Dolphin watching is one of the attractions in Bohol waters. Just rent a boat with boatmen or join a group. It is a very early activity. We did rent a motorboat with two boatmen. We break out at 5 in the morning and it was low tide. Good for us to step into the boat. We were very much excited. The boatmen knows and guide tourists to the best spots to observed and see these gentle giants and playful jokers of the sea. We went to the middle of the sea from Panglao Island half way up Balicasag Island. Finally, we had the opportunity to watch groups of dolphins ....several of them.
Dolphin watching starts at around 5:30am. There are at least 10 dolphins swimming and playing but there are too many boats chasing them and scaring them away. It is amazing to see dolphins swim and play but it's not really dolphin watching but more of dolphin chasing. You might want to bring an SLR camera with really nice zoom lens so you can capture the moment. Otherwise, it is better to watch.
We arranged the dolphin watching activity with a local boat operator (P1500 for 1 boat which carries 8 or more persons, yes, that's P1500 total, compared to the per person rates you see on the other websites). Add P300 for snorkeling at Balicasag, we didn't take the extra because we were going scuba diving.
You can contact Thata - he's usually bumming around at the beach in Alona.
Dolphin watching starts early. Its for early risers meaning 5am. I suggest that you go with a group to cut cost on the boat. The only disappointing thing about it is that the boats follow the dolphins where they go and its ridiculous actually harassing them in the morning with 5-9 boats like raising who come closer! Its annoying due to the noise of gas motor and the danger of collision...I think the best is to have a huge boat that can accommodate 20-30 people, stable and just watch. I think the local government should consider this for the safety of the tourists and at the same time without harassing the dolphins and less pollution!
The tours you join for the dolphin watching starts very early in the morning, sometimes as early as five o'clock, so that you can see a lot of them during their feeding time.
If the weather is good enough and not so many waves, you can see many dolphins playing, jumping, spinning, and swimming next to and under your boat. It was really fascinating to see them in the wild, and observe their intelligent style of catching fish by surrounding a school of fish with a group of dolphin's, then tightening up the circle until the fish had nowhere else to go and would literally jump into the open mouths of the dolphins.
If truth be told, Panglao offers the best beach compared to its neighboring islands, namely Balicasag Island and Virgin Island, which you could reach via a boat. Anyway, its a nice choice to spend a day not on land but on the sea with a boat visiting several islands to swim and to snorkel and to enjoy ... :)
If you've never seen dolphins in their natural habitat, this is a "must-do" for you... but you have to wake up early in the morning to do this activity. Make sure you book it the day before and tell your boatman to go to your hotel room and wake you up.
I didn't know until we went into this trip, that dolphins have breakfast and they don't come out when the sun's high up and it's too hot. I don't know, but that's what the boatmen told us. Thus, we were at Baclayon's small pier by 5:30 in the morning, to be able to get there early. It was a while before we saw them, the small boat kept going further and further out into the open sea. The fishermen told us they usually feed early hours of the morning and then starts playing out in the sea. They were a sight to behold, school of dolphins playing and jumping next to our boat. We saw 3 different types, one type, wave it's tail, one type is called by the locals as battlenose, dives nose first, then one type shoots up in the air in a spinning manner, thus called a spinner. It was such a rewarding feeling to be there in their midst, in their own playground, the sea.
Hire the boat to the water near Pamilican island, you have to go as early as 6am to view the tens of dolphin swimming and dancing.
Go on a motor boat to chase the dolphins at dawn. Finding the dolphins would be a daunting and time-consuming task, but the view that you are about to watch at sunrise is spectacular.