Behold Bohol: Where To Eat And Sleep Once The New Panglao Airport In Bohol Opens
Tourists are eagerly awaiting the opening of the new airport on Panglao Island in Bohol, currently slated for the end of October 2018, according to the Department of Transportation. The great thing about Bohol is that, unlike other popular beach destinations in the Philippines, there is no need for additional connecting trips via different modes of transportation (that may include potentially unsafe options) to reach your resort. A majority of the Bohol resorts are a mere 15 to 30 minutes away by car from the Tagbilaran airport, but once the new Panglao airport opens, travel time will be just 5 to 10 minutes. For first time visitors, I recommend booking a pick-up service from your resort as public transport options from the airport are very limited.
I finally made it to Bohol earlier this year, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Bohol has great beaches and resorts that can rival Boracay’s best. If you’re looking for places to eat and a resort to book, here are my picks:
5/F Bohol Quality Mall (BQ Mall), Tagbilaran City
This friendly gelato and coffee shop was established by Swiss-Italian-Filipino Paolo Rigotti in 2010 to jump start his coffee adventure in the island. It now serves not only authentic Italian gelato and locally grown Bohol coffee, but also a variety of sandwiches, crepes, and ice cream staples to a growing number of appreciative clients. Now a coffee grower and roaster himself, Paolo has started proudly serving his own Bohol coffee blend called Rigotti Coffee that he founded in collaboration with local farmers.
Gerarda’s Family Restaurant
30 J.A. Torralba Street, Tagbilaran City, (038) 412-3044
Every local resident’s recommendation for local fare is this family restaurant that claims to serve Filipino food with a twist. It’s located in an ancestral house converted into a restaurant. There is a bigger newer branch located nearer the airport. This is the best place for you to try local dishes like the savory ubi kinampay.
Donatela Hotel, Km 16 Hoyohoy, Tawala, Panglao, (0917) 526-6001
The signature restaurant of Donatela Hotel (formerly Tarsier Botanika) offers an international menu with something for everyone. This restaurant is located by the water’s edge, giving diners a fantastic, cliff side view of Bohol Sea, whether from the comforts of an air-conditioned sea view room or on the open-air veranda. I highly recommend that you start your day here with an early breakfast (and catch the sunrise too if you are staying at Donatela) and enjoy some of its baked-on-the-premises bread and local cheese from a nearby dairy farm. Desserts are also a must-try, especially the majority of its chocolate-based desserts.
Smoque Bistro + Café and Bar
CPG East Avenue, along ACE Medical Center, Bool District, Tagbilaran City, (0917) 710-0045
“Smoque” comes from the fused words “smoking” and “barbecue,” pronounced as “smoke.” The initial goal of owners Mark Edwin Alturas, Raphael “Paeng” Öngchiong, and Krissel Alturas was for almost everything to be produced locally, handmade and homemade, serving as the inspiration for the menu crafted by Manila-born chef Paeng, formerly of Amorita’s Café Saffron. Chef recommendations include steaks, smoked beef belly, a porchetta-like pork dish topped with cracklings, and the different cakes baked by Krissel, including her bestselling Ube Halaya Cheesecake and Mango Charlotte.
Tarsier Exotica & Gun Bar
Panglao Island Circumferential Road, Panglao
This is the best place to dine after a visit to Alona Beach as it’s located just beside the entrance to the beach. Also owned by Donatela Hotel, this air-conditioned restaurant serves really good grilled meats and seafood, as well as a delectable selection of pastries baked by the Donatela pastry team. My favorites were the simply grilled fresh prawns and the to-die-for Sacher Torte. What a surprise to find a very good version of this iconic Austrian chocolate dessert in Bohol of all places, as I have yet to find a decent version in Manila. The nicely appointed Gun Bar with its sprawling garden is a great place to chill with your favorite drinks while people watching. From here, you can grab a shuttle to Donatela Hotel’s Paprika Restaurant.
D’Original Osang’s Homemade Pastries
Bonifacio Street, Poblacion, Baclayon, (038) 540-9072
Located behind Baclayon Church is this must-stop for the best broas in town. You can even watch how the bakers make these traditional biscuits. Best for take-out as there is no space for diners inside the very small store.
Dalareich Chocolate House
Bukid Drive, Dakabayan sa Tagbilaran, (0917) 777-5817
This is Bohol’s first bean-to-bar chocolate shop using homegrown cacao beans from Bohol. You can sample different chocolate products or a cup of hot chocolate made the traditional way. They can also arrange a Bohol Chocolate Educational Tour Package for you.
Where to sleep in Bohol
Donatela Hotel (formerly Tarsier Botanika) is a beautiful resort located inside a sprawling 7.5-hectare botanical garden with a panoramic view of Bohol Sea. It boasts the highly-rated cliff side Paprika Restaurant, a huge outdoor swimming pool, a spa village, stables with healthy horses, and a mini zoo that houses some wild animals and exotic birds, including a friendly Rufus hornbill called Delores.
Photo from Donatela Hotel
Conveniently located in the center of Panglao, Donatela Hotel is only 30 minutes away from Tagbilaran airport and 5 minutes from the soon-to-open Panglao airport. Dumaluan and Alona Beach are both just 5 minutes away by hotel shuttle. The Donatela team, led by the very personable and hands-on General Manager Herve Martin, can arrange tours to Tagbilaran, with must-visits like the Tarsier Sanctuary and the famous Chocolate Hills, as well as dive trips to nearby Balicasag Island.
The resort only has 12 villas that blend organically into the garden, giving each guest a lot of privacy and with their utmost comfort in mind. The Garden Villa fits 2 comfortably, while the Family Villa fits 4. The best villas, in my opinion, are the very well-appointed Honeymoon and Pool Villas, with their own private swimming pools.
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
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