Having done a fair bit of travelling throughout South East Asia in the last four years, I’ve realized that there should be an order in which you visit countries. For example, Thailand should be first on the list: it’s cheap, easy to navigate, incredibly tourist friendly, and there’s a wide range of things to do and see. Somewhere like the Philippines could easily be second. I had previously traveled to El Nido, Palawan and Boracay, where I went on some of the most incredible island hopping tours and woke up to an immaculate white sand beach every morning. So, heading to Bohol for my third trip to the Philippines was, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment.
1. Panglao Island doesn’t compare to other Philippine destinations
Visiting Panglao Island, Bohol for your first Philippines trip is a great idea. Visiting Panglao Island, Bohol on your second or third trip to the Philippines.. Not so much. To put it simply, Panglao Island has a lovely beach (Alona), but it can’t compare to the likes of Boracay. When I was at Alona Beach, it felt like it was trying to be something it wasn’t; namely, Boracay. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t quite get there. The beach doesn’t have immaculate white sand, the nightlife is rather obsolete, and the overall atmosphere is a bit lackluster.
2. Lack of options in terms of things to do (sightseeing, nightlife)
There are a handful of thing to do in Panglao Island, Bohol like a Countryside tour where you can see the beautiful chocolate hills or jet off on an unfortunately forgettable island hopping tour. Aside from this, there’s not that much to do on the island. Sure, there’s other beaches you can visit or you can spend the day diving, but at the end of the day, nothing really stands out. When the sun sets, after you’ve had dinner, there are one or two bars you can go to, but they aren’t very good and they attract a “particular” crowd. If you enjoy a fun night out (and not necessarily a wild one), you’ll likely be disappointed.
3. Alona Beach is quiet. Almost too quiet
If you’re wanting a very quiet vacation where you can head to the beach and be practically undisturbed, then Alona Beach is your answer. While I did enjoy this for the first day or so, it became boring real fast. During the day there’s not many people on the beach, which is likely appealing to those who like peace and quiet while traveling. I would normally feel the same, but after a day or two, the vibe just felt off, and I thought to myself, “there has to be a reason why this beach isn’t busier..”.
At the end of the day, I would recommend Alona Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol to individuals who have yet to travel to the Philippines. That being said, if you’ve traveled extensively throughout South East Asia, you likely won’t be impressed.