Kid-Friendly Panglao, Bohol: Simone’s First Awesome Beach Experience

We wanted to take my daughter Simone to a proper beach holiday (she had been to a beach in my hometown once, but that doesn’t count since that trip was mainly to visit family). So, we took her to Panglao in Bohol.
I had been – and still am – thinking of going back to Bantayan Island in Cebu, but I just wasn’t up for a four-hour land travel plus an hour travel by sea. Calaguas, too, is high on my list of beaches to go back to but that would have required … well, let’s just say it’s even more difficult to get to than Bantayan and would have entailed sleeping in a tent. And while roughing it by the beach has its own charm, staying in a resort a few meters away from the ocean is more attractive when you have a child in tow.
Left:  Waiting for the plane to go at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Right: Touchdown Tagbilaran Airport.
So, there was no contest, really. Despite the mixed feedback from friends – one said the beaches in Bohol are mediocre, while another said they’re comparable to the ones in Bantayan – what mattered was that Bohol was well-recommended by other parents because of the accessibility of the beaches from the airport. 

Also, I had not been to Bohol.

Jeff had been there once before during a company outing. He told me that Bohol Beach Club, supposedly the best resort in the island, did not impress him. But since he spent his time in Bohol mostly hammered, I did not believe him.

And I was right on the money for not taking his word. Panglao is no Bantayan nor Calaguas, but for a place that can be reached from the airport in about 30 to 45 minutes by tricycle, it’s impressive.

Photos on the net of this giant acacia tree near Dauis Church had me curious, so I asked the driver we hired at the airport, who was supposed to take us to Dumaluan Beach Resort, to stop over Cafe Lawis so we could have lunch. He tried persuading us to go somewhere else; he said Cafe Lawis is not a popular chow place as it’s run-down and is mainly used as a venue for big occasions like weddings. But I was adamant. I really wanted to see the tree. 

What We Did

Simone was the Bawzz during this trip. We gave in to her itinerary which consisted of two activities that have the potential of changing the course of history:
1. Spending as much time as she could in the water and
2. Running around to her heart’s content
Aside from those, we slept, lay in the sand, and hung out by the beach at night and let the sound of the waves lull Simone to sleep.
Romantic? Totally … not.
In between lying in the sand and hanging out by the beach, we did the parent chores. We washed her feeding utensils, we went back and forth to ask for hot water from the resort’s restaurant so we’d have something to supposedly sterilize those utensils with, we bathed her, we got her changed, and did all those things that Dave Barry lovingly talks about in his book “Babies and Other Hazards of Sex.”

Cafe Lawis is a resto, souvenir shop, and a museum rolled into one. If you’d feel uneasy eating amidst tourists looking around the place, you can ask the staff to set up a table for you under the giant acacia tree. Also, that van driver was right. At least what he said was true about the food we ordered -there was nothing special about the Chicken Roulade and the Pork Humba we had. And for PhP 195.00 and P125.00, respectively, they were quite expensive. And .. and … it took them forever to serve our food. 
We did manage to sneak in a couple of meals at Café Lawis by Dauis Church (this was a few days before the 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol that devastated its famous churches including the one in Dauis) and  Bohol Bee Farm (we’re apparently not healthy people because only the malunggay ice cream pleased us).

Dauis Church, Panglao, Bohol

Miniature of the Dauis Church belfry sold at Cafe Lawis. 
What we did love at Cafe Lawis were “Tsokolate Eh” and “Tsokolate Ah”. The former is rich and thick and, at PhP 65.00, PhP 20.00 more expensive than “Tsokolate Ah” (the diluted version). 

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm. Photogenic place. Awesome view. Healthy, thus, not-so-affordable food (I guess). What we had: Spicy Flower Salad (PhP 220.00), Grilled Marlin (PhP300.00), Malunggay Ice Cream (PhP80.00), Kiddie Fish & Chips (PhP 200.00). Prices are also exclusive of a 10% service charge. In fairness, though, they have huge serving sizes.
Now, we wouldn’t have spent as much time as we did on the beach if it wasn’t awesome to begin with. And this is where I give props to Dumaluan Beach Resort II.

Dumaluan Beach Resort II

Dumaluan Beach Resort II’s beachfront was virtually deserted on a Friday noon. ‘Could be because we went during off-peak season.
For P2,150 per night, Dumaluan Beach Resort II’s superior deluxe room was not bad at all. Although our room seemed crudely put together and gave me the notion that the owners had to stick to a strict budget when they had it constructed, it was clean enough, had a spacious toilet and bath with water heater (which we totally milked for all it was worth), had cable TV, had a mini-veranda right in front of the pool, and came with breakfast. So, I am not complaining.
The resort’s selling point, however, is the long stretch of white sand beach in front of it. Dumaluan Beach Resort is right beside the luxurious Bohol Beach Club, so I guess it’s the best coastline you can get in mainland Panglao. What makes this side of Panglao even kid-friendlier is it does not tend to get as crowded as Alona Beach. I guess people who want both the awesome beach and the party go to Alona, while those who want a nice beach without the crowd go to Dumaluan’s side of the island.

Our stay in Dumaluan Beach Resort was definitely worth our buck, but if I were to nitpick, I’d say their staff needs to work on room reservation coordination (I’m a poet, and you know it).
You see, I initially booked with them through their website, and when they didn’t respond promptly (know that I can be very impatient when waiting for hotels or resorts to respond), I called them up. The person I spoke with said the superior deluxe room was no longer available for the dates we were staying, so I booked a deluxe room instead. Then, lo and behold, the next day I get an e-mail from them saying they got my online reservation, and that I was booked for a superior deluxe room on the same dates.

I e-mailed them back after I paid the deposit and asked them to make sure the booking for the deluxe room was cancelled. I got another e-mail confirming the reservation, but since there was no mention of the first booking being cancelled, I called them again. I was concerned that I’d be charged for the deluxe room when we arrived at the resort. ‘Turns out my worry was warranted because the person I spoke with on the phone said I still had reservations for both a deluxe and a super deluxe room.

But again, the beach more than made up for the mix up. It might not be the best place for swimming I’ve been to because of the abundance of seaweeds and corals (the latter is the reason people flock to Panglao to snorkel, I gather), but I’d be hard pressed to name other uncrowded white sand beaches which are close to the airport.
How about you? Any beaches in the country you’d recommend bringing children to?
P.S. If you need a tricycle to take you around Panglao, contact Rudy at 09995765966.

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