Are you looking to escape to luscious tropical jungles accompanied by spectacular colourful reefs? Then Bohol is the place for you! Bohol is known for its stunning ecosystems and abundant wildlife. There’s no shortage of things to see and do in this natural wonderland. There are white sandy beaches, framed by flourishing jungle, picturesque rice terraces, historic buildings, such as churches and watchtowers, the world-famous Chocolate Hills and the opportunity to glimpse a tarsier in the wild.
The capital city of the province is Tagbilaran, located at the southwestern end of Bohol Island. For divers, there are three areas we recommend; Anda, Cabilao and Panglao.
Anda is in the east of Bohol Island. It is known for being an eco-tourism hotspot. Unsurprising considering its feeling of remoteness, and it’s stunning coastlines. Long sweeping white sandy beaches and unique limestone topography which provides lots of places to explore both above and below the waves. It takes around 1hr40min to drive here from Tagbilaran.
Cabilao is an island off the west coast of Bohol in the Cebu Strait. The island has white sandy beaches, a nature reserve, two fish protection areas. It 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. It 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, souvenirs 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 parrotfish, and the smaller seahorses, nudibranchs and pipefish.
There is a good mix of pelagic and macro activity in Anda. The limestone topography provides caves, channels and crevices for a whole variety of fascinating marine flora and fauna to live in. Expect to find a variety of nudibranchs, seahorses, parrotfish, turtles, sharks and pipefish.
These waters have strong currents which feed impressive soft corals. Great wall dives with big gorgonian fans and good macro life with pygmy seahorses, frogfish 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 area in Bohol, offering shallow reefs hiding frogfish, stonefish, ghost pipefish and nudibranchs. There is excellent wall diving at Napaling and Puntod. Balicasag Marine Park is a 40-minute boat trip off the southwestern tip of Panglao with some of the Visayas best diving. To the east is Cervera Shoal with it’s colony of banded sea kraits 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 – 3-5mm wetsuit
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 snorkelling 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, lionfish, 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, triggerfish, sea snakes and humphead parrotfish. Depth: 8 - 27 metres.
A slope with seagrass and corals down to a sandy bottom. Look for devil fish, stonefish, leaf fish, robust and harlequin ghost pipefish, crocodile snake eels, sea kraits, 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 jackfish 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. Damselfish, fusiliers, parrotfish 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 glassfish, moray eels, snake eels and frogfish. Occasionally there is current along the drop-off.
Doljo Point (Panglao)
There are several excellent 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 frogfish. 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 triggerfish cruise by. Diver's Heaven with schooling jackfish 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 a low lying area 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 its 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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