February 28, 2016

Our Trip to Bohol

This past weekend was the 30th Anniversary of the EDSA People's Power Revolution here in the Philippines, the revolution overthrowing Marcos and the beginning of Corey's term, and so I had a glorious 4-day weekend in honor of the revolution. Mom and I decided to explore a new part of the Philippines--Bohol. Specifically, Alona Vida beach.

These little piggies were gloriously naked for most of the trip!
The atmosphere of Alona Vida is unlike any other beach I've visited before. Every restaurant, bar, shop, henna tattoo parlor, smoothie stand, and resort is directly on the beach. The entire 'town' is purely resorts, dive shops, and restaurants (with a few Korean food marts thrown in for good measure). The only dress code you'll find around here is 'bottoms suggested'--anything else from flip flops to bikini tops is optional. I spent a healthy part of these past 4 days barefoot with my toes in the sand--a feeling that nears euphoria for me.

Alona Vida is absolutely crawling with European and Australian backpackers, divers, and travelers--Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and American travelers are certainly the minority on Alona Vida. Another feature that I consider a definite plus for this particular beach in Bohol is the dogs that roam freely, snoozing under beach loungers in the hottest part of the day, and always up for a little cuddle or piece of your dinner.
A pretty little Momma dog (with her puppies somewhere) that became my constant companion--she nuzzled up to me on the first day here at the beach and was my shadow until we left
Mom and I stayed at the Alona Vida Beach Resort (home to the Coco Vida Bar and Restaurant)--a small place keen for divers, travelers on a budget, and those looking to use the room just to sleep and shower (Mom and I being those of the latter). Our room at Coco was pretty much the opposite of expensive (if you're looking for a luxurious soaking tub and spa--steer clear of Alona Vida as a destination), however the room was completely clean everyday, roomy enough that Mom and I weren't on top of each other, and even offered a bathroom that didn't make you feel you like you were camping--a nasty side effect of a lot of budget resorts, I find. In fact, our airline tickets cost more than the room did for 3 nights but it was one of the nicest rooms we've stayed in!

The real treasure of the resort is the staff--a hardworking, friendly, very accommodating staff. We were greeted every morning with a smile, every wish of ours was immediately granted (with another smile)--even after we checked out of the resort and were waiting in the airport for our flight back to Manila the staff graciously helped us locate a pair of misplaced sunglasses! (Ahem...I may have left them in the van that took us from the resort to the airport...) Mom and I wanted to go snorkeling one afternoon so the guard (who seems to never take a day off--none of the staff took a day off in our time at the resort, Thursday through Sunday) arranged the entire trip for us--complete with equipment, a boat, guides, and reminders to pack sunscreen and water.
My beautiful Mama
Food and drinks are not hard to find on Alona Vida beach--the entire beachfront is packed with bars and restaurants. The Coco Vida restaurant offers a diverse selection of food as well as beach-front seating. Pretty much every resort offers the ability for you to pick your own fish and meat out of the fresh catches of the day and have the chef cook them up for you just as you want them! There are also some speciality restaurants like the Greek tavern (newly opened with a limited menu--they're still finding their way) or the Buzzz ice cream shop (their buko flavor is better than their chocolate, heads up).

If none of these hotspots fit your fancy, a mere .25km walk up the road lies the 'town' around Alona Vida with, notably, Noah's Pizza (we ate there twice in a row, it was that yummy) and Gavroche a French bakery (Mom and I ate breakfast there every morning, along with every local and passerby--a definite must if you're in town!) There are also countless Korean food markets for snacks, a corner store for any cookie, cracker, chip, or soda craving you may have, Italian restaurants galore, and even an Indian restaurant (Saffron, supposedly very good although Mom and I never got there).

While on the beach, you absolutely must stop and have a fresh fruit shake. Mom and I found our favorite place rather quickly--I ordered the Mango + Banana smoothie every day. (This smoothie place, which also offers a waffle and ice cream sandwich that I recommend as well, is located under the same marquee as the Greek restaurant that lies on top of it)

I've been home for approximately 3 hours now and I already miss my toes in the sand, the cooling breeze, the sound of the ocean, the dogs, the smoothies, and especially the laid-back vibe that comes with everyone there not worrying about what they're doing tomorrow or having to think about work or school.

What do you think? Is the laid back, no dress code, surf-n-sand vibe Alona Vida for you? Personally being able to walk down main street in a coverup with no shoes sounds just about perfect to me. If you do go to Alona Vida, make sure to stay at the Alona Vida Beach Resort....or at least pop in to hear their nightly band at the Coco Vida restaurant (the band is fantastic and knows Pink Floyd songs!) Tell them Room 8 sent you :)


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