Rediscovering Panglao Island's Alona beach

Rediscovering Alona Beach

Returning to a place you have loved the first time you set your foot on it and that is etched forever in your mind, is always a pleasant and welcome experience. For me, having seen Panglao for the third time was—still—unmistakably delightful. However, you tend to compare those visits—then you realize that some things had changed—either for the better or worse.

The first time I went to Alona beach in Panglao in August 2004, I was smitten. Alona beach in Panglao was such a beauty. Still young as a tourist destination, it was undeniably a sweet treat for those who hankered for peace and solace, and feel that rustic experience away from the cares of city life.

When I went back in summer of 2005 with my family, nothing much has changed. There were still a few establishments—only dive shops and small restaurants. The road to Alona beach was an open and barren space and was almost devoid of establishments like banks, restaurants, lodging houses, hawkers, and vehicular traffic. If I remember it right, there were only one or two internet cafes (the time when only a handful could afford laptops and Wi-Fi was not still the in-thing) and a few small grocery shops and hole-in-the-wall stores. In fact, one cannot go far beyond 200 meters away from the beach because there was nothing to see beyond that Japanese restaurant up the hill.

Despite the fact that it was summer, it was not crowded--just the right place for kids to enjoy their summer vacation. Neither was there a big crowd nor overnight bars along the beach. The nights were quiet. Loud music was not tolerated. No people were camping and drinking booze along the beach except for a few tourists who had a bottle of beer or two before they would doze off in the comfort of their rooms. The establishments closed at 9 o’clock which you had to live with and made sure you had your provisions bought before they close. It was, I think, a barangay ordinance to keep it that way.

Fast forward to 2012, everything has reversed—and I realized I just got “lost”. I could no longer recognize the place, except when I got nearer the beach and saw Alona Kew where we stayed in the past—then everything fell into place again. But everything was in chaos. There were too many people. Too many of everything and very “un-Panglao”.

Truth to tell, I was disappointed.

Be that as it may, I thought there must be a way to enjoy Alona beach like I have not done in my first two visits. Grumbling will be of no use. I just wanted to relax after a tiring week of work in Bohol. So, I decided to make the most of it despite its flaws brought by too much commercialization.

Momentarily, I shut my eyes and ears from the noise and haste of Alona beach and took a short dip while the sun was setting. Although I brought my camera with me, I thought the sunset was not dramatic, but then, I also entertained the thought that it might rain the next day and I would not be able to capture it. So, just seize the moment! I walked a little and I was able to take some shots good enough to post on this blog.

Rediscovering Alona Beach
The obligatory sunset shot, this time, adding human elements.

Rediscovering Alona Beach
The eastern side, as I learned in the past gives interesting hues as well.

The next day, I decided to get sunburnt. Without any gadget—wearing only my sunglasses, a pair of slippers, board shorts, tank top, my dependable scarf where I could lie down, and a face towel—and no gadgets—I headed to the beach alone. I walked to the farthest and rocky part of the beach to the right, and chose my spot—and enjoyed the sun and the sea, almost all to myself. [Sorry no photos of that sweet escapade.]

In solitary, I lay under the sun and watched the clouds swirling and changing shapes and forms above me. There was also no watch to remind me of the time—just the hint of the heat of the sun telling me it was time to go. I would have wanted to go back in the afternoon, but the heat of the sun was just too harsh. Besides, I needed a nap too.

The next morning, I decided to explore further. I wanted to see what lies beyond those limestone rocks and that concrete fence near the tip of the bend [that seemed to be out of place]. This time, armed with a camera with a small tripod (just in case I wanted to take a photo of myself), my celfones just in case wifey and companions look for me), and I was awed with what I saw. I have been wanting to go further the first time I went to Panglao, but then it was still overgrown with weeds, grass and aroma bushes.

Rediscovering Alona Beach

Rediscovering Alona Beach

And I was not disappointed this time. Many may have seen and photographed this part before me, but this was a simple and satisfying conquest for me. It was just a delightful discovery that there is beauty beyond those rocks, trees, and bushes, after all. Then I lingered. Even with a camera at hand, I tried to remember it through my senses.

Rediscovering Alona Beach

It was quiet—and there was only me exploring this place at that time.

Rediscovering Alona Beach

Nothing fancy about the place, but it was pure bliss.

More photos at my Flickr Photo Stream


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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.


Aleah | said...

I've been to Bohol several times, but I've never been to Panglao. Too bad I would have wanted to see it when it was lesser known too. Love your obligatory sunset shots! :)

Admin/Author said...

Aleah, there are other "quieter" beaches in Panglao. It just so happens that Alona beach is the more popular one.

Patzs said...

Now I'm a bit hesitant to try Panglao. That place beyond the 'fence' seemed to be more serene, it must be relaxing in that part.

Admin/Author said...

Thanks, Patrick for the visit. Well, Panglao is still beautiful. try going there this time of the year when there are less people.

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...

Sayang naman ang Alona. Try the Bolod side of Panglao Ding, you just might find the old Alona there

Admin/Author said...

Will try that next time, Christian. Thanks for the heads up!

Bohol Hotels said...

Alona Beach is so commercialized by now. Its been the tourist traffic in Panglao Island. But you may try Dumaluan For it's not too crowded.