During our stay in the Philippines we enjoy the sun, relaxation and doing nothing. It’s our first trip since a while where we’re not running with a camera around with a list of sights, places, streets, squares and restaurants we need to visit. Sometimes we like lazing too… 🙂 We deserve it too! 🙂 Carelessness, lazing around, a book, swimming pool, beach…
We stay in a paradise South Palms Resort Panglao hotel located by the heavenly Dumaluan Beach on Panglao island. Panglao is located right next to Bohol (our entry about Bohol and places worth seeing there can be found HERE), with which it’s connected with a short bridge. Driving from the airport in Tagbilaran, the only city on Bohol, you can almost miss the fact that you’re moving from one island to another. You will find information everywhere that Panglao is known for beautiful white beaches and amazingly turquoise water which are precisely the things all of us expect on holidays, right? 🙂
Alona Beach is one of the most popular resorts on Panglao but that’s not the kind of place we would recommend to you. Maybe it was beautiful at some point but today Alona Beach is full of rubbish, crowds, solicitors and poor quality restaurants everywhere. All that results with no chances of peace and quiet. However, not far from Alona, there’s a small paradise on Dumaluan Beach where our South Palms Resort Panglao (we will show you more soon!) And nearby Bohol Beach Club are located.
Here it’s definitely like in a dream and you get amazed over and over again every morning, afternoon and evening by the sun setting! Both when you walk barefoot to the beach at 7 am and when you watch South Palms from a boat moving away from Panglao.
We know that it’s a good idea to take a boat from Panglao and do some Island hopping around the nearby islands – Balicasag, Pamilican and Virgin Island. Somebody recommends dolphins, others snorkelling with turtles. We enjoyed similar attractions on Gili Archipelago in Indonesia last year and it was incredible (check it HERE!) and so we know we have to take such a cruise.
By Dumaluan Beach there’s plenty of boats looking like… white spiders on huge legs from a distance. They approach the beach, the solicitors invite you. It’s a pity it’s not Thailand where he boats approaching the hotel beach sold delicious pad thais and cold coconuts to drink. We set our trip – PHP 2500 (Filipino peso) which is approx. PLN 200 for half a day for our own boat – we’ll see Balicasag and Virgin Island. We’ll skip Pamilican this time. Island hopping costs about PHP 6000 in our hotel so it looks like a bargain. We start at 10 am!
First we sail towards Balicasag. We move away from our beach, see the coast of Panglao which doesn’t look exactly like our beach everywhere. As we go along the beach becomes narrower with rocks instead of the sandy coast. The boat sails quite quickly, we feel some pleasant wind, the sun is shining and it’s generally perfect!
Balicasag, located about 4-5 km from Panglao, welcomes us with turquoise water, shore full of small white boats and crowded with snorkelling enthusiasts. It’s a small island which can be easily walked around but we decide to focus on snorkelling and seeing colourful fish near the reef that’s there. We would really like to see the turtles! You can also go scuba diving nearby – there’s plenty of options, even online.
As we reach Balicasag we quickly notice plenty of orange life-jackets and snorkels sticking out of the water. We get out, leave our things, put the shoes on and switch to a small kayak which will take us to the snorkelling site. But beware! Suddenly, even though it was supposed to be included, we have to face a whole bunch of weird fees.. for shoes, for getting us to the snorkelling site, for the guide (which only takes us to the place where we go snorkelling) and even for entrance fee to the island. There’s no ticket office just an old looking Filipino guy who theoretically collects the fee and tries to persuade with a crumpled ticket he gets out of his pocket. Roughly speaking, the reality and conmen get us in the middle of the paradise – it’s the other, uglier side of tourism which we wrote about last year during our trip to Burma – be sure to read about it HERE!
After reaching a solution we proceed to snorkelling. It’s pretty, there’s plenty of fish but also crowds of people and no turtles whatsoever. Once again I’m happy we went to Indonesia off season. „Let’s go to turtles”- we tell the staff but they want some extra money. What??? Aren’t turtles an integral part of the trip? We sail along and see 2 turtles near the surface of the water. But when Łukasz dives in, the water turns out to be muddy and the visibility is poor. Maybe we were unlucky but generally Gili is a whole lot better than Balicasag. We turn towards Virgin Island….
Virgin Island, or its sandy part to be more precise, looks quite stunning. Suddenly, almost in the middle of the sea, we see a little sandy beach. Virgin Island is smaller than Balicasag and nobody lives there. An uninhabited island? 🙂 When the water level is low, you can walk a sandy belt towards another little island nearby. When the tide is high the beach is covered with water and you only see palms in the middle of the sea. We wade through the water, catch some sun and Maks runs like mad and tracks starfish because he hasn’t seen such things yet. On the spot, more solicitors tries to make us buy pearls, beads and coconuts. We refuse. We enjoy the views and after a while turn back home…
We skipped Pamilican but I supposed it looks as heavenly as the others.. If you’re on Panglao or Bohol, it’s worth going there. But for us Gili is still number 1 when it comes to heavenly beaches! 🙂