After spending 3 days in Pangangan (Bohol) we traveled down to Panglao to try out the beaches there. Alona in Panglao is best known for its white sand and weekend animations, but the local snorkeling at Alona beach is also worth checking out.
You can rent a mask and fins for 250 pesos for the day from any of the dive shops on the front strip. Then, you need to make your way to the left-end of the beach. The sea depth here is very shallow to about 100 meters out, then gradually deepens.
From the shore, you can see a large area sectioned off by white buoys. This is the area you need to reach (initially around 3 meters deep). It’s safe to snorkel here as boats aren’t allowed inside the buoy area, however you are expected to follow the buoy line closely, and not venture far from it.
At one point, I drifted away from the buoy line, and was surprised to hear a siren go off (audible underwater). It was only then that I noticed a group of 3 or 4 lifeguards high above on the cliff. Once they got my attention, they used a loudspeaker to instruct me (in English) to stick to the buoy line. I was quite impressed!
The buoy line extends quite a distance in a semi-circle, eventually leading to the next bay. It approximately follows the reef drop off. The only problem is that at this depth (around 6m) the water is already becoming murky. Not ideal if you’re using a simple camera with no flashlight.
I was using my trusty old ultra-compact Cannon Ixus camera, carefully fitted into a very simple DICAPack waterproof case. Secured with a strap around the neck, this is an inobtrusive and handy combination for snapping pictures, and even taking short videos.
I was taking photos and video, and got best results in shallower water. I filmed some very bold and colorful ‘Nemo’-style fish, as well as one of the famous Philippines sea snakes.
It rained quite often in the afternoons on Alona beach, so snorkeling was also a useful alternative to sitting out one of the showers on the beach.
A week earlier, we had enjoyed a couple of days snorkeling in Moalboal, Cebu. Alona beach is a busier place, but it is well worth spending an afternoon under water with a mask.
Alternatively, if you are looking for something a little more low-key than Alona beach, try Dumaluan beach a little further south down the coast.
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