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If you are interested in scuba diving Bohol, this guide will help you plan the ultimate dive trip, with everything you need to know to make a care-free scuba holiday!
Bohol is an island province in the Philippines. It consists of Bohol Island itself along with several smaller islands in the surrounding area. In recent years, it’s developed a reputation as one of the top tourist destinations in Asia.
This is due to its tropical climates and unusual geographic formations. The Chocolate Hills in particular are something that must be seen. And of course, it’s also become well-known as a fantastic scuba diving location.
Any diver who’s visiting Bohol has a great variety of different diving experiences to choose from. Many of its best diving spots can be found on its surrounding islands.
These include the islands of Balicasag, Cabilao, and Panglao. Panglao Island has become especially famous for being one of the best areas in the world for diving.
There’s also a great diversity of marine life to be found here. You can find everything from eels, octopus, sea snakes, many different species of fish, and a lot more.
You might even get up close with some hammerhead sharks. Of course, Bohol’s coral reefs are also a major attraction.
Bohol is a gorgeous island in general, full of natural beauty. Anyone who love jungles, beaches, and forests will have plenty to appreciate during their time here.
But of course, its diving spots are the real star of the show. So let’s take a look at some of the best places to go diving in Bohol.
Great scuba diving in Bohol
Black Forest Dive: You can find Black Forest Dive on Balicasag Island. It gets its name from its forest of black corals. This is a go-to place to see all kinds of different fish species, including anthias, rockpods, groupers, and many others.
Cathedral Dive Site: Also located on Balicasag Island. This is a great spot to do some wall diving. On brighter days, the light reflects off the wall like a cathedral, which is where it gets its name. You’re going to see lots of sea fans and yellow bucket sponges during this dive.
Turtle Point Dive Site: As you might have guessed Turtle Point is a haven for sea turtles. If you’ve ever wanted the chance to swim with these beautiful creatures, this is the place to go. However, keep in mind that the turtles like to hide, so seeing them will require some patience. You can find it on Balicasag Island.
The Hagabat Wreck Dive Site: You can find the Hagabat Wreck on Panglao Island. It is a steep slope dive that goes down to 35m. It is here that you’ll find the remains of an old, sunken boat. However, you can still enjoy this dive even if you’re not into deep diving. Even at 12m, you will find plenty of corals and lots of biodiversity.
Garden Eels Dives Site: This is a popular dive site for night diving. A wide array of nocturnal biodiversity can be seen at this site. It’s also appropriate for divers of all different skill levels. Located on Panglao Island.
Alona House Reef: This site consists of a sloped wall and goes down to 25m. It’s a good place to see sea cucumbers, eels, and nudibranchs. Overall, it’s considered a nice, relaxing dive that’s good for beginners. You can find it on Panglao Island.
Sharks Point Dive Site: This is a dive site located on Cabilao Island. This plateau has a depth of 34m. It’s a great place to see some black and white tipped reef sharks along with seahorses, jackfish, and barracudas.
Lighthouse: The Lighthouse is on Cabilao Island next to Shark Point. If you’ve ever wanted to see hammerhead sharks up close, you need to come here during the winter months. Aside from hammerheads, you can also find barracudas, jackfish, seahorses, nudibranchs, and much more.
House Reef: There are actually two distinct diving sites in Bohol that bear the name “House Reef”. One is located on the Alona Beach of Panglao Island, the other is on the western part of Cabilao Island. The one at Alona Beach is a wall dive of 25m and is a good spot for night diving. The Cabilao Island House Reef is a wall dive of 50m and is home to many hard and soft corals.
Rico’s Wall: This is another dive site located on Balicasag Island. It’s a site consisting of many reef overhangs and caverns. It’s a good place to see massive schools of exotic fish, including unicornfish, angelfish, orange-striped tiger fish, and butterfly fish, among others.
Rudy’s Rock: Rudy’s Rock is actually connected to Rico’s Wall. It is a great site for intermediate divers. This is another wall formation with a vast array of hard and soft corals. You’re also likely to see big eye trevallies swimming in a group.
The Cavern: The Cavern gets its name from the numerous caves located on its drop off wall. Exploring these caves makes for a unique diving experience. The best time to visit this site is just before sunset. At this time, you can see nocturnal critters changing places with daytime organisms. It is located on Balicasag Island.
Doljo Point Dive: This site can be found on Panglao Island. The currents here can be strong at times. The upside to this is the currents will allow you see some unique marine life such as surgeonfish and batfish, along with squids and reef sharks. The wall itself is covered with all kinds of corals and sponges.
Arco Point: This site is sometimes referred to as the “Hole in the Wall”. That’s because there’s a cave where you enter at 9m. This site is home to many different species of fish. It’s also possible to encounter black-finned snake eels. You can find this site on Panglao Island.
Fallen Tree: The Fallen Tree is a wall that descends down to 60m. The wall itself is covered with black corals and gorgonian sea fans. It’s also a good place to see barracudas, nudibranchs, and turtles. It is located on Cabilao Island.
Kapilayan: This dive site is located on Alona Beach on Panglao Island. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Happy Wall”. This is a wall dive of 20m and is good for beginners. You’re guaranteed to see some Nive Blue and Table corals and a vast number of exotic fish species.
Bohol Travel Information
How to Get to Bohol
You will more than likely be entering the Philippines from either Cebu or Manila. Of these two, Cebu will be the most convenient. It’s a neighboring island to Bohol, so you won’t have take a connecting flight. Unfortunately, there’s not very many international flights that arrive there.
If you’re coming from Cebu, the easiest way to get to Bohol is by ferry. In fact, this is the simplest way to go island hopping around the Philippines in general. Supercat Ferry is a good company to use. Simply take a taxi to the ferry terminal, and they will get you to the island. Expect the trip to take about two hours. After that, you can get a taxi to your hotel.
If you’re coming from Manila, you’ll have to take a connecting flight to Tagbilaran, Bohol’s capital city. You can expect this take a little over an hour. You can also reach Tagbilaran by ship. However, this would a 25 hour trip and is not recommended. Once you reach Tagbilaran, you can take a short taxi ride to your destination.
Other Things to See and Do in Bohol
As mentioned before, Bohol has become one of the top tourist destinations in Asia. That means there’s plenty to do when you’re not diving. The island’s natural beauty is one of its main attractions. Much of the island consists of wild jungles and white, sandy beaches. If you’re an outdoors kind of person, then Bohol is your ideal vacation spot.
The Chocolate Hills are one thing in particular that you can’t miss while you’re in Bohol. This is a formation of over a thousand grass covered hills. During Bohol’s dry season, they turn brown like chocolate. It’s an astounding natural attraction, and something you must see for yourself.
Another place of interest is Bohol’s tarsier sanctuary. Tarsiers are the world’s smallest primates, and this sanctuary is dedicated to their preservation. On this thirty minute tour, you can hang out with these little animals and see how they live in the wild. You might also want to check out Bohol’s Mahogany Forest. It consists of two kilometers of mahogany trees, and the entire forest is man-made.
Finally, the thrill seekers out there might want to visit the Loboc Eco-Tourism Adventure Park. This is a zipline park that sends you flying over the forests and rivers of Loboc. It’s a fun and exciting way to experience Bohol’s natural beauty.
Best Time to Visit Bohol
Due to Bohol’s tropical climates, it’s possible to go diving year round. However, it is worth noting that most diving spots will have decreased visibility during the rainy season. This lasts from July to October.
Also, some months may be better than others depending on what animals you want to see. You’re more likely to see hammerhead sharks in Cabilao Island in the months of December to June. Since this is one of the main attractions of diving in Bohol, that’s probably when you want to go. If you prefer to see dolphins, they’re more likely to come out in the months of March to May.
Philippines Visa Info for Americans
Visiting the Philippines is actually rather simple for Americans. You won’t require a visa if you’re planning to stay for less than thirty days. Just hold on to your passport and your return ticket, and you’re good to go.
If you decide you’d like to stay longer than thirty days, you’ll have to file for an extension. Luckily, this a very easy process. You can extend your stay for another month by visiting an immigration office in Manila. They will allow you to do this for the first several months. If you plan to stay for six to twelve months, you can apply for a visa for about sixty dollars.
Critter Highlights in Bohol
The Philippines features a massive variety of critters to see, and Bohol is certainly no exception. Dozens of new species were discovered some time ago in Panglao island in particular. The chance to see something you’ve never seen in before is what attracts many people to dive in the Philippines.
When you go scuba diving in Bohol, you have a very good chance of finding some critters you haven’t seen in past dives. Here is a few examples of what you can expect to see.
Hammerhead Sharks: It’s possible to see these guys when diving off the coast of Cabilao island. Depending on the time of year, you might even see an entire school of them.
Many Species of Nudibranch: You can always find them in abundance in Filipino waters.
Whale Sharks: The biggest fish in the world and an absolute must-see for any diver.
Crabs and Shrimp: Panglao Island by itself contains over a thousand different species.
Clownfish: Some of the most beautiful fish in the world, easily identified by their orange and white patterns.
Barracudas: Be careful. They’ve been known to attack divers for little known reason.
Lionfish: Identifiable by their brown stripes and fleshy tentacles.
Decorator Crabs: These are crabs that like to hide themselves with debris they find in their environment. See if you can find them!
Sea Turtles: You’re bound to find some of these while diving in the Philippines.
Octopus: Many different species, including reef octopus and blue-ringed octopus.
Not to mention the many different species of fish and corals. Of course, this is only a small sample of what can be found in the waters of Bohol. You never know what surprises may await you once you take the plunge.
Where to stay in Bohol & who to dive with:
If you are mainly scuba diving Bohol, there are plenty of dive locations and options to choose from, who will also be able to assist you on finding tours and other interesting things around Bohol.
There are a number of great dive resorts in Bohol, with good gear and boats and crew, and we will give out top favorite pick below. You can also search through more hotels and dive resorts in Bohol HERE.