Our first night we checked in to a place that was, well, horrible. Filthy, incomplete construction, just a dive. Though they were not charging a dive's fee. Those first couple of days were stressful, and we were wondering why we hadn't just stayed in Cebu City.
However, once we got out of there, we ended up having a good time, or at least good second half of the trip.
The first night in the dive was near the main drag, a place called Alona Beach. It was a backpacker area to be sure. There were a few nice places, but overall it was crowded and stressful. I said to Yen that if I had been there with buddies five or ten years ago it would have been fun, but I did wonder what the few families I saw there were thinking.... unless they were at one of the two big resorts.
We moved to a place called Panglao Palms, which was much better. Clean, but also more removed and near a resort called Flushing Meadows, which allowed non guests in for a fee. Panglao Palms was an amazing stay, and the owner Liza was a fantastic woman to get to know. It was a nice way spend the last three nights.
We spent the last day, Valentine's Day, at Flushing Meadows. My overall opinion of Panglao island is that, unless you are a backpacker or are there exclusively to dive (which many people were), spend the money to stay at the big beachfront resorts. The island itself is very rural outside Alona, which is great for restaurants, but otherwise kind of a dump.
Anyway, I enjoyed it but not sure if I would go back, unless I was staying at a place like Flushing Meadows. There are enough resorts and beaches in the Philippines that you don't need to hang out in a backpacker ghetto if you don't want to. However, if you do decide to go, do yourself a favour and stay east of Alona. Panglao Palms was a great choice, and it is walking distance to a great resort, but far enough out to be quiet without resort prices. Plus I met a few other people there who were interesting to get to know, which I certainly did not on Alona.
view from my patio at Panglao Palms
The coast from Flushing Meadows
looking back at the resort
again, looking east
relaxing by the ocean