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Hi

Just came back from 3 weeks or so in the Philippines. Had a really fab time! GF and I are not exactly experienced divers, but we're a bit more so now! "Firsts" for us were - backroll entries, descent by bouyline in current, SMB deployment, 1st dives over an hour etc. We also took our Nitrox courses and then dived with Nitrox for the rest of the holiday.

We would like to say a big "Thank You" to some people who helped us to have such a great time, both underwater and topside. We first went to Sogod Bay Scuba Resort on Southern Leyte for a couple of weeks. Both Ron and Phil, the owners, are great guys who have a very well-run little resort, with great staff, good food, clean rooms - all in a lovely setting. We were totally blown away by the diving here - the coral is the best I have seen anywhere - and all alive and healthy! There is an abundance of fish, both in numbers and species - we saw some really unusual ones here! Southern Leyte is somewhat off the beaten track so to speak, but this only adds to it's charm and desirability as a dive destination in my opinion. They also run whaleshark trips across the bay - a long ride in the boat, but totally worth it - when we did the trip we saw 7 or 8 - videos to prove it! According to Phil, they have had a 100% success rate this season - it runs from Dec to April apparently - and I can well believe him!

We were very well looked after here and really felt at home. One of the highlights of the time we spent here was the night dive at Padre Burgas Pier. I guess you would class it as a muckdive of sorts - it doesn't look exactly awe-inspiring if you see it in the day, but once you are in the water ( difficult entry!) it is fabulous! We saw 4 species of lionfish, cuttlefish, nudis, coneshells, coralshrimp etc. They also regularly see stargazers here, but we weren't lucky enough to see one on the dive that we did. Also worthy of note was the fact that we used our Lidl torches on this dive - they performed admirably, with more than enough light to see by but not enough to disturb the marine life. Later on in the holiday we took them to 30m and they still work - so that £8 we spent on them wasn't entirely wasted!:eek:

For me though, there were three divesites that were out of this world - Napantao fish sanctuary - for the sheer abundance of fish, Buenavista for the acres and acres of totally untouched beautiful hard coral and Limasawa - for everything!

All too soon it was time to say farewell to Southern Leyte and we moved on to Alona Beach on Panglao, south of Bohol. It was a bit of an epic getting there, but well worth the trip! We stayed at a lovely little place called Flowergarden Resort which is set well back from the main beach and the nightlife - we like a bit of peace and quiet and Alona Beach is a bit of a party place, not too loud, but a bit too much for us! The Flowergarden is run by two nice Swiss guys, Hampi and Erwin. It is a nice clean little resort with a nice little pool and lovely gardens. The accomodation is not really 5*, but at $18 per night, it's a bargain! There is also a lovely little Swiss bakery 100m down the road - what is it with the Swiss - they get everywhere! ( I said to GF who is also Swiss!!!)

Alona Beach itself is a 1km or so stretch of white sand with resorts and hotels, restuarants etc. running along the front. There are loads of dive operations there and lots of divesites within easy reach. We dived with Sea Explorers - they have two operations here - we used the "new" one, near Coco Vida, more or less central on the beachfront. We were lucky to get Eriko, a Japanese lady as our guide, and for the time we were there we dived as a trio with Eriko leading. We felt very privileged! The shop itself is new, with nice clean rinse tanks and a great kit room. They have a very slick operation here I would say, run by Felix, who is also Erikos' boyfriend. ( Another Swiss!)

The diving was different to Southern Leyte in that we saw many more pelagics. The coral here is great, but Southern Leyte is better I would say. Loads of fish here too, with some really unusual ones - pygmy seahorses ( which we also saw in S. Leyte), three types of frogfish, banded pipefish, pegasus fish, lots of other different pipefish, leaf fishes - the list is too long to mention! I also swear I saw a Mola Mola at Black Forest on Balicasag! I was the only one who saw it and despite the ribbing I got from Eriko I still stand by that! It was a smallish one, maybe a metre long, above and to my right and swimming away at about the 10 O'clock position. I have seen enough in videos to know that it was a Mola and not "some sort of triggerfish" as Eriko maintains..............;)

Black Forest - an epic dive that deserves a trip report all of it's own! Apart from the probs I had on this dive - current ripping off my mask etc.:eek:, we saw a turtle the size of a small car ( exageration!), a huge shoal of bigmouth mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, more nudis that you could shake a stick at, large bluefin jack patrolling the reef edge and the best thing of all was the shoal of bigeye jack - must have been 100's of them- all swirling around us and then following us as we zoomed along the wall - magnificent!

All in all I have to say that the Philippines is a wonderful place - the people are the friendliest that I have ever met anywhere in the world and the number of species and sheer abundance of marine life and coral is unbelievable. This may seem like a shameless plug for both Sogod Bay Scuba Resort and Sea Explorers in Alona Beach - it is! We had a fab time, dived with and met lots of lovely people from all over the world - you know who you are! - and we both became better divers to boot! If anyone needs any info please feel free to pm me - I lurk around once or twice a week on the board. Have also posted this on DN.

Jeff ( & Susi ! )
 

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Hi Jeff, great report sounds like you had a ball. I am thinking of going out next year to quietly escape 40th birthday, however Mr Enzo has years of experience diving compared to my meagre 70 dives. You mention pelagics - are there any drop offs? Wrecks at all?

Thanks in advance :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello mrs e!

If you have 70 dives, thats more than Susi and I - I have 62, Susi has 51. There are plenty of drop-offs, both at Southern Leyte and the Alona Beach divesites. There is the wreck of Whaleshark1 - the original dive boat from Peters'Dive Resort, which is next door to Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, which was where we stayed. It's next to the Max Climax dive site in front of SBSR. It's a bangka style boat - 20 diver size? We never saw pelagics at Sogod Bay, but we did see the whalesharks..................also an American friend of ours dived with the whalesharks and saw a Manta! ( He showed us the video.........) He also had a couple of pics of a white tipped reef shark he saw, but he was a bit deeper than us and we didn't see it. Sogod Bay is absolutely brilliant for corals, reef fish, turtles, unusual fish and nudis. We didn't see any pelagics though, although there may be sites where they can be seen, we didn't dive them. We did see an enormous Golden Trevally on one dive. If you email Ron or Phil they will be able to tell you more. ( They reply really promptly to emails, but remember the 8hr time difference.)

At Alona Beach, we saw pelagics as detailed above at Black Forest, and also Bigeye jacks in a big swirling shoal at Tawala Sanctuary - this was also a very good divesite with lots of big reef fish as well. Oh yeah, and on the Black Forest dive I also saw two huge groupers, but to get close we would have had to swim upcurrent which was impossible. Black Forest is a drop off with black coral being seen as high as 25m. There is also another bangka wreck here called Kalipayan - similar in size to the SBSR one. This is a very interesting site as it was here that we saw pipefish of several varieties, pegasus fish, leaf fish and lots of other wierdos!

I think if it's wrecks you are after then Coron in the Philippines would be a good bet, and if it's pelagics I think Malapascua might fit the bill, not that I have been to these places, but we did speak to divers who had. I really liked the Philippines and we will go back next year, probably to do Alona Beach again and definitely Sogod Bay Scuba Resort - we will probably have a longer trip next time as it is so reasonable costwise - if we do we will probably try to get a week on either Siquijor or Cabilao, both reachable from Panglao.

Jeff
 

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Thanks Jeff, really helpful will email before we go so that I can plan which places to stay. You say it is fairly inexpensive - is it best to fly and then sort out accommodation/diving? Do they have liveaboards out there? Many thanks in advance!:teeth:

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mrs e

I would book the accomodation in advance as it can get busy depending on the time of year. There are liveaboards to Tubataha Reef ( Think I've spelt that right!) For flights, go to Philippines Islands Connections - you can get flights to Cebu or Manila from the UK with a variety of airlines - should be £500 per person, but book early to be sure of getting the best deal - they are also all with scheduled airlines so you should get 30kg per person in economy...........£500 per person to Cebu - don't think you can do it cheaper, and they are very helpful people there as well!

Jeff
 
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