Who doesn’t love the idea of a beach vacation? After a few days in Cebu, Philippines, I decided to jump on a ferry and head to nearby Bohol, a neighboring island.
So how does one get to Bohol? I opted for a ferry, which I mistakenly booked online. Why was this a mistake? Because while I thought I had booked directly with the ferry company, I had booked through a third party. When I arrived at the ferry terminal, I learned that my ferry had been cancelled, so I wandered over to the ticket window to rebook my ticket. This is where I learned that I wasn’t entitled to a full refund, only a partial refund and there were no other ferries that day.
TSG Tip: While I prefer to do most or all of my travel business online, it’s not always feasible in the Philippines. I could’ve researched ferries, but really should’ve waited and bought my ticket in person. Another example of learning on the fly I guess.
Here’s something important to note here. My original ferry ticket was from Cebu to Bohol with the ferry stopping at Tagbilaran. My new ticket was from Cebu to Tubigon. For the record, these two ferry ports are NOT near each other. The cost of getting a ride from Tubigon to Panglao, where I would be staying, was much higher than expected. I opted for a tricycle (a motorbike with sidecar) when I negotiated a good price and was told by the driver that it would be a one hour ride. A good 2 hours and 15 minutes later I finally arrived, shaking from the vibration of the bike, but in one piece. From Tagbilaran to Panglao is about 30-40 minutes, depending on the time of day and traffic.
Finally, I arrived in Bohol at Panglao Beach at Adriana’s Place. I was looking for something quaint and different, but near the beach and Adriana’s Place more than exceeded my expectations.
Considered a “native backpacker style resort,” Adriana’s Place offers comfortable accommodations in a beautiful green space with crazy good service from a caring staff.
The resort is run by an amazingly nice couple (she’s Filipina, he’s Australian, and their daughter, Adriana). Not once did I feel I was inconveniencing them or asking too many questions. Conversely, I never once felt like they were invading my private space. They carefully walked that fine line of providing great service without becoming overbearing.
Guests can enjoy Western or Filipino food as well as beverages at the bar. If you’re interested in booking a tour or renting a scooter, you can do it here as well.
TSG Tip: The food and beverages are reasonable priced unlike what you might find at a resort. Plus the food actually tastes good so I’d recommend enjoying a breakfast or dinner during your stay. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a drink or two, maybe even in one of the many hammocks.
Speaking of food, I had a fruit plate and coffee one morning and the fruit was so incredibly good. Definitely a great way to start the day.
Guests can choose from the Family Bungalow, a Budget Double Room Bungalow, a bed in a 4-bed mixed dormitory or a bed in a female dormitory. There aren’t any en suite facilities, but the clean and well maintained shared toilets and showers are literally a few steps from each bungalow.
My stay at Adriana’s Place is still one of the highlights of my trip to the Philippines. Nowhere else did I stay where I felt so welcomed and well taken care of like here. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at Adriana’s Place again on my next visit to Bohol.
Purok 6, Barangay Bolod, Dumaluan Beach, Bohol, 6503 Panglao, Philippines
When I first started planning my trip to the Philippines, I desperately wanted to go to a beach like Boracay, But in 2018, Boracay was closed due to a major cleanup mandated by the government. So when the opportunity came to visit Dumaluan Beach in Bohol, I wasn’t about to say no.
Located within walking distance from Adriana’s Place, Dumaluan Beach is a beautiful white sand beach that rivals that of Boracay.
I spoke with a few visitors to Panglao Beach who all said they prefer Dumaluan Beach over Boracay. Why? It’s way less crowded, the water is crystal clear, and the sand is white and soft.
To access Dumaluan Beach without staying at one of the beachfront resorts, simply enter Dumaluan Beach Resort and pay 100 PHP (approx. $1.89). From there, walk toward the beach, throw down a beach towel, and enjoy the water and solitude of this quiet, yet pristine beach. There are a few food vendors there along with the resorts own restaurant on the beach. However, you can pack your own little bag of food, drink and snacks and enjoy them there if you choose. Consider visiting Dumaluan Beach if you’re looking for a quiet but beautiful beach to visit if you’re staying in Bohol.
Panglao Shores Resort Rd, Bolod, 6340, Philippines
One of the most popular destinations in Bohol is Alona Beach. Since I was only a few minutes away, I had to make my way over and see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing I saw was a fire dancer and live music and scores of people. Alona Beach is where you go if you want to be in the middle of lots of activities and tourists.
I visited the beach at Alona Beach at night and was surprised for a few reasons. The beach was long and expansive, but hardly anyone was on the beach or in the water.
I thought for sure people would be dining or drinking right along the beach, but there wasn’t a single person doing that. There were a few random people in the water, but most were at the restaurants, shops, and bars.
As for me, I was ecstatic to find a veggie burger on the menu at Outback Bar and Grill. In addition to a huge food and drink menu, they also have a large shisha menu. I guess anything is possible at Alona Beach.
Alona Beach is definitely a high energy, busy, and chaotic destination for visitors to Bohol. If you like crowds and tons of restaurants and bars from which to choose, then Alona Beach is the destination in Bohol for you. While I enjoyed it for the time I was there, I enjoyed the quieter Panglao area.
While Bohol might be best known for its Chocolate Hills, I decided to try something different and visit Hinagdanan Cave.
To get into the cave, you have to pay a small admission fee (extra if you also want to swim) and go 1 meter down. The name Hinagdanan means “laddered,” which is what you travel down in order to get into the cave.
Once inside the small cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites, you can swim and dive off the rocks.
TSG Tip: It’s advised NOT to go swimming because of karst pollutants in the water. Ooops! Wish I had known that before I went swimming.
Personally, I found the water cool and refreshing on an otherwise hot and sticky day in the Philippines.
Some people just came in and took pictures and left while others stayed to jump off the rocks. For relatively little money, you can enjoy a cave, some swimming, and a place to sit and cool off in the hot Filipino sun. You can’t go wrong with that, can you?
There’s one thing that I know for sure about the Philippines. There’s bound to be a festival somewhere. Sure enough when I visited Bohol in August, there was a festival at St. Agustine church.
In addition to the expected rides, I was surprised to see games of chance in the adjacent church parking lot. There was one that is a box with colors that match corresponding dice. Place your coins on the color you think will come up and if you guess correctly, you win.
What I found more intriguing was a little girl of about ten-years-old who definitely had gambling in her blood. She was there to win and when she did win, she took her winnings and left. But I saw her getting a snack and something to drink so she’d be all set up to return to the table to continue gambling.
Speaking of food, you can get typical carnival type food like popcorn, ice cream, and of course, ballot or balut (duck embryo still inside the egg). Not my idea of fun carnival food, but to each his or her own.
I was excited to see a small Ukay Ukay (secondhand store) setup at the carnival. While there wasn’t anything I wanted, should you travel to the Philippines and need some affordable clothing, check out the prices. You can definitely afford something like a blouse for 50 PHP ($0.95 USD) or sexy shorts for 30 PHP ($0.57 USD), especially when in a pinch.
Ferry Back to Cebu
When it came time to travel back to Cebu, I chose Oceanjet Ferry for the ride. I even splurged on a business class ticket for 1000 PHP ($19.00).
Seats are bigger on the upper deck and there’s more space between seats. They even have a screen on which they play current movies during your trip.
I was able to curl up in my seat and believe it or not, I even slept for a while during the two hour ferry ride back to Cebu.
My visit to Bohol was a truly enjoyable one. I loved the beaches, my stay at Adriana’s Place, and everything in between. If you’re looking for a relaxing and comfortable beach vacation that’s low key, a trip to Bohol might be the perfect match for you.
Have you been to Bohol? Can you suggest other destinations in the Philippines that you found equally exciting? Leave your comments below. Discover some other great destinations and travel ideas here on the Travel Shop Girl website .
On my new SPONTANEOUS TRAVEL SCALE of 1-5, with 1 being super easy and spontaneous and 5 being you better plan far in advance, Bohol scores a 1 for spontaneous travel. If you’re in Cebu and you’re looking to get out of the city and into nature, jump on a ferry and go explore the beaches and laid back lifestyle of Bohol.