Philippines Travel: Pangloa & Bohol
The Philippines: Country number thirty two of my world tour. A new country with over seven thousand islands. At first when I looked at the map I was overwhelmed, but was soon put at ease as I remembered I had a few friends over there at the moment...
After my 28 hour journey from Sri Lanka I finally landed in Cebu. Be sure you have a flight of onward travel leaving the philippines before you go or you will not be allowed on your flight. From the airport you can easily catch a white cab or bus from the nearest terminal. Because my flight was delayed I missed the last ferry to Tagbilaran, but everything happens for a reason.. The 400 peso ride to Hey Fellas Guesthouse was easy and air conditioned. After checking into my hostel I caught a 150 peso ($3) Uber to meet up with my friend I had met in India. My friend treated me to a few glasses of red wine and a delicious three course meal at Tymad Bistro, a lovely French restaurant in the City. The salmon filet and fresh vegetables made me feel like I was back in the USA.
The next morning after being frightened by the largest spider I’ve ever seen and enjoying my free pancake, I caught a cab to the ferry dock for 50 pesos only to learn getting a ferry out of Cebu was hectic. The first three ferries were already sold out so I purchased the one at 11am from Super Cat. It was 535 pesos ($10.75) to Tagbilaran which included all the fees and baggage. My other friend picked me up once I reached Tagbilaran and we drove through to Pangloa.
Panglao is home to Alona Beach which brings in a young crowd for its nightlife. In regards to beautiful places I wasn’t all that impressed with Pangloa itself, but the diving around Balicasag island was absolutely incredible. There were turtles everywhere and so much beautiful coral along with a countless variety of sealife. I recommend renting a boat for 1200 pesos and going island hopping and snorkeling for the day or going out with Seaquest Divers to scuba dive. The entrance fee for Balicasag is 250 pesos and the price per dive is 1800 with Seaquest. Honestly, it was worth it and one of the best dives I’ve had.
The only other few things I recommend in Pangloa is renting a motorbike to explore the caves and cliff dives along with enjoying a beautiful sunset at Sunset Point. The cave was pretty crowded when we visited but if you go early in the morning I hear it’s a lovely peaceful swim. The cliff dive was hilarious because the locals were all there drinking rum and egging each other on to jump. The sea was quite rough to get back in but it was sure an adventure after taking the plunge from seven meters high! Sunset point is a short walk through through the mangrove forest near Momo Beach and the views are nothing short of spectacular. That sunset was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. There was a full rainbow and a multitude of colors that lit up the sky and I’ve written about it in my “Him” entry.
The other days on the island we explored the surrounding beaches, although the beaches were nothing to write home about the Filipino locals are. We were walking down the beach and I said hi to a cute little baby as I usually do. It was his first birthday party and we soon learned that first birthdays in the Philippines is one of the biggest celebrations. They had a feast, a customized poster with the kids face, a massive spongeboad cake and so much more. The family was incredibly happy to have us sit and talk with them. They kept offering us food(all which contained meat) and soft drinks which is very common in the Philippines. They even had a whole pig roast like you see when you visit a luau in Hawaii. It was fun to sit and talk with them and the sunset lit up the sky a multitude of colors.
What to do in Pangloa:
- Balicasag island snorkeling or diving
- Snorkeling at the local reefs
- Sunset Point
- Aluna Bar- fun beach front bar perfect place to enjoy beverages with friends.
- One 4 Da Road for pool, darts and drinks
- Pinerella Club for dancing and music
- Cliff Dive- 30 pesos to do a cliff jump. Was fun to hang out with the locals and have some liquid courage before jumping the 7 meters into the sea!
Where to eat in Pangloa:
- Naty and Henry’s for local cuisine
- Oasis Resort- if you feel like splurging on the beach this place does good food!
- Shaka Burgers- From smoothie bowls, to actual coffee and delicious burgers, this is where you should go if you’re craving western cuisine!
- Street food- The fried bananas on the side of the road are incredibly delectable! The rice soup served with squid and fish tempura is surprisingly delicious as well! Only costs 20 pesos (40 cents)!
Where to stay:
- Iliamilia Bungalows in Alona- 500 pesos ($10) per night- Perfect location near all the bars and restaurants in Alona! Clean facilities and beautiful garden.
- Bohol Coconut Farm - 350 pesos ($7) per night- Great place to meet fellow travelers and lovely all inclusive BBQ offered to guests.
I decided to move on from Pangloa to Anda, Bohol which is home to the infamous Chocolate Mountains. Honestly the move from Pangloa to Anda was night and day different in terms of raw beauty. Bohol is green and mountainess with the most spectacular crystal clear water and snorkeling. I stayed at 1peace Guesthouse which has its own private beach, bungalows and amazing staff. For 400 pesos ($8)a night you get a bed in the dorm and get to wake up to the beautiful sea everyday! This was a perfect place to meet people and a great place to chill out for a few days.
Do yourself a favor and rent a motorbike for a couple days to explore the island. A motorbike should be anywhere between 350 and 500 pesos a day. We took one day to explore the chocolate mountains, the tarsier Sanctuary and then spent hours hanging out with locals at the Pangas Waterfall. The drive to the Chocolate Mountains includes the Bilar Forest. The chocolate mountains are extremely unique and a beautiful drive through the winding highway. You cross the beautiful Lomboc River where you can partake in a river cruise that includes lunch or grab some delicious street food from the vendors along the road. The tarsiers look a lot like little versions of Sméagol but are super interesting to watch. The Sanctuary is home to over 100 Tarsiers and costs 60 pesos for entry.
The Pangas Waterfall was the highlight of the day. For only ten pesos you get to swim and explore the surrounding areas. This waterfall draws in groups of locals looking for beautiful places to spend their afternoons. The Filipinos bring heaps of food and post up for full day of picture taking and laughing. We were quickly welcomed into a group and were entertained all afternoon. Many Filipinos are worried their country comes off dangerous or dirty to travelers, they are very self conscious and always ask if things have been good or if you’ve had any troubles. It’s endearing and another example of how beautiful these souls really are.
While in Anda be sure to check out the nearby caves and waterfalls as well! The Can-umantad Waterfall is not very popular with tourists just yet and definitely doesn’t disappoint. The drive there is through the local villages and everyone says hello as you drive past on a scooter. I recommend stopping by the rice terraces on your way out for a beautiful view of the mountains. The caves in Anda are also a hit! Some charge for entrance others do not. If you find a local one you’ll get to enjoy watching the neighborhood kids chasing each other around having a good time.
What to do in Anda, Bohol:
- Chocolate Mountains- 50 peso entry ($1)
- Tarsier Sanctuary- 50 peso entry ($1)
- Pangas Waterfall- Bring your bathing suit, water and snacks and hang out with the locals all day! 10 peso (20 cents) entry
- Snorkeling or scuba diving- so much wildlife to see! Can shore dive or go explore the surrounding reefs near 1Peace! 1300 pesos ($26) per dive
- Can-umantad waterfall- 25 peso (50 cents) entry with motorbike
- Can-umantad rice terraces- Free unless you take a guide and then it’s donation based. Make sure you walk to the top of the hill for an epic view!
- Talisay Beach
- Rent a motorbike and drive through the beautiful mountainess hills and along the coast- 500 peso ($10) per 24 hours rental
- Cabagnow Cave Pool- Fun place to cave jump and swim. 10 peso (20 cents) entry and 50 peso ($1)swimming fee.
- Tebaho Cave Pool- Local kids spot to swim! Free entry
- Other caves in Anda: Virgen, Petra
- Hangover Bar or Down Unda Bar- Perfect place to enjoy a few drinks in town!
- Lomboc River Cruise - 500 peso($10) for a couple hour long cruise and lunch!
Where to stay in Bohol:
- 1Peace Guesthouse- 400 pesos ($8) per night for dorm- Great staff and amazing location! Unreal place to chill out
- Alona White Sands Resort- More central 300 pesos($6) per night for dorm room
Where to eat in Bohol:
- 1peace guesthouse- Makes delicious lunches and dinners. They are a bit more pricey, but the family dinners are great to meet people.
- Anda Food Center- Cheap delicious local food
- Arbee’s Bakehouse- Delicious bakery items for five pesos ( 10 cents) each!
- Zenith Bar and Restaurant or Coco Loco- Craving Western food or salads and some WiFi, this is the place to go!