Boasting more species than Japan and the Mediterranean combined, Panglao is famous for its marine biodiversity and healthy coral reefs. As well as numerous dives for beginners, you can enjoy adventurous wall and wreck dives, explore numerous small caves or visit Snake Island for encounters with banded sea snakes.
Diving in Panglao
Panglao is an island located in the Bohol Sea, in the central Visayas region of the Philippines. It is one of the busier islands, with the world-famous Alona Beach found here. Because of this popularity, there are lots of dive centers to choose from and it is a popular place to undertake dive courses.
Diving in Panglao offers some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. This tiny island boasts more species than Japan and the Mediterranean combined! The diving here is beautiful - the corals are healthy and abundant and support rich ecosystems. There are also wall dives, muck dives and wreck dives to be enjoyed here.
Best time to dive
Panglao can be dived all year round due to its constant warm air and water temperatures. Despite this, the best conditions for diving are found from February to May when the rainfall is lowest and the seas are calmest.
Types of diving
Panglao offers lots of different dives, most of which are suitable for beginners. The oceans are warm, calm and clear and many dive sites are shallow enough to cater to open water divers. There are wreck dives and deeper walls for the more adventurous divers and muck dives for those hunting for macro. There are many dive centers to choose from on Panglao, all of which do dive courses. There are also a few dive resorts which offer dive and stay packages. Though there are no dedicated liveaboards operating in Panglao, there are a few which pass through this area.
What to see
The healthy reefs of Panglao play host to many varieties of hard and soft corals which provide homes for lots of marine animals. Looking deep into the reef you might find frogfish, seahorses and even a super rare blue ring octopus. In the blue, you can see schools of mackerel, fusiliers and barracuda as well as bigger fish like tuna, trevally and reef sharks. In the deeper waters in springtime, you might even be lucky enough to spot hammerheads, dolphins, pilot whales, whale sharks and manta rays!
Best places to dive
Panglao has over 20 dive sites, and here are some of the best. Habagat wreck is a small wreck that lies at 35m, making it only suitable for advanced divers. The dive then ascends up a sloping wall which has many little caves to peer in - if you have a torch, you may find hiding eels and groupers. Be careful and watch your no-decompression limit on this dive!
Doljo Point is suitable for all levels of divers. It features some walls covered in lots of different corals - gorgonian sea fans, bucket sponges and brain corals, among others. The colourful reef fish accompany common larger fish like tuna, reef sharks and barracuda along the reef. If you dive the reef’s deep drop off, you might see hammerheads, manta rays and whale sharks out in the blue. Kalipayan is a wall dive with lots of sandy areas and artefacts to explore. This is a great site for night dives and it nearly always yield lots of lionfish, batfish, nudibranch and ghost pipefish.
The Bohol Beach Club (BBC) site features a sloped wall dive with lots of small caves to explore. There are also two wrecks of jeepneys on the top of the reef, now covered in corals. The real beauty of this site is the camouflaged and macro creatures making this perfect for macro photographers.
Arco Point is also known as “Hole in the Wall” for its swim-through tunnel at 18m. Along the wall and inside the tunnel you can see different species of moray and sea snakes as well as frogfish, clownfish and scorpionfish. There is occasionally some current here pushing towards the south, which can be strong.
Cervera Shoal site is known as snake island for its common sightings of the normally unusual sea snake. It is a good drift dive for the experienced. The macro life here is also stunning and you might spy dolphins and sharks in the blue too.