Bohol is one of the most diverse and attractive destinations in the Philippines. Located east of Cebu and southwest of Leyte in the Central Visayas region, Bohol is bound on the north by the Camotes Sea, on the west by the Cebu Strait, and on the south by the Bohol Sea.
Bohol Island is the 10th largest island in the Philippine archipelago. Surrounding the main island are 75 other smaller offshore islands and islets whose palm-fringed coastlines are rimmed by white sand and sheltering coves. Serpentine coastal highways wind along unsullied beaches and rustic rivers where tourists can stop at any point and jump in for a dip.
Covering an area of 4,117 square kilometers, much of which is dedicated to agriculture of rice, coconut and corn as well as other produce. Fishing is a major industry. Bohol is home to countless white sandy beaches, a hilly interior, rice terraces, numerous historic churches and watchtowers, enchanting waterfalls and caves, the stunning and unique Chocolate Hills and a Tarsier Sanctuary where you can see this small, cute, endangered primate with their huge eyes in their natural habitat.
The capital city of the province is Tagbilaran, located at the south western end of Bohol Island. There are daily flights from Manila (1hr 15mins) to Tagbilaran. You can also catch a ferry to Tagbilaran from Cebu City Pier (approx 2-2.5hrs by fast ferry).
There are three main dive regions in the area;
Anda is located on a small peninsula of the same name at the eastern tip of Bohol Island, 99 kilometres (1hr 40min drive) from Tagbilaran. Quietly developing as an eco-tourism destination, Anda has a long peaceful stretch of unspoiled white beaches, curious limestone rock formations and cliffs, countless caves and uncrowded, beautiful scuba diving.
Cabilao is a 7.2km² triangular shaped island off the west coast of Bohol in the Cebu Strait. The island has white sandy beaches, a nature reserve, two fish protection areas and is home to Bohol’s only natural lake, Lake Lanao, which also serves as a small bird sanctuary. There are five villages on Cabilao, populated by about 3,500 inhabitants who survive on fishing, tourism, small agriculture and weaving of bags. From Tagbilaran it is a 1hr drive to Mocpoc Pier, Loon then a 20 minute outrigger boat ride to Cabilao.
Panglao is directly connected to the most southern part of the main island of Bohol by two bridges and is a popular destination for both Filipinos and foreigners who come to enjoy the beautiful beaches, namely the 1.5km long Alona Beach and Doljo Beach as well as the superb scuba diving. The white sand coral beach at Alona is lined with many resorts, restaurants, bars, souvenir and dive shops. Alona Beach is a 30 – 45 minute drive from Tagbilaran Airport
Bohol has a tropical climate with air temperatures varying from 25ºC at night to 35ºC during the day, coolest from November to February and warmest from March to May. The dry and rainy season is not so pronounced. The wettest months are between June to October. Seas may be rougher during this time.
The diving around Anda is varied with steep cliff faces, caves, soft corals and coral gardens – suitable for beginner and advanced divers. You may be lucky enough to see a migrating whale shark, many turtles, humphead parrot fish, and the smaller seahorses, nudibranchs and pipe fish.
These waters have strong currents which feed impressive soft corals. Great wall dives with big gorgonian fans and good macro life with pygmy seahorses, frog fish and plenty of nudibranchs hiding amongst the corals can be found. However, the real attraction here is the schooling Hammerheads which gather between December to April.
Panglao is the most easily accessible dive areas in Bohol offering shallow reefs hiding frog fish, stone fish, ghost pipe fish and nudibranchs. There is good wall diving at Napaling and Puntod. Balicasag Marine Park is a 40 minute boat trip off the south western tip of Panglao with some of the Visayas best diving. To the east is Cervera Shoal with it’s colony of banded sea snakes and further east is Pamilacan Island where it is possible to drift dive and see manta rays, whale sharks, large napoleon wrasse and reef sharks.
25º – 30ºC
Diving In Bohol is conducted year round. The best time to see the schooling hammerheads in Cabilao is between December and April. The best time to see dolphins is from March to May.
Amazingly bright coral garden populated with marine life. Look for schools of jacks, fusiliers and sea horses. This is also a fantastic snorkeling site. Depth: 3 – 30 metres.
Great for a second dive with so much to see in the crevices on this steep reef wall. Spot the occasional barracuda, lion fish, tiny naked snails, sea spiders and huge flatworms. Depth: 3 – 20 metres.
A steep coral wall filled with vibrant corals and split into two sites, East and West. Can be affected by current. Look out for turtles, trigger fish, sea snakes and humphead parrot fish. Depth: 8 – 27 metres.
A slope with sea grass and corals down to a sandy bottom. Look for devil fish, stone fish, leaf fish, robust and harlequin ghost pipe fish, crocodile snake eels, sea snakes, harlequin shrimps, mantis shrimps and an extraordinary variety of nudibranchs. Depth: 20 metres.
Current View Point
A plateau in 25-30m. The sandy bottom is full of broccoli coral and some fan coral with pygmy seahorses. White tips, schools of barracuda and jack fish hang out.
A wall drops from 10 – 70m. You can see baby sharks in the small caves. There is a larger cave you can enter at 30m. Damsel fish, fusiliers, parrot fish and turtles can be seen. Depth: 30+ metres.
Arco Point (Panglao)
This dive has a colony of sea snakes and a tunnel starting at 8 metres and exiting at 18 metres. The site is covered with soft corals and is home to schools of glass fish, moray eels, snake eels and frog fish. Occasionally there is current along the drop off.
Doljo Point (Panglao)
There are several good dive sites at Doljo Beach. Fan Coral Garden and Hammerhead Point are on the north side and have a deep drop off with huge fan corals, elephant ear sponges and giant frog fish. If you’re lucky, you could see manta rays, whale sharks or even a hammerhead.
Often compared to Sipadan in Malaysia. A wall drops to 40 metres in this Marine Sanctuary. Black Forest is the most famous site with giant, rare black corals at 35 metres. Tuna, grouper, turtles, wrasse, barracuda and trigger fish cruise by. Diver’s Heaven with schooling jack fish and barracuda, turtles, sponges, anemones, soft and hard corals make this site a must see.
Bohol is a great place to take a day hike. Being quite low lying and covered in luscious greenery it has plenty of beautiful pathways to explore, winding over rolling hills and passing through small towns. Be sure to check out the Can-unmantad Falls, the perfect day hike to enjoy the surrounds, take a dip and have a picnic.
If you love nature and wildlife then do not miss out on the opportunity to see a wild tarsier. These beautiful little primates are nocturnal, and your best chances to see them are on a tour down the Bohol Tarsier Trail with the Tarsier Foundation. Bohol is famous for it’s natural geological wonder; The Chocolate Hills. Legend has it that the hills are abandoned boulders from a fight between two giants.
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