has probably the only healthy food on whole Bohol. All the meals come with red whole rice instead of the boring white rice and they bake their own bread and make their own ice cream. You can also visit the Buzz Cafe at Alona Beach which sells their products.
At Alona Beach there are a lot of dive shops and a lot of people say that diving at Alona is one of the best in the Philippines. We did two local dives with Seaquest Dive Center and it was really amazing! I would highly suggest to do such local dives and not to dive at Balicasag Island. Of course it is beautiful there but all the people are diving and snorkeling there so I don’t wanna know how crowded it is there.