It’s getting hotter and hotter in the Philippines because summer is already here. One of the popular activities during summer is snorkeling since our country has been blessed with a teeming underwater world. For this week’s post, I’ll share my amazing snorkeling adventure in the stunning Balicasag Island.
Panglao Island in Bohol is starting to flourish and etch its own name in the world map of tourist destinations. Resorts, apartments, cottages and hotels sprout all over the island to cater to snorkelers and divers alike. The flat and almost circular island of Balicasag is located southwest of Panglao, and is surrounded by a sandy shell coralline beach making it a popular dive and snorkel spot. So April of last year, my friends and I rented a pump boat to go to this famous hotspot and discover and experience nature at its best.
You have to wake up really early so that you’ll get the chance to see the elusive dolphins. I was a little bit worried though because we got a late start and might not see the dolphins on the way. Our boatman was more optimistic than I was and I guess the dolphins heard his good-natured plea because after 15 minutes they appeared out of nowhere. It was so exhilarating to see them dance and play with each other. Just seeing them wild and carefree is, indeed, a heart-warming sight. After some time we bid goodbye to the jolly pod of dolphins and proceeded to Balicasag Island. By the time we got to the island, the sun was already up and about.
Balicasag Marine Sanctuary
We had to ride small boats to go to the island’s sanctuary because it’s a bit far from the drop off area. An environmental fee of Php 50 is also collected together with the Php 150 for the small boat ride. You’ll have a personal tour guide, who is also a local of the island, and they’ll bring along some bread to feed the fishes and give you some facts about anything under the sun.
The current was quite strong but it didn’t hinder us from enjoying the warm water and the thriving nation of marine creatures. Once you put on your goggles, you’ll definitely see a different and more active life underneath the sea. The fish big and small, swim past you like busy people on their way to work. I tried feeding the fish with a piece of bread but one of the bigger fishes bit my finger instead. So I just went back to watching them. I was also very lucky to see a real puffer fish for the first time. Our tour guide saw it first and he tried getting it out of the water for us to take pictures of it. I know it’s kinda cruel but the puffer fish looks really cute when bloated. No need to freak out though because we set it free, safe and intact.
The water in the sanctuary is a little shallow and the corals are a bit rough so you have to have snorkeling shoes all the time to avoid minor scratches and injuries. If you don’t have any snorkeling gears with you, no need to worry, because the local folks in Balicasag lets you rent snorkeling gear including masks, snorkels, snorkeling shoes, even underwater camera cases.
After a whole morning of snorkeling in the clear warm water, you can have another treat by proceeding to a tropical oasis known to tourists as Virgin Island. It’s a white powdery sand bar during low tide, but completely covered during high tide. It’s not a snorkeling area but trust me, it’s a good place for some pictures.
So if you happen to drop by Bohol make sure to do some island hopping aside from the usual countryside tour to Chocolate Hills. If you want to check another snorkeling getaway of mine, you can check my previous post about Siquijor Island or tune in again next week for another snorkeling escapade.