I’ve written before about Shaka, the delightful and uber-healthy café on the island of Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines. There, along the main road that quickly turns into jungle and then coastline with rare and epic surf breaks (like Cloud 9), Shaka stands tall. Vastly important on the island because there are so few healthy options in Filipino cooking and restaurants, Shaka is rightfully super busy all day, with lines of hungry surfers with sun-kissed hair, enviable abs, and big appetites.
So, I was happy to see a Shaka here on Bohol, one of the Philippines’ biggest islands and a popular tourist destination. To be specific, it’s in the popular Alona Beach area (they really do have white sand AND Wi-Fi that works – almost unheard of in the Philippines!) on the smaller island of Panglau, just an easy 20-minute drive from the airport and ferry port in the main city of Tagbilaran.
This Shaka, however, is disappointingly not right on the beach or near the surfing or ocean hotspots. I was surprised to see that it sits in a nondescript retail space along the main road about a ten-minute walk back from the beach along the highway. While that’s not a big deal, it messes with my perception of Shaka as a really health conscious and natural SURFING snack shack.
While this Shaka is also run by the same owner (a nice, chippy, energetic UK guy who never seems to sweat), there are some differences from the original in Siargao. First off, this one is bigger – which is good. When they started in Siragao, they never anticipated the instant popularity and swell of foot traffic coming in all day, every day, and so that space is woefully small. It’s become more of a come in and get your healthy bowl to go kinda establishment because of the lines and lack of seating space (but they’re looking to expand).
They didn’t make the same mistake with Bohol’s Shaka, as it’s got three sizable tables on their patio out front and about eight more tables inside. The layout is good with booth-like seating against the walls that maximize space but keeps with the open flow – the front doorway is always open as well as two big window openings. However, there is no view at all here as you’re looking out at a busy street, which really cheapens SHaka’s lofty brand image, in my opinion.
The really bad news is that it’s hot in Shaka. I mean like REALLY hot. Like hot for Southeast Asia and then add ten degrees. Other than a few public markets, I don’t think I’ve been inside a structure in Asia that was warmer, all the time. They have some fans blowing on the patrons dripping sweat, but it’s not nearly enough. In fact, people frequently move seats to sit near the fan and jockey for position to sit OUTSIDE because it’s far cooler out there! That’s something they have to address with aircon (or a new location).
The good news is that the food at Shaka is exactly the same – which is to say, amazing. They have the same blended fruit and granola bowls that are perfect fuel for a day at the beach and plenty of healthy vegetarian options. Despite the crazy heat and lack of view, I recommend visiting Shaka every day for a quick, nutritional boost when you’re in Alona Beach!
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