Monday, March 31, 2014

Alona Beach and Dumaluan Beach, Bohol

Alona Tropical's nipa hut-styled roof

I've been to Panglao's Alona Beach before and I loved how it's less crowded than Boracay, though Lonely Planet calls it a "congested strip of resorts".

The secret is to check in at the east-most resorts, away from the action, like Alona Tropical.  Rates are more expensive but there are less people and it has a very cool, laid-back, and well, "tropical" ambience. Also, the staff are very courteous and helpful.

Near the center of Alona beach, it is a little more crowded than I remember, with more resorts and more restaurants to fit  all budgets, including a smaller branch of Bohol Bee Farm's restaurant.

The beach is still beautiful and the water still crystal-clear but I did see a clump of seaweed and seagrass on the shore. There are areas where there are lots of seagrass underwater where sea urchins might be hiding so I advise you to wear aqua shoes if you want to go to the deeper waters to swim or snorkel.

alona 360 from albert on Vimeo.

alona 360 2 from albert on Vimeo.

What I did not like is that there are more boats now and some were near the shore, waiting for their clients who were going on a diving or dolphin watching trip. That made it inconvenient to swim near my resort. There were some boatmen who would offer boat trips but they weren't pesky and would stop bugging you after you said "no" once.

And though I was on my own and left my wallet and camera on the beach when I went swimming, no one touched my stuff. But I can't guarantee the same experience for everybody so please do exercise some caution.

My deluxe aircon room (P2980/night , no breakfast) was rather bare but I love the bamboo walls. Minus points for not including a toothbrush and a toothpaste in my toiletries 

Small bathroom but nice cabinet

My cottage was just a few steps from the water

Alona on a cloudy day: Nearby restaurants prepare tables by the beach to prepare for dinner

Alona Tropical lit up with capiz shell lanterns at night. No wifi in the rooms, only at the restobar and at the reception

A  resto near the center of Alona beach has fire dancers and a fire-eater to entertain guests. There is also a live band that plays music till midnight  and that's all the night life you'll find here.  

Alona on a sunny day: See how there are hardly any people on this side of the beach?

Oh, they also have a pool but people seldom use it when the sea is so inviting

Alona Tropical has a house full of antiques. Apparently, the owner collects them and displays them here.

The owner doesn't rent the house out. It's just a whole house full of antiques from all over Bohol.
I've read in other websites that there is another beach in Panglao that is more peaceful and less crowded and it's located beside the upscale Bohol Beach Club. So the next day, I checked out of Alona and rode a tricycle to Dumaluan Beach.
Dumaluan beach

I checked in at Dumaluan Beach Resort 2 and indeed, there were less people here, even though it was beside the public beach, Dumaluan Beach Resort 1. And beside that is the more exclusive Bohol Beach Club.
Facade of my room shows some signs of age.
My deluxe aircon room is bigger and cheaper than the one in Alona Tropical at P2,150/night with buffet breakfast, which is a real steal! Plus points for providing 2 toothbrushes and toothpastes. Minus points for tha absence of bottled water, which Alona Tropical gave its guests.

Also a larger bathroom with a tabo/dipper and a bidet.
The resort is not as charming as Alona Tropical. In fact, save for the facade of the cottages, it's rather ordinary-looking. Most of the resort is made of cement and painted in pale orange or green. And just like in Alona Tropical, wifi is only available at the restaurant
Captivating walkway

But then I saw the beach.
Dumaluan Beach resort 2 from the beach 

dumaluan 360 from albert on Vimeo.
The beach was cleaner and the sand even finer than in Alona. I would find out later that a group of men would come around every morning and just before sunset to rake the seaweed and leaves on the shore.
Hardworking folk tasked with cleaning up the beach. It's a long stretch of sand!

Also, Bohol's tourism officials had the clever idea of not allowing people to eat or bring food beyond a certain point of the public beach. This reduced the chances of trash accumulating on the shore.

The sea level around this area is perfect for kids. I think the water just reaches up to my waist some 5 meters from the shore. I didn't dare venture farther because I think I saw stones under the water and i wasn't wearing aqua shoes.
The  problem I had is that when the tide is low, it's really low! The water goes just above my ankles at sunset before I get to a part where there's a large rock/coral formation.
At last! I found a starfish near the shore! We found so many on Alona when we first went there.

Another thing that  works against Dumaluan is the lack of food choices. You either had to eat at the resort's rather pricey resto or rough it up at DBR Grill. (More on the restaurants on a later post)
Sunset and a dog on a deserted beach.

So in conclusion, if you want a beautiful beach with lots of restaurants to choose from, and you don't mind seeing some boats near the shore, choose Alona beach.

If you want solitude and you're ok with sitting in knee-deep water at low tide, choose Dumaluan beach.


Anonymous said...

I dont know how anyone who has been here can give this place such a rave review. The beach is nice, but thats all, its not spectacular, and there are much better beaches in the Philippines and Thailand. The whole of the beach front is made up of restaurants and just a few bars. The restaurants are opverpriced and food is terrible.The beach walkway is raised from the beach itself, and the restaurant almost block your path with seafood carts, and staff harrassing you with the menus. You cant walk 10 yards without being menaced by boat trip sellers and massage girls. The walk way itself is like an assault course. its full of potholes and stones and rubble. When it rains these potholes become large pools of water, and you are basically walking in mud. The dive sites are mediocre and there are far better in the Philippines. Palawan for example. all in All it is not a place I would return too. The accommodation is overpriced also, there are small rooms for rent for about 25-30 $ a night, with no wifi, no fridge, no aircon. Just a bed and shower. If you want to go to a decent hotel with a pool etc, expect to pay at least. 60-150$ a night. They say the Philippines is cheap and of course, compared to western prices I suppose it is, but if its value, diverse cultures, beautiful beaches, and good hotels at a reasonable price then Thailand takes a lot of beating.

mojacko said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anonymous! I'm sure your perspective will help other readers to manage their expectations of Alona Beach.

I do hope the folks at Alona Beach take steps to take care of their beach. Maybe if you went to Dumaluan beach, it would be more to your liking.

Unknown said...

Hi! I would just want to ask something. If we are staying at Dumaluan 1, can we not go to the Dumaluan 2 beach/shore area? Thanks in advance! :)

mojacko said...

Yes, you can go to DBR 2 and the beach area. I think it's the Bohol Beach Club area that's more strict about letting non-clients in.

Anonymous said...

Hi! What's the difference between DBR1 and 2? Thanks!

mojacko said...

DBR1 is the public beach. That's why it can get crowded there on weekends. There's a sari-sari store and a somewhat affordable eatery there. That's where I would buy my drinking water.
DBR2 is just beside it. The rooms and food are pricier. Anyone can walk right in from DBR1 to DBR2 to eat or look around.


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