Bohol: Beaches

Balicasag Island, which lies 60 kms off Panglao and can be reached via a 45-minute boat ride, is a marine sanctuary. Quite amazing though, is despite its proximity to the modern luxuries in Tagbilaran and Panglao, this island has remained unspoiled, even wild, and presents a vivid picture of true island living: its residents, composed of about 100 families are quite isolated from the rest of the province, having their own chapel, school, lighthouse, and I suppose their main diet consists of seafood and home-grown vegetables. And at just 25 hectares, the island also boast of not one, but two light houses – the old one, and the more modern version standing a few meters away

 


One local told me that the island doesn’t even have full electricity, only having them after dark, when they would need to light up; and note, this service was only recently available to them. I don’t know if this is accurate but judging from their simplistic way of living, I guess it must be true. Locals make their living selling souvenirs to tourists, cooking food, and renting out snorkeling gear. 
It isn’t great though – the food is too expensive, considering that they just get it from the ocean, and the cooking leaves much to be desired (it hardly even looks appetizing; a group of French tourists had to approach us and ask what it was we were eating). 

Looks more like charred pork but this is supposed to be grilled pork. It’s okay once you drench it in soy sauce with lots of chilli.

This is supposed to be pinakbet. A tad too salty for me.

Plus, the snorkeling gear have all seen better days; some are moderately used, most are full of holes and ripped apart. I would even think that these stuff were bought second hand or picked up from discarded trash of other tourists. In any case, rental of the snorkeling gear is Php150 for the foot gear and Php 150 for the snorkels. You shell out an additional Php150 for the guide, bringing your total per head of Php450. But for what it’s worth, the Php150 for the guide is reasonable and just considering that manong has to paddle your boat and make sure you don’t drown. And the experience is just worth so much more than that.

Hubby and me underwater

Now, for those who are more sensitive, I suggest you bring your own gear. I wouldn’t have wanted to use the ones the locals were renting out but my want to see the underwater paradise won over my initial hesitation. There is also a PTA-accredited resort on the island, the Balicasag Island Dive Resort and I would suppose they have more decent gears available for rent. But the boatmen would usually take their passengers to the locals – must be some sort of agreement; or horror of horrors, maybe that was the resort??? In any case, hubby and I made the resolve to bring our own stuff next time we go snorkeling. 
After that, we headed off to Virgin Island, so-called because it is uninhabited and there are no permanent structures on the island. I can’t really say much about this place except that it is pure heaven to be here, I didn’t even mind the heat.
lots of starfishes!
The water here is soooo clear and courtesy of the many sandbars in the area, you can walk perhaps a hundred meters or so from the shore and the water only reaches up to your legs.  

Ok, I finally got the courage to hold the biggest starfish we could find AFTER everyone has held it. Hey, had to make sure it wont bite me.


this tree was more than fifty meters from the shore!

There were lots of tourists though, this being summer, but we still got some parts of the island to ourselves.

.

This is not  an islet in the middle of the ocean, but the edge of virgin island.

 I had a bit of a freak “accident” while swimming near the island. As I was getting up to walk, I slipped a bit and landed hard on my right hand. I wasn’t hurt a bit, but I can’t say the same for a poor starfish I fell on – I picked and up and it was squirting gooey white liquid off its arms. It’s kind of icky so I just dropped it back into the ocean. 
The heat was terrible but thank goodness for my trusty sunblocks and enterprising locals, we got fresh coconuts and some banana cue to fight it with.

yeah, that’s a banana you spy right there on the sand beside me. I dropped it in my eagerness to eat it. 😦

There are also lots of vendors selling wonderful pearls – I got me a set courtesy of the hubby.

Loved this bracelet. Too bad the clasp was broken and I must have dropped it somewhere between our room and the reception on our way out of the resort. 😦



Back at our hotel, another stretch of paradise awaited us. I never really felt like I missed on anything in my last trip until I stayed here. Imagine waking up and the beach, hundreds of meters of very fine white sand, just a few steps away from your door. I am a water person and I love, love, love the ocean.  And while I like Boracay, I love Bohol because you get to enjoy nature without tons of people bustling about.

Heaven!

Hubby and I didn’t waste time – as soon as we arrived at the resort from our island hopping adventure, we headed off to the beach. 

This is the life

Bohol Beach Club, where we stayed, is an old resort, part of the Tambuli group. We’ve stayed in their Cebu Beach Club/Tambuli Resorts in Cebu a couple of years back. The beach is perfect and I love their open restos and the sutukil; the rooms though, are another matter. Bed is okay, but the showers are broken and the room is not too clean- I didn’t even want to walk around in my bare feet. So it was a very far cry from the room I stayed in at Linaw Beach Resort (I recommend Linaw if you want really big rooms, good food and all around pampering). So I must say the only draw here is the beach. 
Now, if you’re not a beach fan, you can still choose from one of three pools. Our room is fortunately close to the biggest pool in the resort- we actually only need to walk ten meters or so and jump right into the pool. However, my gripe is that it’s not heated. I get cold very easily and I would have appreciated swimming at night if the water was warm. 
Pool #1 – this is the smallest,located near the Habagat restaurant
Pool # 2 – 2nd biggest, located near the Habagat rooms
And pool # 3 – in front of the Amihan cluster of rooms
Aside from three pools, BBC also has two restaurants in each wing, a bar, a sutukil area right at the beach with bottomless fruit juices, a massage area, and lots of conference rooms. 



The food at the restaurants is okay but I find it kind of expensive considering that it doesn’t really look or taste special. On our second night, we wandered to the next resort and found several restaurants offering cheaper food that taste even better!
First 6 photos from top left are what we had at BBC; the bottom three are from a restaurant along Dumaluan Beach – the chocolate cake was soooo delicious!


SOME TIPS IN PLANNING YOUR TOUR
The resort where we stayed offers tours and island hopping packages, but the prices are a bit extreme, so before we left for Bohol, I looked for independent providers who charge cheaper rates and came across Bohol Tours and Packages. We took their Chocolate Hills Tour for only Php 2,500. Manong picked us right off at the airport at 6am and we were able to finish the itinerary even before we checked in at the resort at 2PM! How’s that for speedy?
Our itinerary for day 1 covered the ff. Spots:
Chocolate Hills (entrance is Php50 per head)
Man made forest
Hanging Bridge (Php20 per head)
Tarsier
Loboc Church
Loboc River Cruise (Php400 per head)
Baclayon Church
Blood Compact Shrine
Here are their other packages:
Tour Package
Van Rate
Chocolate Hills Tour
2,500.00
Panglao Island Tour
2,000.00
Loboc Tour
2,000.00
Transfer to Panglao Hotels
800.00
Ubay Agri-Park Tour
4,000.00
Sagbayan Peak Tour
3,000.00
Tagbilaran City Tour
1,500.00
Dolphin Watching
2,000.00
Since we had a very smooth transaction with the day tour, we opted to use the same provider for our island hopping adventure. At only Php2,000, we had dolphin watching, snorkelling at Balicasag, and swimming at Virgin Islands. Too bad though the dolphins didn’t show up.
We also got their car transfer services for only Php700 on our last day and manong was kind enough to let us have a few minutes wandering around the Tagbilaran Church and visit the Apropriana Souvenur shop. J
  
You can contact them at boholtoursandpackages@yahoo.com them at +63 919 584 2137 or +63 927 618 0959.
That’s our flight home. See you next time Bohol!

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Bohol: Beaches

  1. yeah, read it nga sa blog mo. 🙂 but at least you had zee with you. next time, un beach naman itinerary nyo. favorite beach ko bohol beaches. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s