Diving and Snorkeling
The island has excellent diving. Apo Island is also accessible from Siquijor but one has to ask for the schedule with the dive shops because they do not go everyday. Most of the sites are on the west side of the island so staying in the town of San Juan is best. There is excellent snorkeling in front of Coco Grove Beach Resort. If you are not a guest, you cannot get inside the resort and you are supposedly not allowed to hang out on their beach. But there is a parcel of land in between one part of Coco Grove Beach Resort, the original one, if my memory serves me right, and the extension. The extension has the swimming pools and more buildings and rooms. Find the pathway in the piece of land without a fence in between the resort and you will find yourself in public property. Find the locals guarding the area and pay the corresponding Php50 fee with them and you can snorkel in front of the beach of Coco Grove Beach Resort. From there, you can also enjoy sunset and drinks at the restaurant of the resort. Once you get past the entrance, they actually do not care if you are a guest in the resort or not, as long as you dine or drink at their restaurant.
Diving and Snorkeling
As the boat was approaching Balicasag Island, I could not help but exclaim, “Welcome back to me, Balicasag!”
Balicasag Island happens to be one of my favorite islands to snorkel at. Though, I was, on a dive boat this time, with other divers, I was still not diving. I have yet to get a license. I just go on the dive boat all the time because, aside from other reasons, it’s really much cheaper that way. I brought my own snorkel and fins, so on this boat, I only had to pay Php300. This was one of the boats of Sierra Madre Divers.
It is not Balicasag if I don’t take a photo with the lighthouse in it. I simply must.
Snorkelers in the marine sanctuary.
On a dive boat with loads of Koreans.
Shortly after lunch at Entalula Island, we noticed that rain clouds were fast approaching. Afraid that the rain clouds will get to us and spoil all the fun with all those photo ops, we quickly boarded our boat and headed to our next destination – Simizu Island.
We, somehow, outran the rain clouds and found the beach, sunny and completely empty! All the other boats filled with tourists have also already boarded their boats in pursuit of another sunny destination and we had the entire beach all to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon.
Lovely still wanted to go to Vigan Island (also known as Snake Island) on this trip but we spent hours doing all kinds of things much to the entertainment of our other friends Janice and Lors who were just there sitting under the shade of trees, that before we noticed it, it was already four in the afternoon.
Here is a panorama of the beach:
Simizu Island, named after the Japanese diver who died in an underwater cave exploration, has always been one of my favorite destinations. I cannot count how many times I have been here, though I was surprised that I did not see a lot of photos of it when I went through my archives.
The island is popular for 1. picnic lunches on the beach, and 2. snorkeling and fish feeding.
Indeed, when I first snorkeled here in 2005, it was absolutely breathtaking! The sheer number and variety of fish were overwhelming. Through the years though, the effects of the El Nino phenomenon, coral bleaching, and extensive tourism have taken its toll on the coral life on this island, and that first snorkeling experience became just a memory that have never, even to this day, been replicated. I would now say that the best snorkeling experiences can be had at the snorkeling sites in Coron (North Cay Island, for example) and Balicasag Island in Bohol; lowered expectations for El Nido.
My very first camera was a Pentax Optio WP point-and-shoot camera that I bought in 2005. It was waterproof and I could take it to depths of 1.5 meters. I took it with me on every beach trip until 2010, when it took its last underwater video in Balicasag Island. I found these photos (above and below) and video clips from my May 2007 visit to El Nido.
For someone who lived in El Nido for a year, snorkeling every chance I could get, paddling to the nearby Cadlao Island almost every weekend, and spoiled by the corals of the place, it had since been difficult to find a place that I felt would rival my previous snorkeling experiences.
H maintains to this day that snorkeling is so much better in Coron than in El Nido, based on his experience in the island of North Cay. I stay mum on this topic since he has only been to El Nido twice whereas I have been to as many snorkeling sites and can not count how many snorkeling experiences I have actually had.
I have been to many other places too, always in search of that good snorkeling spot, and have always come back disappointed.
Until I went to Balicasag Island in December of 2009.
I wish I was the one who took this video or even the one in it, but no, I just had to be the one watching it all green with envy. Hahaha. I got to this video because Kristelle tweeted it this morning. Thanks Kristelle! This video makes me look forward all the more to our Bohol trip on December 5-8, 2009. That’s just two weeks away! Yehey!! I wish we could scuba dive too!