Panglao Beach is a tropical, sun-drenched dream of an island in the Philippines that isn’t as crowded and developed as some destinations – and that’s a good thing. It means there is still plenty of room for you to stretch out on its fabulous beach and sunbathe, and that should be your first goal. Let Mother Nature work her magic when you get there by just lying back and dozing off with your toes in the sand, and a good book in your hand.
Then get up for a swim. Then doze again until you’re nicely tanned. Then swim. And repeat, until all that back-home tension has oozed out of your muscles and you’re a nice, deep bronze.
When you’re finally ready to think about actually moving, there are plenty of options on the island.
Water sports are, naturally big on the island, and you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive to your heart’s content.
For a small fee – a very small fee, considering how unique the experience is – you can even take a tour and see whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, being fed. And if you have a mind to and are adventurous, you can swim and snorkel alongside them. Dreamcat Marine Adventures specializes in these and other boat tours; you can sit back and let the sea amaze you,
Alona Divers offers diving lessons, and you can and go underwater with the experts. These are just two of the companies on the island that specialize in all things aqua – there are more!
But if staying on land is more your speed, taking an organized tour of Panglao Island is a great way to get your bearings and meet some locals. Grab a smoothie at a roadside vendor, and leave straight from your hotel – there are several good ones on the island, all appealing to different budgets and tastes – and head out in a local’s vehicle.
You’ll see a lot of natural beauty and lush, tropical greenery, and some tours include the Mag-Aso Falls, which are spectacular.
Exploring Hinagdanan Cave is a great way to discover the beauty that lies beneath the island. Tours are available of just the cave, or make it part of a larger tour of the entire island, and spend the day getting to know your surroundings.
Another adventure not to be missed on Panglao is Philippine Tarsier Recreation Inc., a massive complex spread over nine acres that are covered in lush vegetation and exotic plants. The complex has everything, from art to furniture to an upscale restaurant. It even has an equine centre, for the horse-obsessed traveller. Coming soon are luxury villas with pools, so keep this spot bookmarked when you’re planning your next tropical getaway.
After a busy day, you likely want to get back to your hotel and rest up, and on Panglao Island, there are literally dozens to choose from, and they suit every price range – from hundreds of dollars a night to a basic cabin rental for about $20 per night.
Spas & Yoga
It’s best to explore your options and decide what you want and need in a room – just a place to stay, or do you want to eat in and get a massage? Combinations are available in every price range, so do a little digging and you’ll find the right solution. One popular spot is the Henann Resort at Alona Beach; it has pools and every other amenity you could hope for.
Speaking of massages…at the end of the day, when your feet are tired from hiking and your muscles ache from swimming, a massage is in order. The island has a surprising number of spas and wellness centres, offering everything from yoga classes to manicures and pedicures and stone massages. The Yoga Barn Panglao has amazing instructors, so plan to spend at least two hours unwinding in class. But if you want someone else to do the work, try Alona Bliss or Sanando Spa, for a couple’s massage, perhaps? And don’t forget to get a mani-pedi while you’re there.
Panglao Island has glorious beaches on which to relax, but it has so much more than that. It offers water sports, boat cruises, art exhibits and natural beauty, too. A trip to the island, for a week or even a month, will reveal why this tropical paradise is so loved by so many – locals and visitors alike.