An island hopping tour to Balicasag Island and Virgin Island Bohol is an absolute MUST on your Bohol itinerary.
The Bohol Island Hopping Tour includes dolphin watching from the boat, snorkeling with sea turtles on Balicasag Island, and a visit to the unique sand bar on Virgin Island Bohol.
It was by far the highlight of my trip and I can’t recommend this tour enough.
Here is the ultimate guide to visiting both of these islands including where to book and what to expect on the tour!
WHERE TO BOOK?
I recommend booking the Bohol Island Hopping Tour online in advance with Klook which is the most-top rated tour with great reviews and thousands of bookings.
The Bohol island-hopping tour takes around five to six hours from start to finish. It includes transport by boat from Panglao to Balicasag Island, secondly to Virgin Island Bohol, and then finally returning back to Panglao.
Book Now → Bohol Island Hopping
Arriving at Balicasag
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE BALICASAG ISLAND TOUR
Our trip began at 5:45 am when my friends and I met our skipper and guide at the meeting point down on Alona Beach in Panglao. We each signed our names on some sort of waiver form and we were swiftly on our way.
The first mission was to find dolphins on our way over to Balicasag and we got lucky when one breached out of the water right next to our boat. My buddy also spotted a stingray flying out of the water nearby.
It all happened so fast that I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough to capture it all. I guess some experiences like this are best left unphotographed. But damn I wish I had my camera at the ready.
As the boat neared Balicasag, which is only a 30-minute trip over from Panglao, we could already see the colorful reef from the boat, that’s how insanely clear and pristine the water is.
I know I have repeated these words quite frequently but the water surrounding the island was arguably the bluest water I have ever seen!
See More → 31 Epic Things To Do In Bohol
An aerial perspective
Exploring Balicasag Beach
BALICASAG ISLAND SNORKELING
Balicasag Island is home to one of the best beaches in Bohol purely for its glistening white sands and its abundance of marine life just offshore.
You can rent snorkeling equipment from one of the many shacks dotted along the beach when you arrive on the boat. A mask and snorkel costs 150 pesos and then they will try to charge you an extra 250 pesos for a guide which is not necessary.
Just pay for your snorkel set and walk around to the opposite side of the island where there are fewer tourist boats.
The majority of the tourists snorkel on the side of the island where all the boats are parked up but definitely veer away from this area and head to the other side of the island.
Drone shot of Balicasag Bohol
Snorkeling in Balicasag Island was the highlight of my trip to Bohol. As soon as I dived into the shallow waters with my mask and snorkel I spotted a sea turtle cruising across the reef about 5 meters from the shoreline.
I remember squealing like a little girl with excitement! I knew this place was renowned for sea turtles residing in the reefs here but I did not expect to find one that easily.
Book Now → Island Hopping Tour
We spent at least two hours snorkeling around the reef and swam with about 15 different turtles. It was a morning that I will never forget!
Apart from turtles, we saw many colorful corals and countless species of fish beneath the surface.
Snorkeling with turtles
VIRGIN ISLAND BOHOL
After a memorable few hours spent on Balicasag, we then continued the Bohol Island Hopping Tour over to Virgin Island Bohol Philippines.
It was still high tide when we arrived on Virgin Island Bohol so the sand bar wasn’t completely exposed. And on top of that, we were 1 of about 30 other tourist boats that were also parked up on the island.
I was a little deterred by the number of tourists at first, but when I got off the boat to explore the shallow waters around the sand bar it was quite interesting to see what was going on.
Must Read → 3 Weeks Philippines Itinerary
Drone shot of Virgin Island Bohol
Before even having the chance to set foot on the sand bar, a local jewelry seller had boarded our boat and tried convincing us to buy a couple of pearl necklaces. Once we kindly denied his offer we were able to get off and stroll around.
Most of Virgin Island Panglao consists of floating seafood kitchens which were quite an amusing scene to watch.
You could go up to the boat that had the most appealing seafood and choose whatever you felt like trying such as lobsters, sea urchins, calamari, and fish which they would boil or grill right in front of you.
There was also the option to sit on benches and tables that were half-submerged in water to enjoy your fresh meal.
Apart from that, there isn’t a whole lot to do on Virgin Island Bohol but it’s a very unique experience that I am sure you will enjoy!
The last leg of the boat ride from Virgin Island Bohol to Alona Beach in Panglao takes around 20 minutes and you should arrive back on the mainland around 12 pm just in time for lunch.
Friendly locals on the island
Virgin Island Bohol
WHERE TO STAY IN BOHOL
Panglao Island in Bohol has hundreds of accommodation options to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of my personal favorite places to stay in Panglao to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Donatela Hotel
Donatela Hotel is the best luxury accommodation on Panglao Island. The hotel offers a private beach area, swimming pool, restaurant, and pool bar. There is a garden villa, pool villa, family villa, and honeymoon villa available at Donatela Hotel. The rooms are air-conditioned featuring a balcony, flat-screen tv, dining area, tea/coffee maker, mini-bar, private bathroom, bathtub, and plunge pool. They can also help you to organize scuba diving, snorkeling, and other activities. Great for families, friends, and couples.
Mid Range: Conrada’s Place Hotel & Resort
Conrada’s Place is located 450m from Alona Beach on Panglao Island and it’s close to shops, restaurants, and other nearby tourist attractions. The accommodation features an outdoor pool, restaurant, snorkeling activities, and wellness spa. There are double rooms, deluxe rooms, family rooms and suites which have air-conditioning, free wifi and breakfast is included for all guests.
Budget: Bohol Coco Farm
Coco Farm is rated the best budget accommodation for a solo traveler. Enjoy a rustic experience with modern luxuries of free wifi and a restaurant. Great location close to beaches and other tourist spots. The rooms and fan-cooled with shared bathrooms and towels are included. There’s also a shared lounge with free coffee and a tour desk.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY, SEE MY COMPLETE GUIDE ON WHERE TO STAY IN BOHOL.
BOOK A BOHOL TOUR
Another great way to see all of the best Bohol tourist spots is to book a Bohol Countryside & Panglao Highlights Tour.
This particular tour is the most top-rated tour in Bohol with hundreds of great reviews and thousands of bookings. I can’t recommend this amazing tour enough, especially for first-timers to Bohol!
You can Click Here to see what other travelers are saying about this tour.
The Bohol Tour includes the following:
- Chocolate Hills Bohol
- Bilar Manmade Forest
- Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary
- Loboc River Cruise with lunch
- Hinagdanan Cave
- Panglao Watchtower
- & much more
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE PHILIPPINES
When visiting the Philippines, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you;
- Sunscreen – the Philippines sun is very strong, so make sure to pack some high-quality sunscreen.
- Quick-dry travel towel – the most compact and lightweight towel for traveling.
- Reusable water bottle – stay hydrated by bringing along a reusable water bottle.
- Backpack – The Nomatic 30L Travel Pack is the ultimate backpack for everyday adventures.
If you’re interested in taking awesome photos and videos on your travels, this is the camera gear that I use and recommend;
- GoPro HERO10 – the most popular camera on the planet for action-packed adventures.
- Canon EOS R – perfect for traveling, this is the most affordable, compact camera on the market.
- DJI Mini 3 Pro – take your photos and videos to new heights with this user-friendly drone camera.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
- BOOKING.COM – search and book accommodation worldwide
- SKYSCANNER – compare and book cheap flights to anywhere
- VIATOR – find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world
- BOOKAWAY – book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance
- RENTAL CARS – search all rental cars in your next destination
- GROUP TRIPS – join one of my epic small group trips
- TRAVEL INSURANCE – purchase World Nomads travel insurance
- TRAVEL MONEY CARD – get a Wise card today for free
Looking for more? Check out my Travel Resources page for further help with your trip planning!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all about the Bohol island-hopping tour, please leave me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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THANKS FOR READING
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