Ok.. to get to Panglao we got a van/bus close from the island city mall in tagbilarian. Unfortunately we were about the last ones to enter, so it was full and we had to ride outside in the back, an adventure by itself! About 1,5 hours ride along Panglao, which is a much bigger island that we thought! When we arrived we were completely covered in very fine white sandy dust. Now I understand why Philipinos always have a small blanket with them to cover their face and hair.
We jumped of the van close to Alona beach, which is ”the place to be” as we had heard.. We had been recommended an accommodation by the spanish couple we met in El Nido a couple of weeks back. Citadel Alona or something like that it’s called.
They had rooms available for 750 php per night, with a fan. But I’ve never met so unfriendly philipinos as here. I was like ”Hi, do you have room available?” ”yes” ”ok, can I see it?” – no answer, the receptionist just grabs the keys and walks away. Haha. Nothing ”yes sure, follow me” or something. The atmosphere was very unfamiliar, but the rooms were ok, a good price and close to the main beach, they had a kitchen and a nice terrace over the street.
After installing ourselves we walked down the road to Alona beach. We passed by many bars, restaurants, shops, cafés, souvenir shops, juice bars, dive shops etc. Horribly touristic. And everyone yelling at you and trying to sell you tours or tricycle rides, even when they see you are walking down to the beach?
Once at the beach we were like…. WTF? Is this the famous Alona beach? I’ve read many blog posts about this – how amazing panglao and alona beach is – but this is barely a beach! There are boats everywhere so it feels like a pier, it’s dirty water, and a very very thin piece of beach, the rest is restaurants, dive shops and other shops, people… We were quite disappointed. We knew Alona was going to be touristic – but it didn’t even have a charm. We found one spare place in the shadow and stayed there for a while, me reading a really good book, and Duilio fell asleep.
We met up with the spanish couple from el Nido, Guillermo is doing his dive master here at Bohol Divers Club, which is run by yet another spanish couple, so we hung out there for a while and arranged to go diving in the island of balicasag, it’s a marine sanctuary so you need to get approval to go there, there are limited spaces available to visit the island and the surroundings, so we booked it for the day after tomorrow.
So we had one more day to spend before diving…. We went to the other side of the beach, which looked like it was better, but it was a private beach, you have to pay 700php to stay there, haha. Instead we walked to a non-private part and slept there until we were hungry.
We walked in to the ”Buzz café” by the beach – the best thing that happened to us in Panglao. It’s an organic café with many vegetarian options, I had vegetarian lasagna – so cheesy and with mushrooms – DELICIOUS!!!
We also got complimentary bread with different salsas as a starter, all home-made – and again – delicious! And also to my lasagna I got a salad with vegetables, fruits, and even eatable flowers, and guess what – delicious! Everything really feels like it’s made with love! Haha. We stayed there for a while, ordered coffee, ice-cream, wrote some post cards etc.
Everything we had here was the best we have had in Philippines by far. It was money well spent, compared to our expensive pizza last night haha. It’s just as expensive as all the other touristic restaurants – the difference is that it’s totally worth it!!
Then we didn’t have anything to do… There isn’t really anything to enjoy here (Except for the Buzz café ;) We bought some pastries on the way home and had them with a coffee there on our terrace.
Next day, finally, diving! We went down to the dive shop to 8.30 and then out to Balicasag. Our dive group was a 3 chinese, me, Duilio, Guillermo and a Dive master.
Overall the chinese were quite special… The girl had a long black dress, make up and even fake lashes, and she kept taking selfies for the whole boat trip! On the way diving! And they had a small stuffed toy rabbit with them, and they were going to dive with it!
The chinese had all the gear – dive computer, fins, cameras and everything – and the stuffed toy rabbit of course – we thought they were pro… but they weren’t good divers at all – the dive master had to hold the girl by her tank the whole dive because she kept sinking all the time and not maintaining the same level as him.. crazy. Funny to watch them under water, when they took selfies with the rabbit etc, I have just as many pictures of them as of fishes, hahaha.
But the diving was really good, the visibility was amazing, like 20 meters! We saw turtles too. We did 2 dives, one by a wall, the marine sanctuary, and another by a coral reef, the black forest.
The crew and the boat was really good too, but there wasn’t any lunch included on the boat as it always has been before when we have dived in the philippines, and they didn’t have any dive computers to rent either, they had just ordered them but they hadn’t arrived yet. To bad, we really like to dive with computers, have to get my own soon!
After the diving we were hungry and went for lunch together with Guillermo and Candela and an Argentinian couple and their son that were on the boat with us to Balicasag snorkeling. The son adored Duilio, haha. They were from Rosario in Santa fe, but living in Madrid, haha, small world!
We went to ”Andreas”, which is a kitchen ”cantina” close to our accommodation where all the locals and the people working there goes to eat. There are a lot of pans with different dishes – and you say which ones you want and pay for that. I was surprised to find that they had many vegetarian dishes! I had lentil soup and then some spinach-thing and pumpkin-thing, tofu and rice – and there were plenty more vegetarian to choose! I think my whole meal was about 120 php and I even got a doggy bag with me since I couldn’t finish it.
Full and happy we went back to our accommodation and fixed a small package of 3kgs to send back home, with some salsa we got at the buzz café, some souvenirs and long armed clothes we haven’t used at all, haha.
Then we bought some Boracay Rum and Pineapple juice (the rum cost 108 php and the juice 95php, haha! – about 2 euros/usd each) and went to our terrace to have some drinks, listening to live music playing from the bar across the street, but having many drinks to the same price as one there, haha. Boracay rum has the same taste as malibu coconut!
We got more Boracay rum from a polish couple we had been talking to earlier that were leaving next day. We bought more juice and got a little bit drunk there by ourselves, haha. Then we got another half bottle from some other guests that also were leaving next day (as us) but weren’t drinking this night, but we gave that bottle to a french couple we started talking to there that had just arrived. Another bad thing with this accommodation – the terrace closes at 22pm! So we got to bed then.. Haha.
Next morning we finally checked out, 2,5 days to many here in Panglao, we took a jeepney to Island City mall (we got seats this time :)) and from there we walked to the bus terminal and took a bus to Anda – and yes – Anda is paradise!! More about that in next post!