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Battle of the Islands: Boracay vs Panglao
(Posted: July 25, 2011)

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?

Photo credit: StrudelMonkey

Boracay vs Panglao: Identical Beaches?

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 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 Whoa! 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.

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.

Photo Credit: Lost In The RP

In Crystal and Sands

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.

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!

Our little beach shack in Bohol Diver's Resort in Panglao

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!

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.

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.

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.

Photo credit: 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:

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!

Photo Credit: Island Capture Photography

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.

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.

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.

Photo Credit: ? is for äp?L †

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.

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

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.

  • There 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 the Chill out Island.

    Photo Credit: Storm Crypt

    Until the next trip,
    Sole Sisters Lois

    Lois and Chichi are friends, cosmically aligned, unique in their own separate ways and united by the same passion for travel. Both of them, at some point in their lives, have had to jump in feet first, take risks and see where their itchy soles take them.

    Read more about their travels at
    Sole Sisters