Bohol Field Trip: Panglao Tour
My family and I spent our third day in Bohol exploring Panglao. Although I had been to Panglao during my first visit in Bohol, this is my first time to go on this adventure and I was happy that I’m doing it with my husband and kids. We rented a boat that would take us dolphin watching early in the morning.
We rented a boat that would take us dolphin watching and island hopping early in the morning. The rent for the boat is P1,700. Our driver fetched us from our rented apartment at around 6 AM. Then, he brought us to Alona Beach to meet the boatmen who will lead us in our adventure that morning.
Our lead boatman explained to us that there are days when it’s easy to see dolphins. But there are also days when they could not see dolphins even after hours of searching in the sea. After hearing him say that, I prayed hard that my kids and I would see dolphins so that the kids would not be disappointed since we all woke up early even though we were all tired touring around Bohol the day before.
I think we’ve been boating for an hour and we still haven’t seen dolphins. I was becoming restless and impatient. The boys wanted to swim and go snorkeling also. I was already thinking that maybe we should just go swimming by then so as not to waste more time. My husband and the boatman said that we try waiting a little bit more.
Good things come to those who wait indeed! After waiting it out, we eventually saw dolphins. We were all ecstatic. I didn’t have time to take pictures. I just watched the dolphins with my kids. My husband was the one trying to take pictures and videos. I was already content that God heard my prayer that we get to see dolphins in the wild or in their natural habitat. I don’t support facilities who put dolphins in captivity to entertain people. I teach my kids that dolphins should be in their natural environment to be healthy and happy. They’ve been aware of these things and the advocacy of my close friend, A.G. Sano, founder of Dolphins Love Freedom.
After watching dolphins in the middle of the sea, I instructed the boatmen to bring us right away to Balicasag Island so the boys can swim and go snorkeling.
Verdict: If you have very young children with you, I would not recommend this. Dolphin watching has to be done in the middle of the sea. If you and your companions are not good swimmers and you don’t have a lifeguard with you, this would be risky. Also, the search for dolphins can take a while and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see dolphins. If you are pressed for time, you can skip this activity and just go swimming and snorkeling instead. If you still want to have this activity as part of your itinerary, make sure that the little ones are wearing their own life vests. The boats sometimes have limited life vests. Also, the sizes of these vests are for adults. These would be too big for infants, toddlers and kindergarteners.
BALICASAG ISLAND SWIMMING, FISH FEEDING AND SNORKELING
We learned late that there’s a separate fee for fish feeding and snorkeling at Balicasag Island. But since we were already there, we just agreed to pay. But we had a small misunderstanding with the other boatmen. We had to transfer to a different boat for the fish feeding and snorkeling and that’s a separate fee.
Originally, my husband and my two older boys would go snorkeling. But, my second child backed out when we were already there. My eldest tried it for a few minutes and decided he does want to continue. So, everyone in the boat was fish feeding while my husband was snorkeling with our guide.
Our activity was cut short because my second child was not feeling well. He was having a bad tummy and he needed to go to the toilet.
So, we went to back to shore to bring our son to the bathroom. Unfortunately, they only had two toilets, one for males and one for females. The toilets were filthy. The water on the pails and the dippers were also filthy. But we didn’t have a choice. That’s all we could use. Good thing we brought soap, wet wipes and alcohol also.
After that, the boys played on the beach and went swimming already.
Then, we settled our payment with the second group of boatmen. They were asking us to pay P250 per head. We thought that P250 is only for those who will go snorkeling. But they said it’s for everyone including those who just did fish feeding while on the boat. We asked for a discount since it was just my husband who really had substantial time doing the activity and the rest of us only fed the fishes. Moreover, we only stayed on their boat for less than an hour because our son had to go to the toilet. They eventually gave us a discounted rate of P150 per person who rode their boat for fish feeding and P250 for my husband. Still, it was expensive and not worth the price. We’ve been to Nuvali in Laguna for fish feeding but it wasn’t this pricey.
Anyway, the boys still enjoyed exploring the beach, swimming and fish feeding.
Verdict: If you have very young children who are not yet very familiar with snorkeling, you can skip this activity and just let them explore the beach and swim with you. Make sure also that you have soap, wet wipes and alcohol when you go there. Bring your own plastic if you have children who are still on diapers in case they poop. The trash cans in the toilets are open and are small. Bring your own snorkeling gears also because the ones that the boatmen have are dirty. My boys had their own gears with them. Sadly, they chose not to go snorkeling with their Dad.
We went to Virgin Island after spending time at Balicasag Island. It was high tide when we came there and the island was totally submerged in water. But it was low enough for kids to wade around. The boys loved our visit on the island. They explored the island with their Dad. They had fun looking at starfish and snorkeling near the shores. I hardly left the boat because this time around, I was the one having a bad tummy and there were no toilets in the island. There were several stalls but all these were selling either food or souvenirs.
So I ate banana cue on the boat with my youngest while my husband and older kids went around the island. I swam a bit with them and had photos. Then, we left when we saw that there were rain clouds coming.
I’m glad that our boys had so much fun wandering around the island and swimming.
Verdict: It’s a nice place to visit where even small kids can swim and go snorkeling. But make sure you all went to the toilet first before heading here because there are no toilets in the island. Bring food also that you can eat or at least snack on. The boat ride is around 30 minutes and you and your kids might go hungry.
Our last stop after our island hopping escapade was at the Shell Museum. This was quite near Alona Beach already so we’ve decided to drop by.
It’s a small place and you can finish your field trip in 30 minutes or less.
You would see different kinds of shells here — from the smallest shell to giant shells of clams.
It’s good that they have a guide who goes around with you to explain things. It makes the visit more informative. After the official tour, you can wander around and have more photos at your own pace. You can also buy souvenirs from their shop.
We didn’t stay long because it was already lunch time and we still need to buy our boat tickets to go back to Cebu.
Verdict: It’s a nice place to include in your itinerary. But I recommend that you eat lunch first in one of the restaurants at Alona Beach or in Panglao area before going to the Shell Museum.