Balicasag Reef is located off Panglao Island in Bohol, is an island called Balicasag. 1.5 hectares out of its total 25 hectares have been developed into a resort. The island’s crystal blue waters provide a clear, vivid view of its corals, fishes and other marine life.
The resort is frequented by divers, foreign and local. It has a dive shop which offers instructions on scuba diving. Of interest are shells and fresh fish that are sold by the islanders to guests of the resort.
Balicasag is a mere speck on any map of the central Philippines, lying some 60 kms to the southwest of a small island called Panglao, off the southwest tip of Bohol. Although not quite deserted, it conforms pretty well to the desert island stereotype; a flat, circular island covered in palm trees and bouganvillea, and fringed by a shell and corraline beach. There’s a definite wilderness feeling about the place – which for many is part of the island’s appeal.
Most striking is its size: at just 25 hectares you can walk all the way around it in 45 minutes, and yet there is still room for much more than just the small lighthouse tower in the middle of the island. There’s a local community of about 100 families, many of whom make a living from collecting rare shells and selling them to tourists on the beach. Balicasag Island Dive Resort, the island’s only scuba facility, is on the south side. With only 20 traditional-style bungalows lining the beach, the island is never crowded, either above or below the water.
Reading through this description, you might get the feeling that Balicasag is as remote and inaccessible as far-flung Tubbataha – which can only be reached by live-aboards. But although it rivals Tubbataha for quality of diving, Balicasag really requires no more than a modest amount of effort and time to get to. Its proximity to mainland Bohol, which has good air and sea connections with the rest of the archipaelago, ensures that reaching the island from the major Philippine travel hubs of Manila or Cebu is ussually a matter of a few hours rather than several days.