Another diver’s paradise, Alona Beach on Panglao Island, just off the southern tip of Bohol is a built up version of Malapascua. While you can certainly spend a few days relaxing here, with the endless touts and peddlers here, it is much harder to find some peace and quiet.
An easy 2 hour ferry ride from Cebu to Tagbilaran and then a 45 minutes taxi ride brings you to Alona Beach on the south east side of Panglao island. Resorts line the beach front, so finding accommodation is easy, depending on what you are willing to pay. Some of the less expensive options are just off the beach front down the small alleyways behind.
There are two main draws to the island – whale shark tours and scuba diving. There are dozens of companies selling both experiences, but at least the dive shops won’t pester you as you walk up and down the beach. While I am sure the whale shark tour is great, we chose scuba diving as our preferred water activity with as there is a marine sanctuary located just 20 minutes away surrounding the tiny off shore island of Balicasad.
Prices vary from shop to shop so be sure to ask around. We chose to dive with Valm Dive Shop as they had the best prices on the island – less than $30 per dive, all equipment included. The sun was shining and the water temperatures were around 28 degrees, even down at 30 meters below. We were fortunate to see turtles, lion fish, nudi branches, great coral formations and schools of giant fish on both dives. If you don’t dive, snorkeling day trips can also be arranged for the perfect day spent on the water.
There is ample night life to be found – you can bar hop all night long with different happy hour specials at each restaurant. The local beer, Sam Miguel, starts at 25 Php or about $.50 a bottle. From live music, to karaoke to fire spinners, you can certainly enjoy a laid back evening with friends in this island resort town.