Sunday, September 30, 2012

Balicasag & Virgin Islands in Bohol

I missed Balicasag island on my last year's trip in Bohol. So this time, I made sure to see it, which part of our group did on our last day in Bohol. Paul Incon provided us with a car for a half day tour of Ballicasag, including a brief stop at Hinagdanan Cave, for Php 1,200 from Tagbilaran.

We arrived in Alona Beach by 6:00 am, to board a motor boat that will take us to Balicasag island below for Php 1,500 rental. After about an hour at the sea, we never saw any dolphin, so we just docked at the island and transferred to paddle boats at Php 150 charge per person. The paddle boats are supposed to take us to the crowded snorkeling area, which are accessible by a 5-minute walk from the beach anyway. 

My companions are scammed by renting aqua shoes at Php 150/pair, which are not necessary since it was high tide when we got there. The coral reef is almost dying anyway, as boatmen just step on the corals and I saw some trash on seafloor. From what I observed, the boatmen are more concerned on milking money from tourists than protecting whatever is left of their coral reef. It is much better and cheaper to dive or snorkel in Palawan, with their ecological tourism approach.

Despite the corals' condition, there are still many fishes on the snorkeling area. I saw snapper, puffer fish, labahita, clown fish, etc. We just have to watch out for boats that might bump us, since the place is too crowded with boats and tourists. I don't think I will go back to this place again with the above experiences.

After about 1.5 hours, we transferred to Virgin island above with very nice beach. Its more like a sandbar that got connected to a tiny island. There are vendors here offering sea urchin egg (uni) and pearls. Well, they could get more business if they sell ice-cold drinks instead. I like the two-sided beaches of the island-sandbar. What makes the water on one side with darker color is the presence of seaweeds.

There is no tree cover on the sandbar, so make sure to protect your skin with sunblock and appropriate clothing. The main part of the island has vegetation, but its also fenced, so I don't think that camping is allowed on the area.

By past 10:00 am, we decided to go back to Alona beach in Panglao, as we have a plane to catch that afternoon. I took my companions to Hinagdanan Cave along the way so that they can see it, and be able to buy some pasalubong as well. 

After checking out from Vest Pension House, we took our lunch at Jo's Chicken Inato, also known as Payag Restaurant. 

Aside from grilled chicken which is their specialty, we ordered kinilaw na tanguigue with coconut milk which is also very good.

While killing time before our flight back to Manila, I bought dried seafoods in the market, plus peanut kisses at the Island City Mall. I was looking for pastel from Camiguin, but it was sold out. They are currently renovating the departure lounge of Tagbilaran Airport, which would make it comfortable to the travelers.

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