About 6 kilometers southwest of Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, lies Balicasag Island. It is enclosed by colorful reefs that have proven to be a sanctuary of one of the richest marine ecosystems. From its shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling, down to its impressive 50-meter submarine cliffs, Balicasag Island is undoubtedly a wild place to explore.
The lavish marine biodiversity of Balicasag Island is only one of the reasons that life exists in the Bohol Sea. As a marine sanctuary, the island serves as a key habitat to a variety of species of fishes, turtles, dolphins, and cleaning stations for sharks and the blue whale at the same time.
While tourists are already awed by the sights readily provided by snorkeling, Balicasag Island diving could offer more experience of the amazing underwater world to explore in the deep waters of the island. With its water temperature ranging between 25°C to 30°C, with visibility of 20 meters on average, and gentle to ideal currents, Balicasag Island is indeed a haven for divers.
Get ready to be mesmerized by the spectacle of thriving fish communities and turtles swimming amongst the colorful corals and sponges. Be amazed by the dolphins breaching the bluest water you could ever see.
The local government has strict rules on Balicasan Island diving to protect this marine sanctuary. Permits are given to those who wish to access the dive site and it comes on a first come first serve basis. Only 150 divers are allowed every day, so make sure to get a permit early through any liveaboards or Balicasan Island dive resorts. The best months to visit this Philippine dive site is from November to May when the monsoon season is over.
For a liveaboard trip, we recommend the S/Y Philippine Siren liveaboard for a Balicasan Island diving experience. This liveaboard can house up to 16 guests, offers complimentary scuba gear (useful if you don’t have your own equipment!) and has a spacious diving deck.
If you want to do a one-day dive tour on the Balicasan island, we recommend to dive with Bohol Divers Club. This diving center has great reviews from divers, is a 5 stars PADI IDC Dive Resort and offers diving for a reasonable price.
A Buoyancy Control Device (''BCD'') is one of the essential items for your diving equipment. A BCD will provide you with buoyancy by releasing or adding air.
When looking for a new BCD, you should definitely consider the following items:
Balicasag Island diving in Bohol is continuously gaining popularity as a diving destination. Relative to this, a stone’s throw away is world-class diving centers that offer safe and remarkable diving experiences you can contact. Here’s a list to choose from.
Bohol Divers Club located in front of Alona Beach is rated 5 stars by PADI IDC Dive Resort. This dive center guarantees a pleasant and delightful diving experience with their congenial facilities and highly experienced professional diving team. Composed of nature-loving staff armed with extensive dive training and experiences along with 2-speed boats that can board 20 divers each, you can never go wrong diving with them and unfold the hidden secrets of Balicasag Island. Two basic boat dives with an environmental fee and gear rental are worth Php 3,750.
Island Adventure Philippines Dive Center is also located in the infamous white sand beach resort Alona Beach. This dive center also offers PADI courses and superb diving services in spectacular dive sites like Balicasag Island Diving. With the assistance of their dive professionals, you are assured of your excellent and memorable dive holiday while ensuring safety and security. Balicasag Island dive price is Php 3500 / 70 USD good for 2 dives a day plus environmental fee and gear rental.
Alona Divers is a PADI dive center fully operated, managed, and owned by Filipinos at the very heart of Alona Beach Resort. This dive center dedicates its safe and secure service to providing a momentous diving experience at a reasonable price. Alona Divers boasts speed boats that have 2 cabins and a roof deck that can carry a maximum of 16 to 25 divers and 80 tanks at the same time. A total of 38 regulators and 42 bcd’s is regularly maintained as a reserve to ensure the safety of divers on board. The basic dive rate is Php 3,750 inclusive of 2 dives a day and environmental fees.
The highest-rated Balicasag Island dive resort on Google Reviews at the moment of writing, Haka Dive Center is also one of the most popular dive centers among local and international tourists. Divers loved the friendliness and professionalism of the entire staff, not to mention the top-quality dive services and courses. At PHP 5000, you’ll experience 3 amazing dives on Balicasag Island Bohol that includes equipment rental, environmental fees, lunch, and snacks onboard.
Do you want to learn diving from a certified dive instructor? For just PHP 18,500, you can avail of the PADI Open Water Diver certification course at Haka and learn to discover the world of underwater from an expert.
If you are looking for excellent liveaboards to cruise the waters for you to pursue your dream dive at Balicasag Island Diving, here are the best liveaboards that you can reach out to. Please note that the liveaboard trip can also include other dive sites, depending on the route.
S/Y Philippine Siren is a luxurious 40-meter liveaboard specially designed for divers by divers themselves. When aboard Philippine Siren, diving enthusiasts will experience thrilling driving experience in almost all popular dive sites while enjoying a lavish accommodation that provides superior ease and comfort to their guests. With a crew of 12, a maximum of 16 guest divers is ensured with on-hand assistance for their greatest satisfaction. Featuring 8 fully equipped large cabins and lounges, this state of the art yet intimate liveaboard offers a year-round dive trip to Cebu, Donsol, Coron, Apo reef, Malapascua, Anilao, and other diving destinations.
Price: The price for Balicasag Island liveaboard with Philippine Siren starts at PHP 15,293 (USD 316) a day.
Infiniti offers superb dive experiences in Balicasag Island Bohol and other islands in Visayas. Starting at PHP 14,192, this stunning liveaboard offers comfortable cabins with an en-suite bathroom. There are indoor and outdoor lounges, plus a massive sundeck where you can relax and enjoy awesome sceneries on tour. Infiniti is also equipped with state-of-the-art diving equipment including Bauer compressors, a large dive deck, camera tables, and shelves filled with all your underwater photography needs. Manned by passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable crew; the Infiniti liveaboard is your perfect vessel for a relaxing and enjoyable Balicasag Island diving tour.
Price: The price for Balicasag Island liveaboard with Infiniti starts at PHP 14,192 (USD 252).
MV Atlantis Azores is considered a premier liveaboard in the Philippines. This private yacht offers Bohol and Malapascua dive cruises from June to December. Atlantis Azores with its 10 highly attentive crews proves to be the safest and most stable liveaboard in the Philippines that offers spectacular diving experiences to a maximum of 16 divers. Complete with dive amenities and luxury living, Atlantis Azores is a standard in liveaboard diving not only in the Philippines but in entire Asia.
Price: The price for Balicasag Island liveaboard with MV Atlantis Azores starts at PHP 16,850 (USD 436).
Just 30 - 50 meters away from the beach, the dive site ‘’Resort Wall’’ is a 2-3 meters deep wall excellent to kick off your diving. The reef has flat and smooth tops covered with seaweeds and some rocks. Sightings of majestic sea fans, colorful fishes such as lion fishes and scorpion fishes, and corals prove an active and colorful reef life in the wall. It is good to note that the current is a bit stronger here compared to the other dive spots on the island.
Black Coral Forest dive site got its name from a flock of black corals called Antipathes interestingly growing in this steep slope dive area. These Antipathes commonly growing in deeper waters surprisingly sprout at a shallow depth of 30 meters because of the island’s shadow, cool water temperature, and the nutrient flow coming from the northern island water current. The Black Coral Forest is regarded as the best diving spot in Balicasag Island, mainly because of its enormous biodiversity. As you dive through the path filled with amazing coral reef, you will experience a close encounter with various fish species like anemone fishes, anthias, bat fish, barracuda, damsel fishes, frog fish, lion fish, parrot fish, scorpion fishes, squirrel fishes, and the cleaner wrasse. Coral heads, turtles, and other tropical marine life are also visible such as nudibranchs, and Spanish dancers. Be aware of aggressive trigger fishes if you do your dive in May to July.
Tip: These trigger fishes can ‘’attack’’ you if you enter their territory. If you will be attacked, just swim backwards and have your fins between you and the trigger fish.
Cathedral Wall is located southwest of the island. This jagged wall offers lots of caves and interiors to wander upon. However, it requires a torch to lighten up the caves and holes inside the cathedral wall.
Rudy Rock Dive Spot is best experienced between 15m and 25m. Start the dive with the wall on the left shoulder going in the direction of the exit point from the Black Forest, or the wall on your right shoulder going in the direction of the resort. Deep drop-off dive with incredible corals, small caverns, and crevices. In the shallow part, the coral garden is rich in soft leathery, and stony corals. Quite often we find the big school of jack fish forming a tornado on the open water.
Rico’s Wall is located in the south-west part of the Balicasag Island Diving Center. While the shallow reef top is good for snorkeling, the drop-off wall has numerous reef overhangs, small caverns, and ridges that are better explored by diving. Diving towards the north will drive you to the Cathedral while heading southwards will direct you to Rudy’s Rock. Diving through Rico’s Wall will give you the unique experience to encounter vast schools of big nose unicorn fish, silver jacks, and the big-eyed Trevallies which treads the water in circles resembling a tornado. Patrolling around the spot as well are midnight snappers and a variety of sweet lips species.
As the name suggests, Turtle Point is a 20 - 25 meter deep dive spot on the east coast of Balicasag Island where turtles conceal in caves. The drop off is on the eastern side of the island. Though it takes time to find the hiding turtles, you’ll enjoy the sight of cushion and feather stars outside the cave walls while on the way. Aside from the turtles, schools of reef fishes like lion fish, mackerel, and trigger fish also glide along with the mild current.
Located north of Balicasag Island Diving Site is Divers Heaven. This dive site is an interesting 15-25 meter steep slope diving area found in between the royal garden and the cathedral wall. Decorated with huge gorgonians, brown daisy corals and some big bucket sponges in the overhangs, the Divers Heaven offers an encounter with angelfish, anemone fish, barracuda, band fusilier, big-mouth mackerel, bluefin trevally, frog fish, leaf scorpion fish, midnight snapper, moray eel, nudibranch, parrot fish, and red-tooth trigger fish. If it is your lucky dive, you will also have a glimpse of several white tip sharks lying inside the small caverns.
Royal Garden Dive Spot comprises the shallow sandy bottom and the sea grass-covered areas. The sandy bottom offers a sight of abundant coral formations that is a key habitat for vast reef fishes. Over the areas shrouded with sea grasses, grand sea turtles like the green sea turtles and hawks bill sea turtles can be seen eating calmly with their weary small ones. Aside from the turtles, a variety of fishes are also visible like anemone fish, angelfish, blue fin trevally, dragon fish, frog fish, hunting robust ghost pipe fish, moray eel, nudibranch, puffer fish, porcupine fish, ribbon eel, and titan trigger fish.
Diving in Bohol is not limited to a time frame. You can dive at Balicasag Island all year round even during rainy seasons from July to December. But if you want the visibility of your dive at its best, the months of May to June can be considered the best months for diving.
Option 1: From Manila, board a plane to Tagbilaran Airport in Bohol. Then, you can either ride a cab (PHP 600), a tricycle (PHP 300), or jeepney (PHP 50) to Alona Beach. The fastest ride is by cab, which will only take around 35 minutes. When in Alona Beach, you can have a 30-45 minute boat ride heading to Balicasag Island. At the beach, different boat options are going to Balicasag Island depending on your budget. You can also arrange this boat transfer with your hotel, whether you’re staying on Alona Beach or Balicasag Island.
Option 2: Instead of flying to Manila, you can book a flight to Mactan International Airport in Cebu. From the airport, ride a bus (PHP 40) going to Cebu Pier for 30 minutes, then board a ferry going to Tagbilaran Pier. Ferry options vary in prices (from PHP 260 to PHP 900), so choose whichever fits your budget. At the pier, you can take a cab (PHP 500) for 30 minutes to Alona Beach, where you can ride a ferry to Balicasag Island.
Balicasag Island Dive Resort is the most popular choice for local and international tourists when booking a Balicasag Island accommodation. This three-star rated beachfront offers the convenience of its location and economic prices. With their 10 hut-styled rooms fully furnished with air conditioning units, hot and cold showers with complimentary toiletries, sizable beds, and a private balcony, you can laze all day before and after your adventurous dives. You can also request room services and massage, or opt to dine and drink outdoors in their in-house bar and restaurant that serves fresh seafood and local dishes.
Balicasag Island Dive Resort is indeed an ideal getaway home that has easy access from the airport and the island’s must-see destinations. The room price starts at $45 based on average rates for a standard room in Agoda.
Bellevue Hotel Resort is an exclusive 5-star hotel resort located on the serene shores of Panglao, Bohol. Emphasizing your utmost comfort and solitude, this hotel will assist you in cherishing your momentous Balicasag Island experience at its best. More than just the relaxation from your air-conditioned room, cable TV, WIFI, and infinity pool, you will never run short of exciting water activities to do within and beyond its walls. Awarded as an ASEAN Green Hotel, Bellevue Hotel Resort is indeed a standard of sustainable ecotourism advocacy without sacrificing fun, adventure, and relaxation. Standard room rates start at $93 per night via Booking.com.
Alona Beach is situated at Barangay Tawala, Panglao Island, Bohol. Famous for its over a kilometer white coral sand, tall wobbling coconut trees, and azure waters, Alona Beach is a definition of a paradise in the tropics. Decorating the beach are kayak boats that are ready to board tourists on an island hopping, snorkeling, or a diving adventure. Having an ideal location for a stone’s throw snorkeling and dive jump-offs, Alona Beach offers full-service accommodations, cuisines, dive shops, and pure relaxation.
Alona Beach Resort can cater to you depending on your budget. Resorts surrounding the area has rooms starting from low budget up to world-class luxury hotels. Not to mention the congenial smiles and unparalleled hospitality of the Boholanos that will make your holiday more worthwhile and memorable. The room price starts at $70 via Booking.com.