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Diving Alona Beach, Panglao and Balicasag in the Visayas | the Philippines


The Central Visayas region was one of the first in the Philippines to become recognised as a major diving destination and Panglao island – an extension of larger Bohol – is definitely one of the best places to be based.

Alona Beach has many small hotels and dive centres dotted beneath coconut palms. Rows of native bancas, or outrigger canoes, line up along the shore, waiting for divers to head off and explore the huge number of dive sites around Panglao – including some really easy ones just off the gorgeous white sand beach.

However, what makes this such a must-do area for scuba divers is the access to other nearby islands like Balicasag, which is a designated marine sanctuary and Pamilican, a sunken island, which is a haven for sea snakes. All the reefs are in excellent condition, with nudibranchs, small fish and sea stars, schooling jacks, barracuda and huge fans.

Alona Beach and Balicasag dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine life Black corals
Ghost pipefish
Anemones and clownfish
Schooling jacks and barracuda
Top dive site Balicasag Island
Seasons All year round
Visibility 15 – 40 metres
Water temperature 27 – 32º C
Deco chambers Manila and Cebu City
Flights Flight to Cebu City then 2-3 hours by ferry and road
Dive operators & accommodation There are a lot of land operations, search on-line for up to date information. Philippine Siren now sails this area.

The Philippines are a long way from Europe or the USA but everything is good value once you arrive. Getting to Alona Beach on Bohol takes some stamina – from Cebu airport to the ferry terminal by taxi; a ferry to Bohol then drive to the resort. Accommodation is not high-end luxury but there are good resorts and most dive centres are run by Europeans.

SCUBA DIVING This part of the Visayas is a typically delightful tropical destination. Tiny sandy islands are ringed by pretty reefs. Sea conditions are mostly easy-going with currents only likely on some of the plateau dives. Visibility is usually excellent too, it felt like we could see for miles but we reckoned it was probably close to 40 metres.
OPINION No crowds, few boats, almost no divers! This is a delightful area with a good variety of diving as it's easy to access the nearby islands. We went one year and loved it so much we went back the next. There are a lot of great diving destinations in the Philippines but this small place will always hold special memories for us.
UPDATE We recently returned to this region – very little has changed in the diving but there are a wider selection of shore-based hotels so Alona Beach is busier than it was. The classy Philippine Siren sails this area for part of the year.
Diving video Press > to play
This video is 3 minutes long. For the full length video, including extended footage of the Sardine Run, click here.
More Philippines diving destinations
LUZON Anilao
Puerto Galera
VISAYAS Bohol/Balicasag

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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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