A few weeks ago, I dropped some knowledge on you about one of my new favorite spots here in the Philippines, the island of Bohol. I’m beginning to love Bohol as a destination for quick weekend getaways for several reasons, including that Bohol is so easy to get to (just a two-hour ferry ride from Dumaguete where I live, or you can fly right into Bohol’s main international airport), the incredible amount of things to do there in nature (visit the Chocolate Hills, zip lining, hiking, rivers, hot springs, beaches, etc.), and the infrastructure and amenities that are special for a Philippines island (good wi-fi, restaurants, AC, hotels, etc.).
But one of the deciding factors that will make me book a ticket to Bohol is the fact that it has some nice beaches – and white sand beaches at that.
Of course, there are plenty of beautiful, world-class beaches in the Philippines, but many of them are far more difficult to get to (like island hopping off of Coron in Palawan), without wi-fi signal or modern amenities (like the sandbars and beaches of Leyte), or just got shut down for environmental rehabilitation (Boracay). So, Bohol is a great mix of everything you need and want, whether you’re living there (there’s a significant expat population) or just for a quick trip.
A lot of those folks end up staying in the smaller island of Panglau that’s right off the coast of the larger Bohol landmass (but still considered Bohol), and separated only by a modern span of bridge.
In Panglau, you’ll find several beach areas, but Alona beach is the one most popular with tourists. In fact, the main road takes a gentle L-shaped swoop right at the access point to Alona beach, a short hill that walks you down to the beach within five minutes. I will say that this hill area – and really all of Alona Beach – is fairly commercial, covered in scuba diving shops, tour agencies, souvenir kiosks, Korean restaurants and spas (the area is huge with Korean travelers), and plenty of bars.
So, we’ve finally arrived at Alona Beach – and what do I think? First off, it’s relatively clean, as they do a good job of sweeping p any debris or trash that washes up (or is dropped). As far as the sand, it is white, but can get a little trampled at times, so I’d rate it a “B” as a beach. The water isn’t visibly unclean, but can easily get choppy when the wind blows or waves come in. It’s a relatively short span of sand – only about 1 ½ kilometers. One end is definitely more crowded and commercial, and we can call this the “local” section (although it’s packed with tourists, too).
But take a right instead of a left off the main access point and the beach becomes surprisingly less crowded. The hotels and restaurants are better spaced out until you reach a nice expanse of beach on the end that offers some space and solitude amid rock formations.
Either way, it’s a pleasant place to take a stroll under shade of the palm trees, catch a beer at sunset, a coffee at happy hour, or jump in the water. Although there are nicer beach areas in Panglau and Bohol (like Danalaua Beach and the South Bay Resort), Alona Beach is a great place to be in the center of the action but also enjoy the sand, sun, and waves.