Sand like fine white sugar. Crystal clear turquoise waters. Dreamy sunset.

Wait, which beach am I talking about? Boracay or Panglao?

Boracay Island in Aklan and Panglao Island in Bohol have long been pitted against each other. Both are known to have pristine white beaches, various outdoor activities and vivid night scene. But which island deserves your vote?

White Beach
 Photo Credit: StrudelMonkey
Boracay vs Panglao: Identical Beaches?
Panglao Beach
Photo Credit: ubo_pakes
Party Island VS. Chill Out Island

The Party Island

I've been lucky enough to set foot on both islands. Boracay on several occasions and Panglao just once, a few months back. Boracay is more popularly known as the Party Island. (And it's Boracay not Bora, mind you. Or else Sole Sister Chichi will go: Off with your head!) Foreigners and locals come to this island all year round but they don't just come for the beach. Boracay is known for Sunset Happy Hour, What-happens-in-Boracay-stays-in-Boracay parties, celebrity stalking and just plain hanging out with the barkada.

The Chill Out Island

Panglao on the other hand is the more laid back, low key sister of Boracay. If you want to escape the crowds and the loud party music, you should come here. All you need is a cold bottle of San Mig Light and you could go staring into the azure waters for hours at a time. It's as though time stands still on this little island. Couples and honeymooners frequent this place. In fact, our friend Jai just got engaged a few months back in Amorita Resort on Alona Beach.

The Sole Sisters' Boracay-Panglao Face Off

Just like the previous Battle of the Islands where we compared 2 islands in Palawan, El Nido and Coron, we're taking out the weighing scales again to see which is island has more to offer. But I'll be veering away from Chichi's more sensible and practical approach like location, budget and trip planning. Instead I'll be comparing sunsets, thrill-seeking outdoor activities and scenery. Let's see which island will make you go Woah! and book the next ticket to The Chosen Island Paradise. 


Like A Setting Sun

Boracay sunset is a beautiful surprise every single day. I stayed there for 6 days straight and everyday the colors were in different vibrant shades. It was as if the sunset goddesses were trying to outdo with each other with the sky's palette. And in the summer, the sunset can go on and change colors for at least a few hours.

Boracay Sunset

Boracay Sunset

Panglao sunset does not fall on the water but to the right of it. At least, in Alona Beach. You don't always see the fiery red ball because more often than not, it's the cloud play that leaves you breathless. 

Bohol Beach Club
Photo Credit: Lost In The RP
In Crystal and Sands

Bottle of Sand
Photo Credit: Jason J. Rotello
How clear is the water and how white is the sand? A question most beach bums probably wouldn't even bother asking. I mean a beach is a beach. But for the sake of comparison, let me try to describe the crystal water and fine sands of these 2 beaches. Boracay water is very temperate and clear but you have swim a bit farther because of the seaweeds that line the shore. There's not much marine life at the bottom. Panglao on the other hand has very clear water, so clear in fact that you could probably see the groups of red starfish on the grassy bottom. As far as the sand goes, Boracay sand has the texture and color of powdered white sugar. Panglao sand on the other hand has a similar texture but a bit more coarse. And the color is that of coffee after you've put several tablespoons of cream.

Like Reggae in the Night, The Beach and the Moonlight

When in Boracay, you can't stay a few days and not enjoy the night scene. Don't miss Cocomangas in Station One where you can drink like a fish, Club Paraw also in Station One where you can party like there's no tomorrow, and Summer Place in Station Two where you may meet and flirt with a handsome stranger. Or two. Boracay is home to a lot of events and parties such as Nestea Fit Camp, Big Fish Productions and Marlboro Party.

Boracay Parties

Nightlife in Panglao Island is limited to a handful of reggae and karaoke bars. It's relatively quiet out here that most places close by midnight at the latest. But hey, no one's gonna stop you from a having a quiet conversation on the seashore with a few bottles of beer til the sun goes up!

Beach Shack

Everyone knows the Sole Sisters are cheapskates when it comes to trip budgets. So we always try to find the best cheapest deals. (Except for Chichi's Blue Lagoon experience) When I went to Boracay the last time, I left all the trip planning to my good friend Pam. En route to Boracay, I finally asked her: So which station are we staying at? I was surprised when she asked me back: Station? What do you mean? (Trust me to be so lazy as to leave the planning to someone who's never been to Boracay) She then answered: We're staying at Bolabog Beach. And the name of the 'hotel'? Banana-Saging. We ended up staying on the other side of White Island in a dilapidated inn complete with a mosquito net and threadbare sheets. Classy! But we were okay after a few days. This beach was where the Kite surfing went on and we enjoyed meeting a lot of people and being on the rustic side. Plus it only cost us 250PHP/person ($5 USD*) a night!

Bohol Diver's Resort Beach Shack
Our little beach shack in Bohol Diver's Resort in Panglao
Looking for a place to stay on the one night we were in Panglao was easy. We just walked down the beach and asked around. We stayed at Bohol Diver's Resort which was relatively cheap for 300PHP/person ($7 USD*) a night for a small fan room. One thing I learned about accommodations on the islands of the Philippines: Look for the Diver's Place. They usually offer big fancy rooms but have available fan rooms in the back for backpackers.

On an Island in the Sun We'll be playing and having fun

Aside from the usual water sports activities, there's lots to do on these 2 islands. Let's start with Boracay. You can rent an all terrain vehicle and go off road for around 300-500PHP/hour. It's a super fun way to explore the island!

Boracay 2008 (Day 3)
Photo Credit: LabLab
Go Parasailing or Kite surfing on Bolabog Beach. These activities have gained popularity  a few years back. The quieter, less-developed side of Boracay has enough wind power to blow these pretty babies up in the air. They even have international kite surfing competitions during the summer months.

Kite Surfing in Boracay

Kite Surfing in Boracay

Cliff diving at Ariel's Point in Boracay just recently took off. For 1,200PHP ($27 USD*)  inclusive of drinks and lunch, you can get on a 30 minute boat ride from Boracay to Ariel's Point  and go cliff diving as many times you want. I haven't really had the chance to try this, so I got the info from here. Doesn't that look exhilarating?


Panglao doesn't have a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities. Although there's nearby zip lining in Tagbilaran and dolphin and whale watching. It also offers an edge over Boracay for its large number of dive sites. I'm no diver myself, but most of the people we ran into in Panglao were divers and they raved about the top-class dive sites on this island.

If you are crazy about diving and want to experience world class diving sites then consider stopping by Davao City while staying in the Philippines. A quick flight over to a northern island will have you in some of the best diving waters around. Davao is known for having high class scuba instructors as well as top notch diving destinations. If you are looking to enhance your snorkeling skills and get away from the populated beaches of Panglao, then book a cheap Davao hotel and get your water adventure started.

Photo Credit: JVNunag
Go spelunking in nearby Hinagdanan Cave. This cave boasts of a large number of stalactites and stalagmites leading to an underground spring pool where you can take a swim. But watch out! The water is icy cold.

Hinagdanan Cave
Photo Credit: By lemuelreyes
Take me to the Beach

So what else do these islands have to offer? I'll let your eyes do the judging from hereon forward with these stunning photos:

BORACAY

Puka Beach is a few minutes tricycle ride from White beach. It's more pristine and deserted than the popular side. This is the perfect place if you just want to enjoy the ocean or work on your tan. Or if you just can't be bothered!

Puka Beach, Boracay, Philippines
Photo Credit: Island Capture Photography
Marooned
Photo Credit The Wandering Angel
The temperate azure waters of Boracay. Isn't it inviting? Pam and I swam every single day of our vacation there.

White Beach Boracay

Sunset Happy Hour. There's nothing like a couple of Mango Margaritas from Manana, a great beachfront mexican resto, while watching this mesmerizing sunset. Incredible.


Sunset Happy Hour in Boracay

PANGLAO

Can solitude get any better than this? On the 2 days I was in Panglao, no one ever came up to me offering a massage or trinket souvenirs.

alone
By α is for äpΩL 
Photo Credit: paw_con
Is this Boracay or Panglao? Can you guess? Since there's not a single Paraw in sight, this can only be Alona Beach in Panglao Island.

Panglao Beach

You can take a walk or an early morning swim and not see anyone. This is the perfect place for your first solo trip!

Alona Beach in Panglao

You are the best one, of the best ones

I've asked a few people before writing this post which one they like better: BORACAY or PANGLAO? Because honestly, it's tough. Although I fall in love with Boracay's sunset every single time I see one, I also enjoyed the quiet beauty of Panglao. But since this is Battle of the Islands, only one island gets my vote. And it is:

BORACAY, The Party Island!

Not for its parties, celebrities and nights of debauchery. I like that Boracay has something for everyone.  Puka and Bulabog beach for those quiet, serene mornings. Bars and restaurants for everything you crave for. Endless flow of tourists and locals alike whenever you feel like meeting new people.
  • Mango Ray's BoracayThere are a lot of things I still haven't tried on this island like ride an ATV, learn to kite-surf or go cliff-diving. I simply must do it. We should add these to the list.

  • There's too many things I haven't done (here) yet, too many sunsets I haven't seen. Sing it with me! Many the miiiles...

  • Boracay is not the best place for diving, but I'm no diver anyway. So I'm happy with island- hopping and snorkeling on the many coral gardens surrounding this island.

  • Boracay fits every budget. You can splurge at the fanciest restaurants or do it the Journeying James way by spending only 99PHP for an entire day! If you want to stay on White Beach and are traveling on a limited budget, Station 3 area is where most of the cheaper lodgings are located. Station 2 is right smack in the middle of the bar scene. So it's not the best place if you're a light sleeper, but it's perfect if you're there for late-night partying. Station 1 is more isolated so it's for beach bums who are looking for respite from the crowds and the night scene

Everyone knows I'm no party girl. I'll leave the partying to my more hedonistic Sole Sister. (Count how many times Chichi appeared in the Boracay party pictures.) But this time I'm choosing the Party Island over Chill out Island.
Castles of Boracay Island
Photo Credit Storm Crypt

WHICH IS YOUR CHOSEN ISLAND PARADISE?

Go cast your votes by leaving a comment below.

Until the next trip,
Sole Sister Lois

*All amounts in USD were calculated using a $1=45PHP

On the next Battle of the Islands, Sole Sister Chichi will be comparing two secluded, hard-to-reach islands. One in Luzon and another in Visayas. Which will be the next Chosen Island Paradise?

44 Responses so far.

  1. mapanuri says:

    I've yet to explore Panglao but it's definitely as beautiful as Boracay.

    Though Boracay is more popular, I think Panglao offers the same. Choosing between them is as tough as choosing love over career or vice versa.. :P

  2. Lois says:

    Thanks for casting your vote for Panglao mapanuri. I have to agree though. I didn't get to explore Panglao since we only stayed there overnight so this topic is still open for debate.

  3. zuring says:

    Never been to Panglao but Boracay is my second home (you know that right sis?!) you sole-sisters should go back there asap and experience the Full Moon Party @ Jungle Bar (back beach) - they got pretty good House music (full moon party) and Reggae during ordinary night;P Very fun crowd (slight wild heheh) - Transportation would be Tric (P100) one way (quite expensive) but don't worry gurls I found a cheaper healthier way - walking thru the shortcuts...

  4. zuring says:

    FYI: deyr already very strict in implementing the No Smoking along the beach...and I 101% support it! c,")

  5. Chyng says:

    for the beach, its boracay.
    for superb relaxation (+ outstanding snorkelign sites) hands down to panglao!

  6. nina says:

    My vote goes to Boracay as well! As much as I like solitude, Panglao was just too quiet for me. But things might have changed now... haven't been back to Bohol since 2006.

    Though I have to say, I'm terribly partial to Boracay... my trips to the island were always fun, while my sole trip to Panglao wasn't as pleasant.

  7. +1 to boracay, puka beach to be exact...
    i also like the vibe at night minus the fire dance which is so much a routine.
    panglao is beatiful too, and yes for chill out.
    thanks for the mention too!

  8. ChiChi says:

    Thanks Lois, it's Boracay not BORA! And I'm with you on this one. Boracay caters to everyone, you will never get tired.

    @Zuring, we've been to Panglao on our whirlwind tour of Cebu-Bantayan-Bohol last year. Remember? And we're going to the Jungle Bar next time. I read about that bar somewhere.

  9. karlodl says:

    Boracay gets my vote

    Yeah its touristy, yeah its crowded, and yeah they have poor urban planning.. but its fun there and there are lots to do.

    Bohol is too calm for me. I appreciate the scenery but I couldnt stay there very long.

    I can live in Boracay.

  10. Lois says:

    Thanks for the tip Zuring! I didn't know they now have full moon parties in Boracay. I wonder if it gets as crazy as in Koh Pangan.

    It's great that Boracay is now starting to clean up its act. Let's hope they have more, greener initiatives in the future.

  11. Lois says:

    Hey Chyng, thanks for your comment. I guess you're as torn as I am. It is a tough decision isn't it? Maybe another visit to each location may change my mind ;-)

  12. Lois says:

    Thanks for your Boracay vote Nina.I'm sure Panglao is still the same after 2 years. Except for a few bars and restos. That's something I like about it. That it seems unchanged and really tranquil.

  13. Lois says:

    Hi James, I couldn't resist the mention. All the while I thought 99 pesos? Kaya ko ba to? I think I really splurged the last time I was in Boracay. Vacation mode pa hindi backpacker mode.

  14. Lois says:

    Sole sistah, I knew you would agree! I contemplate choosing Panglao just coz I knew you would choose Boracay. But I gotta be honest. Those are the prettiest sunsets I've seen in my life... so far ;-)

  15. Lois says:

    Hey Karlo, I did consider living in Boracay for sometime. But when you stay too long in paradise does it lose its charm?

    Tsaka, walang alon dun! Meron pala pero pang paddle surf lang hahaha

  16. Pishy says:

    Hhhmmm. Tough choice?! But I guess I'm bias at this point since I just came from Panglao with my girl. Was my 2nd time to go and all I can say is not much has changed. A few more restos and the absence of the 'town billiard table' right smack in front of the beach.

    Enjoyed the read, Lois. And as usual, great collage of photos!

  17. Lois says:

    Thanks for the Panglao vote pishy even if it's the first one :-) I didn't see a pool table either. Would probably have been nice to have one around. I could have played a few games.

    Although talking to some travelers from Israel staying at the same resort was entertainment enough for us. We talked until 2 in the morning! I guess that's the main pastime out there..

    Thanks again for dropping by and for the compliments. The Sole Sisters love interacting with our readers!

  18. zuring says:

    @Chichi - waaah! i just remembered yeah I was there and loved it too (was pretty messed up last night when I wrote here :P) but still my heart is with Boracay... -- now does this 2nd vote also counts?

  19. Lois says:

    Hey Zuring, we're counting your second vote just because we love you.

    Here's the tally so far:

    BORACAY: 6 1/2
    PANGLAO: 1 1/2

    (I'm counting mapanuri's vote as half for Boracay and half for Panglao)

  20. Carl says:

    I love beach parties!!! Beach Party = BORACAY!

  21. Ed says:

    awesome pictures of the two places! galing din ng face off! :D

    as for Boracay or Panglao -- it depends on what the person is looking for. I've been to both places. I can't really face them off because I went there in different weathers. hehe

    You may also want to compare the sands with Bantayan Island in Cebu.

  22. Chris Niu says:

    Since I don't party anymore, I'm for Panglao. =)

  23. Dutch says:

    Panglao, for the "manang" in me.

    I just asked my son, Jakob, Boracay or Panglao, he said Boracay.
    "I want to ride the speed boat again at maraming tao."
    Another gimikero in the making?

  24. Lois says:

    Hi Carl! Thanks for casting your vote you party animal you! Hope to hang out with you in Boracay sometime. Care to go to Ariel's Point and take a 'leap of faith' with me?

  25. Lois says:

    Hey Ed, thanks for dropping by. Yes it's a really tough choice because you're right. It depends on what the person is looking for.

    We already have something cookin' for Bantayan island. Guess which island we're comparing it to? Next episode naman yan ng Battle of the Islands!

  26. Lois says:

    Hey Chrissy! You don't party anymore? Ows? Puro starbucks ka lang ata ah! And that's a second vote for Panglao!

  27. Lois says:

    You're so funny Dutch! Panglao it is! And of course, I'm counting Jakob's vote for Boracay.
    Yes, I can see a beach bum/party goer in that lil kid of yours! Cute cute...

  28. Lois says:

    As of Dec 2:

    BORACAY: 8 1/2
    PANGLAO: 3 1/2

  29. Lois says:

    You're so funny Dutch! Panglao it is! And of course, I'm counting Jakob's vote for Boracay.
    Yes, I can see a beach bum/party goer in that lil kid of yours! Cute cute...

  30. Dutch says:

    Panglao, for the "manang" in me.

    I just asked my son, Jakob, Boracay or Panglao, he said Boracay.
    "I want to ride the speed boat again at maraming tao."
    Another gimikero in the making?

  31. Chris Niu says:

    Since I don't party anymore, I'm for Panglao. =)

  32. Carl says:

    I love beach parties!!! Beach Party = BORACAY!

  33. zuring says:

    @Chichi - waaah! i just remembered yeah I was there and loved it too (was pretty messed up last night when I wrote here :P) but still my heart is with Boracay... -- now does this 2nd vote also counts?

  34. Pishy says:

    Hhhmmm. Tough choice?! But I guess I'm bias at this point since I just came from Panglao with my girl. Was my 2nd time to go and all I can say is not much has changed. A few more restos and the absence of the 'town billiard table' right smack in front of the beach.

    Enjoyed the read, Lois. And as usual, great collage of photos!

  35. Lois says:

    Hi James, I couldn't resist the mention. All the while I thought 99 pesos? Kaya ko ba to? I think I really splurged the last time I was in Boracay. Vacation mode pa hindi backpacker mode.

  36. Lois says:

    Hey Chyng, thanks for your comment. I guess you're as torn as I am. It is a tough decision isn't it? Maybe another visit to each location may change my mind ;-)

  37. karlodl says:

    Boracay gets my vote

    Yeah its touristy, yeah its crowded, and yeah they have poor urban planning.. but its fun there and there are lots to do.

    Bohol is too calm for me. I appreciate the scenery but I couldnt stay there very long.

    I can live in Boracay.

  38. +1 to boracay, puka beach to be exact...
    i also like the vibe at night minus the fire dance which is so much a routine.
    panglao is beatiful too, and yes for chill out.
    thanks for the mention too!

  39. mapanuri says:

    I've yet to explore Panglao but it's definitely as beautiful as Boracay.

    Though Boracay is more popular, I think Panglao offers the same. Choosing between them is as tough as choosing love over career or vice versa.. :P

  40. Marky says:

    I vote for Panglao. I haven't been to Boracay haha...but Panglao is an island separated by a short bridge to Tagbilaran and I had a great time wandering around Tagbilaran and its countryside...I can envision myself living in Panglao with a motorcycle to go around Bohol...but I've met someone who was supposed to go on a 5 day visit to Boracay but ended up living on the island for 5 years...I might bump Boracay on top of my list this year...

  41. I am lucky to have been to Boracay several times and Panglao once. Panglao is Boracay minus the stress so I would choose it if for example I am working on my thesis or my first novel haha.    Boracay though is close to my heart for it was where some of my first travel fantasies were formed. Also music is better in Boracay. Couldn't exchange a night of beer and good music at Bombom's Place for anything else :D 

  42. Island hopping on Boracay is a great recommendation. Give it a try

  43. Both of them are amazing places. Here is our Bohol Island Travel guide : http://www.gezgincift.com/en/bohol-island-travel-guide

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