Bohol Island Hopping: A Guide To Diving Sites and Must-See Spots
Whenever Bohol comes to mind, the first things we are usually reminded of it are Chocolate Hills and the tarsiers. But did you know that there’s more to the island than these two?
Gaining attention for its clear waters and vibrant marine life, Bohol in the Visayas region is now one of the hottest tourist destinations in the Philippines. Tourists, divers, and snorkelers have come to the island to discover its unspoiled tropical beauty underwater.
If you’ve already seen its natural sceneries by land, why not explore its islands, this time? If you’re planning to go to Bohol province this summer, here’s a recommended island hopping guide for you!
Virgin Island in Bohol
You may arrange your island hopping tours before or after you arrive on the island. However, we recommend that you have the tour arranged already prior to your arrival to ensure that your trip will be hassle-free. Hotels and travel agencies in Bohol usually have island hopping tours, so make sure you research which best fit your budget.
Island hopping tours usually take six to seven hours, but it varies depending on the time you spend for each stop. Most tours start at 6 a.m. with dolphin watching. Keep in mind that dolphin sightings are not always guaranteed, so it’s best to coordinate with your tour guides regarding the best time to go dolphin watching.
Balicasag Island is a popular stop for snorkelers and divers alike!
Your first stop for the island hopping tour is Balicasag Island. Located 40 minutes away from Panglao, this island is a haven for experienced and beginner divers for its thriving marine life. Balicasag is also home to at least six dive sites including:
- Black Forest – a 40-meter dive spot named after the black corals scattered in the area. You’ll find schools of barracudas and eels among others at this dive spot.
- Turtle Point – you’ll find sea turtles in this dive spot. There’s an underwater cave that runs 60 to 75 meters deep, which is why it is a site for more experienced divers.
- Royal Garden – from sea turtles to colorful corals, this dive spot is one of Balicasag’s most popular in terms of marine life.
For those who aren’t into diving, don’t worry, as you can also snorkel on the island. This way, you can still enjoy the beautiful marine life without going too deep into the sea. While it’s recommended that you bring your own snorkeling gear such as masks and snorkels, you may also rent gears from boatmen at Php 150 for each item.
Smaller boats will take you to and from your tour boat and the island after you’ve gone snorkeling or diving
When you go snorkeling or diving, small boats owned by locals (accredited by tour agencies) will be your ride to the dive sites. Don’t hesitate to ask them where the best spots are to make the most of your underwater experience. The guides are also adept with handling underwater cameras and GoPros, and will gladly take your photo or videos for you.
From your boat, a smaller one will fetch you to take you to the dive or snorkeling spot. You’re going to have to swim to make the transfer though!
After snorkeling or diving, you can take a quick break at the island itself to freshen up before continuing your tour. You may also have your lunch on the island, too. You may buy your own ingredients and locals will cook it for you (“paluto,” in Filipino), which costs around Php 300.
Virgin Island is one of Bohol’s most iconic island destinations, and for good reason as well!
Boats usually dock on this island after touring Balicasag Island. Its scenic view would remind you of what you would usually see in movies.
Mangrove trees on Bohol’s Virgin Island
There are mangrove trees on planted on the island where fish live in. You may walk across the island’s shallow water during low tide and admire the crystal clear waters. There are colorful starfishes scattered in the water to see, too! (just make sure not to touch them).
Keep an eye out for starfish as you walk through Virgin Island. Just be careful to not step on them or touch them!
Isola di Francisco
Isola di Francisco is part of the Virgin Island where you can relax and have a little bit of quiet time after the tour. This part of the island is an ideal place for reflection as it’s quite hushed and even when there are tourists on the island, the island doesn’t get that crowded.
On the island, you’ll be greeted by a statue of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Walk a little further and you’ll find a small museum on the island that displays natural objects that depict the beauty of God’s creations.
The statue of St. Pio of Pietrelcina on Isola di Francisco
In the waters of the island, you’ll also find statues that depict a scene from the Bible’s New Testament, particularly in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus Christ pulls Peter out of the sea after the disciple attempted to follow after Christ who was walking on the water.
Statues that depict Jesus Christ saving Peter from the water
There’s a one-hectare long sandbar on the island which feels much like a tropical paradise. You can walk to the end of the sandbar too.
The one-hectare long Sandbar that’s perfect for your Instagram feed!
Virgin Island and Isola di Francisco are a 10-minute boat ride away from Panglao Island and are usually the last stop on island hopping tours.
Free shuttle services going to and from the island at Panglao Port are available. Just make sure that you get your name listed early. They start accepting passengers by 9 a.m. This shuttle service is available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with their last call going back to Panglao Port at 3 p.m.
Island hopping is definitely something that you should consider adding to your itinerary when going to Bohol. It will surely make your experience on the island a lot more exciting, making your trip to Bohol lovelier and more memorable.
For tours around Bohol, you can contact Bohol Tours and Nature’s Wonder Travel & Tours, they are a Tagbilaran City-based travel agency who can assist you in your adventures on the island. You may contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org, you may also visit their website at boholtourism.com.ph. You may also contact them at 038-422-8321 / 0926-750-4755.