I am quite updated about what’s hot in Philippine Tourism.
Being a domestic traveler, a friend with travelers and a member of some of the biggest social media travel groups in the country, I can say I am aware of the newest craze or destinations in the country.
I’ve seen the rose to fame of Hulugan Falls, Kalanggaman Island, Jomalig Island, Maniwaya Island and Masbate islands to name a few. The time when everybody realizes that hey the Philippines is more than just Boracay. That there are still a lot to explore.
So I was wondering why I haven’t heard of any buzz about Balicasag Island in Bohol? That’s the time when I learned about our itinerary after being invited by Tourism Promotions Board and Fuentes Manila to take part in the TBEX tour (Travel Blog Exchange) in Cebu and Bohol together with some awesome travel bloggers from around the world.
So I did my research, and found out that Balicasag is one of the best diving sites in the country, with the most diverse marine life. But diving wasn’t part of our tour, besides you need to get certified and all before becoming a diver. I was okay with snorkeling, with life jacket of course. Haha!
I’ve seen some of the not so mainstream yet beautiful islands in the Philippines, and I looked forward to the day of experiencing Balicasag.
It was a good breakfast. I liked the wide array of dishes from Amorita Resort (Room rates here) from danggit, to longganisa, sausages, to hash browns and pancakes. With the fantastic view of the pool, and the sea, we all enjoyed our first meal of the day with the first rays of the sun.
Before 8AM, we walked a few meters to the famous Alona Beach of Panglao where a motorboat was waiting for us. It was just about 30 minute boat ride until we reached Balicasag.
The beach was too inviting but our tour guide, Grace, told us to go straight to the resort’s diving office to get our diving gears. I got my diving shoes on and I particularly picked the biggest life vest that could fit me. Others got their flippers. As for me, I’m okay with the shoes and the life vest. Anyway, I’ll just float there in the middle of the sea. Haha!
When everyone was ready we all hopped on a smaller boat that took us to the near sanctuary. At first, some of us were hesitant since the boat was too small and we all imagined it was going to be difficult balancing there. But since our divers assured us, we just went on with it.
Nathan, Megan and Scott were the first to take the plunge. At that time, we all agreed that there were very good swimmers, because they didn’t have their life vest on. As for us, we need preparations you know. Haha!
I was kinda’ worried how am I going to jump? If I were to do it slowly, my weight would affect the boat’s balance, and I didn’t want that to happen to the rest of the team. So with all the courage I could muster, I just jumped! Without hesitations and as the popular interview of Alma Moreno, No reservations. Haha!
It was another moment that I realized I should have taken some swimming lessons when I was younger. I remember when someone told me how come that a travel blogger like me didn’t know how to swim? Haha! Oh yeah, they have a point.
I think it’s about time that the government should require all students to undergo swimming lessons. Just like what they do in other countries. I know it’s a challenge to build facilities and create funds for this especially for public schools. But swimming is a life skill, and you only realize its value when you’re out there on an adventure.
Good thing the life vest worked, haha! And was able to handle my weight. As I float and swim, the first thing I noticed were all sorts of fishes under the sea of clear water.
I practiced breathing through my mouth for a while. When I got comfortable with it, I swam and snorkeled and was able to witness the rich marine life under. Fishes of different sizes and colors, all flowing in group towards coral reefs.
That was just snorkeling! Imagine if I was a trained and certified diver and I would swim to the center of this marine biodiversity. That would be awesome!
But since, all I could do was snorkel (with life vest!), I just have to enjoy the experience.
Some from our group even managed to swim with the turtles. Cool!
We didn’t mind the heat of the sun, but no matter how much we enjoyed the snorkeling we had to get back to the island for our lunch.
At the resort’s restaurant, we were served with the “lutong bahay” Filipino dishes. You know we’ve been treated with some fancy food at the resort cooked especially by the chef, so it was good that our friends from the US, UK, Germany, Canada and India experienced the typical Filipino dishes that we eat at home. It was really good. The sea food were fresh!
It was also a chance for us to really talk and bond, share our stories and all. They were all nice and easy to get along, these travel bloggers from different parts of the globe were more than a delight to talk to and also truly inspiring.
We finished by around 12 noon, and Grace told us that we were about to go back to Panglao by about 1:30PM, so we still had time to enjoy the beach.
The girls in the group – Victoria, Ruchika, Megan and Charlotte even managed to have some pictorial. Lovely!
As for us, the boys and the awesome TPB group just decided to sit back and relax. Beach bumming at its finest!
When I got tired of too much relaxation, haha! I decided to walk on the stretch of beach, feeling the breeze from the sea and the heat of the sun.
When it was time to go back to the mainland, we kept with us the memories of Balicasag with its nice beach and rich marine life.
It was an amazing experience to explore this island for the first time. I sometimes travel with fellow bloggers, but this is my first time to travel with writers from all over the world. A truly enriching experience and I get to view and experience a different perspective in travel, passion and in life.
Note: Thank you Tourism Promotions Board and Fuentes Manila for this awesome fam trip. Special mention to Mary Ann, Trixie. Ma’am Grace and Maria. And of course, Zyrah of Intas Destinations.
It was a pleasure meeting these awesome travel bloggers – Karl of Nomadic Junkies, Nathan of the Foodie Flashpacker, Megan and Scott of Bobo and Chichi, Ruchika of Second Breakfast, Victoria of The British Berliner, Ajay of Travelure and of course, my fellow Pinoy, Charlotte of CharlotteAnne.net.
How to get to Balicasag Island, Bohol
Book a flight to Tagbilaran. From the airport, ride a tricycle going to the Bus Terminal. Look for buses going to Panglao. In Panglao, the hotels and resorts there are offering tour and island hopping which includes Balicasag Island.
Check this post for Bohol Travel Guide – Bohol Tourist Spots and Guide