Philippines : Travel Guide to Panglao, Bohol

The Philippines was everything that I had dreamt of and more! I had always had this archipelago nation very high on my list of places to travel to for more reasons that one – beaches, culture, food and more. I usually try to never repeat destinations when I travel but there are a few places that I visit for the very first time and I just know I’ll travel back there in a heartbeat. The Philippines is 100% on that list!

In this blog post I am sharing a full travel guide to PANGLAO IN BOHOL , but before I jump into that here is some general info about the Philippines as a destination. And you can also catch my travel guide to CORON here.

 

Lush, tropical Bohol

 

WHY THE PHILIPPINES ?

The Philippines has over 7000 islands, making it the second largest archipelago in the world! For the past couple of years tons of Philippine islands are being repeatedly ranked as the best islands in the world. Having traveled to a ton of islands so far, I can tell you without a doubt, this is definitely one of the most beautiful island regions I have ever been to in my life – there is no doubt about that.

Top islands in the Philippines to visit are El Nido, Coron, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Siargao and more. Choosing which island to go to is always the first task; especially since the country has so much to offer you are spoilt for choice when it comes to decide your itinerary. Each island is so unique and diverse ; you are guaranteed an incredible tropical vacay no matter what island you choose to go to. It all depends on what you are looking for  – for instance if you want sprawling white sandy beaches Panglao in Bohol, or Boracay is for you ; but if you want marine life, incredible lagoons limestone cliffs – El Nido and Palawan are the ones for you!

Since we had a full week in the Philippines we decided to split it over 2 different islands – BOHOL and CORON. In this blog post I will be sharing a travel guide to Coron; however before I jump into it I wanted to generally talk about island hopping in the Philippines.

Panglao, Bohol is known for its white sandy beaches

SOME TIPS TO ISLAND HOP IN THE PHILIPPINES :

Another big factor which will help you decide which islands to visit is your island transfers. Having island hopped in a few countries in the past where it was super easy and convenient (like in Greece!), I thought that the only disadvantage in visiting the Philippines is the inconvenience of island transfers. Most of the popular islands are all spread out so very few might have a convenient ferry ride between them. The only other option to do is flights. While there are local flights that fly between islands – schedules are erratic, they are notorious for cancellations during bad weather and also don’t fly out 7x days a week (depending on the route they are scheduled to fly out few times per week). So planning your transfers in advance is definitely essential.

Like our situation – if there are no inter island transfers for your islands on the day that you want, the safest route would be to plan your transfers to and from Manila; even though it can be time consuming. This is what we did to break it down :

Fly from San Francisco to Manila –> Manila to Bohol –> after 3 days we flew from Bohol back to Manila –> Manila to Coron –> after 3 days Coron to Manila –> Manila to San Francisco 

If you do end up planning your transfers through Manila, one thing to definitely keep in mind is to keep a sufficient amount of time between flights (atleast 3-4 hours) to account for transfers within Manila terminals. There are 4 terminals in Manila and they are at 4 different locations – meaning you will have to take a bus transfer from 1 to another with luggage. And if you know anything about Manila traffic – it is CRAZY! During one of our transfers we took over 45 minutes just going in a bus from one terminal to another; even though it was just under 5 miles apart.

Secret cove at Amorita resort

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES :

The best time to visit the Philippines is during the dry season from November to April. This is a region you want to travel during the good season, cos it gets hit very often with typhoons during the wet season! Just in 2019 they were hit with 20 typhoons! And we narrowly missed one (it hit in early December the day after we left!). Typhoons are rare in December but this year it did happen. So if you want to totally avoid chances of being stuck in a hurricane – Feb to April would be your best bet.

Magical Sunset over Alona Beach

INTRO TO PANGLAO, BOHOL : 

The tiny island of Panglao belongs to the larger island called Bohol. Panglao is VERY different from Coron which is why we specifically chose it as our second island so that we got two unique Filipino island experiences. It was the perfect paradise of never ending palm trees, white beaches and blue waters. I love that it wasn’t as touristy as some of the other PHI islands ; and hence it felt quaint and intimate – just the way we like it !

If you are looking for idlyllic white sandy beaches  (beaches here are much larger than the ones in Coron), that ideal island resort life (more resorts here than in Coron), chill nightlife and tons of inland activities (Coron is known more for its water based activities) then Panglao is for you! It is a lot less crowded, cleaner and more chill than the popular party island of Boracay which is again why we chose Panglao over Boracay.

On the bridge that connects Panglao to Bohol – dying over that cloud reflection on the water!

HOW TO GET AROUND PANGLAO, BOHOL : 

If you plan to stay around only Panglao then Tuk Tuks or renting bikes are your best option. It is super easy to get around. If you do go to the main island of Bohol you could either rent a car , or go on a tour with a car+driver like we did (more details below).

Fave way to get around the island!

WHERE TO STAY IN PANGLAO, BOHOL : 

For our time in Panglao we split our stay across two places :

1 ) We first stayed at a tranquil luxury boutique resort called Amorita resort which is set atop a cliff overlooking Alona Beach. Absolutely loved our wonderful stay and amenities at this resort. Read more about our stay in my blog post here.
Stunning infinity pool at Amorita resort
2 ) For a change of scene in Panglao, we also stayed one night at Island World Panglao and loved the chill vibe of this place. This villa only resort was not only super cute but also great value, clean and comfy. Best part about it – it is perfectly located in Panglao super close to all the best beaches and other attractions.
How cute is the villa at Island World?!

 

THINGS TO DO IN PANGLAO, BOHOL : 

1 ) Beach hopping in Panglao :

Panglao is know for its gorgeous white sandy beaches. Here are a few of my faves on the island :

Alona Beach in Panglao, Bohol is one of the best beaches on the little island. This mile long sandy beach is lined with palm trees, shacks and other fun stuff! We walked the stretch multiple times everyday cos this beach is such a vibe  – whether you choose to soak in the sunshine during the day or catch the sunset at night with a cold one. While you are here – also get a massage on the beach; there are tons of people offering it and it was so so good + cheap! We got 3 massages in 3 days haha.

On Alona Beach – best place to be on the island!

 

My personal favorite beach on Panglao! So good we went back here multiple times. It has a long never ending palm tree grove , stunning calm blue waters, no shacks/hawkers (unike Alona) and the finest white sands. Highly recommend this gem!

Dreamy Dumaluan beach

 

  • OTHER BEACHES 

Panglao Beach (north of the island), Doljo beach , Momo Beach, Danao Beach (famous for sunset) .

Panglao Beach in the north

 

 

2 ) Hinagdanan Cave, Panglao :

Magical and mystical Hinagdanan Cave is a must visit on the island of Panglao. It is a naturally lighted cavern with a deep lagoon and many large stalactites and stalagmites around it that makes it look so stunning .

Mystical vibes in the cave

 

3 ) Countryside tour of Bohol :

If you have the time I highly recommend the Countryside tour of Bohol which takes you to the highlights of the interior of Bohol. It does take 8-9 hours so would require an entire day. We booked ours through our hotel (Amorita) and opted for a private option which also included a car+driver. Since we were short on time we only did these 3 highlights as mentioned below. I really wanted to also see the world famous Chocolate hills but unfortunately couldn’t this time around due to shortage on time.

Tarsiers are the world’s smallest primates and are found in the Philippines! Bohol tarsiers are 4-5inches, weight 113-142g and are no bigger than the size of your hand! They are nocturnal animals and are very sensitive to sound – and actually commit suicide in captivity. While visiting please make sure to visit the only ethical non profit tarsier sanctuary in Bohol, which let you observe them in the wild. (as there are tons of other fake ones).

Cutest tarsiers!

 

  • RICE FIELDS :

We stopped for all the beautiful rice fields along the countryside tour of the main island of Bohol. It was so how lush and green all around. And the best part – no crowds unlike the rice fields in Bali!

In tropical paradise! Look at all these palms and rice fields.

 

What is the most unique restaurant experience you have had ? For us it has to be Cruising along the emerald Loboc River on a floating restaurant in Bohol. The gentle breeze, scenic tropical views and live music were the perfect recipe for an island afternoon.

Cruising along Loboc River

 

WHERE TO EAT IN PANGLAO, BOHOL : 

Some of my fave eats in and around Panglao are :

1 ) Shaka Bowls, Alona Beach :

Delicious vegan place with the yummiest Acai bowls, juices and other healthy foods.

The burgers and acai bowls here were yummy!

 

2 ) The Buzzz cafe on Alona Beach :

My fave meal in Bohol! The food is fresh, healthy and incredible – try the flower salad and of course the mango smoothie. They also have excellent ice creams here if you are just in the mood for a sweet treat.

 

3 ) Saffron restaurant in Amorita :

Loved the restaurant at our resort – the location is superb overlooking Bohol Sea. Great for a date night!

 

4 ) Oasis restaurant on Alona Beach :

There are tons of restaurants on the beach in Alona – this one was by far our fave. Loved our casual dinner here on one of the nights.

 

5 ) Fresh Fruit Shacks :

Philippines is Mango heaven! Im pretty sure I had my body weight in mangoes everyday and by the end of the trip I was probably 95% mango lol. There is no shortage of fruit shacks all around town – try fresh mangoes, dragon fruits, mangosteen or fresh smoothies so so delicious.

Mango heaven!

 

6 ) Halo Halo ice cream :

You have to try this Filipino desert delicay – it is phenomenal! It is basically like an upside down hawaiian shaved ice with shaved ice, fruits and jelly on the bottom and ice cream on the top. Try it with Ube or mango ice cream – to die for! This one was at Dumuluan beach resort, but literally every place in town has it.

Can you tell I’m excited for my Halo Halo !

 

Shop my looks from this blog post :

 

Hope this guide helps you if you are planning to visit Panglao in Bohol in the future. And you can also catch my travel guide to CORON here.

Thanks for stopping by. xoxo

Jyo

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