7 June 2015

Alona beach, Panglao and Bohol

Alona beach, Panglao
After Puerto Princesa, we needed a proper goodbye from the Philippines. People say this country has the most beautiful beaches in the world. We saw some spectacular ones, but the sand was never as white as it can possibly get and the water never as turquoise as we were hoping for. So we went to Alona Beach, because the pictures online looked nice.

And the sand was whiter than the one on the beaches we have seen before, and the water was perfectly see through and a little turquoise. That perfect place had its price though and we were not the only guests there. Hotel rooms on the first two streets from the beach cost a fortune, food is extremely expensive in most of the places for the Philippines and every five meters there is a guy waiting, trying to sell dolphin boat tours or whale shark tours. We went from hotel to hotel to ask about their availability and prices. The first four hotels were full. Then there were some not pretty places that cost way too much. We got pretty disappointed. Then we saw the sign with a blue elephant that said "950 PHP (19 EUR) per night". That was a little more than we planned to pay but a good price for the area. We decided to bargain for a little discount as we'd stay for eight nights.



On the way to go diving off Panglao
The owner just appeared, a nice French guy. He asked us about our budget and showed us the bungalows he rented out. They looked fantastic to us. Solid material, well built, beautifully decorated, spacious, modern bathrooms, we were super happy. Then he mentioned the real price of 1800 PHP a night (36 EUR) but he also offered us that we could have it for 1000 PHP (20 EUR) a night from the next day for seven nights because he was fully booked that night. It seemed like a very good deal, but we were a bit surprised as we thought the 950 PHP would  be the price to bargain down. But the little huts were something we loved to call home for a week and we agreed on spending that extra money for such an amazing place. For the one night we rented a room for 800 PHP (16 EUR) just around the corner. It had just an old fan and smelled mouldy, was incredibly small and the bed was old. But with the fantastic room in perspective, this all seemed bearable for a night.

Chocolate hills on Bohol
Alona Beach has one affordable restaurant at the beach front where they serve set menues from 270 PHP (5 EUR), that are well done and just the right amount. We enjoyed nearly every bigger meal we ate there, During the day we rented a motorcycle to discover Panglao and Bohol, the two islands who were easy to drive around on and connected by bridges.

On Bohol we went to discover the chocolate hills. Brown hills covered with plants. A unique view and worth seeing. On the way back we stopped at a tarsier sanctuary to see the smallest monkeys in the world. In this park they have about ten of them, but only four were visible on the day we went there. They were way smaller than I thought, barely a hand full (don't touch them, they get suicidal if you do!), but super duper cute and definitely worth the trip.

Tarsier spotting on Bohol
Time passed by way too fast, we had a blast, spent some spectacular days in paradise that we shared with many other nice people, diving our hanging our in the local beach bars. Friends of ours said there are way more beautiful beaches around Alona Beach, but we loved it right then right there, on the beaten track.

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Cebu City

This city is okay for a night. We spent it at the Sky Park Hotel in the middle of the city, close to the port. The hotel offers fairly good massages from 250 PHP (5 EUR) and has clean AC rooms. Close by are plenty of shopping malls to get some other food than rice and what ever else you need.

Our house gecko in Alona beach
We landed rather late in Cebu, so we chose the safe way to stay one night in the city before taking the ferry to Panglao/Bohol. If the plane is on time it is feasible (depending also on the traffic in Cebu) to catch the last ferry. If not, you'll spend the night in Cebu, where you really don't want to get stuck without a hotel room.

In the morning we walked to the port where all the ferries leave and booked our open air tickets for the journey Cebu-Tagbilaran with SuperCat for a cheaper price than advertized online (400 PHP or 8 EUR). The ride took about two hours and went all smooth. We saw a huge cruise ship a bit off Tagbilaran in the turquoisse waters. These passengers must have had a spectacular trip. One day baby...

More pictures from Panglao, Bohol and Cebu

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