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The small Cabilao island, laying a few kilometers west of Bohol, is renowned for its coral reefs, among the best in the Philippines for shore snorkeling. Still away from the pressures of mass tourism, Cabilao hosts undisturbed and easily accessible reefs where hundreds of marines species, such as anemonefish, moray eels and sea turtles are easy to see.
Cabilao is a small island near Bohol, in the heart of the Philippine archipelago. From Bohol, reach first Sandigan Island Pier (a 50km bus and taxi ride from Alona Beach). At Sandigan Island Pier, catch a bangka, a traditional Philippine boat, to cross to Cabilao (20 minutes). Once landed in Cabilao, ask a taxi to take you to Bamboo Reef Resort, in the northwestern tip of the island, which is facing the spot. If you are staying at any of the resorts in the area (at Cabilao Sanctuary Beach and Dive Resort, La Estrella Beach Resort, Polaris Beach and Dive Resort or Cabilao Sunset Dive & Beach Resort), direct transfers to the resorts from Bohol can be arranged. These four resorts are also located by the sea, with direct access to the reef.
You can enter the water from the small white sand beach facing the Bamboo Reef Resort, but also from the resorts, or from the beach extending between Cabilao Lighthouse and La Estrella Beach Resort.
Starting from the beach, you will first snorkel above a shallow reef flat (↕0.5-2m), mainly made of sandy and grassy beds, interspersed with some coral bommies. On the reef flat are living sea stars from different species, sea urchins, blennies, small moray eels and sharpnose puffer. After a hundred meters, the flat leads to a beautiful reef drop off (↕2-6m), teeming with marine life. Chocolate dip damselfish, golden damselfish and green chomis abound around hard and soft corals. Butterflyfish and angelfish come and go on the reef, where lionfish, pufferfish, and, for macro lovers, a beautiful diversity of nudibranchs and shrimps can be seen.
Several species of clownfish are also recorded in Cabilao, including the ocellaris clownfish, aka “Nemo”. Sea turtles and yellow-lipped sea krait are also common at this spot. Cabilao Island is still relatively away from mass tourism, and the reef is one of the healthiest in the Philippines. Underwater visibility is usually great, although it can deteriorate slightly, especially in the rainy season.
Four small resorts (Cabilao Sanctuary Beach and Dive Resort, La Estrella Beach Resort, Cabilao Sunset Dive & Beach Resort and Polaris Beach and Dive Resort) are set on the beach, as well as the Bamboo Reef bungalows, and some guesthouses.
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 sea turtles and colorful fish
Reef drop off with sea turtles and huge schools of sardines
Level: Free shore access
Vibrant coral reef with colorful fish
Reef drop off with sea turtles, reef fish and barracudas
Sheltered bay with seagrass beds and dugongs
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