Diving off Balicasag Island

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
55 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 65
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
271st/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 80% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing


For so many divers its all about seeing a specific thing, like certain sharks, a giant coral wall, or a cave, but sometimes you just want a shallow dive along a beautiful reef with good visibility and in a chilled out tropical beach place.  Balicasag Island, just off Panglao, is the later.  Very nice spot


Top tips:


  1. Dive Sites – we dived the Royal Garden, with a max depth of around 25m and great for seeing turtles, and Rudy’s Rock, with a similar max depth and a rock wall to explore
  2. Stay on Pangalao Island – Tagbilaran didn’t look too appealing.  Aim instead to stay on Pangalao Island.  We splurged a bit and stayed at the South Palms Resort, which was great and would recommend
  3. Bohol – if in the surrounding area, be sure to explore the Chocolate Hills in the centre of Bohol by quad bike and see the Tarsiers, the world’s smallest primate – see Quad-biking through the Bohol Chocolate hills for further tips on this experience
  4. Getting to Bohol from Cebu City is relatively straightforward, but its not a bad idea to ask your hotel / hostel to help you with getting the ferry tickets you want
  5. See if you can visit Malapascua Island – you’ll most likely be flying into Cebu.  If so, and you are a diver, be sure to head up to one of the other idyllic paradises of Malapascua Island ,which is the only place in the world you can dive with Thresher Sharks – see  Diving with Thresher Sharks at Malapascua Island for further tips on this experience


#1 The rock wall of Rudy's Rock

#2 Clear, pleasant water for diving all along the Royal Garden

#3 Staying in some of the beautiful spots on Pangalao Island

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone