Island Hopping – Dolphin Watching, Balicasag Island, Virgin Island – Panglao, Bohol
We woke up early morning to get underway for a morning of Island Hopping. Call time was 6:00am so it was decreed that we all get up by 5 to get ready. As I am usually up before anyone else, I think I was up by around 4:45am so I took a shower and started to get ready as everyone slowly woke up and got ready themselves.
Our bangkero picked us up from the resort. We then proceeded to walk to Alona beach which was just around 5 min away on foot. Patrick O. had arranged for the whole trip the night before via the resort. We realized the night before that there are a lot of bangkeros look for business, so arranging for an Island hopping trip would have been fairly easy.
Luckily we were underway at around 5:30am, much earlier than planned. Bohol had an interesting sunrise… the above picture seems to be more of a sunset rather than a sunrise. Subsequently, the sunset looked more like a sunrise.
As we set off from Alona Beach I thought that we would be on water for an hour or so before our first sighting. But a little under 30 min we already got a glimpse of the first set of pods at around 6am. At first I didn’t know what we were looking at. By this time were still the only boat in the water.
The picture above was quite fortuitous… the dolphins were just around 20 meters away when I took this without much a zoom on my lens. Its like they came over to greet us good morning.
We were joking that it was more like “fin watching” because that was all we got to really see. Eventually I finally got to see the famous dolphin bottle-nose.
These creatures were truly magnificent to watch. I did get the opportunity to see some dolphins jump into their air. Alas… i didn’t get to take of a picture as these happened. All in all I did see 3 dolphins leap into the air.
It was great that we got of an early start! By around 7am, the waters around us were full of other bangkas for of folks all Dolphin watching. I started to wonder what effect all these boats would have on the dolphins. Would all the boats and running engines have any effect on whether or not the dolphins would stay away.
So with this congestion, we decided to go on our way for our next destination.
All in all, I would highly recommend this activity to anyone who visits Bohol. It’s a great thrill.
After the dolphin watching we proceeded to the Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary. The island is a 25 hectare land mass which is run by the Philippine Government along with the Philippine Navy.
As we approached the island, we were greeted by some bangkeros on little paddle driven boats. Apparently the motorized boats were not allowed within the sanctuary. So if we wanted to, we needed to transfer to these little boats, each with its own guide if we wanted to do snorkeling.
The boats were fully equipped if people wanted to do snorkeling. The little bangka had mask+fins+snorkel sets on board… naturally for rent for P150/set. Pricy if you think about the fact that we would be using them for just an hour… pero ok na rin.
Patrick M. and I opted to do the snorkeling while Patrick O. and Jasper went off on the own to take pictures within the island. We would meet up with them later.
The waters around the island were sooo clear. Lots fish too. Quite colorful.
In case you’re wondering why the fishes are swimming around aimlessly, I actually threw a morsel of Sky Flakes into the water. So here is the mad rush.
Above is taken from the boat. The water is clear you can see the ocean floor.
Here is our friendly guide, generically referred to as “Manong”. We paid him P400/pax. Which was his rate + snorkeling gear rental + island fee. It seemed pretty steep, but of course we paid without arguing.
We went to the bangka “parking area” to meet up with Jasper and Patrick O. I bought a big bottle of Coke. And were on our way to our third destination. And it wasn’t even 9:00 am yet!
From Balicasag island we proceed to our next stop. Virgin Island. I have seen Virgin Island on other travel blogs, so I did have great expectations. In fact, Virgin Island was my only request for the whole trip. I recalling seeing this looong sandbar and nothing but clear blue water.
Its called Virgin Island because its a small little island with no development whatsoever. No one lives on it and its supposed to be untouched… this its name. Like all things, you should take that with a grain of salt.
We’re coming up to Virgin Island. And from the boat… it is quite beautiful from a distance. You can see in the picture above that there are boats already parked there (see rightmost area). Using that reference, you can see the island is really quite small. Small in comparison to say, Balicasag which we just left.
Ok… if anyone wishes to go to Balicasag, here is something to note. Remember that by this time… its around 9:30am. And at this time, it is high tide. Because it was high tide, we were able to park on the island itself. If you can see from the picture above the “beach” part was quite small. That said, the sand bar was… underwater. For a low tide visit to see Virgin Island in all its glory, the best time would have been in the afternoon. That fact seemed incompatible with the dolphin watching activity which got us and about by 5:00am.
The lack of the sand bar and the high tide did not diminish the beauty of the island. Yun lang nga… because of the high tide, the beach was littered with debris… twigs, branches, leaves, etc.
One of these days I would love to come back and see the island at low tide.
That said. It is still a beautiful island.
On to part two of this day…