It was a long day of travel before we arrived at Calypso Resort in Panglao Island. Two flights (the direct flight to Tagbilaran was more expensive and didn’t work well with our schedule), a ridiculously long taxi ride in Cebu City, and a fast ferry journey to end it all left us exhausted and ready to rest. After a bit of bickering with the taxi driver at the port of Tagbilaran we were on our way to the resort. The resort itself is about 2-3km west of the busy Alona Beach and tucked away at the end of a dirt road near Danao Beach. As we walked into the resort we were warmly greeted, processed through check-in, and brought to our room right away. Since our arrival was at 8:00pm our first impression of the resort was amazing. Relaxing LED mood lighting throughout the open bar and restaurant gave the area a welcoming aura perfect for the weary traveler. The pool, complete with the word “Calypso” spelled out in tile was also lit up and invited us in without hesitation. We were immediately ready to drop our bags, have a cocktail, and refuel our tired bodies. We chose the standard accommodations due to our budget and the availability. The room boasted of a private outdoor seating area that could have sat several guests. The interior was nothing to boast about, but provided adequate shelter, comfortable bed, and plenty of closet and shelf space to place belongings if having a lengthly stay. A fan in the room coupled with three screened windows provided more than enough air circulation to make sleeping at night comfortable. One of the downsides we noticed right upon entering was a musty smell that permeated every square meter of the room. Though annoying the smell went away within several hours of opening the windows and letting the fan blow fresh air throughout. Speaking of musty smells, one of the three pillows provided had an extremely musty smell that did not vanish our entire stay. We opted to put this pillow inside the closet to avoid smelling it. It was as if the pillow was washed and not thoroughly dried in an immediate manner. Not the end of the world or a deal breaker for the resort in general. After settling we headed to the restaurant area to get some sustenance. The food was good and fairly priced for the Alona area. Drinks were also reasonably priced for a resort.
What really drew us to Calypso was the fact that every room includes the free use of a motorbike!
(check out video below:)
Not being entirely familiar with manual transmission on motorbikes (my experience is limited to mopeds and scooters - very sad for a guy living in the land of Harley-Davidson motorcycles) the staff was more than willing to give a quick tutorial to get us on our way. With the motorbike we were able to access the entire island of Panglao. We avoided exploring Bohol as a whole due to safety reasons and unfamiliarity with the area. The bike was a godsend. We could head to Alona beach during the late morning and afternoon for some sunbathing, swimming, and small plates, come back to the resort to relax and ready ourselves for dinner, then head back to any restaurant we wanted. The drive from the resort to Alona took less than 5 minutes and traffic despite all the tourists there for Chinese New Year was very manageable. Our first full day at the resort was spent touring the attractions of Bohol - the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier Sanctuary, and the Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park. We were able to negotiate a fair price (1900 pisos - about $40) with a private driver for the entire day thus avoiding the tourist buses and their set schedule. This was WELL worth it! After a long day we decided to make use of the pool at Calypso. What we didn’t notice the night before was the nice waterfall from the pump room into the pool. A very nice touch. What we didn’t like about the pool however was the tile choice around the pool side. No, I’m not being particular, just concerned with safety. The tiles, though nice looking around the pool, have a very smooth surface that coupled with a slight bit of water create an almost frictionless surface. Every step around the pool felt as if I may fall in. Either a change of tile or some grip tape applied could easily remedy the issue and prevent any injuries one may sustain while visiting Calypso. Another issue we had with the resort, and one we’ve had with other places we’ve stayed at, was the ants. At Calypso the ants seemed more numerous in our room than at other places we’ve visited. So much so we asked the staff to spray the room to help solve the problem. Thankfully the staff responded quickly and the issue was resolved for the rest of our stay. Speaking of staff, everyone was extremely kind and greeted us with a smile all day long. The owner, Andy, was also friendly and quick to conversate with his guests. The dog, who we can’t remember the name of for the life of us, was icing on the cake for our stay. Friendly and ready to play at any time. He even decided to take a nap at our feet during a morning of work in the common area on our second day. In the evening be sure to watch where you step or you may find yourself crushing one of the many hermit crabs that make their way inland during the night. We found six of them within ten minutes one evening. All in all, our stay at Calypso was enjoyable, relaxing, and a great way to enjoy the area of Alona without staying in the tourist saturated areas in town.
Cost: Affordable for the budget traveler. You can opt for a standard room with just a fan for under 20 USD, or increase your budget and get a condo-esque room complete with air conditioner. The resort does not include breakfast as some places do, but the free use of a motorbike and the freedom that provides is invaluable.
Accessibility: From the port where we landed (Tagbilaran) most every driver knows every and all resorts in the area. It seemed the typical fare for a taxi to the Alona area is 500 pisos. Our driver tried to tack on another 100 pisos since the resort was 2km away from Alona. Being 2km from Alona Beach still gives you access to all that Alona offers without the stress of having to navigate your way through throngs of tourists.
Activities: In Alona you can book tours into the interior of Bohol to visit the attractions as well as tours to the small islands surrounding the area. Tour guides are everywhere and with some effort you can get the price down to a degree. The area is also a Mecca for scuba diving. You can dive in numerous areas as well as take scuba certification classes. There is also a lot of shopping - though mostly the souvenir type - dining establishments, and of course the white sands of Alona Beach. The beach itself can get crowded but not nearly as much as Boracay from what we were told by several locals and fellow travelers.
Food: Food at the hotel was good. Not the worst and not the best. We ate one dinner at the resort and every breakfast during our stay. The pricing was fair and the portions generous. Food within the city of Alona gives many more options from high end dining to street food. Anything we decided to partake of in the town was delicious with the best being Buzz Cafe ice cream and a Spanish restaurant called Lola. The tapas selection was amazing and in tune with the seasonal availability of the area. The restaurant is known for its paella but we were too full to partake.