Cebu, Philippines (26-27 Aug 2015)
2 days in Central Visayas
(Cebu and Bohol)
The Philippines was our first port of call! It was very exhilarating to start our around the world adventure in Cebu. Most people have images of beautiful, pristine beaches in their mind when they think of Cebu. Many of us were very determined to enjoy the ocean during our 2-day stay. Some headed to Mactan, the closest decent beach from the port. I truly believe that one has to travel far to access the best beaches so I dragged my friends to…
This paradise was definitely worth the 2-hour ferry ride from Cebu to Bohol. It was quite a journey to get to this paradise!
1. Take free shuttle bus from the place where Peace Boat docked to the entrance of the terminal
2. Take a cab to Cebu Pier
3. Queue and buy ferry tickets outside Cebu Pier (800 pesos round trip, Cebu to Tagbilaran – capital of Bohol. Remember to check the ferry timing as we missed the earlier ferry and had to wait for the next one)
4. Pay terminal fee (25 pesos) to enter Cebu Pier and board the 2-hour ferry
5. Sleep on the ferry
6. Take 40-min cab (500 pesos) from Bohol ferry terminal to Alona beach on Panglao island
We finally reached Alona beach when it was dark. We managed to find a reasonably priced accommodation by the beach. To reward ourselves after an arduous journey, we feasted in the relaxing beach town!
4 things to eat on Bohol Island
There are many restaurants offering fresh sea food. Choose what you like and enjoy a plate filled with grilled goodness!
The word “lechón” originated from the Spanish term which refers to a roasted suckling pig. The Philippines used to be a Spanish colony and Cebu is home to the tastiest lechón. Even though we were full from our grilled seafood feast, we had 2 servings of this delectable dish – the juicy meat and the crispy skin are a match in culinary heaven.
3. Barbecued chicken
The smoky fragrance, the glistening skin, the tender meat – nothing can go wrong with barbecued chicken!
4. Buko Halo Halo
“Buko” refers to young coconut and “halo halo” refers to “mixed together” in Tagalog. A popular summer dessert, Buko halo halo is mixture of shaved ice, ice cream, fruits, red beans, jelly and lot of yummy ingredients nestled in a coconut. My friend loved it so much that he had to take many pictures with this phenomenal dessert.
Other than eating, snorkelling is a must-do in Bohol. There are many snorkelling tours available. A popular half-day tour includes dolphin watching and snorkelling around Balicasag and Virgin islands. As we had to rush back to Cebu, we booked an early morning half-day tour to Balicasag island. With the sun rising above us, we headed to the marine sanctuary on a quaint boat. During the 30-min ride, we saw some dolphins. Once we reached the marine sanctuary, we spent a relaxing them snorkelling with many fishes.
After our experience on Bohol island, I could not help but wonder if Balicasag marine sanctuary really promotes marine conservation as I thought the corals did not look very vibrant. The livelihood of the locals on the island seems to rely heavily on tourism (widespread poverty in the country is a discussion for another day).
I did some research and found this article which states that most marine protected areas (MPAs) in The Philippines like the Balicasag marine sanctuary are not that effective due to a culmination of complex factors like limited government support and poorly managed dive tourism.
On the other hand, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report praised sustainable tourism efforts in The Philippines. Tourism, especially coastal and marine tourism, is a huge industry in the Philippines and hopefully more structured programmes will be implemented to promote sustainable eco-tourism. The Philippines archipelago has so many stunning islands and we have a responsibility to not destroy that beauty.