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female anthers, photo taken in the Philippines

Visayas, Philippines Snorkeling Tour, 2017 Trip Report

Though I have done nearly a dozen trips to the Visayas region in the Philippines, it had been almost two years since I last visited. I was really excited to see the reefs of Leyte and Bohol and in a slight twist from our resort-based approach in the past, we chartered the luxurious Philippine Siren to take us on our snorkeling tour. What made it even more fun was that I designed an itinerary that focused on snorkeling so we asked the crew to go to places that the they usually do not have the opportunity to visit. Leyte, for example, is not part of their usual Central Visayan itinerary but they were keen to go and to see something new. The excitement from both the crew and the guests was almost too much to bear!

Sogod Bay was our first stop and snorkeling the reefs in this magnificent bay was one of the highlights of the trip. The reefs around the marine sanctuaries of Napantao and Limasawa provided us with great opportunities to see a variety of colorful corals and fish. We also had the opportunity to host the folks from LAMAVE (LArge MArine VErtebrates Research Institute) for a day. Researchers from LAMAVE have been studying whale sharks in Sogod Bay for five years and we all were happily entertained by their presentation about the results of their endeavors.

After three glorious days in Sogod Bay, we embarked to the island of Bohol to visit several of the tiny uplifted platform reefs-now islands that rest near its shores. Pamilacan, Balicasag, and Cabilao easily have some of the nicest shallow fringing reefs in the area and we explored all of them in great detail. Our tour around Pamilacan Island started with a dolphin show in the early morning when 30+ spinner dolphins came to play with our locally chartered dolphin-watching boat and continued with two sessions in the lush coral gardens in front of the beach.

Balicasag was truly the island of the turtles. We had five sightings of green sea turtles and were able to easily swim with several of them. What at treat! Though it was a bit windy in Cabilao, we still had great time snorkeling the vibrant walls and reef flats.

I cannot thank the folks from Philippine Siren and certainly the crew on board enough for their hospitality and enthusiasm to make this an unforgettable snorkeling experience for our Coral Triangle Adventures tour in the Philippines!


  • Cara Bowers says:

    It was a terrific trip, Lee!. Magical snorkeling and the boat, crew and our fellow travellers made for a wonderful adventure. Fish nerd heaven! Thanks again for all you put into it……

  • Thanks Cara! I enjoyed snorkeling with you again as well!

  • Shelly Altman says:

    Glorious is the word, Lee. Every “dive”, the diversity of habitats, our wonderful snorkeling group and crew. I still miss Shu’s wakeup calls, and I can say for sure I have never before in my life missed wakeup calls! Your cocktail hour presentations were so entertaining and informative. So thanks, and see you again next year!

  • Thanks Shelly! I can honestly say that of the many things I miss (the snorkels, the group, the fun conversations,) Shu’s wake up call falls a bit behind in the hierarchy :-). See you in Komodo!

  • Kai says:

    Wow! Totally love these photos! It looks so beautiful and stunning. That was an incredible trip you got there. I wonder when will I be able to do the same thing you guys did. Being around that close with fishes is a great thing. Wish I can try it someday!