Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Bohol Diving, Philippines
The Philippines has an enormous number of dive locations. In Australia we are not aware of the extent of diving nor are we really aware of the quality of the diving in this country. On my trip to the Philippines in March 1997 I was quite surprised to find that there are well over 50 dive locations, each with dozens of dive sites. People come from all over the world, especially Europe, to dive there yet Australians are almost totally ignorant of the place as a dive location.
The island of Bohol is one of the better known dive locations, with more than a dozen dive operators catering for the visitors. On my trip I stayed at the Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island (off the southern end of Bohol) and we dived with their in-house dive operation. This was one of the better organised operators I have used throughout the Pacific and Australia. As with other locations, the dive boats are the traditional bancas and they are quite good to dive from.
The normal dives from here are to Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands as well as off the Alona Beach area of Panglao Island. The operators also run dives to Cabilao Island where I had possibly the most exciting dive of my life when we encountered more than 100 hammerhead sharks.
After attempting to do a second dive at an open water bommie in this area (we cannot find it due to the poor weather - misty covering marks and no sun to see the reef), the divemasters decide to go back to Panglao Island to dive a reef near the resort. We are a few kilometres to the north-east of the resort, a hundred or so metres off a number of other resorts. The reef here drops from five metres down to close to 30 metres. The site we are diving is called Arc. We drift to the south and see some excellent sponges and gorgonias. The fishlife is also quite good, very prolific in fact.
Over an hour later I ascend from the dive, extremely satisfied with not only this dive, but with the trip as a whole.
In summary, the Philippines are an excellent dive location, especially for those who have already been to the more common dive locations in the Pacific. The wrecks of Coron are especially attractive to wreck divers who have been to Chuuk, Santo and the Solomons. Families will also find the resorts quite good, with plenty of activities for non-diving spouses and children.
Michael McFadyen travelled to the Philippines courtesy of Allways Dive Expeditions, AUSI dive certification agency and Philippine Airlines. He stayed in Bohol with Bohol Beach Club and dived courtesy of the resortís in-house dive operation. Ian Lockwood of Allways Dive Expeditions can help you with more information on diving this and other sites in the Philippines. He can be contacted on 03 9885 8863 or fax 03 9885 1164.