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Best photographer diving near Manila (or easy to get to from there)?


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#1 sinetwo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 03:01 AM

Hi all,

 

I'm doing a 2 week trip to Philippines , and we're going to Anilao. But I may get macro'ed out after a week and we wanted another destination. 

 

With the exception of Cebu (as it can be a long journey), what's the best diving near Manila for photographers? We're happy to go by flight, but the diving needs to be near the airport, otherwise we may spend a whole day transferring...

 

Any help would be much appreciated.



#2 TimG

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 05:03 AM

We did Anilao and then Puerto Galera (PG) recently. 

 

It was about 90 minutes by private hire boat from Anilao to PG. Relatively inexpensive. You can leave your gear assembled and the collecting boat will bring crates.

 

From PG to Manila is an enjoyable boat ride (90 minutes approx) plus approx a 4-hour drive.

 

Maybe a bit more than you want but the diving in PG was good, with variety from macro, and getting from Anilao to PG was easy and enjoyable. The drive to Manila from the pier back on the mainland after the boat ride from PG was a bit of a drag but not over-whelming.

 


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#3 sinetwo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 09:52 AM

Hi Tim,

 

That sounds reasonable, it may be that we spend a day in Manila in deco anyway, so it's not a big deal with the 4 hours.

 

I think that's what we'll end up doing. Do you have any images from PG? Is there generally just 'a lot of fish/generic fish' to see there or do you get any cool stuff, or night diving? Like mantas, turtles, sharks etc?

 

Or perhaps the night diving in Anilao is good?



#4 TimG

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 11:52 AM

Hi sinetwo

 

We found most of the PG diving really good. First dive we had a paddleflap and a lacy rhiniopias. Some really interesting commensal shrimps, skeleton shrimps, loads of nudis. I think we may have seen a turtle or too but defo no mantas or sharks. 

 

The diving is more "reefy" than Anilao which is more black sand/muck diving. The reefs are relatively low though with the occasional small, low wall. Surprisingly good in the Sabang harbour area.

 

We didn't do any night diving. 


Tim
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#5 sinetwo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 12:37 PM

Hi Tim,

 

Thanks for the tips, I guess we just want to make sure we can use both our macro and fish eye lenses :) .

 

I guess there aren't any "easy to get to" destinations from Anilao with large pelagics?



#6 TimG

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 12:50 PM

Not that I know of, no. We had the same idea in mind but, rather like yiu, didn’t have the time for longish transfers.

There’s plenty of CFWA around if you can set up your FE for that. Straight FE could be a bit of a challenge. We had pretty poor weather and viz which made true WA a right off.

Tim
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#7 sinetwo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 12:57 PM

I see, thanks Tim. I guess we'd be happy getting a plane somewhere, but then I guess the danger is that once we land in somewhere like Cebu, it's another 3-4 hours to get anywhere...



#8 sinetwo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 01:12 PM

Actually... Looking into it, you can get to Romblon overnight, and they've got wide angle opportunities? (plus hopefully the elusive Phantom Nudi?)

 

Examples: http://www.divephoto...er-photography/

 

How to get to Romblon: https://www.pinoyadv...avel-guide.html

 

 

 

 

If you want a faster travel going to Romblon, Romblon, you may opt to take 2GO Travel's Batangas-Romblon boat. The ferry leaves Batangas Port every Tuesday and Friday at 10:00 PM. It is faster because it doesn't stop in Odiongan. Estimated travel time is about 8 hours. Time of arrival in Romblon, Romblon is around 6:00 AM the next day.

 

So I presume if we're in Anilao, that's in Batangas, and we could overnight it to Romblon - thus not really losing any travel time?

 

As you say, we're not going to get any big pelagics, but I my thought process is:

1. Is it worth going to Romblon over PG? If so, overnight it in a cabin with 2GO (20gbp)

2. If not, then just head over to PG and make life a bit easier



#9 troporobo

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 11:48 PM

If you are definitely going to Anilao, the only place you can reasonably get to from there in less than a day is PG. You can make it a really interesting day though.

If you arrange a boat transfer, as Tim said, you can plan ahead, bring tanks, and spend the day diving at Verde Island in the passage. More WA opportunity, better chance of pelagics.

I'll take issue with the description of Anilao being mostly muck diving. There are some good reefs with WA opportunities, and we see turtles every weekend, but it's true there's no big pelagics.

By the way, night dives in both places are easy to arrange and can be very productive for a macro photographer.

I have not been to Romblon so can't offer destination advice, other than to say that Anilao to the Batangas pier by car is a little over an hour on a very good day but can often be closer to 2 hours.

If I was going to fly anywhere, it would be Malapascua or Moalboal. I don't find enough additional variety in other places to give up to the convenience of Anilao or PG. With 2 weeks to spend, I'd say one of those would be worthwhile.

All this subject to the time of year of course.

Let us know what you decide!

Edited by troporobo, 22 July 2018 - 02:05 AM.


#10 frank70

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 11:52 AM

Romblon is nice , ive been there twice , but if your scared of getting macroed out you'll get microed in Romblon the stuff is smaller there , There are some nice reefs in Anilao thou !!

Frank



#11 Luko

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 01:41 PM

Balicasag is quite good for fish schools and it's only 1hr morning flight from Manila to Tagbilaran, then 20min ride to Panglao where you would stay. A month ago they even had a whale shark roaming around the jackfish school for more than a week.

Moalboal is good for the sardines school and Pescador but IMO for a couple of days, otherwise the diving is tame, same goes for Malapascua where threshers anyway tend more to be and attraction than a real dive.

 

In a week stay in the Phils I would definitely couple a week in Anilao, which is for me the number one Macro destination then 3-4 days somewhere in the Visayas and taht would be Alona/Panglao for going to Balicasag (South Leyte is anotre option but requires too much ferry).

 

Here's what Balicasag can look like

 

 

 

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Edited by Luko, 22 July 2018 - 01:42 PM.

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#12 bversteegh

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 06:54 PM

I've been to Anilao multiple times - and there is very good reef diving there as well as muck.   PG is also nice - but frankly I prefer the diving in Anilao.  Koala (in front of the ghost house - ask a local the story:) ) has very nice bommies and soft coral and often turtles - one of my favorite dives.  Several dive sites around Sombrero Island (across the channel from Anilao, but all the dive ops in Anilao will go there as a normal 2 tank dive - much closer than Verde) has excellent bommies and soft coral.  Twin rocks (by Buceo resort) has large trichnadea clams and the twin rocks have some nice wide angle with a swim through (visibility very dependent on current).  Mainit (on the point before Secret Bay) has nice rock topography and soft corals. Cathedral has good wide angle opportunities. Verde island (long boat ride) has definitely nice wide angle - but will be an upcharge for the boat ride.   I have spent 2 weeks at Anilao with 40 plus dives each trip - and never got macro burnout.  There is plenty of variety in the area - just make sure you let your dive op know what you are interested in.

 

Balicasag is also very good if you want some more variety.  There are also some nice beaches in the Cebu/Balicasag area - Anilao doesn't have much in the way of beaches.


Edited by bversteegh, 22 July 2018 - 06:58 PM.

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#13 troporobo

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 05:36 AM

I can second the recommendation for Alona / Balicasag at Bohol - it's one of my favorite destinations - for more turtles than you have ever seen on a dive and a good chance of schooling pelagics and the occasional pod of dolphins. Plus the best beach in the Philippines is Alona, never mind what they say about Boracay.  Bohol Beach Club is a very nice resort and there are many other good choices. 

 

However there is the caveat that it will take all day to get there from Anilao. You'd have to allow 4 hours to be safe (though it might be 2.5 hours) for the drive from Anilao to Manila airport, 2 hours for check-in, an hour flight, and an hour to collect baggage and transfer to one of the resorts.  It's pretty tough to make anything happen before 0800 anywhere here, so your earliest arrival would be 1600 subject to flights. Currently the last flight of the day is at 1400.  Maybe a night dive is possible the same day if arranged in advance.  Or you could leave Anilao in the afternoon - in which case a 4 hour drive is guaranteed - then stay near the airport and get the 0700 or 0800 flight the next day, allowing a half day of diving in the afternoon. 

 

Frankly, my advice would be to relax and allow some down time, with something interesting to do on land during a transit.  More often than not, things do not go to plan around this country, like most developing countries in Asia and elsewhere, especially so the further you get from the big cities.  If your happiness depends on clockwork logistics the probability of frustration is close to 1. But if you allow some space for serendipity, it may well find you!



#14 sinetwo

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 07:27 AM

Great photos by the way! And thanks for the information...

 

Balicasag is quite good for fish schools and it's only 1hr morning flight from Manila to Tagbilaran, then 20min ride to Panglao where you would stay. A month ago they even had a whale shark roaming around the jackfish school for more than a week.

Moalboal is good for the sardines school and Pescador but IMO for a couple of days, otherwise the diving is tame, same goes for Malapascua where threshers anyway tend more to be and attraction than a real dive.

 

In a week stay in the Phils I would definitely couple a week in Anilao, which is for me the number one Macro destination then 3-4 days somewhere in the Visayas and taht would be Alona/Panglao for going to Balicasag (South Leyte is anotre option but requires too much ferry).

 

Here's what Balicasag can look like



#15 sinetwo

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 07:33 AM

I think Baliasag may be a contender! Thank you all for the advise, it's been a good read so far.

 

So effectively:

1. PG: sounds like PG isn't going to offer much in the way of change over Anilao, except for possibly beaches.

2. Romblon: can get there overnight by sleeper ferry (2go), variety + even more macro

3. Balicasag: 1 hour flight + 20 transfer (could be one to go for if we wanna chill out in Manila the day/night before 

 

We're going in Sept/October, where Anilao will be fine, but what about Romblon, PG and Balicasag?

 

Thanks again.

SineTwo



#16 troporobo

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 02:10 PM

September is typically the end of the typhoon season, when storms are a possibility, tapering off in October. The further south you go, big storms are less likely.  It's impossible to predict hat far out but I'd venture that your chances at that time are good but not perfect. FWIW, I dive year round here. 



#17 dirtfarmer

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Posted 29 July 2018 - 10:11 AM

Romblon has some really rare stuff.
Melibe Colman is the standout. Spotted Melibe Engeli there also.
Overnight 2go ferry is comfy and if you like karaoke they have it.
3p resort is geared twords photographers with long dives, with low restrictions.
Food was really good too, which can be hard to find in the PI. Chef is German expat who shops the market each day for that nights dinner.