Bohol diving is a rare gem. You have fantastic diving nice and close to your accommodation. This means that you do not have to travel far from the dive shop to the actual dive site, which for those who suffer from seasickness is a godsend.
The majority of the Bohol diving is conducted around the south western end of Bohol proper. The resort island of Panglao is a great base for you to set up and explore the numerous dive sites that abound he islands of Panglao, Balicasag, Pungtud, Gakang and Pamilacan.
Panglao Island is connected to Bohol by a couple of bridges, one from the capital city of Bohol province, Tagbilaran and the other is from the small town of Bool, they are a couple of kilometers apart.
For information on what else Bohol has to offer, have a look here.
Type of Diving
What can you expect if you choose to go to Bohol Diving?
Well if you like drop offs and vertical walls, you have come to the right place. Better still if you like sea snakes, then make sure you do not miss Cervera Shoal. Or maybe big pelagic action is more for you, Hammerhead Sharks perhaps?
Now even something rare can be found in Bohol diving, one of the shallowest dive sites that has Black Coral, not to be missed.
When to dive?
Bohol diving is pretty lucky in that it not quite on the typhoon radar so you can dive year round. To the north of Bohol, expect to get wet in the wet season which is fairly long, from to about February, but it is not particularly bad.
The southern part of Bohol has some of the best weather in the Philippines, there are no real distinctive wet or dry seasons, it is consistently nice year round, just don’t forget this is a tropical location so rain is generally short and sweet, sweet with relief anyway.
Starting in the most popular area just to the south of Tagbilaran, lets have a look at Panglao Island.
Panglao Island has not only some great dive spot but also some beautiful white sand beaches you will ever see and there is none more compelling than Alona Beach. This beach has numerous resorts and dive sites:
Arco Point A beautiful drop off only a couple of kilometers off Alona Beach. A backwards roll off your banca boat will put you in about 8 metres of water, slowly descend to the top of the drop off and locate the entrance to the shaft which is in about 9ish metres of water. The Shaft is vertical and you can exit the shaft at about 18 metres. Fantastic site with lots of little critters, Moray Eels and Trigger Fish just to name a couple. If you are lucky you will even come across some curious black and white banded sea snakes.. Usually has a bit of current but nothing to difficult.
Cervera Shoal or Snake Island No need to guess what you are destined to find here! White and black banded sea snakes are plentiful here. The shoal starts on a plateau in roughly 12 metres, the sides of the plateau drop down to 60 metres, can have some strong currents here so you should pick the top of the flood tide to enter the water. Expect to see snakes, garden eel and often patrolling just off the shoal are larger pelagic fish. A good dive which always gets the adrenalin pumping.
Doljo Point Doljo Point is on the south western side of Panglao Island. The current can sweep around the point, so jump in and let the current take you across the face of the wall. The wall has some great soft coral coverings and drops down to 40 metres. As with all wall and drop off dives make sure you look out into the big blue as you are likely to see some big fish. Hammerhead sharks have been seen here, keep your eyes peeled.
Kalipayan Kalipayan is the reef directly in front of Alona Beach and can be either a shore dive or drift dive with banca. The reef starts in 4 metres and gently slopes down to 25 metres where you will find a sandy bottom. There is always small fish life to be encountered on this reef which does get a lot of divers. Not a bad night dive.
Napaling On the north western side of Panglao Island you will come across a great wall dive. Napaling is a first class wall dive, starting in 3 to 4 metres this reef is covered with hard corals, as you slip over the edge of the vertical wall you will be blessed with sensational visibility. On the wall are numerous soft corals which collect food in the strong currents. The wall drops down to about 30 metres. Just off the wall cruising, can be seen reef sharks and other pelagic fish.
Pungtud Island is just south of Panglao Island on the outer edge of the reef that extends from Panglao and is reached by banca from all the dive resorts on Alona Beach.
The site is fairly exposed and is comfortably dived when conditions are calm. The beautiful reef starts in 3 metres and drops down to about 20 metres. Good hard coral life giving small reef fish shelter from the larger predators that patrol the wall.
Balicasag Island sits on top of a coral cay, it is a relatively flat island and you can find it just over 6 kilometres south of Panglao Island.
The reef surrounding Balicasag Island is pristine and is good for snorkeling, not to mention scuba diving.
Some of the more popular dive sires around Balicasag Island are:
Black Forest The Black Forest is so named because of the unique black coral that grows in relative shallow water. Shallow water for black coral is 30 metres. Normally you would find black coral in depths greater than 50 metres, so this is a real treat. The theory as to why the black coral grows here in shallow depth is said to be due to the cooler water that runs over the area which mirrors it normal growing conditions. The reef gently slopes to a sand bottom at 40 metres. Seeing the black coral is pretty special.
Southeast Wall The southeast wall is exactly that a wall that starts in about 5 metres and drops down to 45 metres. The wall is covered in soft and hard corals and you should be disappointed if you do not get a chance to see some large green turtles that frequent the wall.
Dive Heaven Dive Heaven is another wall dive. It is a great drift dive as you let the current take you along the face of the wall . There is a cavern at about 20 metres. Keep an eye out for schooling trevally and barracudas.
Pamilacan Island is about an hour banca trip from Panglao Island to the east southeast.
Pamilacan Island is not a big island and has a small population of local villages. There main source of industry was the culling of Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and Dolphins which frequent the lush crystalline waters surrounding the island. The island actually got it’s name from the word pilak which is a large bent club used to cull these majestic animals. Thankfully this practice no longer exisits as it is prohibited under Philippine Law.
One of the best dive sites here is:
Pamilcan Wall The reef around the island attracts some big fish life. The currents can be quite strong here which bring in the fish life. A fantastic dive and well worth the effort of the boat trip here.
Cabilao Island is just off the western side of Bohol in the straights separating Bohol Island and Cebu.
The best dive here is off the Lighthouse.
Lighthouse The Lighthouse is a wall dive that drops quite deep. The best way to enjoy this dive is to get down to bout 27 metres and let the current take you across the ledge around the wall. This spot seems to consistently attract big fish barracudas, trevally and sharks. In the cooler winter months around December to April it is not uncommon to see Hammerhead Sharks. Usually the best time to sight these magnificent beasts is either at dawn or on dusk. They are usually out of the wall in deeper water, but if you are lucky enough to sight them then you will get a huge rush.
East & North Coasts of Bohol I have not dived these areas so I’m not familiar with any of the dive sites, I have heard some good reports from divers who have dived there.
If you have dived the area please let me know I would love to include some first hand knowledge of any dive sites, you can
contact me here.
Other Philippine Dive Sites
The Philippines has an enormous amount of world class dive locations. Not surprising considering the Philippines are made up of 7,107 islands! Bohol diving is really only the tip of a huge tropical iceberg. If you are interested in more dives sites in the Philippines including wrecks
have a look here.