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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.

Pump Boats in Balicasag Island

Pump Boats in Balicasag Island

Balicasag Island

Balicasag Island

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.

Dolphin Watching

Pod of Dolphins

Pod of Dolphins

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

Small Boats at Php 150

Small Boats at Php 150

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.

Puffer Fish

Puffer Fish

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.

I found Nemo!

I found Nemo!

It bit my finger!

It bit my finger!

Be Careful!

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.

Virgin Island

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.

Played with my Camera a little bit

Played with my Camera a little bit

Jump Shot

Jump Shot

 

Sand Bar

Sand Bar

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.

Legend says that there are treasures at the end of a rainbow. Will it be the same if the rainbow’s underwater?

“Finding it out should be my first quest as a new pirate!” a dreamy EJ said to himself after hearing about an underwater rainbow sighted in the eastern sea.

He invited some friends to join him and they all laughed at him. They called him crazy and all kinds of names but the pirate was determined and shouted that he’ll prove them wrong then left them with his lips pouted.

So he set sail and the wind favored him. He mostly sits at the edge of the boat, looking down closely to the sea for signs of the underwater rainbow.

Searching for signs of the underwater rainbow

The pirate traveled alone in a small boat. He endured cold nights, the sun’s heat, heavy rains and some big waves. After a few days, he started getting weary and his food supply is now short. He has explored several parts of the eastern sea but not a hint of the underwater rainbow was seen.

He decided to go to the nearest island to rest a bit and gather some food.  Along the way, he met a fisherman and asked him if he knows something about the underwater rainbow.

“Yeah it’s a funny story I heard from a crazy old guy who can’t even remember his own name. I wonder who would still believe such a ridiculous story. I’ve been fishing here in the eastern sea since the day I learned how to handle a fishing rod and not one sighting.” said the fisherman.

The pirate felt discouraged after hearing this then continued his way to the island. After reaching the island, he tried to eat some food left even after losing his appetite because of frustration and hopelessness just to gain some strength.

Frustrated EJ

Walking with his head low and mind filled with dark clouds, he gathered some fruits and vegetables until his basket was full.

He decided to take a bath to get refreshed while rationalizing whether he should continue his quest or accept the fact that it’s just a big mistake.

With scrunched eyebrows and a face filled with sadness, he bumped his head to a tree and decided to give it up. He started walking straight back to his boat but suddenly got a call from nature so he ran inside the forest to answer the call then let it all out.

When he got finished, he noticed a strange mark in one of the trees. It’s an arrow leading to one tree and another. He kept on following the marks until he got to a large tree with carved drawings.

The drawing shows an inverted rainbow with sea waves on top of it located at the far side of the eastern sea.

“This must be it!” the pirate said to himself.

The pirate’s face went from gloomy to jolly.  His spirit burst out laughing which made him run and jump in excitement.

Happy Pirate

Full of energy and hope, the pirate set sail again following the direction on the map. The section he’s heading was once thought to be the edge of the sea because of testimonies about people who went there and didn’t come back. Most travelers are warned not to get near that section.

One evening when he was near the said area, the pirate got caught in a storm. The waves are much bigger and the winds are way stronger than any kind of storm he encountered in the past.

The boat was rocking wild and everything was so dark that he can’t tell anymore what direction his boat is heading. He grabbed the boat’s pole as tightly as he could to avoid getting thrown off the boat and prayed for the storm to end soon.

The next day was a peaceful morning, the pirate woke up with a lump in his head and some bruises in his legs. He stretched out his body, made a big yawn then dizzily stood up. He walked clumsily while scratching his tummy and went toward his food basket.

His eyes went from sleepy to shocked when he saw that the basket was partially ripped-off and its cover gone.  Inside it are some birds eating the left-over food which flew right away when he got closer.

For the first time, he realized that his boat landed in a small island. Hungry and desperate, the pirate started grabbing any living thing he can find near the shore.

EJ’s Breakfast

Most of what he found was sea urchins. He cracked it open, scraped its flesh with a spoon, and then added some chili vinegar. It tasted like a grounded oyster mixed with jelly but the pirate didn’t care and kept on eating until he was full.

He started exploring the island and found himself inside a forest with thick fogs. As he kept on walking, the fog became thicker and thicker until he can’t see anything. He thought of going back but a voice caught his attention.

He ran towards the voice until he was out of the fog then saw a woman singing. Her head was exposed and her body is submerged in the sea surrounded by bright glowing colors. The colors formed an arch and the woman is at the center of it as if she’s performing a concert with the colors as her audience.

“This must be it!” said the pirate who was overjoyed and leapt to the sea to ask the woman about treasures.

This must be the Underwater Rainbow

The woman was shocked and the fishes scattered. What the pirate doesn’t know is that the woman is a sea goddess who guards the treasures in the island.

Angered by the pirate, the sea goddess’s eyes turned red then grabbed the pirate’s neck. She has the power to turn anyone to a dead coral by searching evil in one’s heart.

She got surprised that her power doesn’t have any effect on him.  She started letting him go with a face filled with wonder.

“I haven’t encountered anyone who survived my power – why did you come here?” said the sea goddess.

“I’m just looking for treasures, do you know where it is?” said the pirate.

“It’s all around us,” the sea goddess replied.

Me and my New Friend the Sea goddess playing at the Underwater Rainbow.

The pirate looked around and realized that the island is full of bright and colorful fishes. It glowed like diamonds, rubies and emeralds, he felt very rich and alive.

He and the goddess became friends and had fun with the fishes. He finally understood the island’s real treasures are the fishes and promised the sea goddess that he will help her preserve and protect them.

He left the island filled with the treasures in his heart of the wonderful experience he had in the underwater rainbow.

Preparing to Leave

Suddenly, large tentacles of a giant squid grabbed his boat and he found himself getting dragged in the depths of the sea.

Like a kid who got out of Narnia, EJ woke up from his dream only to realize that the goddess is shouting at him because he’ll be late for work if he doesn’t get up immediately.

Making a big yawn with puffy eyes, he stood up and went to the kitchen realizing that he gets to keep some of the treasures in his tummy as well.

Bringing the Underwater Rainbow Home