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Anilao, Club Ocellaris


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#1 gsdivers

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:05 AM

My husband and I just returned from an unforgettable dive trip to Anilao Philippines. I wanted to give kudos to the staff at Club Ocellaris which proved to be the perfect destination for macro photographers. We saw sooo many awesome and unusual critters. Their freelance dive guides Ben and Alexis are awesome and our overall experience was one we will always remember. In case you're having trouble finding a way to contact them boyv@clubocellaris.com is the way to reach the owner Boy Venus.

If you're a serious photographer, I highly recommend you rent a private boat/guide so you're not stuck with someone who may interfere with your dive experience and your dive time as the beauty of the Philippines is that you're not really limited in the time you spend on each dive.

Stephanie and Greg

#2 flipken

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:42 PM

Hi Stephanie and Greg,
I'm planning a trip to the Philippines next month. I'm debating which destination to go to: Anilao or Puerto Galera.
I believe Anilao is just south of Manilla and P.Galera just across ?
What did you mean with dive interference?
Philip
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#3 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:46 PM

I am also looking at this destination for late May early June. Was thinking about one week club O plus one week in a place with unlimited shore diving. From what I have read in older posts Planet Dive is the place to go for shore diving on twin rocks. Is it a similar price as club O? and what about Balai, it gets mentioned on wetpixel but not as much information as for Planet Dive. How do those two compare.

My buddy and I like to dive slow and long and spend lots of time searching for small stuff or watching behavior. We are looking for a place were we can spend more of our budget on diving with preference for basic accommodation, as long as it is safe. If you have actually been there your experiences would be a great help.

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#4 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 06:03 PM

Hi Bart

Twin Rocks is one of the best dives in Anilao, especially if the Jacks are around.

I'll be nearby from June 9-17, about 5 mins away.

Philip

Diving in PG & Anilao would be similar. PG is a bit further away as you need to cross Batangas Channel. Anilao is 2-3 hours out by car from Manila, PG adds another 45 mins for the crossing. More topside "distractions" in PG as you can walk into Sabang (not that I ever do), Anilao you're more restricted to your resort

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#5 Drew

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:09 PM

I am also looking at this destination for late May early June. Was thinking about one week club O plus one week in a place with unlimited shore diving. From what I have read in older posts Planet Dive is the place to go for shore diving on twin rocks. Is it a similar price as club O? and what about Balai, it gets mentioned on wetpixel but not as much information as for Planet Dive. How do those two compare.

My buddy and I like to dive slow and long and spend lots of time searching for small stuff or watching behavior. We are looking for a place were we can spend more of our budget on diving with preference for basic accommodation, as long as it is safe. If you have actually been there your experiences would be a great help.

Bart


Bart
You don't say what your budget is. Planet Dive/Balai are both what I consider to be a bit above basic rustic places, and are similar in amenities and accommodations. I haven't stayed at Balai for years, but it is a bit exposed while Planet Dive is more hidden the tree line etc. Both are built on a hillside so there are many steps to climb daily if your room is up on the higher bits of the hill. From what I remember Balai is steeper on the incline and has more steps. Planet Dive have "villas" as well which are more spacious and less rustic. PD

PD sits right on Twin Rocks and is very close to Secret Bay, the best and offers unlimited shore dives, with EAN and even twin setups. I can't remember about Balai's dive ops much, since they didn't have EAN when I went years ago. Both places have fan ventilated rooms built with wood for that natural feel and are quite basic. They do have AC rooms as well and higher up in the resort. There is no hot water in the rooms at PD, which is important for some.

Club O is quite a few miles north along the coast. It has a bit better accommodations (hot water etc) and better cell reception! It's closer to sites like Basura (the black sand muck) and Cathedral (big bommie with nice fish life).

I chose PD because of the proximity to the sites I like. I usually spend a day at Basura and a few days at sites like Sombrero etc.

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#6 flipken

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:15 AM

Drew,
I might check out Planet Dive. This would be my first trip to the Philippines. Is there any wide angle in that area? or should I just focus on macro?
Philip
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#7 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:50 AM

Thanks Drew & Stewart that is extremely helpful. I've been in contact with PD now and apparently they are renovating the villas, dormitories and some of the cottages. They told me all cottages/villas/dormitories have air-conditioning and their own toilet and hot shower. So maybe things have gone a bit upscale since you visited. Should be available by the second quarter of 2012.

I am very interested in the dormitories at PD, good price. Does anyone know which accommodations are close to the dive-op. i could use the exercise going up and down the steps but rather use my energy for all-you-can-dive if i have the choice

Are there any restaurants/shops within walking distance. Not that important to me but if there is it could be interesting to have a few non-all inclusive days to explore eateries off the resort.

Wrt budget, both club O and PD are within range but I just prefer more diving in basic accommodation over a shorter more luxurious trip. Not interested in nightlife, unless you are talking about cardinalfish, or resort entertainment and no kids to keep happy. My last trip was to the Marsa Shagra dive camp. With a house reef as good as theirs I can live for two weeks without air-co in Egypt's sweltering August temperatures. If PD has anywhere near as good shore diving then life is perfect. Actually, I have read very little about shore diving at club O. Is there any and is it good, or at least different, from PD.

Cheers Bart,

PS: Stewart, if we end up at PD while you are there we should meet up. Will be nice to meet a wetpixeler in the wild.
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#8 Drew

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:12 AM

Philip, just know that the food is pretty basic at these places. There are a few wide angle places. Coral is decent and Sombrero etc have thousands of anthias. I'd say more CFWA than genuine WA. You get the odd turtle and the resident jacks are fun at twin rocks. At Mahinit, you get the odd cuda schools and rays. Nothing major in pelagic terms.

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#9 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 03:37 PM

if you want wide angle, depending on the where the resort is, you may be able to ask for a trip over to Verde.. It's more of a PG destination though than Anilao due to distance. But Sombrero/Bahura are your best best for Wide Angle with the Anthias.

Bart, email me at stewart@stewartsy.com if you do get there. I'm booked so I will be in Solana for sure.

Stu

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#10 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

Philip, just know that the food is pretty basic at these places. There are a few wide angle places. Coral is decent and Sombrero etc have thousands of anthias. I'd say more CFWA than genuine WA. You get the odd turtle and the resident jacks are fun at twin rocks. At Mahinit, you get the odd cuda schools and rays. Nothing major in pelagic terms.


Hi Drew,

I heard before that the food a PD is rather basic and, while the accommodation and diving prices were lower than I expected, the all-inclusive option was more than I anticipated. However, my recollection from other messages is that there isn't really an alternative to the all-inclusive at PD if you don't have a car. Are there eateries within walking distance or should I just go for the convenience of the all-in-one eat-dive-sleep routine. At least they allow you to bring your own wine without corkage fee. Need to remember to pick up a few bottles in the airport :)

Bart
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#11 troporobo

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 05:28 PM

There is really no alternative to the all-inclusive arrangement in Anilao. There are no shops or restaurants anywhere near any of them. OK, for a few of the basic local-style resorts in the first 1/4 of the peninsula starting from the pier, you could in theory make your way to one of the barangays for a truly local experience, but that is not the end of the peninsula you want to be at. For most locations it is not even possible to resort-hop for a bit of variety, at least not without a car or boat, as the topography and beaches make them inaccessible along the shoreline.

Don't let that description put you off though - any of the resorts will keep you well fed even if the menu is basic. This is after all the Philippines where food is very important and you will find that they generally have two "meriendas" (more than a snack, less than a meal) in addition to three squares a day. Drinks are generally pretty cheap too, around $2 for a beer or rum 'n' coke, though a good bottle of wine is hard to find.

By the way, if your interest in lots of shore diving is driven by cost concerns, you should know that you can hire your own banca for P1200 (about US$25) plus P600 for a divemaster to take you just about any site along the peninsula proper, though some will charge a bit more to go across the channel to Sombrero or Beatrice or Kirby's. If you stay out for a couple of dives the cost of the banca may not even go up - the operators are often happy to negotiate, especially if you offer them a few days or a week of work. It's usually possible to find another pair of dive buddies to split the cost too. I don't know for sure about Club O, but most resorts don't own/operate boats or employ DMs, they all use the network of freelancers, all of whom are excellent in my experience

Finally, my full disclosure: I love Anilao enough to rent a house there, about 100m from Dive Solana, and drive down from Manila every few weeks. If any wetpixelers are planning trips, it would be very cool to meet up, and I would be very happy indeed to offer the first (few?!) cold beers on my veranda

#12 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:18 PM

It is great to get so much insider information and it only makes me look forward to this trip more. My interest in shore diving is not just financial. For the last few years I've looked and found places were you can have a mix of guided dives to explore a greater variety of dive sites plus unlimited shore diving so I can hang out for as long as I want on one place without having to worry about losing the DM. The idea that you can actually have a private DM hasn't sunk in yet and may be the best of both worlds. I am looking forward to find out.

If you happen to be over when I'm there I'd be glad to join you for a beer and perhaps bring over a bottle of wine if any are left. :)

Bart
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#13 Drew

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:40 PM

I've been in contact with PD now and apparently they are renovating the villas, dormitories and some of the cottages. They told me all cottages/villas/dormitories have air-conditioning and their own toilet and hot shower. So maybe things have gone a bit upscale since you visited. Should be available by the second quarter of 2012.

Yes well, Joey told me that when I left last year, but they were threatening that for years so I didn't want to toot before I'd seen them. I'm not interested in advertising for them. :)

I am very interested in the dormitories at PD, good price. Does anyone know which accommodations are close to the dive-op. i could use the exercise going up and down the steps but rather use my energy for all-you-can-dive if i have the choice

I've never stayed or even been in the dorms @ PD. I do remember they were located up the top of the hill but I could be wrong. There'll be at least 20m of stairs to climb to the closest rooms. If I'm alone, I usually take the room right in front of the resort that overlooks the water, but only when it's not crowded as it's opposite the restaurant and that can get noisy if I want to snooze.

Actually, I have read very little about shore diving at club O. Is there any and is it good, or at least different, from PD.

If I remember correctly, the diving is by boat only unless you want to do the house reef, which isn't on the highlights tour a lot. Speaking of dive sites, if you are hiring a boat for yourself. You may as well head on the Western side of Maricaban island, where there are a few submerged pinnacles and one site in particular that had very good life (almost Verde like) but the currents are a bitch and because of the long boat ride, tough to time it right. If get really bored with macro and anthias, and have a day to blow, I'd head out there. I haven't been in years though, so ymmv.

I heard before that the food a PD is rather basic and, while the accommodation and diving prices were lower than I expected, the all-inclusive option was more than I anticipated. However, my recollection from other messages is that there isn't really an alternative to the all-inclusive at PD if you don't have a car. Are there eateries within walking distance or should I just go for the convenience of the all-in-one eat-dive-sleep routine. At least they allow you to bring your own wine without corkage fee. Need to remember to pick up a few bottles in the airport :)

Bart

The closest town is about 40 mins away by car. I think we hit to local Pizza Hut (and even McDs!) a few times just to get away from the resort food. You can just hire a jeepney for a couple of hours and hit town for a meal and shopping. The resort can arrange that for you. If I take the villas, I usually buy a box of food from MNL and cook my supplementary meals. I usually stay in Makati a few days to see friends so I pick up some good stuff to cook as they have a fridge in the villas.

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#14 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 07:49 AM

Thanks everyone for all the help. The flight is booked and we will be diving at PD from May 25 to June 7. I will give an update on the PD accommodations/renovations when I get back.

Bart
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#15 flipken

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:12 PM

Thanks for the info
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#16 kevinmorgan

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 03:06 PM

Thanks everyone for all the help. The flight is booked and we will be diving at PD from May 25 to June 7. I will give an update on the PD accommodations/renovations when I get back.

Bart

I realize that you have only been back for 6 monthsPosted Image but, how about that updatePosted Image

#17 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:09 PM

Here's some images taken last June (2012) in Anilao. I didn't stay at Club O, stayed at Dive Solana though we did have Peri and Alexis as our guides. Images taken with either the Canon 7D or the Sony NEX-5n in their respective Aquatica Housings. Used the YS-D1's on the 7D, YS-01's for the 5n.

http://stewartsy.com...ke-coming-home/

heading back this May! =)

S.

Edited by Stewart L. Sy, 14 January 2013 - 01:11 PM.

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#18 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

I realize that you have only been back for 6 months but, how about that update


Hi Kevin,

I just posted my trip report in the dive stories & trip reports forum.

Bart
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