Panglao Island, Bohol is a good destination for those who are looking for an easy to get to short beach holiday. Panglao Island is a less developed version of Boracay, which for some might be great as it’s not as crowded (though it certainly looks like it’s becoming that way) or Westernized. However, that also means there’s not quite as much to do. In an attempt to fit as much as possible into a vacation, here are 10 things to do in Panglao Island, Bohol; from lounging on the beach and eating fresh seafood, to exploring Bohol during the day and watching a fire show at night.
Here are my personal picks of the top 10 things to do in Panglao Island, Bohol:
1. Soak up the sun on Alona Beach
Since you are on an island, heading to the beach is a given. Most people who stay on Panglao Island find accommodation on or close to Alona Beach, the most popular beach on the island. You can rent beach chairs for the day, grab a fresh fruit smoothie at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants along the beach, and, of course, take a dip in the water to cool down.
2. Trip around Bohol on the Countryside Tour
Wanting to get out of Panglao Island for the day to explore the highlights of Bohol? Then spend a day on the Bohol Countryside Tour where you’ll see the Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, and much more. Though you can book a group tour, I highly recommend renting a driver for the day to take you around to the sights you’d like to see. This way, you’ll have complete control over how long you want to stay at each destination, and whether you want to skip an attraction or make a separate stop somewhere else on the island.
3. Cool off with organic ice cream from The Buzzz Cafe
This Bee Farm turned organic cafe has two small locations on Alona Beach (as well as two others in Bohol). You’ll find the first stall on your way down the narrow road to Alona Beach (right beside the car park), serving only ice cream. The other shop, which is also a cafe with seating upstairs, is at the end of Alona Beach and serves ice cream as well as organic food throughout the day. Expect traditional flavours such as coconut, mango, and salted honey, as well as unique flavours such as ube (purple sweet potato), peanut kisses (a local chocolate/peanut candy), pandan, and durian. One scoop is 50 PHP (about HKD$8).
4. Enjoy a fresh grilled seafood dinner on the beach
When the sun begins to set, you’ll see all of the restaurants along Alona set up for dinner service by putting tables and chairs out on the beach. By 6:00 pm or so, large displays of freshly caught seafood from that day will be laid out in front of the restaurants along the main strip of the beach. All you have to do is pick your catch of the day and they will grill and serve it to you while you dine with your toes in the sand.
5. Take a tuk tuk to Dumaloan Beach
If Alona Beach is a bit too crowded for you, or if you just want to check out a different beach on Panglao Island, Dumaloan is a popular option.. But not with tourists. You’ll mainly find locals who come to this beach to relax and set up a picnic under one of the many shaded tables. The beach itself is quite long and worth a walk up and down in search of starfish and seashells. Depending on where the tuk tuk drops you off, you might have to pay an entrance fee of 30 PHP (HKD$5) to get onto the beach.
6. Go on an island hopping tour
Another popular tourist activity is the island hopping tour that forces you out of bed at sunrise to (hopefully) catch a glimpse of some dolphins. Then you’re off to snorkel on Balicasag Island, ending with a walk around The Virgin Island. While this wasn’t a tour I would personally recommend given my unpleasant experience, I have read many other blogs and reviews about it that were quite positive. Just be sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before going on the tour.
7. Head to the beach for a midday massage
What’s better than an hour-long massage? An hour-long massage on the beach. There are a few beach massage locations as you walk down the beach. Be sure to haggle a bit with them for a good price; a 45-minute foot and leg massage will set you back between 200 – 300 PHP, depending on your negotiating skills and the time of day. If getting a rather public massage on the beach isn’t your thing, then you can book a massage at one of two massage shops along the road down to Alona (just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time, as they do fill up at night).
8. Listen to live music while watching a fire show
After you’ve devoured your seafood feast on the beach, stick around to watch a live fire show performance to the beat of some local instrumental music. If you’ve ever seen a fire show in Thailand, it’s pretty much the same thing.. Guy with two swinging pieces of fire carrying out some impressive tricks.
9. Head out for a day of scuba diving
Many people head to Panglao Island for the diving, as it’s said to be really good. Though I never personally went diving while I was there, you’ll find plenty of diving schools located on Alona Beach where you can sign up for a fun day dive or complete a diving course if you have the time.
10. Drink all the San Miguel’s
A staple of just about any holiday (or at least my holidays) is drinking, and when you’re visiting a country where a bottle of beer is almost as cheap as a bottle of water, there’s not real choice between the two. San Miguel is the Philippines’ drink of choice, so be sure to have one, a few, or a whole lot of these refreshing and delicious brews while you’re visiting whether on the beach, in a bar, or in your hotel room.