Not quite an island, Pangangan is connected to the mainland by a 4 km mangrove-bordered causeway. There are a few so-called ‘beach’ resorts dotted around the island, but little else.
Isla Hayahay Resort, Pangangan
We booked for 3 nights at the Isla Hayahay resort (35 euros per night, excl. breakfast). The place is nice enough, and the accommodation is very good: Clean and nicely decorated, with a large bathroom and shower (hot running water!), a TV with lots of channels in English, and your own outside sitting area.
The seafront is rocky (no smooth sand beaches here), and you can use the snorkeling gear and kayaks for free (though this gear is limited and a bit shabby). The local staff are friendly, but the prices for meals, excursions, transfers, etc are excessive.
This is likely because the place is quite isolated, with no other amenities close by. You need to order a trike or be a determined walker to find anything else.
After dark, the resort effectively shuts down: The staff disappear and the (motion-sensor) lights are all off. Great for really early nights, if that’s your thing.
There is a Pizza place just next door to Isla Hayahay (you can’t miss the signpost), but they are clearly frozen pizzas, and also not cheap at 350 pesos a pop. They also close early.
Java Resort, Pangangan
We found good and cheaper eating alternatives on the other side of the island at Java Resort. However, this does require a good 45 minute hike (or a trike for 100 pesos). The snorkeling is also reported to be much better on this side of the island.
During weekends and holidays, this resort attracts locals who rent the beach huts and participate in the ubiquitous Karaoke competitions. There is a sand beach here, but its littered with stones and flotsam and jetsam, and not particularly inviting.
You can rent quite decent rooms at Java Resort, and at a better price than Isla Hayahay. Unfortunately, you can’t book them via Internet: You just have to turn up and take your chances.
Treasure Island Beach Resort
A third alternative is the promisingly-named Treasure Island Beach Resort. However, with an entrance bordered by barbed wire, the initial impression is more of a concentration camp than a holiday resort. Unless you’re a dedicated walker, you’ll need transport to get there (and get away…).
Upon arrival, you are required to pay 20 pesos entrance fee, even if you just want to checkout what they have to offer. As with Java Resort, they seem to cater primarily for local customers, and they have a swimming area on a decent beach. For the rest, it’s all pretty run down and depressing. They have a sign saying ‘snorkeling gear for rent’, but we were informed that it was all broken.
All in all, not much of a ‘resort’. Where on earth they get the ‘Treasure Island’ connection from is a mystery. We gave this one a miss.
So to sum up, if you’re after a sand beach holiday with easy access for swimming and a variety of eating venues, then Pangangan Island is not the place to visit. Needless to say there is no animation/activity anywhere after dark (6 pm) but this in itself is not necessarily a drawback.
When dusk falls, the local families disappear from the streets, and walking around becomes lonely and a little sinister (you’ll need a flashlight or two).
A big drawback about Pangangan however is the complete lack of shops, or anywhere else to buy simple fruit or snacks.
After Pangangan, we were heading down south by bus to Panglao, and the celebrated Alona Beach. This promised to be either the highlight or the big let-down of our trip around the Philippines.
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