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If you’re staying at Alona Beach, one of the best-known beaches in central Philippines, you’ll soon hear about Balicasag. The boat tours that lead to this small circular-shaped island, fringed by a coral reef, are one of the most popular tours in the area. The reef is famous for green sea turtles watching (easy to spot along Balicasag shore), but also for its abundance of hard and soft corals.
The small Balicasag Island is located about ten kilometers southwest of Alona Beach. You will find in Alona Beach many guides offering Balicasag snorkeling trips. It is also possible to rent a boat to cross to the island, and then to book a snorkeling tour on the beach or to visit the island by yourself. If you stay in Balicasag Island Dive Resort (the only hotel on the island), transfer to the island can be arranged by the resort.
Most of the snorkeling tours sold on the island (on the landing beach) will take you to the reef close to the beach, often crowded. We advise you to cross the island instead to snorkel the western reef, less crowded and in better condition. The west coast of the island, however, can be more wavy, and snorkeling is only possible there when the sea conditions are good.
The recommended snorkeling area encompasses the coral reef stretching along the west coast of Balicasag. On this side of the island, the reef is 50 to 150m wide.
Starting from the beach, you will first snorkel a shallow reef flat (↕0.5-2m), made of sand, seagrass and small coral. The seagrass meadows are visited by green sea turtles, which come daily to feed on the seagrass. Balicasag is a good spot for sea turtles watching. At the end of the reef flat, you will then discover a steep reef drop off, which dives abruptly towards the depths (↕6-10m). The drop off is superb, covered with many types of hard (leafy, tabular, branching…) and soft coral (sarcophyton, sea lilies, sea fans…). Large colonies of purple queen anthias (pseudanthias pascalus) and red-cheeked anthias (pseudanthias huchtii) surrounds the reef. Look for sea anemones: you will see inside many species of clownfish, including pink skunk anemonefish, tomato clownfish and ocellaris clownfish. Moorish idol, sixbar wrasse, whitecheek surgeonfish and pearlscale angelfish are also easy to spot on the reef. If you like macro-life, many species of nudibranchs and shrimp are also living in Balicasag shallow waters.
Balicasag Island Dive Resort is the only resort on the island. Several restaurants are also located in Balicasag, especially along its south and east coasts.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Reef drop off with huge schools of sardines
Reef drop off with coral, colorful fish and sea snakes
Vibrant coral reef with colorful fish
Reef drop off with sea turtles and huge schools of sardines
Reef drop off with sea turtles, reef fish and barracudas
Sheltered bay with seagrass beds and dugongs
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