Gooooood morning divers!
After leaving Boracay it was an easy trip to get to Panglao - Bohol, but I decided to meet up with a friend in Manila for a few days and explore the city, and also, Tagaytay. I then flew from Manila to Tagbilaran airport to get to my next destination: Panglao in Bohol!
In this blog I'll be sharing the following:
So I got up at 5 AM and my hotel made me a sandwich the day before since it was too early to have a proper breakfast. I got into a trike which brought me to the port.
The transition to the port and airfield is a real smooth one. You buy your tickets and get on the boat for 40 minutes. When you arrive at Caticlan harbor you can get right into the trike that takes you to the airport in 5 minutes.
The airport is small, which means you will get through check-in and customs quite fast. Although there are quite a lot of people visiting this area, all went smoothly!
The few days I spent in Tagaytay were really nice. To take a break from diving, but also work on some things, online. The volcano was mostly covered in clouds, but we had a lot of fun nonetheless. The food in Tagaytay is great and the views very hard to beat.
Getting to Panglao - Bohol.
To get to Panglao in Bohol you can easily fly directly from Manila or Caticlan in Boracay. When coming from Cebu, a 3-hour boat will bring you to the port of Panglao/ Tagbilaran.
From there you can arrange a transfer by car or trike, which will cost you between 400-500 pesos regardless of where you're going.
Panglao is a beautiful place, made for tourism. There are numerous accommodations and restaurants along the main road and back roads. As well as on the beach itself. The beach stretches across the island of Panglao and you can pick your stay, although I recommend Alona or Tawala, just because you will find the largest selection of diving centers and tourist attractions.
An impression of the diving scene in Panglao-Bohol.
Visiting Panglao in Bohol is a bucket list thing for many divers.
Many divers come to Panglao - Bohol for 1 reason: Balicasag Island. This island has 5 dive sites around it, featuring 2 or 3 of the best dive sites in the Philippines. You can either stay on Balicasag island, but I would actually recommend Panglao because there is so much more to see than only Balicasag!
To start there is Pamilacan Island just south-east of Panglao. and then there are the reefs at Alona beach and Doljo to the north side of the island. The only place that has access to all of these dive sites is Panglao.
There will be boat trips going to the islands and dive sites every day, so not just once a week.
Trips to Balicasag island take around 40 minutes by boat, depending on what side of the island you are diving. The ride is usually calm and there is a good chance to spot dolphins! Snorkeling is also possible, and day trips include the transfer, a snack, lunch, and water, tea, and coffee as you please. Expect to pay around 5000 pesos ($110) per day for 3 dives and all of the above! Not bad, right?!
Trips to Pamilacan Island usually take 1 hour by boat but prices tend to be similar. You can do 2 dives at pamilacan island and 1 dive at snake island, just west of Pamilacan. 5000 pesos ($110) for 3 dives, lunch, snacks, coffee/tea, and drinking water, equipment included!
Then you of course have the Panglao Reefs! These reefs in front of the beach at Alona and Tawala are excellent. Diving can be done multiple times per day with a small speedboat traveling back to shore between dives. Prices are much cheaper since no lunch, drinks, etc. are involved. Expect to pay between 1400 and 1600 pesos ($30) per dive.
Doljo & Napaling:
Doljo on the other side of the island (north) will take around 30 minutes and usually offer 3 dives again, starting at 8 AM and finishing back at the dive center at 3 PM. Doljo is mostly a wall diving area, featuring sardine schools and the fish hunting them, like trevally!
There is also 1 sad note: Diving at Cabilao island is not what it used to be anymore. After the typhoon Odette hit, almost all the corals on the island have been destroyed. They are currently very busy replanting them, but it will take time.
Trips to Cabilao are not supported by many dive centers anymore, since it's far and not in the best state.
The most memorable dive sites!
A few good spots to go diving are:
Balicasag - Royal Garden
Balicasag - Cathedral
1. Balicasag - Royal Garden.
I did this dive 2 times, you will start in the bay area at 8 meters until you see the wall dropping down to 40+ meters. After a little while, you can spend your safety stop in the bay and see 6-7 turtles per dive if you're lucky!
2. Balicasag - Cathedral.
This is perhaps one of my favorite dive sites of all time! The landscape just makes you want to admire it constantly and look up at this immense wall, full of life, caverns, and crevices. I didn't want this dive to end and I will come back to Panglao soon, to do this dive again, and again probably!
3. Pamilacan Island.
Pamilacan Island is not as well known as Balicasag, but nonetheless, very beautiful. Diving is remote, secluded, and exclusive. The amount of fish, turtles, and sea snakes are just amazing and I have a link to my "Snake island" experience below for you to check out, I wouldn't want to miss this dive if you're in Panglao!
Doljo is no the northern side of Panglao Island. Like most diving around Bohol, it's mostly wall diving, my personal favorite! The marine life and landscape are just stunning and I shot some amazing videos to proof and show it to you!
I highly recommend watching this video!
5. Panglao Reefs.
The Panglao reefs are the reefs on the Alona beach front. The reef drops down and you will have some amazing wall diving, very close to town, with a wreck dive even! I have been diving quite a few of these reefs and decided to make a compilation, featuring my highlights on those dives.
The next blog will be from The Philippines!
My next planned trip is to Anda in east Bohol and wherever I might end up next.
I am also working on making more "specials" about specific topics, like the turtle before. Expect a Special on octopuses, sharks, and many more to come!
This will hopefully complete the full Philippines experience and make for amazing stories, photos, and travel tips!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, any questions or tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember:
"If you can breathe, you can dive"
Want to visit The Philippines or Panglao - Bohol yourself? Book your stay and/or travel guide here!