What to do in Alona Beach?
Alona Beach is a popular place on Panglao Island, the small peninsula southwest of Bohol. It’s connected to Bohol by two big bridges. We arrived at the Tagbilaran harbour by Oceanjet ferry coming from Dumaguete. From the Tagbilaran harbour it’s easy to get a tricycle which will bring you to Alona for about 250 pesos, depending on your negotiating skills. The ride will take about half an hour, so 250 peso’s (€5) is a good deal and a ride in a tricycle is always good fun!
Where to stay?
We stayed in the popular Moon Fools hostel. Make sure you book ahead as this place is often fully booked. I highly recommend picking a bed in the 10 persons mixed dorm. You’ll get your own cosy cubicle there. You’ll have your own light and socket to charge your electronic devices. The 8 person dorms have the usual bunk beds which offer less privacy.
There are hot showers in the spacious and clean shared bathroom, a rare find in the Philippines!
In the morning you can make your own free oatmeal breakfast with banana, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and marshmallows, yummy! And there’s a big drinking water dispenser which you can use to fill up your bottle! Plus they have superb wifi which even worked in the bedroom.
The only less pleasant experience in this close to perfection hostel was the creepy little Philippino from housekeeping who was very eager to sneak in the shower with me and offering me ‘massaaahhge?’ all the time. So watch out for this horny little man.
Rent a motorbike to discover the area
I rented a great fun Yamaha XTZ 125 off-road bike to discover the area and to visit the spectacular Chocolate Hills on Bohol. The Moon Fools hostel advertises for Bohol Bikes who will hook you up with a Honda Zoomer. Which is fine if you enjoy riding on a scooter. But if you’re more into riding a real motorbike, ask the reception staff to arrange this. I don’t know where mine came from,but it was just there the morning I requested it. I payed 1500 for two days. The bike was brand new and technically in great condition!
The sightseeing route
Instead of taking the most driven way to get to Bohol’s prime tourist attraction, the Chocolate Hills, we chose to take the spectacular scenic route. This route will take you along the south coast of Bohol. Once you have reached the city of Jagna, turn left to start climbing your way up to Sierra Bullones. In this stage of the route I was glad to be on the Yamaha XTZ with its large off the road tires. While the majority of the road in the Philippines are well maintained, we crossed some pretty rough tracks. We saw many people struggling on there scooters. But it was good fun on the agile Yamaha. We overtook everyone with a big smile on our faces.
Once you’ve reached the town of Sierra Bullones go left towards a charming little town called Carmen. From there on you’ll see the directions to the road which takes you towards the Chocolate Hills. Once you’ve crossed Sierra Bullones take a left towards a charming little town called Carmen. From there on you’ll see the directions to the road which takes you towards the Chocolate Hills. You can’t really miss the left turn towards the geographic wonder. Actually we did, twice, speeding past the absurdly big sign 😂.
Link to google maps here!
As usual in the Philippines, you will be charged a small fee to use the road which gets you to the lookout post, 50 pesos per person at the time of writing. A pretty steep road up the hill will take you to the parking platform. Try not be overrun by busses packed with Koreans backing up. Like at most tourist attractions you will find numerous little vendors trying to sell something, like chocolate milk, very creative 😉.
After you’ve climbed the more than 200 steps up the stairs you will have a great view. At least, on a clear day that is. As you can see we picked a pretty wet day to go. Not recommended. So here’s some advice, check the weather in Carmen before you leave sunny Alona. We left with sunshine but ended in up riding through the actual rain clouds in the heights of Sierra Bullones. This will get you wet to the bone. We were passed the point of giving a shit when we arrived at the look out point where it was raining like hell. Just keep on smiling and enjoyed the unvisible amazing view.
After taking a couple of grey and rainy shots and selfies we headed back towards Alona. This time taking the faster most travelled way, passing Quezon, Loboc and Albuquerque. The first part of this route is stunning. Taking you along endless twisting roads through a forrest with tremendously tall trees. It’s like riding through a tunnel crafted by nature. Along this road you’ll find the Tarsier sanctuary. Here you’ll find the super cute looking little creatures with their enormous eyes. To us it looked like a mega tourist trap. There was a huge line of tourists waiting to get in the sanctuary. So we skipped it. I just kicked down a gear and continued enjoying the curling roads.
The second part of the return to Alona follows more straight roads and isn’t very exiting. So we were happy to have travelled through Sierra Bullones on the way there. Of course you could also reverse the trip. If you leave Alona Beach around noon you’ll be able to see the sunset on your way back as you ride down the southern coastal road of Bohol which is pretty awesome!
Where to drink and eat
There’s loads of restaurants at the Alona beach strip, but only a few nice bars for those delicious sunset drinks. These were our favourite picks:
Alona Beach Lounge
A good spot to start and end your night. We did both in one continuous shift one night. A everlasting happy hour from noon till 19:00 gets you very happy before the night has even started. The bar is owned by an English guy who actually bought it while he was on his holiday in Alona last year. They have some seriously strong mango, banana and pineapple infused rum shots for 60 pesos each. You can order snacks and food from the neighbouring restaurant.
Name Unknown: Reggae bar
The first bar you’ll find if you turn left after the beach access road. You can’t really miss it with the loud but relaxed reggae tunes blasting from the speakers. A cool place with hilarious staff members.
The Birdwatchers cafe
Very relaxed atmosphere at this bar. And great live music by Frankie on Sunday’s. He’ll play all requests, no exceptions made. Varying from Whitney Houston’s I will always love you until raging death metal. Yes, we heard both that night. Very friendly staff, there’s a funny guy running all over the place ensuring nobody’s glass is empty.
All bars in Alona beach offer you these pretty views!
Where to eat
To be completely honest Alona Beach is not a great place to be if you’re looking for amazing restaurants. Below you’ll find what I would really recommend. It’s not much, similar to the number of places serving good food.
Buzz Bohol Bee farm Café
At first glance it looks like they jus serve ice cream here. Which is delicious by the way! But if you enter the shop and go up the stairs you will get to their restaurant overlooking the ocean. This was our favorite restaurant in Alona. Healthy and organic food is served here. That doesn’t mean it’s al non fat and green stuff. Try out their tasty burger or the extremely tender spareribs in sweet marinade. And definitely don’t forget to order the fresh spring rolls served with peanut sauce. Another must try here is the mango peanut butter smoothie, it may sound weird but it’s delicious 😋.
Alona Beach isn’t the place to try out the local Philippine cuisine. Not that their local cuisine is that special. There are many restaurants serving western food. It’s mainly pizza, pasta and burgers here. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as it’s good pizza!
The Alona Beach Pizza Contest
When wandering on the Alona Beach strip in Panglao we were amazed by the amount of ‘fresh’ seafood displays. To be honest the displays looked pretty good, even though there might have been some protected species on display. But when we asked for the cost for a nice serving of gamba’s, crab or lobster we soon lost our appetite. The prices were almost similar to what we would pay back home in Amsterdam! So way out of proportion for a Philippine restaurant which catches its seafood directly from the ocean in front of them and definitely not fit for our daily budget.
Unfortunately for us we experienced several successive rainy days in Alona Beach. So the time right for some serious daytime drinking and a constant craving for comfort food. Yes, we did that for four days in a row…
After a considerable amount of drinks at one of our favorite bars at the beach, the Alona Beach Lounge, we were craving for pizza. Because that’s what we all want after drinks right? I’m a big fan of pizza and I think I can be trusted when it comes to judging what a proper pizza is.
Here’s the top 3:
3. Hayahay Resort
These guys have a big sign outside screaming that they have the best Pizza on Alona Beach. Well, perhaps they mean that they sell the best pizza literally on the beach itself. We tried it and to be honest it was OK. But the crust was too thin, it was baked too hard, the toppings were all right though. They seem to love small shrimps here at Hayahay as you’ll find them as a topping on most of their pizza’s.
2. Noah Pizza
Noah pizza is located at the intersection of the Panglao main road and Alona street (street towards the beach). It’s the super bright white tungsten lights and the plastic red and white checkered tablecloths that make this place look super romantic 😜 But I must say the pizza’s are very good and that makes up for the shabby scenery . First of all they are huge! So you could easily share a pizza if you are two and not dying from hunger. Second, the ingredients used on the pizza are top quality. The only thing was that they didn’t put a lot of these top quality ingredients on top, that’s why Noah’s places second in this super official Alona Pizza Contest 🏆
1. Giuseppe Pizza
There can only be one winner, and that’s Giuseppe! The location of this Italian restaurant is a bit out of bounds. You’ll find it if you just keep on walking out of town. It just sits there on its own separated from the other restaurants. But it’s well worth the walk! The pizzas here are amazing. They are humongous! So again, just like at Noah’s you could easily share here. We didn’t, because we were starving after having too many drinks on rainy day number 5 in Alona. What makes Giuseppe stand out above the other pizzas in Alona Beach is their rich toppings and high quality ingredients! They serve fairly priced OK wine here by the way!