Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alluring Alona

One of the most alluring natural beauty of Bohol is simply its beaches. And no place these beaches can be found than in Bohol's beach heartland - Panglao Island. The alluring Alona Beach is one of its gem that will surely entice any beach-lover or sun-worshipers to its shores. A beach full of picturesque seascape and serene ambiance like no other.  From morning to midday sun up to sunset, Alona's 800 meter stretch of white powdery sand, in the south of Panglao Island never fails to create a relaxing mood, de-stressing therapy and reinvigorating spirit as it induces all-time authentic tranquility.

Alluring Alona.
Alona Beach in the morning...
Alona all by yourself...
An early morning stroll by the beach is one of the best thing that you can do to enjoy Alona Beach. Morning is the best time to do beach strolling as this is the time that you seem to owned the beach all by yourself.  But I noticed that even in midday sun, Alona Beach still seem not much crowded like other public beaches I have been before.  The shores is fringed with numerous tall palm coconut trees that makes me think I'm placed in a secluded paradise. The pure white sand is enticing for a stroll and play by the beach.  While, the layers of shades of blue ocean water dotted with white bancas (outrigger boat) creates a real-life and life-sized painting-like scenery that is very tranquil and serenity feast on my eyes. These picturesque scenes are all beach therapy for me on my last day in Bohol, and surely for anyone who has a weary soul that searches for invigoration and relaxation.

Starfishes often bound to be seen a few meters from the shore.  I truly enjoyed picturing them in the clear waters.  And I would often see them in red and blue colors that are perfectly striking from beneath the submerge white sands of Alona. At times, you also see various sea fishes swimming around.  This just proves to me that Bohol never ends in richness of natural wonders.

Alona is calling you..
Portrait of pure serenity.
The ocean background is like a huge painting with those bancas hanging like toys.
Pure shores.
Exploring the west side of Alona brings me to the huge and diverse coral stone formations standing as low as 3 feet and as high as 10 feet. These coral stones have sharp edges but wonderfully crafted by nature because it was naturally shaped and placed near the shores.  A stair-shaped rocks were made behind and I obliged to climbed up and see what I can see up there. The flocking trees above it makes a perfect refuge from the hot summer sun. It was there from above a cliff viewing area I have seen the best view of Alona - a spectacular seascape where the blue ocean is dotted with seemingly uniform white colored bancas set alongside the white sand beach and coral rock formations by the shore. It was a seascape of Alona Beach that I won't forget.

Me in the shores of alluring Alona Beach.
Alona is most likely the most visited and most beautiful of the beaches in Panglao. The beach has a nice line of resorts for visitors to choose from. There are many full-service beach and dive resorts reside in Alona Beach. Dive tours to Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands, famous dive spots, can be arranged here. You'll never feel shorthanded when it comes to your diving needs since dive shops or dive centers here are well equipped. The white sand and the tropic waters may seem very enticing, however there are still some precautions that should be taken. Be careful when wading in the water when you're out about 20 meters or more since a lot of sea urchins are found in the water at that distance from the coast. A hundred meters further will bring you to the edge of a reef, which is perfect for snorkeling.

Sun-kissed skin in Bohol!
Playing with the starfish in the shores.
I love Bohol!!!
Bohol's beach heartland, Panglao Island is located east of the mainland Bohol island and part of the province as a whole. It is connected via land bridge to the main island that's why access to the other famed places of interests in Bohol is easy and smooth.  Panglao island beaches became a favorite destination of tourists, local and foreign alike due to the white sand beaches and its cool crystal blue waters and the world-famous surrounding dive sites. The visitors stay, and some even for good, just for the tranquil ambiance of the place. Year after year, a lot of visitors visit Panglao espcially Alona Beach which is said to be the most beautiful beach in the area.  I thought, it is no wonder that in 2003 the province was named "Destination of the Year" by the Philippine Department of Tourism.

I have research and found an interesting bit of history about how Panglao's name came to be. In 1803, Spanish explorers came to the shores of Panglao in search of fresh water. At the time a couple of natives on the seashore were making fishing devices called "panggaw". One of the Spaniards asked what the name of the island was. The natives - who thought the visitors were asking what they were making then replied "panggaw". Hence, from that term, was derived the name Panglao.

This a good time to have intuitive thinking and soul therapy.
Wonderful coral rock formations at the west side of the beach.
It's all time summer high in Bohol!
Catching the best of Alona's seascape.

There are many ways to explore this surging beach destination in Visayas region.  By land, there's a tricycle and habal-habal (motorcycle) to tour around.  Sit comfortably on a smooth leather seat and enjoy the sweeping views of the Panglao landscapes and rural scenes that silently slip by.  If you want to have a seaward exploration and adventure in the islands, try their island hopping tours and banca cruises where you will be treated to an island escapade experience that you will never forget. Plan ahead of your visit to Panglao as there are many resorts and inns to stay - that some tends to hike price at certain seasons and lacks rooms especially at summer. Nevertheless, budget travelers need not to worry as there many affordable inns and resorts to stay in Panglao.

Panglao is divided into two municipalities: Panglao and Dauis. There are beaches in Dauis as well as in Panglao town. Beaches of Panglao town are Alona Beach, Doljo Beach, Momo Beach, Bolod Beach, Bagobo Beach and Danao Beach in the barangays of Tawala, Doljo, Tangnan, Bolod, Libaong and Danao respectively. Beaches of Dauis are in barangays Bingag, Dao, and Biking. Other popular beaches aside from Alona Beach are Bolod Beach and Doljo Beach. Bolod Beach is located at barangay Bolod and situated on the southside of the island, about two and a half kilometers east of Alona Beach. The beach has a one and a half kilometer stretch of white sand, the largest shoreline in the area. Famed Bohol Beach Club and Dumaluan Beach Resort is located in this beach. While, Doljo Beach is located at Barangay Doljo and lies on the northwest side of the island and at its very tip. The 3km beach is relatively unexplored and undeveloped, wide and with white sand that stretches so far out and the sea bed slopping gently towards the deep. It is fringed with tall coconut palm trees which add much to its tropical look.

Ocean of tranquility... only in Bohol.
A seascape of Alona Beach that I won't forget.
Souvenir shops in Alona Beach
Actually there are tour offerings in exploring Panglao Island.  Itinerary includes visit to Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol Bee Farm, Dauis Church and Shell Museum. We were able to snag a trip to Hinagdanan Cave before going to Tagbilaran Airport as my mom who have been there highly recommends a visit to this beautiful cave.

Hinagdanan Cave is my last blast of natural beauty of Bohol. Located in Dauis, Panglao Island, beneath it are numerous formations of stalactites and stalagmites.  It is almost dark and slippery wet inside the cave so be careful walking around but it is naturally lighted cavern mainly from a cluster of three holes in one side of its ceiling. It is also hot under the cave because of summer heat and its close environment so bring water to relieve from heat.  The main attraction inside the cave is the underground lagoon at the center of it. It is enticing for a swim on it however, the guide told us that it has a depth of 10 feet. 

Hinagdanan Cave entrance.
Inside Hinagdanan Cave
The light from the ceiling.
Hinagdanan Cave's lagoon. Though, its really dark inside our guide adjust the ISO of our camera and capture this beautiful shot.
The magnificent Hinagdanan Cave - natural beauty like no other.
All smiles after a peek into the cave.
It feels quite scary and paranoia inducing inside Hinagdanan Cave as there are so many dark caverns, crevices and rock cabins that makes you think, snakes or croodiles are lurking in those places.  But don't be afraid, the cave is clear of any of those creatures. And a lot of tourist is flocking the cave to appreciate its natural beauty. The lagoon in the center made it beautiful and sealed its authenticity as a natural beauty of Bohol like no other. I myself never thought that Hinagdanan Cave is a spectacular natural beauty just like the rest of other Bohol's natural sights. Returning above the entrance of the cave, there are many souvenir shops around it that we were unable to resists but look upon and buy some more "pasalubongs" like irresistible cool designed t-shirts from Island Souvenirs!

Street scene in Tagbilaran City.
Waiting to go home at Tagbilaran Airport.
Bohol in the air... Daghan kaayong salamat!
We drive away from Panglao and arrive after 15 to 20 minutes in Tagbilaran City. Here, I got a view of the daily life scene in this capital city of Bohol. People doing there business chores while the streets is crowded with numerous motorcycles going to their intended destinations. This was different from the simple, rural and laidback life scenes I have seen in the countryside for the last two days of my stay in the province. As I boarded flight PR178 to Manila, I reflected all the best travel experiences I had in Bohol. This is a great way to celebrate my birthday and to make it totally unforgettable by doing my one great passion in life - to travel.    Even on the plane I still feel the cool breeze from Alona Beach damping on my skin. I thought, this is just a proof that I had an experience of a lifetime in Bohol. And I really had an experience of a lifetime in Bohol and so I in every travels I had. However, I'm glad my special day started and ended in a wonderful place that is truly blessed with alluring natural beauty named Bohol. Visiting Bohol is a total immersion to its natural beauty. A natural beauty like no other that will surely allure anyone. 

Alluring Alona is the last part of my Bohol: Allure of Natural Beauty series that happened last March 15-17 on my birthday week. This trip is memorable as this is the first time I traveled and celebrated my birthday out of home.  This is a true experience of a lifetime trip!

You might also be interested in reading the other parts of Bohol: Allure of Natural Beauty.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pure Shores

One of the beach scenes of Guam that I won't forget is the long stretch of pure shores of Tumon Bay that seems to be endless.  The pure powder white sand beach, cerulean seawater, remote palm trees and blue sky reminds me a lot of the song "Pure Shores" by All Saints and original soundtrack of the film The Beach that stars Leonardo DiCaprio. The lyrics goes... "I've crossed the deserts for miles. Swam water for time. Searching places to find. A piece of something to call mine... I'm moving. I'm coming. Can you hear, what I hear? It's calling you my dear. Out of reach (Take me to my beach). I can hear it, calling you. I'm coming not drowning. Swimming closer to you..." This section of Tumon is named Mata'pang Beach. Named after a Chamorro chieftain of the village of Tumon.  It's shores seem inviting for a play or swim. At most times, especially in the morning it is quiet and not crowded. That's why its easy to relax and stay calmed as if you own the beach all by yourself! Just like in the lyrics of Pure Shores, the shores of Mata'pang Beach seems to call you in its shores... to play, swim, relax...  

More about Guam here.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bohol Accomodation: Paragayo Resort

Paragayo Resort is just 3 minute walk from Panglao's famed beach of Alona.  And though it is not a beach front hotel and resort, yet, it is one of the most convenient and well-maintained resort in Panglao.   First, it is convenient because it just along the way and not far from the access roads. It also near the souvenirs shops, internet rentals, restaurants, pubs/bars, coffee cafes and budget eateries around Baranggay Tawala. Just two shops beside it, is a convenient and grocery store that does not sell overprice items. The resort is also near the tourist police office. Second, it is well-maintained because I find its environs clean all the time and well-maintained by its staff. The staffs are friendly too and not hesitant to help you if you need inquiries regarding tours around Bohol or Panglao.

Resort's facade.
Relaxing ambiance.
Paragayo Resort is heavily landscaped garden. But the ornamental plants and coconut trees just adds appeal to its tropical ambiance. I love their thatch nipa style lounging area where you can have peaceful and quiet mornings and breakfast.  It is a good place to hang-out while not liking to watch cable television of your room or spending idle time while you're not yet in an itinerary trip.  There's also a hammock in one of the thatches where you can lay and relax under the breeze of summer.  The resort is also wi-fi zoned area and its free! Just asked the resorts' receptionist password for access.  Their wi-fi signal and connection is strong around the resort especially at the thatch nipa lounges so doing shout updates and internet access is not a problem while staying in Paragayo Resort. A bit of problem is the water in the resort (or in the whole Panglao) because its quite salty and seawater. I do hope they improve this water supply amenity.

The rooms in native and tropical theme style.
Standard rooms good for 4 persons.
Rona's Corner Tawala, Panglao, Bohol, 6340
I have learned about Paragayo Resort through the collection of card referrals of mom who has been to Bohol last 2009. This resort/hotel was also recommended by our Bohol tour guide as it also offers good prices for accommodation in Panglao Island. It also offers tour services around the island and easily located around Tawala, Panglao Island. 

About Paragayo Resort
Paragayo Resort is a modern native resort inspired, designed and built by Mark Kilroy along with his Filipino wife Thelma. The resort has 20 Bedrooms and is located right at the heart of Tawala and affords its guests with a 3-minute leisurely walk to the world famous Alona beach. Throughout Paragayo Resort are landscaped gardens that blossom all year round. A stroll through our gardens are a feast for the senses with fragrant palms, trees and cacti. Flowering shrubs and a variety of tropical foliage that makes this retreat a true paradise. Just by walking alone through the resort's breezy corridors and airy verandas is enough to make you feel the holiday ambience .

For more information visit Paragayo Resort's website.
Paragayo Resort, At Rona's Corner Tawala, Panglao, Bohol, 6340
Telephone numbers: (038) 502 4043 or (038) 502 9172
Mobile number: (Smart) 0918 7183316
E-mail: paragayoresort@gmail.com
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