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.

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North Cay Island, Coron, Palawan (with my cousin Romulus Rueda taking a photo of the boat)

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.

From the very first time I went underwater, I said to myself, “Ah, finally…. a place worth all my effort and time.”

The island itself is nothing special. I find the island too dry, too hot and actually somewhat ugly with the noticeable absence of a good sandy beach and the presence of a lot of little huts inhabited by members of the local community that make a living out of guiding snorkelers on their little paddle boats, selling handmade trinkets and cooking food for day-trippers.

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The snorkeling site in Balicasag Island

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This is the beach where we stayed for lunch, December 2009, a TF trip

Balicasag Island, Bohol

The other side. A little farther away from the snorkeling site.

But when you go underwater, the view is just breath-taking and unforgettable.

I have never seen so many fish, in different kinds and in those numbers in such a close little area. The most unforgettable of all was my seeing a school of jacks – two schools actually. It was so beautiful I vowed I would come back with a diving certificate in hand.

Come back I did, though still without a diving certificate and with nothing more than my usual, old pair of fins, mask and snorkel that have been my snorkeling and swimming companions ever since my old boss got them for us at a discounted rate from a purchase made by El Nido Resorts for their own supplies. (She made us trace our foot on paper and included our orders in the resort’s. No one else has ever used my fins except me and because of that, it fits my feet perfectly).

I submerged myself in the water and was greeted by the beautiful underwater scenery of Balicasag Island. I felt comfortable and happy. It was still exactly as how I remember it….. except for the noticeable absence of the jacks and the very noticeable presence of tiny little floating things that made a crackling sound in the water and stung me in all and every place.

For the nth time, I wished I was diving instead. I thought about the 10K diving certification in Anilao my friend Jma had been telling us about and the wet suit my friend Leia from Travel Factor left for me. And once again, I vowed to myself, I am coming back soon. I am definitely coming back to dive here. Here in Bohol, in Coron, in El Nido, in Malapascua… and every which place a diver can ever find himself or herself in.

I floated there just watching the fish. Dazzling yellow, brilliant blue and glistening white all moving about in a watery blue background. For a fleeting moment, I felt as if I could stay still there forever – until the sound and stinging bites of the abundant jelly fish larvae reminded me that that was not a very sound idea.

(I decided to not edit the sound on this video clip so that you can hear the crackling sounds the jellyfish larvae make in the water. You can see them floating around everywhere, those little white things. You can also hear me blow out water and air out of my snorkel. Hahaha! Or hear the glug-glug-glug sound every time I sort of dive underwater. This was my Pentax Optio’s last hurrah. For all of its 5 years with me, it made one last valiant effort for me in Balicasag Island, before it finally died. You can see the screen go white and dead in the end of the clip, if you notice the water creeping up the screen too.)

But Balicasag Island, only 45 minutes away from Alona or Dumaluan Beach in Panglao Island in Bohol, is a place I would always want to and long to come back to. A place I would never mind coming back to again and again.

Now that I have made a fondness for Bohol Beach Club and all its comforts, a trip to Bohol would always be an easy enough decision to make every time there is a seat sale.

*****

All the Bohol-trip related posts:

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