Lazada Philippines

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Dream Balicasag Island Trip

It has been a week now and I can still vividly remember how my recent trip to Balicasag Island ended. It was pitch black, the wind was howling like a danger is coming after us and the thick darker clouds were hovering above us like we can't escape it anymore. Our boatmen had to kill the motor of our boat so as not to hit the corals below - yes, it was low tide too. And though, our boat was moving, I can sense the tension in the sealed mouth of ours. This is not how I dreamed of my first-ever Balicasag Island trip, this is not a dream to start with, it was some sort of a nightmare.

To most of us when we heard of Balicasag, the first thing that comes right up in to our minds is its pristine white beach barely touched or abused by people. Considered as a Panglao, Bohol's pride, my recent trip to this paradise has almost turned differently if not for the determined Panglaoanon guides who tried all their best to bring back us to the Panglaoshore safe and sound.

On the second day of my coverage of Panglao International Dive Fiesta, we were invited by our host - the Panglao Tourism Board - to see and experience one of the hottest dive sites in the country, the Balicasag Island. Boasting with rich marine life that has been attracting foreign divers, Balicasag is actually in my must-visit list here in Bohol.

We were scheduled to go there in morning actually, but due to some time constraint, it was moved to afternoon, 2 p.m. to be exact. The fun-to-be-with Tourism staff of Panglao assisted us all throughout, and I mus say that I felt the pride in them while they are sharing to us the beauty of Balicasag.

From our hotel-resort, Alona Tropical Beach Resort, it was some 10-15 minutes ride to Poblacion, where the nearest seaport to Balicasag Island is located. From Poblacion seaport to Balicasag Island, it was a 30-minute boat ride. I think it was more than 30 minutes, but since the inviting and really clear water of Panglao preoccupied my mind, I didn't notice how long our trip was.

Hiring a boat to Balicasag Island would normally cost a tourist Php1500.00, two way.

It was so unbelievable and almost surreal to see the bottom of the sea with corals and fishes swimming beneath while we were riding boat, but yeah, it happened and it was so AMAZING! I was hoping to see dolphins, but since it was too early, we got no luck for it.

The moment we reach the shore, we were brought to the waiting area where we met local guides who offered snorkeling kits rental for Php150.00 and underwater camera rental for Php1000.00. We tried to haggle for the camera since we really think that was too much, thankfully, we got it at half the price. So, not to waste anymore time, we headed to the snorkeling site with our guide and made my - or our - Balicasag dream come true. 

I would prefer diving, honestly, but since I'm on a tight budget, I don't have a choice but to settle on this activity - nonetheless, I super enjoyed it.

The water was so clear and a little less salty that the normal sea water (I think), so I had a fun time swimming around. Our guide was very patient and very helpful in a way for us to encounter more fishes. He was also so nice to be our photographer under the sea, so yeah, thank you for giving me this awesome shots!

Though most of the time our guide has the camera, but whenever I get a chance to see a perfect moment, I grab the camera from him and make the photographer in me work.

I found Nemo!!!

We had a good one-hour swimming with these beautiful fishes, and I think, by far, this is the most fantastic snorkeling activity I've done in my whole life. The next time I come back, I'll make sure to check out the areas and I'll make sure that I have my own underwater camera. Hehe. Promise, super ganda lang talaga!

Right after our short but memorable snorkeling activity, we bid goodbye and gave thanks to our guide. Our Panglao Tourism Board companion took us around Balicasag before we feast on the food they prepared for us.

Since our Tourism guide is 100% Panglaoanon, he shared to us some memorable stories from his childhood that made the island more special to me. There's a community in the island, and in this community some well-established houses and infrastructure are to be found.

The Old and New Lighthouse

He shared to us that the island has no power supply in the days, they only experience electricity at night. Most of the houses in the island are made of wood and bamboo, but there are some that are made of concrete. Our guide cleared that even though these families are living here for years now, no one has actually a property deed. So anytime the government decided to ask them to leave the island, they don't have a choice but to pack their belongings and leave. 

There's one hotel-slash-resort in the island, but since June to November is off peak season, we found no one there. Our guide told us that tourism changed the way people live in the island. If before they prefer fishing over assisting tourists, now you'll barely meet a fisherman in the island. The sad part according to him, since tourism gives family a good income, some children who should be studying in school were now obliged to work to help their families instead - acting as local guides, sell merchandise and stuff. 

"Who can blame these parents, right? They have to live," he sadly added. But he added that the local government is doing something about it. They've been studying the situation and trying to come up with a new rule that will be helpful both to Panglao's tourism and it's people's livelihood.

He ended our conversation by telling us that maybe on our next visit, we'll meet a different Panglao.

I would want to stay longer, but it was already 5 p.m., and the weather looks terrifying, so without further ado, we bid our final goodbye to the island.

On our way back, on the picture above, you'll see what's waiting for us....

Yes, this is not part of the plan, but what can we do - it's nature. Our suppose-to-be 30-minute boat ride back to Poblacion became one and a half hour boat ride. But thankfully, we were with skilled guides that we were able to escape the wrath of those dark clouds.

Though, it wasn't really a perfect trip, I'd still say that this first time experience of mine here Balicasag Island is definitely a remarkable and memorable trip. And if you'll ask me if I want to visit the place again - without a blink of an eye, I'd say YES! Bring me back to Balicasag!

Thank you, Panglao Tourism Board for letting me see and experience one of your crown jewels! If there's one place in the country that deserves to hold an international dive fiesta, it's certainly Panglao!

Happy Rammmpa!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rammpa,
    Nice account. I wish I could also do the same adventure. Our Philippine waters is really blessed with rich marine biodiversity and I'm so proud of it. Keep up the good job!


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