I posted a blog about our Bohol Countryside Day Tour back in early 2013 to document our awesome excursion to see the best that Bohol has to offer. What you didn’t know was that a day after our countryside tour, we had our scheduled dolphin-watching, and island hopping in Balicasag and Virgin Island.
Now, why no blog post you ask? Well, for starters, we didn’t see any dolphins during our supposedly dolphin-watching activity. They were just very elusive at that time of the month (it was September 2012). The second (major-major) reason was that during our Balicasag underwater snorkeling, my old underwater camera (Sony TX5) completely bailed on us. Its lens were shaking and the shots were just too blurry to be useful. My heart sank. As great as the underwater view was in front of us, there was nothing I can do to share it with other people because I didn’t have usable underwater shots to begin with. Even our Virgin Island photos were mediocre (from my standards, at least).
From that day on, Kaye and I vowed to return to Bohol for three major reasons: to see swimming dolphins in the wild, get some decent underwater shots in Balicasag and do justice to our photos in Virgin Island. And thank God, we scratched all of those a few weeks ago.
Blogger’s Note: For our island hopping activity, we contacted Naldix for our boat arrangements. We paid Php1,600.00 for the boat rental. You can contact him at 09173241511 or e-mail him at email@example.com. You can also find him on Facebook at Naldix Bohol Tour Packages.
We started our activity early, at around 6:00 in the morning. The activity starts early because it is during the morning that dolphins are often seen swimming around the seas of Panglao.
After a few minutes into the sea, we passed by other tourists having their own dolphin-watching activity as well. I think we’re in good spots of the ocean.
After a few false alarms and a couple of teases from these fine sea creatures, we finally found a group of them floundering around. It’s a different feeling seeing these dolphins freely swimming in their natural habitat, rather than seeing them at zoos or conservatories. The experience is more organic, and dare I say, heart-warming.
The tricky part about the wild dolphins is that they only appear in the surface of the ocean for a few seconds and then instantaneously disappear without warning. They are that elusive. There were a couple of dolphin chases our boat had to do before I got to have close and decent shots of these cuties.
Here’s a short clip of these dolphins in action. Watch!
After being satisfied of our quench to see those cute dolphins in action, our boatmen decided to proceed to Balicasag Island (before the other boats arrive) to secure a “parking slot” at the Balicasag shore since it can get crowded especially during vacation season. To ensure that we were going to have great underwater shots, Kaye brought in one of her prized possessions in the form of a Sony TX30.
Blogger’s Note: Aside from the boat rental payment, each tourist is required to pay a P50.00 environmental fee and P150.00 for the Balicasag tour guide. Though the tour guide fee caught us off guard, this proved to be an advantage since not only did we have a lifeguard in case of emergency, we also had our own underwater photographer.
After being introduced to our guide (whom I will call Manong), we were led to a small boat to lead us to the diving/snorkeling side of the island. If you are not a very good swimmer, the guides can provide you with life vests. But since we’re confident with our swimming skills (hilas), we didn’t use any life vests. The sea water’s high salinity also helped making people more buoyant (science, bro).
The guides can also provide you with snorkeling equipment, though for hygiene purposes, we decided to bring our own goggles and snorkeling paraphernalia. We also wore our trusty aqua shoes since per experience, the Balicasag shores and the corals below the waters can be very sharp.
As expected, Balicasag has one of the more dynamic marine ecosystems in the country (we already did this 2 years ago, remember?). It’s amazing to see that the fish (both big and small) that inhabit the area have absolutely no hostility towards tourists swimming along with them (in short, the fish don’t give a flying F***).
It is also good to note that the earthquake that occurred in Bohol last 2013 did not have visible effects on the island or the marine life in Balicasag. The corals remained in tact and the fish were as abundant and visible as before.
Manong also taught us basic posing with the corals. Though he had to push us in order to be near the fish and the corals because our diving techniques was, let’s just say, “not there yet”. Haha.
Manong, being the highly experienced diver, took matters into his hands to get up close shots with some of the fish and their homes. We wish our diving skills were up to par with Manong’s. Sigh.
Kaye’s diving was WAY better than mine, thus, she had more exposure as far as underwater shots. Most of my shots were not as good as hers. 😀
To cap off our Balicasag adventure, here’s a short underwater video with a special appearance from a famous animated character:
We were in the oceans for about an hour (AN HOUR) and as expected, it was very exhausting. The big sandwiches we ate for breakfast were seemingly digested far too quickly, leaving us very hungry while walking back to our boat. Thankfully, we brought some cookies and water for morning snacks.
We left Balicasag around 9am to proceed to our last stop of the island hopping activity, the Virgin Island of Panglao. It was low tide and a bit gloomy the last time we visited this place back in 2012 which meant that most of the island was visible and walkable (the eyesore seaweeds were also present). Fortunately this time though, it was high tide and very sunny which was perfect timing to shoot some beautiful beach photography. We were blessed to have beautiful weather throughout our Bohol trip, thank God.
The Virgin Island in Panglao has some similarities to the White Island in Camiguin, in that there are times of the day when the island is either in full sight (low tide) or covered with seawater (high tide). At the time of our visit, I estimated the island to be 10% visible. The island has fine white sand (though not as fine as Boracay’s) and had a very picturesque mix of green and blue hues to the waters.
Since we came to the island early, we had the entire place for ourselves. It was like owning an island for a few minutes. 🙂
Since we were basically alone in the island, we didn’t feel any bit of shame when busting out our best jump shots. Don’t forget to enable Continuous Shooting Mode on your camera to get those perfect jump shots!
After finishing our mini island photo shoot, we wrapped up our island hopping tour by heading back to Alona Beach.
But wait, there’s more! As an added bonus, here are some of the activites we did in Panglao and Alona Beach a day before our island hopping tour.
Blogger’s Note: If you found this blog helpful and would like to support me in any way you can, head over to Zalora PH! Being a newly appointed Zalora Brand Ambassador, I’m sharing to you a15% discount voucher code which you can use on your first purchase at Zalora. Just use the voucher code ZBAPZGWV upon checkout and the price-off will automatically be deducted from your total checkout amount. Cool, right?! Thank you very much for the support and keep on reading!
Bohol Bee Farm
Bohol Bee Farm is popular with local and foreign tourists and with good reason. For our complimentary appetizers, we were served with their squash bread paired with their yummy pesto and mango paste. I ordered their baby back ribs (note the flower salad) while Kaye opted for their meat pasta. For drinks, we had their Peanut Mango and Choco Banana smoothie. I really liked the Peanut Mango. 🙂
While waiting for our car service to Alona, we had Bohol Bee Farm’s homemade ice cream for dessert. I originally had the avocado flavor while Kaye had the pandan ice cream.
We reached Alona Beach in the afternoon so we decided to take a stroll along the Alona strip before the sun set. Alona Beach has a vibe similar to Boracay’s White Beach. The beach strip was long (Boracay’s was longer though) and there are many hotel resorts and restaurants lined along the beach.
It’s worth noting that summer season also seems to be algae season for Alona, thus making the beach not-so-appealing for swimming.
After reaching the end of Alona’s strip, we decided to have an earlier than usual dinner at the Isis Thai Restaurant, just along the strip. We ordered their Thai lemongrass chicken, sizzling squid and mango shake. The food was average at best. Their mango shake was good, though.
After dinner, we felt the need to go for some extra walking along the rows of bars and al fresco restaurants along Alona Beach to let our bellies fully settle. LOL.
Tarsier Botanika is one of the newer establishments near Alona Beach, fronting Cherry’s @ Home Too (where we stayed overnight). We grabbed our lunch here after our island hopping, before going to Tagbilaran seaport.
We really liked the ambience of the place. The place is a restaurant-coffee shop-convenience store-souvenir shop fusion making it a one-stop shop for tourists.
For lunch, we had their pork belly and Polish sausage. Their food tasted really good, certainly better than what we were served at Isis Thai Restaurant I can tell you that. I also liked their mashed potatoes.
The biggest discovery we made here at Tarsier Botanika are their pastries. They have all sorts of pasalubong goodies such as chocolate chip cookies, assorted biscuits, cashew cookies, mocha cookies, etc. And while this is a departure from the normal Boholano delicacies such as the kalamay and the infamous peanut kisses, their pastries are really good buys for pasalubong. My officemates seemed to like their cookies very much.
Of course, with the wide array of cakes and desserts displayed at their counter, we wouldn’t pass on trying one of their goodies. Since Kaye is a lemonoid (A person who goes gaga with everything lemon. And yes, I just made that word up), we went with the obvious choice in the form of a lemon meringue.
That is all for my Panglao Island adventure. I hope you find this blog helpful in your future trips to Bohol. Peace! -rod-