Whenever you’re visiting Panglao, it’s a must to first spend your first days on its pristine beaches. They cater to a long list of must-see beaches, from Virgin Island to Alona Beach, which definitely are picturesque places that will perfectly fit your Instagram profile. Other than the satisfaction it gives to the eye, it also provides a soothing feeling to the soul.
However, there’s one hidden gem that most people fail to include in their itinerary, and that’s Balicasag Island. What makes it special is that its natural resources are richer than its surrounding island - from the unique marine creatures found in the area to the coral gardens that will make you in awe. Because of these features, this 600-meter in diameter island has been declared a marine sanctuary starting in 1985.
Balicasag Island is more than your usual island getaway destination. It houses various activities such as snorkeling, dolphin watching, and scuba diving. However, what most visitors always look forward to when visiting this site are its pristine diving spots. Here are some of the best ones that you should add to your dive tour itinerary.
If you’re a beginner looking for some fun adventure, Balicasag Marine Sanctuary is the one for you. Visitors see this as a paradise to photographers primarily because of the 200-meter drop-off highlight of this area. Due to the nature of the drop, there’s a large possibility that you’ll get to spot a huge school of jocks which will be a great collection for your huge portfolio.
As the name says, Turtle Point is a must-visit destination if you want an in-depth experience with turtles. The creatures living in this area are already used to foreign objects to the point that they’ll feel comfortable swimming around you. Coupled with these are the picturesque features of the coral gardens and underwater caves housing the said sea creatures.
Although the turtles are comfortable with people surrounding them, make sure not to take advantage of this as they get stressed whenever there’s someone touching them aggressively.
When we say the Black Forest, people would always think about the cake, and in this case, that’s not wrong. When you visit the Black Forest diving spot, you’ll witness the black corals blending with the waters. Unlike the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary, this spot is more preferred by professionals due to the steep slope, measured at a depth of 40-meters, that it features.
Given the deepness of the area, it is expected to feature-rich marine life forms such as barracudas, gorgonians, snappers, batfish, groupers, tuna, napoleons, Moorish idols, trumpet fish, angelfish, puffers, and more.
Going to Royal Garden is probably a combination of experience between Balck Forest and Turtle Point. Most visitors peg it as one of the best sites to dive when you’re on Balicasag Island.
For one, you’ll encounter huge sea turtles that will definitely make up your day. Partnered with these are the striking coral gardens that are definitely unique within the area. Just like the Black Forest, the Royal Garden also offers a rich collection of fishes such as the moray eels, anemonefish, and bluefin trevally which gives more color to the palace than the underwater site provides you.
Given the activities that are tied to Balicasag Island, the best time to visit the said tourist site is during the summer months - from March to May. You’ll get to have a complete view of the majestic offerings during this time compared to when there is rain disrupting the view.
Planning to visit Balicasag Island in the next coming days? Checkout the weather in Balicasag Island.
Balicasag Island is also accessible to both tourists and locals as you may reach it both by air or by sea.
If you’re from Manila or any other area outside Visayas, it’s recommended for you to ride an airplane. There are direct flights from key airports such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport to Bohol-Panglao International Airport. Once you have arrived at the airport, you may either ride a van or taxi to Alone Beach then take a 45-minute boat ride direct to Balicasag Island.
Another option is to travel by sea. From Cebu, there is a ferry ride going to Tagbilaran City, Bohol that will last for an hour and a half. From there, ride a jeepney or bus that will go directly to Panglao Island. Make sure to drop off at Balicasag.
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