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Blog - A Place to Visit in Tiptoe: Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines

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A world made of virgin forests, surrounded by white sand beaches, 75 islands and spectacular seas rich of marine creatures. Blessed with good climate fairly over the year, even when the wet season (June to September) pours rain to the rest of the country, a province inhabited by warm and gentle people. For these reasons, Bohol Province (Philippines) is a quite popular destination.

The province is often mentioned for its 2 main “inland” attractions, the tarsier (a tiny palm-size primate) and the Chocolate Hills (thousands of chocolate-kisses shaped hills, which, during the dry season, make the landscape  “chocolate-y” brown).

The famous Chocolate Hills (Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services)

Moving south-west of the province, another island is to be found, the biggest of Bohol Province, called Panglao. Panglao Island was already well-known as a commercial route in the past centuries for Chinese, Indonesians, Thai and Malaysians. Its name could come from the word “panggaw”, the name of some local fish devices, but there is no certainty about it. Like the rest of Bohol Province, also Panglao’s soil is mainly made of limestone (like the Chocolate Hills), which makes the area rich of caves, grotto and underground water.

Probably the most known tourist destination in the island is the Alona Beach, a long stretch of white sandy beach full of bars, restaurants and hotels. There are also the less busy Dumaluan, Danao, Dauis or other private beach resorts also within the island. Anyway, if you just go out of this small mass tourism hub of Alona Beach, you will find the typical genuine life of Filipino countryside with coconut palm tree plantations and farms.

Our guests visiting a farm in Panglao with us! Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services

Options multiply by getting a small boat and exploring the very beautiful small islands surrounding Panglao, like Pamalican, Pungtug or Balicasag (among others),  where you would also witness the daily island community life of the fisher folks. The sea surrounding Panglao is blue and emerald like not many others. There are plenty of places for snorkeling activities, where you can find a true feast of colours of corals and fishes, and even have the easy luck of swimming alongside a sea turtle.

Isn’t it a beautiful sea? Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

In the area, with some very useful help of a “spotter”, you may be awed with the sight of a very special and natural dolphin show. The “spotters” are local fishermen skilled to spot dolphins from a long distance, and directs your boat toward that direction. These groups of dolphins, which you can see early in the morning, are usually jumping and playing out of the water with a special “spiral” spinning jump.

A typical local boat. Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

These features make the area very attractive for divers. In the area many marine species were found (for instance, 1200 species of shrimps and crabs) during a scientific expedition in 2004; many of these species were completely unknown until that time. Some of the species found their tricks to hide themselves: some crabs were only few millimeters big, while one specie was able to camouflage itself as a rock (see http://www.bohol.ph/article90.html).

Even if you are not interested in listing animal species, this demonstrates how extraordinary these tropical seas are, and you can imagine the splendor of its colors and its white beaches, where you can just relax on the sand after a day on a boat tour, diving once in a while to refresh yourself.

Beautiful colours under the sea in Balicasag Island. Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

Last August 2013 we accompanied some tourists around Panglao seas and during a very silent and calm low tide we had the chance of slowly move our small wood-boat with no motor: the sea looked infinite and we could observe the sea bed without even diving in the water. No gears were needed. Fishes, corals and a lot of blue starfish, typical of the place, enchanted us until we reached another small island: half of it was just a pure stainless white sand bar that appears and disappears due to the tides.

All this is Panglao, a place to visit on tiptoe, without touching anything, without taking anything, without disturbing, to preserve these special places and the marvelous living being under or around the sea.

Our video around Panglao

(written on January 2014)