Alona Beach is a favorite place for beach holidays for tourists traveling in the Philippines and for locals as well. White sand, gently sloping beach, numerous restaurants and dive centers – all these make Alona Beach a very convenient place. But is this place really great?
Many people come to Alona Beach in Panglao Island for Filipino exotic, for villa by the sea, for jungle and restful evenings. Well, you can’t find anything of these on Alona. This beach, as well as the Boracay Island, is not a typical place for the Philippines. It’s a crowded and spoiled place. There are not much of nature, but a lot of ATM machines, currency exchange offices and coffee machines in cafes.
Things you need to know before you go to Alona Beach:
- There are a lot of tourists who really love “easy” entertainments. Restaurants are filled day and night. It leads to noise and hustle around. Generally tourists here prefer package tours rather than independent trips. So the general atmosphere here is not like on Panagsama Beach, for example.
- Prices in hotels, restaurants, rental offices and supermarkets are very high. So cost of fruits, motorbike rent, coffee in cafes, hotel rooms in average two times higher than in Bohol or Cebu. Be prepared for this.
- Service is not excellent, there is no famous Filipino hostility. People working on Alona Beach are surprisingly unfriendly, cheeky and insolent.
- The entire beach is public; none of hotels has a private beach. The fact that the hotel is located on the first line doesn’t give you any bonuses. Even hotel restaurants on the beachfront are public. So it’s better to choose a hotel for it’s comfort, not just for a locations near by the sea.
- The coastland is occupied by boats. Boats are everywhere on the beach! When I saw it for a first time, I was thinking: “How do people swim here?”. The answer is below.
Hint: Go to the very end of the beach pass along all the restaurants. The place here is much better.
- People on Alona Beach don’t swim in the sea, they “spend time” in the water. If you look at a series of photos below, you can see that people usually sitting, standing, playing with starfishes, telling jokes and flirting in the water. They do everything except swimming. So the place is more like natural pool for tourists.
- Underwater world directly next to the beach is not very diverse and rich, but there is variety of beautiful starfishes. I just fell in love with these marine animals. They are huge and colorful. I even saw a six-pointed starfish! Try to find the same! Overall snorkeling at Alona beach is rather meditative than exciting.
Reasons to Go to Alona Beach
Starfishes, great coffee and delicious ice cream are the best things on Alona Beach.
Alona Beach is a place with good cafes and restaurants; white sand on the beach; safe sea for children; huge variety of beautiful starfishes; tours to Bohol and Cebu Islands; excellent diving, freediving and snorkeling near Balicasag Island and dolphins near Pamilacan Island. In general Alona Beach is a good place to stay while traveling to Bohol.
Hint. Try the best cappuccino in the Alona Kew White Beach Resort bar on the beach.
By the way, famous sand from Bohol Island is exporting not only to other islands of the Philippines, but also abroad.
Who Would Not Be Happy at Alona Beach?
If you are interested in unspoiled nature and solitude, if you are frustrated because of annoying masseurs and restaurant puller-ins, if you are looking for low prices and friendly staff, then Alona Beach is not for you. It would be cheaper to stay in Tagbilaran City and more pleasant to stay in Balicasag or Pamilacan Islands.
Important Points on the Beach
Banks, currency exchange offices, supermarkets, bus stops, budget eateries, fruit shops, rental cars and motorcycles – all these is located on Alona Beach Road, which stretches from Hontanosas Road to the sea.
Alona Beach map:
Hotels, restaurants, dive centers and travel agencies are located along the beach. Public transport stop on a crossroad of Alona Beach Road and Hontanosas Road. There is no any booth on the road, so it’s better to stop buses with your arm. Read more about public transport in Bohol here.
Snorkeling and Swimming at Alona Beach
Many people come to the beach because it’s really good children. A long sloping entrance into the water with a sandy bed ensures safe swimming. It’s a a great place to teach children swimming. There are a lot of urchins a little deeper, but on the coast you can find only clear water and soft sand.
As a big fan of snorkeling I spent a lot of time in the water. I recommend to go to the end of the beach for swimming. There are less boats and other dangers in the water there. I swam without fins and usually came to the end of the reef, where the sea bed goes down dramatically and sunlight creates fantastic silhouettes of the underwater kingdom. During all this time I was able to see a lot of of starfishes – red and blue, pudgy and lengthful; colorful fishes, beautiful sea urchins both ferrous and colored, corals and even sea snakes!
I was very scared when I faced with a sea snake that swam up to a surface to get some air in a meter away from me. These beautiful black and white creatures are very poisonous. So I just froze and looked at the snake hardly breathing until it was deep enough. Of course, after that I felt very happy, because it was the best thing that happened to me at Alona Beach, except delicious latte in a bar. In general sea snakes, as well as other underwater inhabitants, are not aggressive and rarely attack. But I believe that it’s better to stop swimming for a moment, because they could consider your movements as something dangerous and defend themselves.
Hotels on Alona Beach
There are a lot of hotels and guesthouses on Alona Beach. So there is no need to book accommodation in advance. Basically you can find a room at the day of arrival. You can book a room for one night, and then walk along the beach to find the best place for you.
If you are looking for a comfortable room, it makes sense to find a hotel for divers. Usually they are pretty good.
I stayed at Alona Beach twice, both times in the same room in Walk Inn Haven guesthouse Walk Inn Haven. This place is located three minutes walking from the beach. Everything you may need is near. The place is cheap, but it’s not comfort. Fan room costs 800 pesos, air-con room – 1200-1500 pesos. It’s not very easy to find an entrance to this place. You have to go along Alona Beach Road down to the sea. On the right side you will see the sign. Turn right and go to the end of the narrow aisle.
- 800 pesos – the lowest rate for a fan room on Alona Beach.
- Air-con rooms start from 1,200 pesos for the very modest conditions,
- 2500-5500 pesos for a comfort room.
Remember that if you pay for a long period, you can get a discount. Booking on websites usually is more expensive.
How to Choose a Dive Center?
You can find a lot of dive centers on Alona Beach. Prices in different dive centers are significantly different, but the quality is quite the same. I recommend to choose an average price. But before you buy a dive package, it’s better to come inside and look at the equipment they use. Usually, the owners and instructors in dive centers are Europeans, but all dive guides are Filipinos.
There is no need to book dive packages in advance. All the time except a couple very “hot” months – November and December – there are available places on boats. In addition, when you book dives for next day, you know for sure what dice sights you choose.
I went to Go Scuba dive center. It’s located right at the crossroad of Alona Beach Road and beach promenade. everything was fine: equipment, staff, boats, prices. So I definitely would recommend this center. The only thing I would like to note is that they have just two boats, so everyday there are one or two dive sites to choose.
Common prices in Alona Beach:
- Two dives a day – 2000-3500 pesos.
- Snorkeling from the boat – 300-500 pesos.
The price for motorbike rental on Alona Beach is 500-600 pesos per day. If you rent for a few days you can ask for discount. Please take into account that the price is not related with quality of the vehicle. If you rent a motorbike for a long term, you can reduce the price up to 3000-3500 pesos per month. I would recommend to choose a motorcycle with an automatic transmission, because it’s much more comfortable than manual, especially if you don’t have an experience. You can rent a car or motorbike on Alona Beach Road close to Hontanosas Road.
Places to Go from Alona Beach
- Diving near Panglao Island.
- Boat safari to Balicasag Island, Virgin Island (Pontod Island) and Pamilacan Island.
- Hinagdanan Cave with an underground lake.
- Whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu Island – swimming, diving and watching.
- Tours to Bohol Island.
- Famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol Island.
- Tarsier Sanctuary near Corella with smallest and cutest apes in the world.
- Unspoiled nature of Mag-Aso Falls.
- Loboc River Cruise to Busay Falls.
- Zip-line above the river in Loboc Eco-Tourism Adventure Park.
- Ancient Loboc Church that are still gorgeous after an earthquake.
- Cinema at Island City Mall.
A few tips for those who are going to visit Alona Beach:
- Don’t book anything in advance. You can get better prices when you talk to a staff and you can check everything that is important for you. Usually there are a lot of options everyday.
- Pay after you get a service, when it’s possible. Taxi, private boat trips, private tours. So you can avoid a situation when you paid, but didn’t get something you agreed.
- If you want a comfortable hotel, look at hotels in packages from dive clubs. Usually hotels for divers are quite comfortable.
- If you don’t like diving, but enjoy snorkeling, go to Balicasag Island with divers. It’s cheaper and better than renting a private boat (300-500 pesos per person).
- Swim and relax with the kids at the end of the beach, away from restaurants, boats and water scooters.
- Try an excellent ice cream on the beach. Don’t be afraid to try unusual spicy options. A taste and quality is not worse than the famous Italian gelato!
How to Get to Alona Beach?
There are no airports or ferry terminals in Panglao Island. So you have to go to Bohol Island before you go to Alona Beach in Panglao.
How to Get to Bohol Island?
- Plane. Tagbilaran Airport takes flights of AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines from Manila. The flight takes about an hour.
- Fast ferries from Cebu to Tagbilaran. Travel on Ocean Jet (800 pesos), Super Cat (400 pesos), Weesam Express (400 pesos) boats takes 2-3 hours. The first ferry from Cebu go at 6 am, the last at 6 pm. From Tagbilaran – at 7 am and 6.30 pm respectively. You can buy round trip tickets, they are cheaper.
- Fast ferries from Cebu to Tubigon of Starcraft and Weesam Express companies. This trip is faster (1-2 hours) and cheaper (200-250 pesos), but Tubigon is away from Bohol points of interest and Alona Beach.
- Fast ferries from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran. Ocean Jet (700 pesos) takes 2-3 hours.
- Regular ferries from Cebu. These ferries are quite slow and rare, but cheap (around 200 pesos).
Get more information about ferries and flights here.
How to Get to Alona Beach from Tagbilaran City?There is about 20 km from Tagbilaran to Alona Beach. From Tagbilaran ferry terminal or from Tagbilaran airport you can go by car (600 pesos), by tricycle (300 pesos) or by public transport (about 50 pesos). Jeepneys to Alona Beach go from bus terminal bear Island City Mall and from Tagbilaran Panglao Bus Terminal.
- Place: Alona Beach, Panglao Island
- Nearest town: Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines
- Date of the trip: 21 Dec, 2014