Virgin Island Bohol: The Ultimate Guide

Have you ever noticed how some places just capture your heart without even trying? That’s the magic of Virgin Island Bohol. Located in the heart of the Philippines, this island is more than just a destination, it’s an experience. Why is it a must-visit, you ask? Let’s dive in.
me, male wearing glasses and blue rash guard standing in front of a sign saying welcome to virgin island

History and Significance

The name “Virgin Island” evokes images of untouched beauty and pristine shores. But did you know the origin of its name? Legend has it that the island remained untouched and unexplored for centuries, preserving its natural beauty. Over the years, Bohol’s tourism has skyrocketed, and this island stands as a testament to its rich history and allure.

How to Get There

Renting a Private Boat

For those who value privacy and flexibility, renting a private boat is the best option. You can charter a boat from Alona Beach or other nearby beaches in Panglao. The cost typically ranges from P1500-P2500 ($30 – $50) for a day trip, depending on the boat’s size and your negotiation skills. With a private boat, you decide the itinerary, allowing for a more personalized experience.

Joining Group Tours

If you’re traveling solo or looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider joining a group tour. Many tour operators offer island hopping tour packages that include stops at Virgin Island, Balicasag Island, and sometimes Pamilacan Island. These tours often come with the added benefit of a guide, lunch, and snorkeling gear. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay around P500-P1000 ($10 – $20)per person.

Package Deals from Resorts

Some resorts in Panglao offer island-hopping packages for their guests. While this might be a slightly pricier option, it comes with the convenience of a well-planned itinerary, often including meals, gear, and sometimes even environmental fees.

DIY Island Hopping

For the adventurous souls, you can arrange your own island-hopping trip. Head to Alona Beach or Tagbilaran and negotiate directly with boatmen. This way, you can customize your trip, choose the islands you want to visit, and even haggle for a better price. Just ensure you’re clear about the inclusions, such as snorkeling gear or lunch.

Exploring Virgin Island

Often referred to by locals as Pungtud Island, is more than just a visual treat, it’s an experience waiting to be unraveled. The moment you set foot on this island, you’re greeted by the soft touch of its white sand, which feels like powdered sugar beneath your feet. But what makes it a must-visit?

beach sand bar with white sand stretching as far as the eye can see meeting with the ocean with a yellow boat on the sand

Unparalleled Sandbar Experience

One of the island’s most iconic features is its sandbar, which stretches out like a pathway to paradise. During low tide, this sandy runway emerges from the shallow waters, allowing visitors to walk on it. However, during high tide, this beautiful sandbar is submerged, creating a mesmerizing underwater pathway. I remember the first time I walked this sand bar, the water surrounding it was so crystal clear that I could see tiny fishes moving beneath my feet. And when we returned during high tide, it was fascinating to see the place we’d walked on earlier disappear beneath the waves.

Snorkeling and Marine Life

The waters surrounding the island are teeming with life. From vibrant corals to schools of colorful fish, the underwater world is a spectacle in itself. Don’t miss out on snorkeling here. On my last trip, I was lucky enough to spot a playful turtle gliding effortlessly among the corals.

red clown fish in the ocean playing along the corals

Local Delights and Floating Kitchens

Virgin Island is not just about its natural beauty. The floating seafood kitchens are a gastronomic adventure. Imagine savoring freshly grilled fish or fried bananas (locally known as ‘banana que’) while you’re surrounded by the vast ocean. It’s a blend of taste and ambiance that’s hard to find elsewhere. I have to say, it’s a bit pricey. So if you don’t mind experiencing the food elsewhere, that would be better. But if you don’t mind the price tag, by all means dig in!

Relax, Sunbathe, and Connect

While the island offers numerous activities, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Lay down a mat, sunbathe, or simply relax under the shade of coconut trees. The last time I was there, I met a group of backpackers who shared their travel tales over coconut and banana que, making the experience even more memorable.

Why It’s a Must-Visit

It is a testament to nature’s artistry. It’s not just about the activities but the feelings it evokes. The serenity, the connection to nature, and the genuine warmth of the locals make it a place that’s not just seen but felt. And once you’ve felt the magic of Virgin Island, it stays with you, urging you to come back.

Nearby Tourist Attractions

While the island is a destination in itself, the surrounding areas are brimming with tourist attractions that are equally captivating.

Alona Beach on Panglao Island

Just a short boat ride away from Virgin Island is Alona Beach, a stretch of white sand that’s become synonymous with Bohol’s beach life. With its vibrant nightlife, rows of restaurants, and crystal-clear waters, it’s a hub for tourists looking for a mix of relaxation and entertainment. Try taking a walk on the beach during sun set, it’s mesmerizing.

Balicasag Island

Another gem near Virgin Island is Balicasag Island, renowned for its diving spots. The marine life here is diverse, with sea turtles, colorful corals, and various species of fish. Whether you’re a diving enthusiast or someone who just wants to snorkel, Balicasag offers an underwater experience that’s hard to match. This island also serves as a pit stop before going to virgin island.

Pamilacan Island

If you’re keen on dolphin watching, Pamilacan Island is the place to be. Early morning boat tours offer tourists a chance to see these playful creatures in their natural habitat. The island is also home to a small fishing community, giving visitors a glimpse into the local life.

a dolphin swimming in the sea high enough to see it in the water

Bee Farm on Panglao Island

A unique attraction that’s gaining popularity is the Bee Farm on Panglao Island. More than just a farm, it’s an eco-friendly establishment that promotes organic farming and sustainable living. Their ice creams, made from organic ingredients, are a must-try. I tried the Ube (Purple Yam) ice cream and it was really good.

Island Tours: What to Expect

Island hopping in Bohol is an experience that’s both exhilarating and serene. With a number of islands to explore, each offering its unique charm, it’s an adventure that promises memories for a lifetime.

Islands Included in the Tour

Most island-hopping tours from Panglao include the following destinations:

  • Virgin Island: Known for its stunning sandbar and clear waters.
  • Balicasag Island: A diver’s paradise with vibrant marine life.
  • Pamilacan Island: Famous for dolphin watching and its tranquil beaches.

Activities to Look Forward To

  • Snorkeling: Dive into the clear waters and explore the colorful coral reefs. Balicasag Island, in particular, offers spots where you can swim alongside sea turtles.
  • Dolphin Watching: Early morning trips to Pamilacan Island give tourists a chance to see playful dolphins in their natural habitat.
  • Sunbathing and Relaxation: The pristine beaches of Virgin Island are perfect for those looking to relax and soak in the sun.
  • Local Delicacies: Try the sea urchin delicacies or the fresh seafood on Virgin Island.

Estimated Cost and Duration

A typical island-hopping tour costs around P1500-P2500 ($30-$50) per person, which includes boat rental, lunch, and snorkeling gear. The tour usually starts early in the morning, around 6 AM, and wraps up by 3 PM, making it a full-day adventure.

Sample Itinerary

  • 6:00 AM: Departure from Alona Beach on Panglao Island.
  • 7:00 AM: Dolphin watching near Pamilacan Island.
  • 9:00 AM: Arrival at Balicasag Island. Snorkeling and exploration.
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch on the boat or at Virgin Island.
  • 1:00 PM: Relaxation and exploration of Virgin Island’s sandbar.
  • 2:30 PM: Departure from Virgin Island.
  • 3:00 PM: Arrival back at Alona Beach on Panglao Island.

Where to Stay in Bohol Near Virgin Island

Staying near the Island ensures you’re at the heart of the action, with easy access to island-hopping adventures and the pristine beauty of the sandbar. Here are three accommodations that are ideally located near the island:

plam tress, lounges in front of the infinity pool under the palm tress with a view of the beach

Luxury Accommodation: Amorita Resort

Perched atop a limestone cliff overlooking Alona Beach on Panglao Island, Amorita Resort offers an unparalleled blend of luxury and nature. With its infinity pools, world-class spa, and ocean-view suites, guests are treated to a lavish experience. The resort’s prime location ensures that Virgin Island is just a short boat ride away, making it perfect for those eager to explore.

Mid-Range Accommodation: Alona Vida Beach Resort

Situated right on Alona Beach, Alona Vida Beach Resort is a cozy haven that offers comfortable rooms, a beachfront bar, and a warm, welcoming ambiance. Its strategic location on Panglao Island means that guests are just a stone’s throw away from boat rentals and tours heading to Virgin Island.

Budget Accommodation: Alona Hammocks

For those traveling on a budget, Alona Hammocks is an excellent choice. Located close to Alona Beach, this accommodation offers affordable dormitory-style rooms, making it ideal for backpackers and solo travelers. Its proximity to the beach ensures that guests have easy access to boat rentals for trips to Virgin Island.

Nearby Restaurants

The Buzzz Cafe – Alona Beach

Situated on the bustling Alona Beach of Panglao Island, The Buzzz Cafe is renowned for its organic offerings. A venture by the Bohol Bee Farm, this cafe delights its guests with fresh seafood dishes, homemade ice creams in unique flavors like spicy ginger, and their signature honey-glazed chicken. Its beachfront location offers a serene ambiance, making it an ideal spot to relax and dine after a day at Virgin Island.

chocolate ice cream with a drawing of a bee in the background

Luna Rossa Tropica

Just a few minutes away by foot from Alona Beach, Luna Rossa Tropica is a culinary haven known for its Italian-Filipino fusion dishes. Tourists and locals alike rave about their handmade pizzas, fresh seafood pasta, and local delicacies. The restaurant’s cozy ambiance, combined with its delectable menu, makes it a top choice for those looking to unwind after their island excursions.

Pilya Basta Cuisine

Located near Alona Beach, Pilya Basta Cuisine offers a delightful mix of Filipino and international dishes. With its quirky interiors and a menu that boasts dishes like “Sinuglaw” (a mix of grilled pork and fish ceviche) and spicy “Gambas al Ajillo”, it’s a place that promises both fun and flavor. After a tiring day at Virgin Island, tourists often head here to enjoy a hearty meal and a refreshing drink.

Tips for Visitors

Visiting Virgin Island is a great experience, but a little preparation can make your trip even more enjoyable. Here are some tried-and-tested tips to ensure you have a smooth island-hopping adventure:

1. Stay Hydrated

Virgin Island is a pristine paradise, but it lacks basic amenities like stores. When I visited, I was thankful for the advice to bring my own bottle of water. The sun can be intense, and staying hydrated is crucial. Pack a reusable water bottle to keep yourself refreshed throughout the day.

2. Pack Snacks

While there are some local vendors selling seafood and snacks, it’s a good idea to pack some light snacks. Think energy bars, fruits, or sandwiches. This ensures you have something to munch on if you get hungry between meals.

3. Sun Protection is Key

The sun on Virgin Island can be quite strong. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you’re swimming or snorkeling.

4. Bring Cash

There are no ATMs on the island, and most vendors don’t accept card payments. Ensure you have enough cash for boat rentals, food, and any other expenses.

5. Respect the Environment

Virgin Island is a natural wonder. Avoid leaving trash behind and refrain from picking up shells or disturbing marine life. If snorkeling, avoid stepping on corals. Let’s keep the island as beautiful as we found it.

6. Wear Appropriate Footwear

While flip-flops are great for the beach, consider water shoes if you plan to explore rocky areas or go snorkeling. They provide better grip and protect your feet.

7. Prepare for Tides

The sandbar is a major attraction, but it’s submerged during high tide. Check tide schedules before your visit to ensure you experience the sandbar at its best.

8. Dry Bag is a Savior

A dry bag is essential to keep your belongings like phones, cameras, and wallets safe from splashes or unexpected rain showers.

9. Local Etiquette

Always ask for permission before taking photos of locals or their property. A smile and a polite request go a long way in building rapport.

Virgin Island in Bohol is not just a destination, it’s a feeling. The pristine beaches, the vibrant marine life, and the warmth of the locals make it a paradise. So, the next time you’re planning a trip, make sure to check out this gem. Because some experiences are too beautiful to be missed.
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