The Philippines has one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world and some consider Balicasag Reef among the best snorkeling and dive sites in the entire archipelago.
We woke up early to start our day of snorkeling in the Bohol Sea. I chartered a banca boat the day before and our boatman was waiting at Panglao Island’s Alona Beach, we were on the water by 6:00 AM.
Shortly after the sun came up, we played hide and seek with several pods of dolphins. Wild dolphins are elusive, and we couldn’t snap any decent photos. They appear on the surface for a split second and then instantaneously disappear without warning.
It took over an hour to get to Balicasag and we were happy to get off of the boat. The wind and waves had picked up considerably during the journey and although the captain held the boat relatively steady, we were all hanging on for dear life. The island itself is picturesque, and with one look underwater, it’s easy to tell that it’s a protected marine sanctuary.
Starfish of different sizes and colors litter the seabed and a variety of different hued fish swim around the hard and soft corals.
After lunch, we explored the other side of the reef and are rewarded with a visit from a curious Green Sea Turtle.
While Karen followed the turtle into deeper waters, I spotted a colorful Lion-Fish on the reef wall.
After a few more hours of snorkeling and floating, we hopped back on the boat and headed for Virgin Island. Puntod Island, as it’s commonly known by the locals, is a crescent-shaped sandbar with coconut trees and a shallow lagoon. It was a lovely spot for a swim and the perfect place for an impromptu beach BBQ.