Asia, Balicasag Island, Bohol, Cebu, Panglao, The Philippines, Travel

Tagbilaran to Cebu by Boat

Before going to the Philippines I’d seen a couple of things being said repeatedly on a few blogs I had read. One was that the food there was pretty so-so. The other was that the transport was pretty unreliable, especially the boats and ferries.

When our time sadly came to an end on the incredible Balicasag Island, we had to make our way to Cebu. Due to all the things I’d read about unreliable transport, I booked us into Bayfront Hotel for the night before our flight to El Nido the next day. This gave us a whole day to make the journey from Balicasag to Cebu. Actually, we did the whole journey in just a few hours.

Finding our way back from Balicasag Island to Panglao appeared to be less easy than finding our boat there. I assume we could have just waited by all the day trip boats and hopped in one of those when we were ready to leave, but we didn’t want that uncertainty. Instead, we chose the more expensive (but far more convenient option), booked a transfer directly to Tagbilaran through Balicasag Island Dive Resort and spent the last of our time on the island relaxing and snorkelling.

Pick Up – Boat

We're on a boat!
We’re on a boat!

We were picked up right by the reception of the dive resort at 12 o’clock. We were the only two on the boat so the ride was very relaxing and comfortable. Due to the engine of the boat, it’s hard to have much conversation without sitting on top of one another, but that just means there’s more time with your own thoughts and to take in the beauty of the island and its surroundings.

The journey from Balicasag Island to Panglao was between 30 and 40 minutes. This time, however, we weren’t dropped off by the tourist port at Alona Beach. Instead we were taken to what I presume was the local port. There were boats around, but none that looked like the tourists boat we had left Panglao on.

Pick Up – Van

As if by clockwork, as we walked along the pier after getting off of the boat, the second part of our pick up arrived. The timing couldn’t have been smoother if you tried. The van was very comfortable and, again, we were the only two on it so there was plenty of space to stretch out.

Tagbilaran Boat Terminal

Oceanjet Ticketing Office at Tagbilaran Port

We arrived at the boat terminal at about 1:15. The next departing boat was an Ocean Jet boat at 2:00 which gave us plenty of time to book a ticket and sort out our luggage (bear in mind that this was in August which is low season; during peak season it may well be safer to prebook your ticket to avoid any disappointment).

First we queued to buy our ticket. Be prepared and write down the travelling passengers full name on some paper as this will be needed to process your ticket. We were offered seats inside or outside (inside being air-conditioned, outside being on the first floor with no air-conditioning but a strong sea breeze). We chose outside because, why not?

Outside seats - cheap and cheerful
Outside seats – cheap and cheerful

After buying a ticket, you should go to check in (the counter is opposite the ticket desk). There they allocate you with a seat.

As we had too much luggage to take on as hold, we then had to check one of our bags on. The fee for this was minimal and it saved us lugging around an extra bag.

The final step was to pay the terminal fee at a window located next to the ticket window.

After all this is was probably about 1:45 so we proceeded into the terminal to wait to board the boat. We didn’t wait very long at all before everyone was being shuttled onto the boat.

By this point I was clock watching a bit and I can tell you that at exactly 2:00pm, we set sail. I was totally surprised by efficiency of all of our modes of transport that morning! If I hadn’t read otherwise, I ‘d have had no idea that transport in the Philippines was renowned for being late.

Ocean Jet boat
Ocean Jet boat

Arriving in Cebu

The boat ride was smooth and hassle free. The chairs upstairs were by no means luxury, but they were fine for a couple of hours.

Who needs a seat anyway? Stand and enjoy the view!
Who needs a seat anyway? Stand and enjoy the view!

The boat arrived in Cebu at about 4 o’clock. We were some of the first off of the boat so we just waited next to it for our luggage to come off. There was no real system for this so I guess honesty paid a big part. We got our bag with no problems, so I guess we can’t complain about that.

We walked down to the taxi queue to get a taxi to the Bayfront Hotel. Of course, before we reached the queue someone offered us a ride in his car. Actually that kind of thing is expected now. I can’t remember how much exactly, but the price he offered seemed reasonable, until his friend next to him started sniggering. That was enough for me to decline the ride straight away. We stubbornly made our way to the taxi queue, declining all other offers on the way. It wasn’t a long walk, but we had people asking us left, right and centre.

After getting in the taxi, we ensured the meter was on, sat back and enjoyed the short ride to our hotel. Overall, not a bad travel experience!


Have you travelled between Cebu and Bohol? What was your experience like? Tell me all about it in the comments below.


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