Bohol is located in the middle of Philippine archipelago and is a part of Visaya region. It’s famous among divers mainly for it’s variable macro stuff and Balicasag island. It can be called one of the best Visaya dive-sites and probably Philippines in general.
Balicasag is an island with hotel just 30 minutes by boat from Panglao, Alona beach. This is absolutely fantastic place! You seem like diving in a huge aquarium. One side is a wall starting from 3 meters down to a 100, on the other side there’s a grassfield where turtles feed. The underwater life shines with colors, breathes with life and is full of variety of it’s inhabitants. Walls and slopes are covered with colorful healthy soft and hard corals. Great amount of turtles (mainly green turtle), sneppers, groupers, all kind of colorful reef fish, and for macro life lovers it’s possible to find nudibranchs, scorpion-fish, mantis shrimp, frog-fish etc.
Pamilacan и Snake island. Pamilacan is another piece of paradise, it’s an island about 45 minutes boat ride from Panglao, Alona beach. On the way there’s an underwater Snake island or Cervera shoal. It starts at about 10 meters under the water. Going down the slopy bottom to 25-35 meters you will get to sea snakes area of habitant. They are mainly sleeping, sometimes you can see them swimming and during the meeting period they form snake tangle of 2-3 pieces. They are not dangerous, unless you try to pull their tale they don’t attack. Despite sea snakes, among corals you can find frog fish, nudibranchs and other macro stuff, and also unique fields covered with tiny yellow sea cucumber. This dive is for advanced divers as this place is famous for strong currents.
Nearby Pamilacan there are two main dive sites: Manta cementary – slope, covered with various soft and hard and cactus corals, with numerous fish and possible surprises like schools of barracuda or jecks. On the other side of Pamilakan, near the beach and local village disembarkation point, there’s the dive site called Sanctuary. It’s a wall of hard corals with overhungs and caverns. Personally my favourite is the first dive site. Approaching it you can enjoy the view of a tiny mangrove island. After making 2 dives – Snake isl and Manta Cementary, I like to get to the shore and ask locals from the village to cook a simple lunch: rice, grilled chicken or fish, vegetables, fruit, and sometimes you can get such an exotic dish as banana flower salad. And than it’s nice to go around the village, enjoy the atmosphere of tranquility and peace, visit local church and old Spanish fort ruins.
Apart from Balicasag and Pamilacan there are a few nice dive sites around Panglao. They will fit perfectly both for beginners and advanced recreational and even tec divers. For instance, from the opposite side of Alona beach there are dive-sites called Puntod, Doljo, Napallin – coral walls going down to 70-100 meters. At Puntod or Doljo approximately from 45 m absolutely fantastic garden of giant gorgonia begins. And at Napalin a school of sardines can be seen regulary, you can swim inside a fish cloud, and by the way it’s very close to the shore.
Interesting creatures like frog fish and exotic nudibranchs may be found even at Alona housereef (despite it was ruined a lot because of anchoring) and continuing further to Danao wall.
And of course I can’t avoid mentioning the fact that Bohol is only 2,5 hours away by boat (which is filippino bangka) to the famous place with lured whalesharks. Oslob village on the South edge of Cebu island is famous with the 99% possibility to swim with these gentle giants. And by the way it’s one of the rare spots where both snorkeling and diving with whalesharks are allowed.
In Bohol it’s possible to dive in about 10 completely different by landscape and marine life spots.
Many divers combine trip to Bohol with visiting Malapascua island (to see famous thresher shark) or Cebu (going to Moalboal to see sardine run).
For today I call Bohol my favourite place for diving and holiday.