đź’¬

Explore Panglao Island: A Premier Tourist Destination in Bohol, Philippines

Located in Central Visayas, Panglao Island is a rising destination in the Philippine archipelago. Known for its pristine beaches and vibrant coral reefs, Panglao has emerged as a top destination for tourists seeking both adventure and relaxation. With its close proximity to the main island of Bohol and easy accessibility via the newly opened Panglao International Airport, Panglao is not just a paradise island, it’s a gateway to the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Philippines, making it a popular tourist destination.

We’ve been here many times and never get tired of visiting the place. This will be my first article curating some important information according to our experience. So let’s go!

Key TakeawaysDetails
LocationPanglao Island is situated in Central Visayas, Philippines.
AccessibilityEasily accessible via the Bohol–Panglao International Airport.
GeographyKnown for white sandy beaches, clear blue waters, and a landscape primarily made up of marl and limestone.
Historical SignificanceServed as a strategic trade and migration point with influences from various cultures including Spanish and American.
Famous ForExceptional beaches, rich marine biodiversity, diving and snorkeling sites, cultural heritage, and eco-tourism efforts.
TransportationOptions include tricycles, motorbikes, rental vehicles, taxis, and vans.
Major AttractionsAlona Beach, Hinagdanan Cave, Balicasag Island, Virgin Island, South Farm, Egay’s Farm, Bohol Bee Farm, Panglao and Dauis Churches, Nova Shell Museum, Molave Cliff Dive.
AccommodationRange from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels.
DiningOffers local delicacies like Chicken Adobo and Kinilaw, seafood dishes, and farm-to-table experiences at Bohol Bee Farm Restaurant.
ActivitiesScuba diving, snorkeling, island hopping, cultural tours, dolphin watching, stand-up paddleboarding, and beach yoga.
Best Time to VisitDry season from December to June; wet season from July to November.
Cultural HighlightsFestivals like the Sandugo Festival and local crafts.
Conservation EffortsCoral reef protection and sustainable tourism practices.
Planning TipsBook accommodations early during peak season; consider renting a scooter for local transport.

Geography of Panglao Island

Panglao Island boasts a landscape adorned with white sandy beaches that stretch under endless skies of blue. The island offers a picturesque setting that captivates visitors the moment they arrive. Spanning an area of approximately 80.5 square kilometers, Panglao is small yet packed with breathtaking vistas and natural wonders. This is actually one thing I love about this place, everything is accessible, it’s just like a big theme park. From the famed Alona Beach to the less crowded but equally beautiful Dumuluan Beach, the island’s geography makes it a perfect destination for sun-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. I’m not a sun-seeker though.

History of Panglao Island

The history of Panglao Island is as rich as its natural landscape. Historically, it has served as a strategic point for trade and migration in Southeast Asia. The island has seen influences from various cultures over the centuries, including Spanish and American, which have shaped its current cultural scene. Historical records and local lore tell tales of pirates and traders who were drawn to Panglao’s shores, adding a layer of mystique to its already captivating charm.

Why is Panglao Famous?

Panglao Island, situated at the southwestern tip of Bohol in the Philippines, is famed for its stunning natural landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. Here are some key reasons why Panglao is a renowned destination:

white sand beach and turquoise green wate under the blue some with some white cloud

  1. Exceptional Beaches: Panglao boasts some of the Philippines’ finest beaches, including Alona Beach, known for its white sand and great opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
  2. Rich Biodiversity: The island is a hotspot for biodiversity, especially marine, with its surrounding waters home to colorful coral reefs and diverse species of fish.
  3. Diving and Snorkeling Sites: With sites like Balicasag and Virgin Island nearby, Panglao is a prime spot for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts looking to explore underwater worlds.
  4. Cultural Heritage: The island reflects a rich cultural tapestry, with historic churches like Panglao Church and numerous local festivals that offer a glimpse into the traditions of the Boholano people.
  5. Eco-Tourism and Conservation Efforts: Panglao is involved in various conservation efforts, aimed at preserving its pristine natural environments and promoting sustainable tourism practices.

Personally, I love Panglao because of the weather, the people, and the food. There are places here that are really quiet and tranquil which I really like. In my last visit, although very exhausting, I liked the time I rode a bike from Alona Beach to the Hinagdanan Cave.I leisurely passed through some farms and local primary schools and felt like I was a actually part of the place.

Getting Around Panglao

Exploring Panglao Island is an adventure in itself. Visitors can choose from a variety of transportation options:

green tricycle on the upper left, yellow buses on the upper right, chrome mitsubishi suv on the lower left, motorcycles on the lower right

  • Tricycles and Motorbikes: Widely available and perfect for short trips around the island. Be mindful of the Tricycle fees though, last time I visited minimum is at Php 200($4).
  • Rental Vehicles: For those who prefer self-guided tours, motorcycles, cars, are available for rent. There are also establishments that rents out Bicycles, rent at your own risk. Last time I did this my legs gave out. Still a great excercise.
  • Vans: Ideal for larger groups or more comfortable travel, especially when venturing out to more distant attractions. And if you rent one with a driver, he may double as your tourist guide too.
  • Bus: This is your last option, not prominent in Panglao. The only known bus is the orange and yellow one that goes from Tagbilaran bus terminal to Panglao. And it does not go all around Panglao, just along the lower Tawala Road, near Alona Beach, then it heads back to Tagbilaran. These buses have pretty good air conditioning which is a big plus.

With the recent completion of the Panglao International Airport, international and domestic travelers can now access Panglao with ease, making it a convenient starting point for exploring the larger Bohol region.

Major Attractions in Panglao

Panglao Island is not only known for its stunning beaches but also for a variety of attractions that cater to different interests:

inside a cave with stalactites and stalagmites with a clear lagoon in the middle

  1. Alona Beach: Renowned for its white sand and vibrant nightlife, Alona Beach is a hotspot for tourists seeking a mix of relaxation and entertainment. Needless to say this is the most famous beach in Panglao, this is like the Boracay beach of this island.
  2. Hinagdanan Cave: This naturally lighted limestone cave features a deep lagoon that is popular for swimming and photography. It’s very small inside the cave which also makes it very intimate.
  3. Balicasag Island: Offers exceptional opportunities for snorkeling and diving, thanks to its rich marine biodiversity and coral reefs. Don’t expect a white sand beach, people come here for snorkeling and diving, may tourists visit this place for just that.
  4. Virgin Island: Known for its powdery white sandbar, this is an ideal spot for a peaceful getaway and picturesque sea views. Ask your tour guide or your boat about the tide man before you come here. If it’s a high tide you won’t be able to enjoy the sandbar.
  5. South Farm: A 9-hectare organic land property that showcases rural, handcrafted tourism with activities such as farm tours, animal encounters, and artisan workshops. Visitors can engage in eco-farming, try their hand at crafting clay pots, or enjoy a variety of local produce and handicrafts.
  6. Egay’s Farm: This attraction offers a unique agricultural experience, allowing visitors to interact with the farm environment in a more hands-on manner. This is also a training ground for organic farming, and that’s what they’ll teach you.
  7. Bohol Bee Farm: A commitment to sustainable farming and healthy dining, this farm promotes organic food production and offers tours that educate visitors about sustainable practices. They also have a great view of the ocean in their restaurant. Order their grilled ribs with mango, you’re welcome.
  8. Panglao Church and Dauis Church: Both are significant historical sites with rich cultural heritage, offering insight into the religious history and architectural style of the region.
  9. Nova Shell Museum: Home to a vast collection of seashells, this museum provides insights into the marine diversity of Bohol and the surrounding areas. Great place for kids. My daughter really enjoys inspecting those shells
  10. Molave Cliff Dive: For the adventure seekers, this spot offers thrilling cliff diving experiences with a scenic backdrop of the ocean.

These sites collectively enhance Panglao’s appeal as a diverse tourist destination, appealing to a wide range of interests from historical to adventure and ecological tourism.

Accommodations

Whether you’re looking for luxury or budget-friendly options, Panglao has a range of accommodations to suit every preference:

a view of the infinity pool with palm trees and the beach and the ocean

  • Luxury Resorts: Experience top-tier amenities and breathtaking ocean views at places like the Bohol Beach Club.
  • Mid-range Hotels: Comfortable, affordable, and conveniently located near major attractions.
  • Budget Lodgings: Guesthouses and hostels provide cost-effective stays without compromising on the experience.

Strategically positioned around the island, these accommodations offer easy access to beaches and local dining, ensuring a comfortable stay for all travelers. If you’re a big family looking to enjoy the beach, staying in resorts with beachfront is the best. But if you’re going out for tours daily, mid range hotels are a great choice.

Dining and Cuisine

Panglao Island offers a rich tapestry of dining experiences that cater to both local and international palates. Here are some culinary highlights:

chicken dishes with sauces on the left and some sticky rice delicacies like kalamay on the right

  • Local Delicacies: Try the famou “Chicken Adobo”, a dish made with chicken marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Another must-try is the “Kinilaw”, a Filipino ceviche.
  • Bohol Bee Farm Restaurant: Known for its organic and fresh farm-to-table dishes, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience that emphasizes healthy ingredients and local flavors. Try the ribs with mango, I want to go back there after thinking about it. I think this is the second time I mentioned it on this article.
  • Seafood Galore: Given its coastal location, Panglao is the perfect place to savor fresh seafood such as grilled squid, lobster, and the local favorite, “Sinigang na Isda” (sour fish soup). In panglao there’s a lot of small restaurants on the road-side serving different kinds of seafoods, no need to go to fancy restaurants.

Tourism and Activities

Panglao is not just about serene beaches and delicious food, it’s also a hub for exhilarating activities:

two people scuba diving, swimming side by side near the ocean floor

  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: With sites like Balicasag Island, the island is a diver’s paradise, boasting colorful coral gardens and diverse marine life. You can find a lot of diving shops in Alona Beach if you need a guide. I find snorkeling very fun, I’m still yet to learn diving but i’m getting there.
  • Island Hopping: Spend a day visiting nearby islands like Virgin Island for more pristine beaches. There’s a tour package for this which I’ll write about soon.
  • Cultural Tours: Explore the local heritage by visiting historical churches and museums that offer a glimpse into Bohol’s rich history.

Outdoor Experiences

For those looking for more specific experiences, Panglao has plenty to offer:

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

  • Dolphin Watching: Join a morning boat tour to spot dolphins playing in the wild. You have to rise early though, last time we left the hotel at 6AM to catch a glimpse of the dolphins.
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Try your balance at paddleboarding along the gentle waves of the clear blue waters. Try this to get a good laugh. I know I did.
  • Beach Yoga: Many resorts offer morning yoga sessions on the beach, a perfect way to start your day. Resorts with beach front, the ones along Alona beach usually have this activity.

Best Time to Visit

To fully enjoy Panglao Island’s offerings, timing your visit is key:

  • Dry Season (December to June): Ideal for beach activities and diving, as the seas are calm and the weather is sunny.
  • Wet Season (July to November): While rainier, this season offers lush landscapes and fewer tourists, which might be perfect for those looking for a quieter visit.

I personally prefer the early months of the Dry Season, January to February. There’s not much tourists yet and I don’t have to worry about the rain. The weather is a bit cooler too. The only downside is that it’s always so sunny I have to make sure I don’t forget to apply sunscreen.

Cultural Highlights

Panglao is rich in cultural traditions:

vases on the left side, nippa. hut with a creek in the middle and a farm on the. right side

  • Festivals: Don’t miss the Sandugo Festival in July, celebrating the historic blood compact between Spanish explorers and local chieftains. If you like attending festivals then come to Panglao in May. I’ll be sure to make a list of festivals so don’t forget to visit our Blog page.
  • Crafts: Visit local artisans for unique souvenirs like handwoven baskets, wood carvings, and clay pots.

Conservation Efforts

Panglao is actively involved in marine conservation:

a huge round coral reef under the blue sea with the sun's rays shining on it

  • Coral Reef Protection: Several initiatives aim to preserve the coral reefs around Panglao, crucial for maintaining the marine ecosystem.
  • Sustainable Tourism Practices: Local businesses and tours are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices to minimize environmental impact.

Planning Your Trip

When planning your trip to Panglao:

  • Accommodations: Book early, especially during peak season, to secure the best spots. Go to tourism summits, I was able to nab some sweet deals last year. Those promos are very limited so better come early.
  • Local Transport: Consider renting a scooter to explore the island at your own pace. Don’t forget you also have the option to rent bicycles. Rented a bike last time and my whole body ached the next day though.

Conclusion

Panglao Island is a treasure trove of natural beauty, rich culture, and endless adventure. Whether you’re a beach lover, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, Panglao has something to offer. So pack your bags, bring your spirit of adventure, and prepare for an unforgettable experience on one of the Philippines’ most beloved islands.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top