Lifestyle Asia

TRAVEL Out of Town

In these times defined by the confining, hustle culture in the metro, escaping to the pristine islands of BOHOL and embracing stillness prove to be a sought-after experience

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Embrace stillness in the pristine islands of Bohol

Beyond the majestic Chocolate Hills and the abundance of tarsiers in lush forests, Bohol is home to marvelous destinatio­ns that make it worth visiting again and again. From the luxurious hotel resorts, diving sites, to the bars and restaurant­s offering dishes with creative takes on local flavors, the island of Panglao is the destinatio­n of those desiring an unforgetta­ble escape away from the bustle of city life.

FINDING SERENITY

Alona Beach in Panglao is a crowd favorite for its white sand, stunning reefs, azure blue waters, and rocky cliffs. Home to many hotels and restaurant­s, the beach offers a delightful experience. It is a well-known scuba-diving and snorkeling spot but because it sits near a “house” reef, tourists can witness marine life even without diving equipment.

Starting with the largest beach resort on the island, Henann Resort spans 6.5 hectares. The sprawling property is structured with open spaces, allowing the refreshing sea breeze to be experience­d throughout the resort.

Apart from its 400 luxurious rooms, spa, fitness center, and cafés, it has the largest convention center in Bohol. It can hold up to 1,000 people, making it an ideal destinatio­n for events like weddings.

Two of the three swimming pools face the beachfront while the pool villas are located in the property’s center, allowing easy access and movement to the amenities of the resort.

For those looking for a secluded place offering an elevated, tranquil experience, Amorita Resort is another best choice for guests. The luxury resort sits atop a limestone cliff south of Panglao Island, 10 minutes away from BoholPangl­ao Internatio­nal Airport.

With 98 room suites and villas, two infinity pools, restaurant­s, and an in-house Profession­al Associatio­n of Diving Instructor­s (PADI) dive center, Amorita creates a distinct island experience.

Some of the rooms overlook the Bohol Sea and so guests can easily fall into serene moments while sipping on their favorite cocktails.

Over to the north of the island, the Bellevue Resort is a private sanctuary. They are awarded the Associatio­n of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Green Hotel for sustainabl­e tourism practices, particular­ly, with energy conservati­on.

They also take pride in their water activities such as diving lessons, beach football, and fish-feeding. There is an option to do island hopping as well, one of the favorite pastimes of those desiring to see more of the wonders of Bohol.

After the vigorous activities, guests can relax over at the Azurea Spa or shop for souvenirs at The Kiosk while the children can spend more time in the play area.

Moving northwest of Panglao, Modala Beach Resort takes guests into an island getaway that can be both serene for its scenic views and lively for its different activities. Be it kayak, snorkel, jet ski, sunset cruise, water aerobics, or spending time on the Sunken Lounge surrounded by a koi pond, anyone can find something to enjoy in these activities.

For times of relaxation, they have Recovery Floatation Pod that combines soothing and detoxifyin­g massages with curated treatments in a secluded tank for an overall calming experience.

Similar to the promise of solitude, Bohol Beach Club is among the first private resorts on the island. They are 2.5 km east of Alona Beach or a 5-min. boat ride away. With its three pools, aqua sports, function rooms, and three restaurant­s (Kalubihan, Taclobo, and Agotata or the coffee shop), the club highlights an overall comfortabl­e stay.

They have undergone several renovation­s throughout the years, ensuring their facilities are up-to-date. In 2018, they converted their deluxe rooms into environmen­tal-friendly ones with sustainabl­e amenities.

What sets it apart are the gardens and the small farm inside the resort. They harvest herbs and vegetables here for their dining outlets, providing guests with a farm-to-table dining experience.

DIVERSE FLAVORS

It is a well-known fact that regions in the country boast of their local delicacies. For Bohol, a trip wouldn’t be complete without taking home Peanut Kisses or cookies shaped like miniature Chocolate Hills, Kalamay, or the sweet and sticky delicacy made of glutinous rice, and Sikwate or hot chocolate from tablea.

Apart from delicacies, a vacation demands indulging in the diverse cuisines of restaurant­s, bars, and bistros in Bohol.

Starting with a coffee shop, Mist is one of the must-visit destinatio­ns for its laidback ambiance and a wide range of dishes. From their signature seafood platter, Surf n’ Turf, Gold Leaf Steak with Fried Shrimp Salad, to the Mexican, Japanese, and Spanish cuisines, Mist offers an all-inclusive gastronomi­c experience for guests.

While taking a dip into unique flavors is always a delightful encounter, there is always room for comfort food for the Filipino palate. Lotus Storm fuses local flavors with internatio­nal ones, adding their twists to them. They offer menu sets for special occasions and even recently launched a healthy salad series.

Guests have a 360-degree view of the Bohol Sea while enjoying the sophistica­ted, modern interiors resembling a “fish storm.”

Moving the cuisine farther East, Japanese restaurant Nonki opened a branch in Bohol in 2019. It originally establishe­d itself in Cebu but its quality food and dining experience are brought over to the rest of its branches across the country.

Nonki serves the freshest seafood and dishes such as grilled salmon, sushi, avocado rolls, and corn tempura, a twist to one of the basics in Japanese cuisine.

The dark wooden interiors featuring clean, sharp lines evoke the minimalist Japanese aesthetic. Together with the warm glow of the lights at night, there is a cozy ambiance in the restaurant making it ideal for dinner dates and intimate conversati­ons.

NIGHTLIFE ON THE ISLAND

Having opened early this year, Molly WA is quickly making a name for itself as one of the go-to destinatio­ns, especially for the young crowd. As they are on the beachside, they invite DJS, local bands, and artists to perform live.

The main inspiratio­n for their aesthetic is Mainland Asia. From the exteriors resembling tiki huts and WA roof tiles to its handmade and customized signage from Thailand, the yakiniku bistro celebrates the rich culture of its neighborin­g countries.

For their food, what sets them apart is their use of a traditiona­l clay pot surface in grilling their meat. This keeps the original or natural flavors. While they import some of their beef from the United Kingdom, they prepare their dishes in Vietnamese style: minimal use of oil and relying more on the flavors of fresh herbs and vegetables.

The main course, however, is all about the Vietnamese fusion unlimited barbecue meat. For those adventurou­s to try, they have Chicken BBQ platters that include skin, gizzards, intestines, and thighs—savory delights that are best complement­ed with cold drinks.

Another must-visit is the Bamboo Place. Surrounded by cozy cottages, the wide lounge bar makes it another ideal place for family visits or romantic dates. Although they play music of different genres, on Thursdays, guests can request their favorite songs to be played.

Like most restaurant bars, they offer barbecue and grilled dishes, savory starters, pasta, salads, a range of European and Asian main courses, and even do-it-yourself (DIY) burgers. Complement these with their extensive array of beers, wine, and cocktails—a mix of internatio­nal and regional flavors.

Similar to creating a vibrant nightlife scene is Rojo, nestled in the coastline of Modala Beach Resort. While it only opened in June this year, the bistro’s live performanc­e by house DJS and the quality food and choice liquor shows it to be a promising go-to destinatio­n. It may be a club but it transforms into a beautiful beach ideal for families on weekends.

INTO THE DEEP

Apart from staying in luxury resorts and trying varying cuisines, diving in Balicasag Island makes for an unforgetta­ble experience. Located southwest off Panglao, the island is declared a marine sanctuary and is one of the top diving spots in the country.

Ranging from three to 45 meters of depth, the diving sites offer an astonishin­g sight into marine life. Different species of clownfish, moray eels, huge schools of jackfish, barracudas, and massive barrel sponges are some of the creatures living in these areas.

Among the well-known spots are Black Forest (named after its abundance of black corals), Turtle Point (filled with friendly sea turtles that should still be carefully approached), and Diver’s Haven (named for its wealth of marine creatures including white tip sharks in small caves).

ONE WITH NATURE

Less than 30 minutes away from Tagbilaran, the Bohol Bee Farm is more than a destinatio­n that grows organic vegetables. It is also a hotel resort that has multiple dining areas, a convention hall, spa, outdoor jacuzzi tubs, dive shop, and rooms with different views.

From the Garden Room, Ocean View, to the Honeycomb Suite, and more, the resort boasts of antique interiors. The wooden panels, floors, and furnishing­s evoke an old-fashioned ambiance while giving a sense of closeness with nature. Some of the rooms are garden bungalows that overlook the resort’s naturally-grown vegetable and herb garden.

Their restaurant and Kape Bee and Bar have menu selections of homemade healthy delights. They get their ingredient­s from their garden and honey from their colonies of bees, ensuring the freshness of the dishes.

The farm prioritize­s family, ecological sustainabi­lity, and social responsibi­lity. They provide livelihood programs to farmers through loom weaving. They also produce the farm’s organic treats and raw products. These can be bought at the Buzzz Shop together with souvenir products such as beauty and skincare products, seasonings and spreads, arts and crafts, and herbbased insect repellant sprays.

All these initiative­s emphasize Bohol Bee Farm’s commitment to creating a memorable experience not only for guests, but also for staff and local communitie­s.

 ??  ?? Text KATHERINE ALAMARES
Text KATHERINE ALAMARES
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 ??  ?? L-R Alona Beach is a stretch of tropical paradise in Panglao Island known for its white sands and diving sites; Henann Resort has a total of three crystallin­e pools to choose from; from the pool area to the private villas, Amorita Resort boasts distinctiv­e minimalist aesthetic evocative of luxury and style
L-R Alona Beach is a stretch of tropical paradise in Panglao Island known for its white sands and diving sites; Henann Resort has a total of three crystallin­e pools to choose from; from the pool area to the private villas, Amorita Resort boasts distinctiv­e minimalist aesthetic evocative of luxury and style
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 ??  ?? L-R Bohol Beach Club is among the first resorts in Panglao, having undergone renovation­s to maintain its top-of-the-line facilities and picturesqu­e beachfront; MIST’S signature Surf n’ Turf platter features the freshest, quality seafood; Modala Beach Resort promises days and nights of solitude with its pristine pool; Balicasag Island is the go-to diving destinatio­n for its rich marine biodiversi­ty
L-R Bohol Beach Club is among the first resorts in Panglao, having undergone renovation­s to maintain its top-of-the-line facilities and picturesqu­e beachfront; MIST’S signature Surf n’ Turf platter features the freshest, quality seafood; Modala Beach Resort promises days and nights of solitude with its pristine pool; Balicasag Island is the go-to diving destinatio­n for its rich marine biodiversi­ty
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