LOCATION: BALICASAG, BOHOL, PHILIPPINES
A day full of exploring the seas for beautiful marine life and becoming enchanted by the natural beauty of the Philippines…
Off the shores of Panglao Island, Bohol is a marine sanctuary called Balicasag Island. Boasting powdery white sands, a fish sanctuary upon its reefs and its easy accessibility, the island is also home to Turtle Point – a popular spot for sea turtles. It was my first time to the visit the island, and more than anything I was excited to swim with a sea turtle for the first time.
I left after sunrise, and I definitely recommend travelling early to beat the crowds. My resort which is situated on Panglao Island itself; Amorita Resort organised my trip the night before and all I had to worry about was hauling myself out of bed and walking down to the beach access and getting to the boat on time. The boat ride itself is only 30 to 40 minutes and life vests are provided. I also brought my own snorkel and flippers – but they can also be provided if you find yourself without.
The Fish Sanctuary
After being dropped off to the island, I was directed to a smaller ‘bangka’ boat that accommodates four people plus your boatman. The boat is manually paddled out to the fish sanctuary and turtle point to preserve the marine life and avoid motorised boats passing over consequently damaging the reef and disturbing its inhabitants. The snorkelling is pretty on Balicasag Island and although the corals aren’t all that colourful, they are a nice variety of soft and hard corals and the fishes are both colourful, plentiful and friendly. I completely revel in being in the water, so I was a happy clam exploring the reef!
This was the main event for me. Especially since I hadn’t laid my eyes on a sea turtle in the water before, let alone being able to swim beside them. I was giddy with excitement. *insert hysterical emoji here* Once in the water, we searched for any signs of our shelled friends on the seabed. After a few minutes I was growing anxious with the lack of movement on the sea floor – perhaps there weren’t any in the area today… Thinking that we may not see any, my boatman then broke my dismay by signalling to us. A turtle had been spotted! I frantically swam over (good thing I had my flippers on) hoping that I wouldn’t miss him. I definitely didn’t expect turtles to be as fast as they are and don’t be fooled, these little guys can easily out-swim you. Alas, there he was, happily gliding through the water. Being able to witness him and swim alongside him were experiences that are truly memorable ones.
For a more detailed insight into my trip to Balicasag Island, you can watch my vlog here! 🙂
Special thanks to Amorita Resort for making my stay a truly wonderful one!