Alona Beach and diving at Balicasag Island

I took a trike from Tagbilaran around sunset and had a great view the whole way! I arrived at Moon Fool’s Hostel without a reservation but they had space. A pod in a nicely air-conditioned room cost 625 per night and it seems like a nice place.

I made a beeline for Alona Divers dive shop to sort my booking for tomorrow and I used their WiFi to pay over PayPal (signal is a bit poor here). The Balicasag dive trip tomorrow costs 3,600 Pesos (£54) for two dives but it is pretty exclusive (150 divers per day – sound like a lot but there are literally 60 dives shops here sharing that).

Then I had a beer at Woody’s bar on the beach.

For dinner I visited Alona Hidden Dream, a food court with a huge amount of choice. It’s not overly pricey but it’s not market prices. I had a Penang Seafood curry and it was delicious (and also really spicy!). The curry and some rice cost 275 Pesos (£4.15).

Dive Day at Balicasag Island

I arrived at the dive shop at 8am after a really nice light breakfast (included) at my hostel.

It was pretty quick to sort my gear, although other people had to wait a long time. We didn’t leave until 9am for the boat so there was time for a coffee. A French couple, Elody and Jeremy, that I dived with in Coron were also on the trip and in my group.

The boat ride was about 40 minutes and I got talking to an Israeli girl called Oren about all things travel.

At the dive site we got a quick briefing from the dive master.

The first site, Diver’s Heaven, is a steep slope and a bit of a drift too. We descended to the reef and immediately found turtles eating the sea grass. Then we went over the drop off and had a relaxing drift along the slope, finding lionfish, angelfish, butterflyfish and damsels along the reef, with mackerel and red toothed triggerfish out in the blue.

We came up onto a plateau and were confronted with an underwater tornado of jackfish. It was crazy. At times they blocked out the light just like a passing cloud.

Our dive lasted for over an hour, which was awesome. It’s nice diving in a small group of advanced divers.

We had an hour on the surface and were given a little bit of delicious pineapple and some watermelon then we jumped back in at Black Forest.

This site is another slope/wall dive and we dove to 25 metres to visit a tiny pygmy seahorse. It was another relaxing dive with turtles.

I saw a remora swimming along by itself which was cool. Usually they are attached to sharks or turtles when I see them.

I saw a few more lionfish including two swimming along. They remind me of the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Carribbean, with ragged sails. Oren says they look like dementors. Definitely a cross between the two.

It was another chilled out hour-long dive and then our journey back to the beach felt like a shipwreck waiting to happen. The captain seemed to be pushing to get back quickly and when the bow went under the waves (for the umpteenth time), a coil of nylon rope washed over into the sea. I’m fuming. How could it not have been tied to the boat or stowed somewhere safe?!

For lunch I returned to Alona Hidden Dream so that I could have a green mango salad as a late lunch.

Then I walked up to Nuat Thai Massage and had a full body Swedish massage. Their pricelist is outside so here it is (correct December 2018).

I met Oren and Marieke at The Buzzz Cafe on the beach for dinner. It’s owned by the Bohol Bee Farm and almost everything is grown at their site nearby. I had the honeyglazed chicken served with red organic rice and organic garden salad recommended to me so I went with it and ordered a cassava lumpia (spring roll) to start. The spring roll was delicious! There was a lovely peanut sauce inside and some delicious cheese too! The honeyglazed chicken was an excellent recommendation too – there was plenty of chicken, the rice was nice and the salad was gorgeous! My bill came to 410 plus a 10% service charge (which goes directly to the farm staff), 451 Pesos (£6.77) and I even got a free scoop of their farmmade ice-cream because our bill was over 1,000 Pesos in total.

We went for a drink at the Reggae Bar and met one of the other divers from today then we all strolled to the bakery to pick up lunch for tomorrow.

At 8am today I showed up at the dive shop for the Doljo Point day trip but they didn’t get enough divers to go so it’s just local dives today and I decided I’d rather get going now so I’m getting a trike to the ferry port.

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