The best dive sites of Panglao, Bohol, Philippines

Panglao offers some of the best dive sites in the Philippines. Even the house reef offers an exciting wall dive, covered with colorful hard and soft corals. Colorful reef dwellers like trumpet-, parrot- and cuttlefish, angel fishes, batfishes and so on are found on every dive. In this post, we are going to share with you our top 6 dive sites around Panglao and why you should include them on your next trip to the Philippines.


Black Forest, Balicasag Island

Each year, many divers come to Panglao Island for diving in Balicasag, a small island off the coast of Panglao, Philippines. Balicasag is surrounded by a narrow reef that is home to a great variety of aquatic life. A few years ago, the area was declared a marine sanctuary to ensure coral and fish remain in such good condition. The dive sites are a heaven for both divers and snorkelers and are visited by many tourists on a daily basis.

Black Forest is a steep slope dive which is too deep for snorkeling. This is an easy dive site for PADI Open Water Divers or higher with a visibility of (+) at 15-30M, a depth of 8-40m. The dive is most interesting at 25 meters where the black corals are why the site is called Black Forest. 

Black forest is one of the most popular dive sites in Balicasag. The reef top starts at around 5m to 8m. The site then drops into a steep slope that reaches to a depth of over 40 meters. On the reef top and along the slope you will find all kinds of smaller reef fish, large schools of silver jacks and turtles. The dive site was named after rare black corals that you can find in a depth beyond 30m. Also look out for big groupers, barracudas, snappers, big eye jacks and bluefin trevallies.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner/advanced diver
Featured Creatures: Jacks, Turtles, Barracuda and Reef Fish


Cathedral, Balicasag Island

One of the dive sites you cannot possibly miss! Like a few sites around Panglao, Cathedral is a sheer drop-off covered in healthy coral, with lots of macro life: divers are usually stunned by their first dive here! It starts with a coral plateau and quite quickly drops into the blue; you can enjoy a nice wide angle panorama of the whole site along with a sweet display of sunlight beaming through if you move a bit further out.

Turtles, school of batfish and trevallies/jacks, a few Napoleon wrasse and maybe even a whaleshark will tag along and deliver a good show if you keep an eye out in the blue! Along the drop-off you’ll find a few swimthroughs, with a lot of incrusted life along the walls. The dive sites is good for all levels and experience.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Jacks, turtles and Reef Fish


Doljo Point, Doljo

Doljo point is a perfect diving spot for all divers. Beginner to advanced divers or master divers will enjoy the biodiversity of the marine life and the beauty of diving along a gorgeous wall. 

Doljo point has a great underwater visibility with an average of 22 meters (66 feet). The dive site has breathtaking walls to dive with many species of hard and soft corals and sandy spots between the 2 walls. The diversity is making this dive site really special. Gorgonians and giant sea fans, bucket sponges, elephant ear coral, and green leather corals can be photographed easily, as well as angelfish shoaling around. But the most “common” marine life at the Doljo point dive site is tunas, big barracudas which are often bigger than 1.5 meters (5 feet), and all the “usual” tropical coral reef fishes that are colorful.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner/advanced
Featured Creatures: Tunas, barracudas & Frogfishes


Napaling point, Napaling

Napaling has a wonderful coral garden, that is ideal for underwater photographers and snorkelers. A dive here normally starts at about 5 to 7 meters, and then drops to about 20 to 30 meters, drifting along the wall. The overhangs are spectacular and you will come across some small caves with soldier-fish and squirrel-fish.

The most exciting part of this dive site are the school of sardines, there are thousands of them what will make you want to stay underwater. The school is seasonal so make sure you come while they are still there!  Also there are a number of moray eels and scorpion-fish. The wall is rich in corals and sponges, anthias, fusiliers, clown fish, frog fish hidden in the tube corals, anthias, nudibranchs.The wall has some very large table corals and plenty of anemones those funny anemone fishes. The conditions are normally calm with some current, although they can be strong during spring tides; the visibility is up to 30 meters.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: School of sardines


Arco point

One of the best sites to dive in the Philippines around Bohol, thanks to a peculiar topography, rich marine life and the diversity. ‘Arco’ meaning ‘arch’, you can expect to come across a vaulted passage in the wall that’ll take you from 5m all the way down to 18m. Check out the marine life that covers up the walls inside, they’re teaming with life!

Most of the dive is spent along the drop-off, where you can observe the classics in tropical marine life but also some rare species: moray eels, colourful nudibranchs, frogfish, ghost pipefish, crazy looking shrimps… Out in the blue, a school of batfish, a couple of Napoleon wrasse are just about guaranteed on every dive! This is a very comfortable dive site, accessible to every divers regardless of the certification and experience.

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Macro life


Danao Wall, Danao

This site is very colorful and is full of beautiful reef fishes. The dive site is devided in two parts, Danao and Danao Wall. The sandy bottom has pinnacles of coral with plenty of macro life. The wall, decorated with soft and hard corals, drops until 25 meters where the sandy slope begins. Both on the wall or on the shallow parts, the frogfish will surprise us with their different colors, camouflage and sizes. Some turtles are hiding here and if you are lucky a whaleshark can pass by and make this dive your favorite!

Dive Type: Wall
Recommended Level: Beginner
Featured Creatures: Macro life & reef fishes




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