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A Beachside Birthday

Dolphins, Snorkeling and Cocktails!

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We woke up on June 24th and it was Adam's Birthday, unfortunately we were currently still in Cebu but we were hoping that soon we would be sitting on a lovely beach. Thankfully the rain had eased and despite some uncertainties raised by the hotel employees, when we made it down to the port we were pleased and relieved to discover that the ferry was running. The crossing was perfectly smooth, the only problems were the freezing air con that blasted out just above our heads and the pirate movie they were showing which was experiencing severe sound problems. The voices were a distorted mumble and were fighting against a constant screech in the background, it sounded like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard. It kind of fit with the film though which was a horror, at least a 15 certificate, very appropriate at nine in the morning.

However we made the crossing in one piece, our ear drums still intact and were eager to get to more relaxing surroundings. Alona Beach is located on the island of Panglao which is connected by a bridge to the larger Eastern Visayas island of Bohol. We caught the ferry from Cebu to the town of Tagbilaran on the East coast of Bohol and then a tricycle drove us the 15km or so over the bridge and on to Alona. We were not exactly sure what to expect but we were hoping for a quieter version of Boracay. Ideally there would be some nice accommodation because we were willing to splash the cash a little bit, what with it being a certain persons special day.

Initially we were a little disappointed when we arrived. It didn't really seem to be a very well established resort at all, and what accommodation there was seemed to be over priced because of the location.
We heading right up to one end of the beach and came across the Alona Beach Hotel & Resort which looked very nice indeed. Despite looking like your typical backpacker we decided to check how much a room would cost. As we made our way to reception we passed the infinite pool, complete with waterside bar and then there were the clearly wealthy patrons enjoying a quiet and sophisticated lunch. We therefore weren't surprised when the price for a room was over four times what we were willing to spend.

We decided to have some lunch while we decided what to do and we enjoyed some good food, sitting on the patio of a Thai restaurant and gazed out on the sea which glistened in the sunlight and was a beautiful patchwork of turquoise and deep blue.
After lunch we tried a few more places along the beach but continued to be disappointed by the quality of the accommodation versus the prices. In the end we walked a little further away from the beach and came across another hotel. From the outside it looked a little like a building site and definitely had that unfinished feel, however inside the room was bright, clean and most importantly brand new. The price was also good and although we were hoping to stay somewhere a little more opulent for Adam's birthday we also could not see the point in wasting money on somewhere which just wasn't worth it.

Later on we went down to the shore and walked along the beach. One of the reasons we came to the beach was because we wanted to go Dolphin and Whale watching and this was meant to be a good area for it. We were approached by a number of people asking us if we wanted to go the next day and also visit a couple of other islands. By the time we reached the other end of the beach we had got a few quotes and after a little more negotiating we chose one guy to take us the next morning. We were told be back here at 6am. Now that tomorrows activities were sorted we went for a quick dip. It wasn't as warm as it had been in India but the surroundings were truly beautiful and we were quickly warming to Alona. It's certainly a lot quieter than Boracay and this definitely appealed to us.

We went back to get cleaned up and get ready to go out for Adam's birthday dinner. We ended up at a little bar and ordered a couple of cocktails, then we stuck up conversation with the barman.
The wind had picked up a little bit and we asked him about the Typhoon. He turned on the tv, and it was all over the news. It had been named Feria and we saw one guy broadcasting from Roxas Boulevard in Manila, very close to where we had stayed. The road was no longer visible as it was hidden beneath about a foot of water. We were pleased that we were no longer there! We enjoyed a few more cocktails in celebration of Adam now being a quarter of a century and in the end decided to stay here to eat as well.
Adam went for the sizzling fish platter and I had shrimp curry, both of which were very nice. By the end of the evening we were both a little tipsy but knew we had to be up early, so we headed back to the room to get some sleep.

The alarm seemed to go off just after we shut our eyes, but the early morning light suggested otherwise. We quickly got dressed and put our essential items in one of our waterproof stuff sacks that usually contain our clothes and headed down to the beach. It was about 5:45am and there was already quite a hive of activity as other people climbed into boats, all of us hoping to see some Dolphins. We'd been told that Whale sightings were quite unlikely, you really had to go to another island for this and by all accounts it was quite expensive. As long as we saw more than we had in India then we would be happy!

We bounced along over the small waves as we made our way to the right spot, all of the boats heading in the same direction. In some ways it would have been nice to enjoy the experience alone but in the end the excitement took over and you looked to other boats to guide you slightly on where to head and where to look. One minute we were just staring out a vast expanse of blue, broken only by other boats. Then suddenly there was a low murmur and we strained our eyes to see a few dorsal fins in the distance.
At once the boat was angled in that direction and we were off.

I couldn't tell you how many dolphins there were, certainly at least twenty. They came very close to the boat, arching in and out of the water just in front of us.
It all seemed to be a game to them and they put on a bit of show. A few jumped clean out of the water, the whole motion looking to be completely effortless.
That said one of the babies attempted this and appeared to do a little bit of a belly flop, practice makes perfect! Photographing the spectacle was not an easy task, our fingers were just a second or two too slow. Adam took a couple of videos though and so the memories will be forever saved.

The numbers began to thin out a little bit and we made our way over to one of the little islands in the vicinity. Once we were on the beach we swapped the bigger boat for a little paddle boat so that we could go snorkelling on the coral reef. The bigger boat is not allowed to go into the area in case it does any damage. I was a little nervous about the snorkelling, I've only done it once before and although I've always felt very happy in the water I'm more of a hold your breath kind of girl. Just breathing through your mouth doesn't come very naturally to me. Still we were both excited to get a view of the underwater world.

Getting out of the boat was a little tricky as we didn't want to cut our feet on the sharp coral but once we were in it was great. We got out just as the coral came to an end and the sea cliff dropped away to open out into much deeper water. This provided us with the best of both worlds as we gazed at all the brightly coloured fish as they weaved in and out and fed on the coral. We also saw shoals of huge fish spiralling around in the deep abyss. I wish that I could have taken some photos but obviously that wasn't an option, I did find Nemo though!

The only downside for me was my mask which persistently let in water which got a bit annoying after a while but all in all it was an amazing experience. Adam definitely enjoyed himself and I was really pleased that we were doing this close to his birthday. Getting back into the boat was even trickier, well for me at least as my upper body strength is pretty much non existent. I got a leg up from our guide though and soon we were heading back to the bigger boat.

Once back in the larger vessel we headed over to another island called Virgin Island.
It was very small indeed, just a little expanse of white and green above the water. There was an aquamarine path leading you in and soon enough we had hopped out of the boat and we were once again snorkelling and just enjoying lounging about in the shallow water. Despite the tranquillity and sense of remoteness we could not avoid the touts and soon enough I was accosted by a guy wanting to sell me pearl earrings. More for the location than the earrings themselves I decided to make the purchase, I will always remember where I got them. Adam also spent some money, he bought a couple of shells from a man in a little paddle boat who came up to us on the water. Once again something we will never forget.

As we had got up so early it was not even 10 o'clock. We had planned to spend the day here but as we were a little behind schedule because we'd got delayed in Cebu we made the decision to move on again. We got back to the hotel, had a shower and packed up our stuff. We had to make our way to Tagbilaran and catch the bus to Carmen, we were off to see the Chocolate Hills.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 00:12 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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