To get to Alona beach, we needed to arrange transport from Pangangan in central Bohol. We left our guesthouse at Isla Hayahay, and took a trike to the bus stop on the main road (100 pesos). We then took a yellow air conditioned bus down the coast road to Tagbilaran (26 pesos).
The bus wasn’t busy, but the driver was moving like he was in a real hurry, and we were tearing along. He was possibly inspired by the movie they were showing on the overhead screen (Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, about a runaway bus…).
The bus took about an hour to reach Tagbilaran, where we found ourselves in a large, busy car park full of jeepneys and trikes. There was a market on one side, and a large shopping mall on the other.
The mall was well stocked with goodies, including ready-cooked suckling pig (Lechon).
We took the opportunity to load up on snacks, fruit and wine (only 200 pesos for a bottle of red!) from the mall before jumping in a trike and heading for Alona Beach on Panglao island (300 pesos).
The ride from Tagbilaran to Alona beach took about 30 minutes, with access along a narrow causeway. The total travel time from Pangangan to Alona beach was 2 hours -excluding shopping.
Alona beach came as quite a pleasant surprise. If you read up about it online as we did, you get the impression that this is an overcrowded tourist magnet. It’s true enough that we saw more tourists here than anywhere else, but (in March at least), its not overcrowded.
In fact, there’s plenty of space on the beach during the day, and its pleasantly animated during the evening. No head-banging music, just 2 or 3 groups of talented musicians playing laid back reggae and blues.
There are a couple dozen reasonably-priced restaurants (count on around 600 pesos for a meal for two, including beer), and plenty of bars offering all-day happy hour discounts.
There are around a dozen or more dive/snorkeling shops where you can rent gear and arrange dive trips. One days rental of snorkeling equipment costs 300 pesos.
We found an internet cafe just behind our resort, and you can get a 1-hour massage at many locations along the beach for 300 pesos.
The beach itself is only about 700 metres long and from 10 to 30 metres wide. Its called a ‘white’ beach, but I reckon that’s more to do with the colour of the newly-arrived tourists than the quality of the sand 😉
Heading up the road away from the beach, you can find a variety of small souvenir shops and food stores, as well as some less expensive but equally good eateries. There’s also a European-style pub called Helmut’s, if you feel the need.
Ashiyana Resort, Alona Beach
For our accommodation, we booked the Ashiyana Resort, just 5 minutes walk from Alona Beach. This is a beautiful little gallery lodge with 7 or 8 ground floor apartments comprising a good sized bedroom, shower room and toilet.
The style is very Feng shui and comfortable. The staff are helpful and attentive, providing mosquito coils in the outdoor sitting gallery.
Hot and cold water is provided on tap, and a good breakfast (included in the 32 euro price) is served at a private table in front of your room. There is also a solid combination safe in the room.
The location is quiet, yet close to the action. The only drawback with this place is there aren’t full solid walls between each lodge. This means you can clearly hear all speech and activities in the adjoining lodges, as if they were in the same room. This is the only negative point we have with this place, but it is a significant one.
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