Google. “Where to go in the Philippines”. Enter.
Borocay. El Nido. Bohol.
You’ll generally find the same list of recommended places when you’re searching online. Sure, we were planning on hitting up some of these places but like many other travellers, we also love looking for hidden gems – the places that aren’t ridiculously overcrowded. Alcoy. I came across a Facebook post where one person had suggested a visit here and ended up getting connected with one of the managers at Dive Point Alcoy. Keen to get started on some diving, Daniel and I made our way there and settled in to the simple but beautiful resort with everything we needed for the next few days.
WHERE ON EARTH IS ALCOY & HOW DO I GET THERE?
The best thing about finding a place like Alcoy is that there are NO. BUSLOADS. OF. TOURISTS.
Located on the east side of Cebu Island, Alcoy is easy to get to from anywhere on the island. The buses in the Philippines are very convenient and you don’t need to book in advance. From Cebu City, head to the south bus terminal and let them know you’re going to Alcoy – the bus is approximately 3.5 hours.
From anywhere else on the island, just wait on the side of the road heading in its direction and wave down a bus. If you’re travelling from the west side of Cebu island, you’ll need to go to Cebu City or Bato first (whichever is closer). From Moalboal, we took a bus to Bato and then to Alcoy.
Bus from Moalboal to Bato: 72 pesos ($2AUD / $1.50USD)
Bus from Bato to Alcoy: 70 pesos ($1.85AUD / $3USD) each way (depending on if the bus has air-conditioning)
DISCOVER THE UNDERWATER WORLD
I’m quite surprised that Alcoy isn’t more popular given the incredible surrounding dive sights. We dived at Mambagi Reef (a short distance away) and Cabilao Island which was approximately 1.5 hours away by boat. Alcoy’s very central location means that you can dive at many popular places and Dive Point Alcoy offers diving trips everyday. You can also get certified through SSI (PADI or CMAS on request). The dive masters here are extremely professional and proficient and we felt that there was a good balance between safety and flexibility. At one point during my third dive for the day, I had a horrible headache. James, one of our guides, kept me calm and we commenced our exit out of the water. He made sure I was safe and ok on the boat before returning to dive with Daniel.
The marine life here is wonderful and visibility is good up to around 30m. We are only open water certified so only dived to 20m and we could see everything clearly. We saw a few turtles, lion fish, sea snakes, a ray (can’t remember which kind and the only photo evidence we have is blurry), plenty of tropical fish and coral. At Cabilao Island, we dived along a coral wall which dropped to over 40m so there’s certainly something for all levels of divers.
DISCOVER OTHER PLACES TO SEE & THINGS TO DO
Visit surrounding islands
Alcoy’s convenient location puts you within a day trip distance to 6 incredibly picturesque islands. We visited Cabilao for scuba diving and Siquijor on our own after visiting Alcoy. Of the islands available, it’s best to pick the tiny ones (such as Similon) for day trips as islands like Siquijor are better enjoyed over a few days.
Being in Alcoy means that you are in a pretty central location for day trips to waterfalls. You can reach Tumalog Falls, Aguinid Waterfalls, Binalayan Falls
Kawasan Falls is the furthest away on the west side of the island and will take a few hours to reach by bus. Although you can still enjoy it in a day, if you’re keen on seeing Kawasan Falls without the crowds and on a budget then it’s best you stay in Moalboal.
Check out nearby towns
Since the bus comes regularly in both directions and there are plenty of trikes you can wave down, you can take yourself on a day trip to any nearby towns such as Dalaguete or Oslob. There isn’t so much around there but sometimes it’s just fun to wander around and meet locals.
30kms north of Alcoy is Osmeña Peak. If you’re planning on visiting Chocolate Hills, this is a nice and similar alternative without having to make it all the way to Bohol.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed with Dive Point Alcoy in the bungalow room. The room itself is HUGE and has a private bathroom with air-conditioning and complimentary drinking water. We found that the resort had a laid back vibe and ample space for you to have some private time or to meet other travellers.
There is an outdoor swimming pool although you are also right in front of the sea. Just beware of sea urchins if you plan on snorkelling – bring reef shoes! There is a restaurant which offers a buffet dinner and a bar with pretty reasonably priced drinks. You can also walk down the road to the beach if you want to chillax there.
Dive Point Alcoy also offers single rooms and sea view rooms. Prices start from 3,650 pesos for a double room ($100AUD / $75USD). Dive Point Alcoy is offering a special for June 2017 where you will get 2 free dives if you book 5 nights in a bungalow room or first timers can try scuba diving for free.
WHERE TO EAT
Dive Point Alcoy offers a buffet breakfast for 270 pesos ($7AUD / $5.50USD) and a buffet dinner for 520 pesos ($14AUD / $10USD). We chose to skip out on the buffet breakfast and just bought noodle cups from across the road. We had dinner at the resort every night because it was delicious and offered a great variety each night.
If the price is a little out of your budget, you can take a bus or trike to Dalaguete for cheap restaurants and 7-Eleven although we do recommend that you have at least one dinner at the resort.
Coming to Alcoy was surprisingly a nice break for us – one that we didn’t even know we needed. We were able to chill out, take it easy for a few days and not have to worry about anything.
If you’re a backpacker, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how nice it is to have a hot shower with decent water pressure and air conditioning at night. For super budget conscious travellers, unfortunately Dive Point Alcoy might be stretching your wallet.
However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more for luxury or want to treat yourself since you’ve been so good and eating $1 meals for a month, this is the perfect place.
Stay for at least 3-4 nights to get the most of diving and the many sights nearby (the other guests we met were all staying for well over a week) and then continue your journey on to other of the Philippines other beautiful islands.
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