Thursday 23 October 2014 10:14:55 PHT

Dive Sites near Panglao and Cabilao

IJsselstein, Sunday, 29 July 2001 (updated: Saturday, 19 June 2010)

Diving Sites near Panglao and Cabilao

Also read the article on dive sites near Guindulman and Anda, which also has great diving opportunities.

Map of Dive Sites Around Bohol

Panglao Island | Balicasag Island | Pamilacan Island | Cabilao Island

Panglao Island

Panglao Island is a small coralline and limestone island, located off the southwestern tip of Bohol. It is connected to Bohol by two bridges. It has an area of 80.5 square kilometers, divided between two municipalities, Panglao in the southwest, and Dauis in the northeast.

Most divers, will probably select the white-sand Alona beach as their base and starting point for diving tours.

Kalipayan

Kalipayan at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty easy
Where Just off Alona Beach.
How to get there 6 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 10m
Maximum depth 20m

Kalipayan is the house reef of Alona beach, also known as the "Happy Wall". You can go there by banca, but it is just as easy to swim there from the beach. The conditions are normally calm, without currents, and a visibility of up to 25m. The wall starts at about 3m, and drops down to about 20m, and has soft and colorful coral heads, sea fans, small groupers and juvenile barracudas.

Arco Point

Arco Point at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty easy
Where At the center of the southeast side of Panglao Island.
How to get there 12 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 10m
Maximum depth 25m

Located near the exclusive Bohol Beach Club, Arco Point is also known as the "Hole in the Wall" because there is a vertical funnel which you can enter at 9m and exit at 18m. Along the short wall, you can come across small groupers, trigger fish, wrasse, butterfly fish, sea snakes and moray eels. The conditions are normally calm, with little or no current, and a visibility of up to 30m.

Pungtud Wall

Pungtud Wall at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where The south west side of Pungtud Island, 3 km south west of Panglao Island
How to get there 35 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 10m
Maximum depth 20m

Pungtud wall is a beautiful coral garden, which starts at 2 meters, and slopes down to about 20 meters. You'll need a banca to bring you here, but it is great for snorkeling as well as for diving. Although currents can be strong, you will normally only go there when conditions are calm. There are good soft, leathery and stony corals with lots of small fish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and sea stars, angelfish, puffer-fish, butterfly-fish, wrasse, and anemones with anemone fish.

Duljo Point

Duljo Point at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where The southwest point of Panglao Island.
How to get there 35 to 50 minutes by banca from Alona Beach. The trip will go along the southwest end of Panglao Island. At low tide, the banca will have to pass outside the reef, which will add 15 minutes to the trip.
Average depth 20m
Maximum depth 35m

Duljo Point is the southwestern point of Panglao Island. Although normally calm, this site can be rough with strong currents. Normally, divers will make drift dive here along the edge of a sandy slope at about 10 meters to a drop off down to 40 meters. The wall is covered with sponges, colorful corals, soft corals, and large sea fans. Because of the strong current, large pelagic fishes such as surgeon fish, jacks, bat fish, and trigger fish can be seen, while you also might come across squid and the occasional reef shark.

Napaling

Napaling at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where At the center of the northwestern side of Panglao Island.
How to get there 45 minutes to 1 hour by banca from Alona Beach. The trip will go along the southwest end of Panglao Island, rounding Duljo Point before going northeast to Napaling. At low tide, the banca will have to pass outside the reef, which will add 15 minutes to the trip.
Average depth 15m
Maximum depth 30m

Napaling can boast a wonderful coral garden, that is ideal for underwater photographers and snorkelers. A dive here normally starts at about 5 to 7 meters, and then drops to about 20 to 30 meters, drifting along the wall. The overhangs are spectacular and you will come across some small caves with soldier-fish and squirrel-fish. Occasionally whitetip reef sharks are spotted here, and there are a number of moray eels and scorpion-fish. The wall has some very large table corals and plenty of anemones those funny anemone fishes. The conditions are normally calm with some current, although they can be strong during spring tides; the visibility is up to 30 meters.

Cervera Shoal

Cervera Shoal at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where Some 9 kilometers southeast of Alona Beach, roughly between Panglao and Pamilacan.
How to get there 50 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 15m
Maximum depth over 60m

Cervera Shoal, is also known as "Snake Island" or "Spaghetti Shoal". The shoal gets its name from the large number of black-and-white-banded sea snakes that can be seen here. Don't expect to see corals here, but it does makes a nice dive, with a good change to see a sea snakes and large pelagic fish.

Balicasag Island

Some six kilometres to the southwest of Duljo Point, Panglao, lies Balicasag Island. With its area of about 25 hectares, you can walk all the way around it in about 45 minutes. The island itself is pretty much as you would imagine a deserted tropical island: a flat, circular island covered with palm trees and flowering bouganvillea, and surrounded by a white beach, however, you can get there by banca in about 45 minutes from Panglao. It isn't deserted also. The local community consists of about 100 families. Most are fishermen, but many nowadays also earn a living by collecting shells to sell to tourists. On the middle of the island, you'll find a small lighthouse tower. There is a single resort on the island, aptly named Balicasag Island Dive Resort. It covers about 1.5 hectares on the south side and has 20 traditional-style bungalows lining the beach.

Around Balicasag Island, you'll find some of the best diving locations in the Philippines. Just in front of the resort, on the south side of the island is also some 400 meters of successfully protected marine sanctuary.

Southwest Wall or Rico's Wall

Rico's Wall at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where Southwest of Balicasag Island, about 6 kilometers southwest of Alona Beach.
How to get there 45 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 15m
Maximum depth 50m

Rico's Wall has a wonderful coral garden on a shelf from 7 meters to 11 meters. At the edge of the coral garden is a wall that drops down to about 35 meters. In the coral garden you can find a bounty of nudibranches, sea stars, crinoids, hydroids, all types of smaller reef fish, anemones with clownfish, and of course a rich variety of soft, leathery and stony corals. On the reef edge, you can come across shoals of fusiliers, jacks, snappers, bannerfish, pennantfish, moorish idols, anthias, and chromis.

Diving down the wall, which includes a number of small caves and overhangs, you can see lionfish and moray eels, among other. Huge gorgonian sea fons, barrel sponges, basket sponges crinoids, and elephant ear sponges decorate the wall in abundance, while, if you are lucky, a grey or whitetip reef shark, barracuda can suddenly appear out of the blue.

When you reach the eastern end of Rico's wall, you can continue your dive on Rudy's rock.

Southeast Wall or Rudy's Rock

Rudy's Rock at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty normal
Where Southwest of Balicasag Island, about 6 kilometers southwest of Alona Beach.
How to get there 45 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 15m
Maximum depth 50m

Rudy's rock is much the same as Rico's Wall. Both sites are actually connected. Here you also have a chance of coming across large green turtles, who frequent this location, and also run into a huge shoal of big eye trevally. They will circle around you for some time.

Northeast Slope or Black Forest

Black Forest at a Glance
Rating
Difficulty advanced; novices should stay close to their divemaster.
Where Northeast of Balicasag Island, about 6 kilometers southwest of Alona Beach.
How to get there 45 minutes by banca from Alona Beach.
Average depth 20m
Maximum depth 40m

The black forest is a steep sandy slope that reaches to a depth of over 40 meters. Starting in deeper waters, you'll find forests of black corals, and can find large groupers, Napoleon Wrasse, barracuda, tuna, snappers, and batfish. Going up, the black corals will end at about 30 meters, and in the shallower waters you will see a large variety of fish, and plenty of sea stars, sea cucumbers, and colourful crinoids.

The site is normally calm, but with a strong current, which makes this a fast drift dive. When the current is fierce, it can get rough.

More to come...

Pamilacan Island

More to come...

Cabilao Island

More to come...

Legend
DivingSnorkellingRating
World class
Excellent
Good
Average
Poor

Recompression Chamber

The nearest recompression chamber (24 hour emergency service) is:

VIZCOM Station Hotel, Lapulapu, Lahug, Cebu City
Tel. No: (6332) 232-2464 to 68 loc.3652 / 233-9942
Contact Persons: Macario Mercado; Mamerto Ortega.

Further Reading

A very valuable book, that should be in the baggage of every diver visiting the Philippines is Jack Jackson's The Dive Sites of the Philippines, published by Passport Books, Lincolnwood, Il., USA, 1997. This extensive guide gives detailed information of a lot of dive sites in the country.

Jeroen Hellingman

What readers think...

Nida wrote:
Thursday, 28 April 2011 22:05:17 PHT
I've been to Panglao white beach club then going to Pamilacan Is for dolphin siting both wowed me still even than before, i would always treasure those places...
tata wrote:
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 21:13:43 PHT
when i was a child i used to go on swimming in our most beautiful shore of song-on, loon , bohol. I have my "pana" to catch fish for our sud-an. Catch some sea cucmbers, sea urchins, sea weeds like lato and guso. The only thing that im so proud of our place is its fine white sand and long stretch. Now that im now in mindanao in cagayan de oro city. And almost 90% of area here in mindanao that i have gone through and i've never seen a place here in mindanao that can compared to our place. Ive gone to lanao,misamis occidental, zambo. provinces, zamboanga city, dipolog, ozamis, pagadian, davao, bukidnon, cotabato, basilan, jolo, sulu but I've never found a place like my beloved song-on, loon, bohol. I miss my place specially during fiestas and family reunions.
maria wrote:
Monday, 16 November 2009 20:36:22 PHT
i visit bohol last 3 days ago.. and i find it so exciting when we went diving with my friend lea and kazu. snorkeling and diving in balicasag island is highly recommended.. its really nice, its like a dream come true when you can see divers also.. just like watching discovery channel.. we really enjoyed our stay.. people are friendly.. and we plan to go back again soon..
Victor wrote:
Friday, 25 September 2009 12:29:44 PHT
My diving experience in Bohol was in Anda area. We stayed at Flower Beach Resort. They've got their own dive center - Abyss Divers. The place is very clean and nice. The host was very warm and hospitable. The pricing was more than fair, something like 60 Singapore dollars per person per night with breakfast and dinner. Their dive sites are so beautiful! I especially liked the Paradise Garden - there's a whole lot of life there! Made many pictures that we still show to our friends. And we saw a whale shark there - adrenaline pumping experience! We had lots of fun.
Peach wrote:
Friday, 10 July 2009 16:24:02 PHT
Why are the diving spots in the town of Anda, Bohol not included in this article?

Read all 13 comments by readers.

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