Bohol, Day 3: Everybody hurts sometimes

(This is going to be a long one, so bear with me. Oh, here’s Day 1 and Day 2, in case you missed them.)

On my third day, I woke up fully aware that I could take it easy since I had no concrete plans for any tours. My agenda simply involved spending some time at the beach before checking out and transferring to my hotel in Tagbilaran. After a filling breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast, I set off on foot (dry bag in tow) towards Alona Beach.

Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Alona KatChaJo breakfast bacon eggs toast coffee
Bacon, why are you so good to me?

So I got to the beach… and there was no place for swimming. Nada. Boats were all over the water, and the few spots of water you could probably wad in were either privately owned (seriously) or already had people in it. It was a bit confusing to me that Alona Beach is so popular; sure, all the activity was there, but there is no way you’ll get a decent experience of swimming if that’s what you’re after.

Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Alona Beach shore sea
Looks like someone unplugged the beach and drained it

Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Alona Beach shore sea

At one point, I decided to lay on the sand in front of a resort to catch some rays. Not happening. Not even a minute passed when a resort staffer came over. He requested that I move my attempt at sunbathing somewhere else, explaining that that part of the beach was reserved only for guests checked in at that resort. That did it. I stuffed my towel back into my bag and decided to head to Dumaluan Beach, a place I’d read about but wasn’t really planning on seeing.

When I got to the highway from Alona Beach, a habal-habal and its driver was there waiting for chance passengers. I asked him how much a ride would cost and he said Php80. I said fine, climbed on behind him and clung on as he sped off. This was actually the first time I’d ridden a habal-habal while on vacation, and from that point on, I decided it wouldn’t be my last. The speed, the wind whipping around us, watching the small motorcycle’s wheels eat up the pavement, it was all too much fun not to repeat.

At Dumaluan Beach, the driver dropped me off at the guard house, where I had to register and pay a Php25 entrance fee. Then I got to the shore, and was met with one of the most pristine white sand beaches I had ever seen. Plus, the few boats I could see where docked pretty far from shore, so there was no risk of ramming your head against one while swimming. The tide was low that day, and a few people were walking along a sand bar. The sun was blazing, the sky was blue, and the water even bluer. Such a nice contrast from the weather the past few days: overcast with a slight drizzle. I giddily spread my towel across damp sand and soaked it all in.

Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Dumaluan Beach swimming sunbathing snorkeling shore white sand
Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Dumaluan Beach swimming sunbathing snorkeling shore white sand
Hardly any people in sight

A few minutes later, I was itching to get into the water, but I wasn’t sure what to do with my stuff. The call of the beach was stronger than my wish for my possessions’ safekeeping, so I thought, “fuck it,” stowed everything under a tree (but took out my snorkeling gear) and headed out to sea.

Here was my mistake: I didn’t wear my aqua shoes. Dumaluan Beach is pretty rocky, and as you move farther, you’re going to run into sea grass and coral. I had to go back shore for my flip-flops. Keep in mind: if you’re going to Dumaluan (and you should), don’t forget your aqua shoes.

I could see why blogs kept describing Dumaluan as a kid-friendly beach: the water is pretty shallow. You have to walk a bit far for it to even reach your belly. Nonetheless, I strapped on my goggles and took a peek. If it’s marine life you seek, you might be disappointed to know that there’s not a lot to see here, save for a few sea urchins, maybe a couple of fish, a school of tiny little guppies. Other than that, the water here’s really just for cooling off and washing sand off your body.

When I’d had enough, I went back to shore where my stuff was still there and intact (kudos to the nice people who left my things alone). I again laid out my towel and tried to toast myself (During every beach trip, my mission to get a tan never works because the sun hates me). I have to warn you, the combination of the cool breeze and the hot sun will lull you to sleep, and a couple of times I almost did. The weather and the beach were just so perfect, the thought of leaving made me feel sick, but you know what they say about all good things.

Bohol Day 3 Panglao Island Dumaluan Beach swimming sunbathing snorkeling shore white sand

Around 10:30, I decided to pack up and head back to the inn; check-out was 12PM and I wanted plenty of time to shower and get my shit together. I had to do quite a bit of walking from the resort to the highway. A couple of tricycles did pass me and offered a ride, but like a kid I was focused on riding another habal-habal. Upon reaching the main road, I found a couple of them parked to one side. I asked how much a ride to Alona Beach would cost, and the driver said Php30. Son of a bitch. The first habal-habal ripped me off.

It might be my inhumanly pale skin making me stand out in a country where being brown or tan is common, but I swear when I go on an out-of-town trip far from Manila, the locals make me feel like goldfish, and the same thing happened in Bohol. Every single pedestrian or commuter that passed us (in this ride and all the others) would look and stare. I haven’t gotten used to it yet, and I don’t think I ever will.

Anyway, we stopped at my inn, and as I was getting off, a searing pain radiated through my body from my right leg. Turns out, I had accidentally touched it to the white-hot muffler. Great. As if Bohol thought I would forget my trip anytime soon, it saw fit to give me a reminder of it. A painful, throbbing reminder. Silent and in pain, I fumbled with my wallet and paid the man, and rapidly walked to my room, where I ran cold water over the burn.

I showered, dressed, and, in true Pinoy fashion, gingerly slathered some toothpaste onto the burn. I checked out of Alona KatChaJo Inn (my review will come soon), and went out to the highway, where a habal-habal driver offered to take me to my hotel in Tagbilaran (“Haven’t you learned your lesson? What happened the last time you rode one of these?” my brain said and I told it to shut up) for Php200. I countered with Php150, to which he agreed with no argument. That clued me into the fact that I was still overpaying, but at that point it didn’t matter; I was too preoccupied with my leg. After securing my incredibly huge backpack in front of himself, the driver took to the road. With me, of course.

Over an hour and a couple of wrong turns later (language barrier), I alighted from the motorcycle carefully and was at the front steps of Ocean Suites. I got there ahead of the scheduled check-in time, but lucky for me, my room was ready so they let me get in early.

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran Ocean Suites
One night only

After getting settled, I went out to see if there were any restaurants nearby. Plenty of souvenir shops (because the Blood Compact Shrine was right next to Ocean Suites), some food vendors, a 24-hour convenience store, but no restaurants. I decided to take a tricycle to BQ Mall at the town center and have lunch there.

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran souvenirs
Take your pick

Back at the hotel, I did a bit of TV watching before I went to the pool for a dip. I didn’t last long, though; the wind was starting to blow hard, so I just bundled up in a towel and watched the sunset.

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran Ocean Suites infinity pool

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran Ocean Suites infinity pool sunset
What a sight

After showering, I was too lazy to go back to town for dinner, so I ordered room service and stayed in. Damned sandwich cost Php250 and it wasn’t even that good so I didn’t finish it. I will say, though, that it was pretty big. Taste-wise, I would’ve been better off buying something at the convenience store across the street (which I did, actually, when I woke up hungry at 1 AM).

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran Ocean Suites dinner ham and cheese sandwich French fries coleslaw room service
The most expensive ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever bought

So what did I learn today? I learned that a.) often, hype is just hype, as  was the case of Alona Beach, and b.) sometimes, it’s OK to deviate from your original plan to try something new, which in this case was Dumaluan Beach. Disappointment at Alona Beach threatened to ruin my day, but had I let that discourage me and go back to the inn prematurely, I wouldn’t have found out for myself how much better Dumaluan really was, and it turned out to be the highlight of the day. That and my bacon breakfast at KatChaJo.

And oh yeah, c.) watch your ass or this happens to you:

Bohol Day 3 Tagbilaran Ocean Suites injury
I thought I’d spare you from the view of the carnage

What a way to leave the island, huh?

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