Bohol | Where to Stay
A Review of South Palms Beach Resort
My husband and I consider this trip to South Palms Beach Resort as our second honeymoon. We were married in a beach resort in Coron, Palawan and after the wedding, we stayed there for 3 more days for our honeymoon. Unfortunately, our family and friends in Bohol were unable to attend so we had to bring the post-wedding celebration to them. And after this celebration, my husband and I went on this 3-day trip to South Palms before heading back to real life in Manila.
As with most Filipino families, ours rode along to take us to the resort. My family wanted to see how the resort looks like from the inside and to take some photos if they’d be allowed. I asked permission from the receptionist and without a bit of hesitation, they allowed my family in, probably without realizing how many we were in the family! They were allowed in the reception area and the beach bar where we sat for a few more hours appreciating the beach until about sunset. The resort even gave my family welcome drinks while we went to our room to leave our luggage. It was a nice gesture that me and my family will surely never forget and possibly a reason to come back again to stay for a few nights.
Click here for discounted overnight rates at South Palms Resort: Discounted Overnight Rates at South Palms
If you would just like to spend a day in the resort to enjoy their amenities, you can book a day trip here: South Palms Resort Panglao with South Farm Day Use
South Palms is located along Dumaluan Beach on a very exclusive stretch right beside Bohol Beach Club. The location is very near the airport, only about 10 minutes by private transport. The resort's pickups and drop-offs are sadly not free and you have to pay for it per way. The price depends on the number of guests:
To or from Bohol-Panglao International Airport:
Car: PHP 500.00 net per way (1-4 persons)
Van: PHP 650.00 net per way (5-8 persons)
To or from Tagbilaran Seaport:
Car: PHP 800.00 net per way (1-4 persons)
Van: PHP 1,000.00 net per way (5-8 persons)
I would recommend just taking the airport bus if you don’t mind commuting by public transportation. The bus fare from the airport is only P50 per person per way. See my blog entry about the transportation from Panglao International Airport: The New Panglao International Airport | A Review and Traveler's Guide
Noted that prices may change without prior notice so best to check with the resort on their pickup/drop-off rates directly.
Reception, Beach Bar and Open Areas
The staff at the reception are very warm and welcoming. Similar to other 5-star resorts, they offered us welcome drinks and cold towels upon arrival. They had us wait for a few more minutes before the room was ready but we really didn’t mind because we wanted to spend time with our family anyway. We went ahead and lounge by the beach bar, which was an open nipa hut with colorful beach chairs by the bermuda grass and the sand. It was a bit crowded that afternoon and music was playing in the background to set the mood. We took lots of photos around the open areas and stayed for a little while drinking our fruit shakes. The line up of tall coconut trees standing only a few meters apart is what this resort is known for, with the hammocks and the bed swings as accents. The weather was perfect to take photos – a bit windy but the breeze was not hot, and humidity was comfortable. Sunlight was just right -- peaking its way in and around the clouds.
The entire resort has 90 rooms and travelers have several room choices such as deluxe rooms, premium rooms and villas which are either by the pool or beachfront. The rooms are scattered throughout the resort with the expensive ones nearer the reception/restaurant area or right in front of the beach. You can read here about the different types of rooms that they offer: South Palms Resort Panglao Accommodation
Since you have quite a few options, it’s best to know where your room is exactly located in the resort. Do you want to stay right along the beach? Do you want to have easier access to the pool? Always hungry and want to stay somewhere near the restaurant? Do you want a more secluded room to give you much needed privacy? These are the questions that you have to ask yourself and your travel companions to determine which room fits your needs best. Here is the resort map so you can decide which room you want.
Being a frugal comfort seeker, I chose something mid-range and Deluxe Pool View was perfect for us. A beachfront room was ideal but unfortunately, was beyond our budget. Our room cost P12,409 per night arranged directly with the resort through email (booking date was January 2019), and this was cheaper than Agoda during the time of our booking. As always, this was inclusive of breakfast and free access to all amenities. Here are some tips that you can use to score the best hotel prices:
If you are bringing kids and want to know about their child policy, this is what's included in the package: Maximum of 2 children per room, age eleven (11) years old & below are free of charge if sharing beds with parents/guardian.
- 0-6 years old, Breakfast is complimentary
- 7-11 years old, 50% OFF from Buffet Meals
- 12 years old is considered an adult (subject to extra person charge)
Standard check-in time: 3:00 PM
Standard check-out time: 12:00 NOON
If you are planning to stay in South Palms, you can check out the prices here:
- South Palms Resort thru Agoda
- South Palms Resort thru Booking.com
- Direct booking with South Palms Resort
- Day Trip at South Palms Resort Panglao with South Farm
At times, the resort also offers different promos which you can choose from. They almost always have summer getaway promos and honeymoon packages. You can refer to the rest of the promos here: South Palms Resort Panglao Promos
Rooms and Villas
Given that this is a 5-star resort, you can expect that the room will be more than basic. It has a 32-inch TV, mini bar with free bottled water everyday, along with a safety deposit box, hair dryer, and coffee/tea maker. The bathroom has complete amenities such as vanity kit, hand soap, toothbrush, lotion, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. They also provide guests with a free bayong (bag made out of dried leaves) that you can use when you go to the beach. They also got flip-flops in different beach colors that you can take home with you! Yes, you heard me right, you can actually bring it with you free of charge! Of all the 5-star hotels that I've been to, room slippers were always given out for free but flip-flops you have to leave behind.
The only few downsides for me -- all deluxe rooms have twin beds instead of a queen/king bed fit for couples and although they clean the room everyday, there was no turndown service, unless maybe you request for it.
They have 2 swimming pools -- the infinity pool by the restaurant and one by the pool villas a few meters away. The infinity pool is more kid- and family-friendly. The water is shallow and it has an even shallower area perfect for kids to swim in. It is also more accessible from the restaurant and the beach bar so it's a perfect place to lounge. It has a dark blue hue because of the tile color which makes it a bit more enticing to swim in and it looks perfect against the colorful beach chairs. It tends to be a bit more crowded especially during breakfast and at late afternoon. Since it is directly under the sunlight the entire day, the water is warm and it stays warm most of the evening. We thought the pool was heated but the lifeguard said it was just because of the heat of the sunlight.
The second pool is a bit farther away from the restaurant and towards the premium beach-front villas and pool-view rooms. Coming from the restaurant, you’ll pass through a serene path of tall trees near the spa area, past the gym and courts. The pool has its own smaller pool bar where you can order drinks and get your beach towels from. The pool is bigger and deeper so better for those who really wants to get a good swim. The beach tends to be shallow at some points in the day so this pool can be a better alternative. Several lounge chairs are lined up on the bermuda grass around the pool and you can order your fruit shakes and cocktails anytime of the day. This pool is cooler than the main one because it's shaded by thick palm trees and barely able to soak up the sun. I also feel that this one is a bit more private because not a lot of people hang out around this area.
We got our discounted spa voucher from the PTAA Travel Expo 2019 last February 2019. Instead of paying full for P1,000 worth of spa services, we only got the voucher for P800. They even gave us a free bag of goodies with Bohol's famous peanut kisses and a cute plush turtle. Attending travel expos is just one of the few ways you can get big discounts from these luxury resorts plus other freebies. Most of these luxury resorts regularly participate in different travel expos offering up to 50% off on accommodation prices, discounted spa and restaurant vouchers, among others. You can check out my favorite travel expo here: PTAA TravelTour Expo.
The spa is located by the beachfront in an expansive area between the main pool and the premium beachfront villas. It is tucked away from the crowd so it's a little less noisy. Several signages are also posted around the area indicating that "You are now entering a stress-free zone" to make sure that noisy people (like me) are aware to not make any unnecessary and stressful noises haha! This spa area is also surrounded by trees so it's shaded and cooler than most parts of the resort.
We got one of their 90-minute full body massage packages and since we already have a voucher, we only had to pay for a few more bucks. We got our massage in the evening around 8:30 PM, which by the way, you have to reserve a day before or at least in the morning since a lot of people usually get their massage at night. They do not allow room service so you have to head out to the spa area, which is actually much more comfortable. Nothing beats an evening massage with the sound of the ocean and crickets in the background!
Gym, Courts and Other Sports Facilities
South Palms Resort has the most complete sports facility I've ever seen in a resort. They have a half-court for basketball, a tennis court, pool table, table tennis, foosball, and a gym with at least 5 exercise machines. We're not big on sport facilities, to be honest, but we had to try their facilities the next morning. After breakfast, we went straight to the basketball court to shoot some balls in our flip flops. Apparently, that was not allowed so we had to go back to our room and get into our proper sports attire. Good thing we brought our rubber shoes and sneakers. We spent about 2 hours just playing ball and spending a good 15 minutes in the gym. Most of it was spent playing two rounds of 9-ball and one round of 8-ball.
Now, the restaurant is our favorite piece of this resort. The breakfast buffet is something you dream about at night and look forward to when you wake up in the morning. Exaggerated but true in my case lol! The food choices are generous, everything tastes good and the service is just outstanding. Hands down to the staff who are so friendly and helpful all throughout our stay. I found out that Kuya Rommel, who was at that time assigned at the noodle station, was from my hometown and the brother of one of my classmates in primary school. The following morning, he would look for us in the restaurant and makes sure he brings us our favorite yoghurt.
As usual, I was drawn to the waffle/pancake corner with mouth-watering toppings such as mango and strawberry puree, maple syrup, chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles. They also serve chocolate donuts and corndogs. And somewhere around the corner of that long buffet table, they had different kinds of cold cuts and cheeses! I tell you, it's breakfast paradise! And for those who love to eat rice in the morning, they also serve different kinds of rice to go with your choice of Filipino dish, which was where my husband was drawn to haha!
Another unforgettable experience was during our last breakfast in the resort before we left for Manila. The restaurant manager approached our table and checked if there was anything else we needed. We chitchat a bit, told him that it was our last day at the resort and we were supposed to head to the airport later that morning. He quickly grabbed a few pieces of bread, some packed butter and cheese, my favorite yoghurt and two canned drinks and made us a snack pack to bring while traveling.
South Palms Resort is actually located along the stretch of Dumaluan Beach. This part of Dumaluan Beach is less crowded because it is exclusive only to South Palm Resort guests. There is a security guard manning the border that the resort shares with Bohol Beach Club and keeps non-guests from entering the premises. It can be a bit demeaning and discriminating to some degree but makes real sense if exclusivity is what you sell to your customers.
During our visit, the water was too shallow to swim in the morning but nicer towards the afternoon. We would normally just spend our mornings in the gym, pool or by the bar but about 3:00 PM, we would start swimming and lounging by the beach. Swimming can be unpleasant in front of the resort itself -- the seabed here is rocky and there are dangerous urchins in some parts of it. The rocks are either white or pale gray so you would easily mistake them for sand. If you are not wearing booties or aqua shoes, you might get injured. We found a better place to swim in front of Bohol Beach Club. Just look for the part with water of lighter blue hue. Not sure if it's still there now but there was a small bamboo raft floating nearby which we used to rest in and jump off to the water.
If you don't want to swim and would rather just lounge, relax and read a book by the beach, you have lots of places to hang around. Since the place is highly exclusive, you can just lay your beach towel or your sarong on the sand and sunbathe. Lounge chairs, hammocks and bed swings are literally everywhere along the beach. It gets crowded towards the late afternoon so you better pick a place before all the seats get taken.
Sunset is when the beach gets crowded. I would assume all guests are out of their rooms and are mostly spending their time enjoying nature while drinking their fruit shakes or cocktails. You won't really be able to see the sun as it sets because Dumaluan Beach is facing south, much like Alona Beach, but the magnificent sunset colors would never elude you. I've taken some pretty pictures of the sunset while we were in South Palms. At first, it would be all warm colors like yellow, orange and red, and as dusk begins to creep in, the warm-colored sky turns into purple and pink.
Since I am not really a morning person, even if I try hard enough to wake up before sunrise, I normally get up around 7:00 AM. So I got ready for the day and went out to explore the beach. I woke up ahead of my husband and because he moves at a glacial pace in the morning, I needed to go ahead and we'll just have to meet somewhere. Again, the ocean is super low tide during the morning of January and February so I took advantage of the moment to walk around the seabed and explore what kind of sea creatures are there to see. The beach has already been cleaned up by the staff and as you can see in the pictures, there are piles of seaweed that were washed ashore during the night, swept and ready to be picked up by the trash cart. The staff has also placed the lounging chairs back in their places on the beach since these are usually folded and kept in a dry place during the evening. At this time, the kitchen is very busy and you can smell breakfast in the air!
There were not a lot of people who wandered around the seabed and there were only about 6 or 7 curious explorers. There was even one traveler who were trying to pick up starfishes and putting them back into the puddles of water so they wouldn't dry out and die. I don't know if that would even happen as I've never seen a dried out starfish in my life having grown up near the sea but okay. I also met a few locals from the village nearby who took advantage of the low tide to get something to eat. They were harvesting sea urchins and shellfishes to bring back home to their family. Their kids even came to play around while their moms were busy getting food.
I remember we used to do this back in my hometown. There were times when we had nothing to eat in the afternoon so we would go to the sea with a basket and a tupperware filled with cooked rice. We would spend about an hour by the seabed looking mainly for urchins and shellfishes. We would get different kinds of sea urchins we would call sawaki (the red ones), dapaw-dapaw (the green ones) and paja-paja (the bigger pink ones). We also had the black ones called tuyom which had longer thorns and much more difficult to harvest because you won't be able to do it by hand alone. Apart from urchins, we also harvest lukot and jellyfishes. Until now, I don't really know where lukot comes from. I've been told they were secretions of sea cucumbers but they look more like seaweed to me. I called them green instant noodles when I was kid because they look very much like the Maggi instant noodles I usually have for breakfast before going to school. After harvesting, we would look for a place to sit in and enjoy our harvest. We would go back home with empty tupperwares but filled up stomachs and baskets full of sea urchins enough for us to cook for dinner that same night.
When we were kids, we've always been told by our parents and grandparents to leave the smaller ones alone and harvest only the adult ones, which is what we normally do back then. But since population growth and over-consumption are inevitable, we have seen lesser and lesser urchins in Bohol. Since urchin population has dwindled over the years, locals harvest even the small ones so the urchin population continued to decline even further. I don't think there are any regulations being enforced since sea urchins is one of the staple food in this region. I know a couple of controlled sanctuaries where people are not allowed to take urchins but not in Bohol. Anyway, this is a different topic altogether. Back to my review of South Palms Resort. :)
Overall, I would rate our stay with a 9.5 out of 10. I hardly have any negative comments for this resort. Online payment was a breeze, check-in process was flawless and the staff and facility are on-point. The beach is not ideal but definitely not the resort's fault. You just have to look for a better place to swim in without the rocks and the urchins but you should be able to find that perfect spot.
If you'd like to check prices, you can compare prices in Agoda and the resort's website. You can also call them up using the contact information below just in case they have promos.
Address: Barangay Bolod, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
Number: +63-38-502-8288, +63-38-501-3088, +63-917-716-7609
Email: [email protected]
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (as of January 2020 in Tripadvisor)
See more reviews here: Tripadvisor Reviews of South Palms Resort
Compare prices or book here:
- South Palms Resort thru Agoda
- South Palms Resort thru Booking.com
- Direct booking with South Palms Resort
- Day Trip at South Palms Resort Panglao with South Farm
If you are looking for other resorts in Panglao, you can check out these pages:
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here:
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