Getting to Alona Beach
Getting to Panglao Island is fairly easy, at least it was for us anyway. We flew into Cebu City and took a taxi from the airport to the ferry port, which is a quick 20-minute ride. (GBG TIP: Head to the departure area and flag a taxi with a meter instead of grabbing a taxi outside of the arrival area. The metered taxis will be 200 pesos or less, while the arrival area charges a flat fee of 400 pesos.)
Once at the port, we bought tickets for the SuperCat (seemed to be the most consistent) ferry, although there are other ferry companies available. After departing, it was about a two-hour ride to Bohol Island. The ride was smooth and enjoyable, as it was maybe half full. A movie was playing on the cabin televisions and you could buy snacks and drinks on board too.
Upon arrival at the port, we were greeted with plenty of offers from local tour guide companies and taxis. We found a nice guy named Jeremy who brought us to our resort for 400 pesos ($9 USD). We arrived at the Flower Garden Resort early and were still able to check in, which was awesome. It was a long travel day/night and we were working on about two hours of sleep.
We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of space our room gave us, since we had been living in tiny rooms in Japan and Korea. The little bungalow felt like a mansion! It included a queen bed, twin bed, private bathroom and kitchen. The pool on site was nice and it has lounge chairs to relax on if you do not want to hit the beach during the day.
We were walking distance from the beach (5-10 minutes), but didn’t mind as it gave us a little exercise. While having a beachfront resort would have been great, they were roughly twice the price and most did not have a kitchen included. We love to start our day off with eggs, so having access to a kitchen is something we value.
The beach is very relaxed and extremely quiet during the day. The Philippines is known for its wonderful diving, so most people seemed to be out on diving trips all day. Many people can be seen coming back between 3-5pm as the boats drive right up to the shore for drop-offs. Because of this, the beach is virtually empty, which we loved. We are not divers (Yet!), so having our choice of places to lay on the beach and eat during the day was an unexpected perk.
Even though the beach is fairly empty during the day, all the restaurants and shops are still open. You can find something quick to eat or drink like a coffee or smoothie, or you can sit down at a restaurant. We enjoyed splitting a pizza for lunch at Hayahay with a couple San Miguels to wash it down.
While the beach is quiet during the day, it definitely comes alive at night. All the beach restaurants with sit down service bring additional tables and chairs out to the beach along with tiki torches and candlelight. It is amazing to see how many people are on the beach in comparison to the day. We found a great place called Alona Vida, which served a fantastic wasabi tuna steak. This is currently Matt’s front runner for favorite food in the Philippines.
Alona Beach is a nice place and we felt extremely safe everywhere we went. We could walk to the beach a couple different ways from the resort, which allowed us to see different areas we might have missed otherwise. Lots of motorbike rentals and tours are offered as you walk the streets, but if you aren’t interested it is not a problem. We politely said ‘no thank you’ and kept on our way. We found convenience stores, street food stalls, more restaurants and a bank for those needing an ATM.
The vibe we got from Alona Beach was very relaxed and exactly what we were looking for after coming from Seoul. We wanted a place to stretch out and relax on the beach and that is exactly what we got. As with most places in the Philippines, diving is king, but we would still recommend Alona Beach as a place to come and enjoy even without diving.