We stayed at the Alona Vida Beach Resort for 5-nights in late February (P3400/$86). The airport taxi (P500) drops you at the bottom of the hill where you first see the ocean. There is a sandy walkway to the left that parallels the beach in front of the hotels and restaurants (you carry your bags for 150 m). The hotel is on a long, narrow lot that stretches back from the beach. You walk into the hotel on a concrete path that separates the bar/restaurant on the left and the dive shop on the right. The reception is behind the bar, followed by two 2-story buildings (4-rooms each), the pool and a third new building at the back.
Our second floor room was expansive, with a king bed, two marble-top bamboo end tables, a long marble-top desk with drawers for extra storage and a large clothes storage area in the entryway. The rooms have a tiny TV, AC and ceiling fan, safe and refrigerator; bottled water and shampoo are provided daily. There is a full length balcony with a large table and two chairs and a clothes drying rack (the humidity makes drying clothes difficult). Our room was near the pool and, while we could hear music from the bar at night, it was not loud or intrusive and did not keep us awake.
The pool is kidney-shaped and deep (1-2 m), but is shaded by the trees and buildings for most of the day and can be quite chilly. There are only 6-loungers for the pool and beach, inadequate for a 14-room hotel. The WiFi is not strong enough to reach the room, but is available in the bar. Bar drinks are relatively expensive, but use of the foosball table is free. The hotel restaurant is similarly expensive, so we dined elsewhere: for breakfast, try Trudie’s Place for an American breakfast at P160 (half the hotel price); the Lost Horizon is great for a mid-day snack, and is one of the few places where coconuts are less than P120; and for dinner, by far the most popular option is the Alona Secret Dream at the top of the hill, where two excellent entrees and drinks cost P600. Another option is Isis Thai Restaurant at the end of the beach, where the entrees (P200) are big enough for two.
Alona Beach is a short (>1 km), narrow stretch of white sand that extends perhaps 10 m into the water before turning to weeds. A line of floats 30-40 m offshore defines the boundary of the on-shore boat channel and the tour/dive boat mooring area beyond – not a great swimming beach (there is a definite focus on diving here). Restaurants, bars and hotels line the strip and extend up the road out of town. Most have happy hours – our favourite was a place called the Bird Watcher where the beers were cold (P35) and meat skewers were available from the grill next door.
Most services are on the hill leading out of town. There are convenience stores to restock your refrigerator (P35 beer, P110 rum, P35 water), ATM machines and currency exchanges (you get a better rate at the Manila airport) and a small office at the bottom of the hill that sells ongoing ferry tickets to Camiguin, Cebu or Siquijor and ground transport to Jagna (P1700; 1.5 hr).
We went on 3-tours arranged with vendors on the beach: Balicasag Island snorkeling (excellent wall) and dolphin watching (P600/person); a Bohol tour that included the Chocolate Hills, tarsiers, butterfly farm, bamboo bridge, church and the blood compact site (P2000/van); and a tour to Oslab on Cebu to swim with the whale sharks (P2000/person). All were worthwhile, but check around and ask questions about what is actually provided to avoid getting ripped off.
We had a very pleasant stay at a comfortable hotel. While we recommend it, it is expensive and may not deliver the best value. Shop around because there seem to be cheaper options that look just as comfortable.
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- Also Known As:
- Alona Vida Beach Hotel Panglao Island
- Alona Vida Beach Resort Bohol Province/Panglao Island