Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Bohol Diving, Philippines
The Philippines has an enormous number of dive locations. In Australia we are not aware of the extent of diving nor are we really aware of the quality of the diving in this country. On my trip to the Philippines in March 1997 I was quite surprised to find that there are well over 50 dive locations, each with dozens of dive sites. People come from all over the world, especially Europe, to dive there yet Australians are almost totally ignorant of the place as a dive location.
The island of Bohol is one of the better known dive locations, with more than a dozen dive operators catering for the visitors. On my trip I stayed at the Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island (off the southern end of Bohol) and we dived with their in-house dive operation. This was one of the better organised operators I have used throughout the Pacific and Australia. As with other locations, the dive boats are the traditional bancas and they are quite good to dive from.
The normal dives from here are to Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands as well as off the Alona Beach area of Panglao Island. The operators also run dives to Cabilao Island where I had possibly the most exciting dive of my life when we encountered more than 100 hammerhead sharks.
My first dive here was at the Marine Sanctuary (also called South-West Wall) on Balicasag Island. It took us 45 minutes to get to the island from the Bohol Beach Club where we found a very small, flat sand island with a resort on it. The Marine Sanctuary is on the south-western corner of the island and consists of a shear wall that drops from five metres right down to 50 plus metres. The dive is done as a drift dive and as we slowly flow with the tide we pass some very large gorgonias. The fishlife is fairly prolific, with large numbers of trevally being the most prominent fish. The coral was also quite interesting in the shallower areas.
After the first dive we have lunch on the banca. The resort can provide you with a packed lunch. The club sandwich is quite good and the Cokes in traditional bottles (requiring us to knock the tops off how ever we can) brings back many childhood memories.
In summary, the Philippines are an excellent dive location, especially for those who have already been to the more common dive locations in the Pacific. The wrecks of Coron are especially attractive to wreck divers who have been to Chuuk, Santo and the Solomons. Families will also find the resorts quite good, with plenty of activities for non-diving spouses and children.