Sogod Bay is So Good!
Posted 21 December 2008 - 09:48 PM
Getting there (from Singapore)
We flew with budget carrier CebuPacific, departing at almost 1am after some delays. Touch down at Clark in Manila at about 5.15am, and we hustled through immigrations and customs to catch the 5.45am ferry to Ormoc City. Thankfully the pier was only 15 minutes away by van, and traffic was light, so we made it onto the ferry with minutes to spare.
The ferry was a large modern catamaran which was comfortable and spacious and fully air-conditioned. They even screened movies on a large flatscreen (which, unfortunately, was Alvin & the Chipmunks. The helium-injected voices weren't very pleasing to someone trying to sleep.) There was also a snack counter with sandwiches and hot coffee. Overall one of my best ferry rides in Asia, since we were expecting old rickety sardine cans filled to over-capacity and threatening to capsize.
After about 2 hours, we arrived at Ormoc, and took another 3-4 hour van ride. For interests of your own sanity and to reduce the risks of heart attacks, do not sit in the front seat, and preferably keep your eyes closed throughout the journey. Sleeping is highly advised.
We finally reached Peter's Dive Resort (www.whaleofadive) at Sogod Bay just before noon. Travel time was a butt-numbing 12 hours. One way. The good news is you get to dive right away! If you're up to it. Most of us did a check-out dive at about 3pm.
Accomodations were comfortable, and pretty affordable. There is a choice between AC and non-AC rooms, and all of them came with attached bathrooms and hot showers. No brainer, there.
My friends had the "bungalow", which had cable tv, and a kitchenette with a fridge and toaster. Rooms are made and cleaned everyday, and bathrooms quite spacious. Overall one of the better dive resort accomodations I've had diving around SEA.
The resort also had a pool with a whaleshark in it!
The view from the pool
The restaurant staff was friendly and excellent. They knew the 19 of us by name on the 2nd day! We ordered our food before we went out for dives, and came back to delicious local and western food. Food costs about 150-200 pesos for a main course, which comes to about US$3-4. We thought this was a little pricey, but it seems to be the norm for diving destinations in the Philippines. This was contrasted to our big party on the last day, where we went out to town and had a large meal which featured a roasted suckling pig for only 500 pesos (a whole pig for less than US$12!) We had trouble finishing that along with the curry crab, roasted chicken, bbq prawns, vegetables, squid, and drinks.
Boat dives cost US$24, and shore dives US$20. All are guided dives. We tried to get the resort to give us tanks for unguided shore dives, but were refused in the interests of safety. The check-out shore dive at the house reef was really good, and representative of the entire dive experience. We were greeted by immensely healthy reefs, carpeted with corals of every shape and size. You hardly see any dead coral anywhere. We spotted frogfish, crocodile fish, pygmy seahorses (bargibanti) at 18m, which was great so you could snap away without worrying about your NDL.
Overall visibility during those 4 days never went below 15m, and this was even after heavy rains in the night.
Most of the dive sites are wall dives, and it's a tough choice to decide whether you want to put on the WA or the macro lens. Nudibranchs have a nasty tendency to pop up when you have the WA lens on, and whalesharks like to surprise you when you've got the macro lens. Decisions, decisions.
I felt that all the dive sites were all "very nice", but there was nothing distinctive about them. All the sites were healthy, lots of coral, good visibility, with little current. Diving at one site seemed to be the same as another, so it got a little mundane after a while.
However! There is one site that is a must-go. We were kinda miffed that the guides failed to mention to us about doing night-dives at Burgos Jetty until my friend asked about it after the 2nd day. It's a working jetty that is closed at night and only open for diving on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Since our trip had us at the resort from Friday to Monday, we already missed 1 opportunity. My friends and I are not too hot about night dives, so only 4 of us went.
I must say that it was one of the best night dives ever for me! In only 8m (25ft) of water, we found about a dozen free swimming seahorses, tons of crabs like decorator crabs, hermit crabs piggy-backing anemone, cuttlefish, stargazers, snake-eels, cute puttering pufferfish, inquisitive and cam-whoring gobies.
Anybody knows what this is? It was eyeing me the whole dive, and lived in a large boot. And definitely not camera shy at all!
Just 5cm big.
The whaleshark bit
If you're interested to see and "interact" with the whalesharks, special arrangements with the resort have to be made. It costs US$75 for the whole thing, which was well worth it. The way it works is that the trip takes the place of 3 dives if you see a whaleshark. If you don't then you get to do 2 dives that day for the US$75. This makes sense because each boat dive is US$24.
In the interests of conservation, scuba equipment was not allowed during interaction with the tiki-tiki. Strobes and internal flash were also not allowed. So we had to be content with snorkelling and free diving. Make sure you bring your sync-cord caps, because it's no fun dragging the huge rig through water with strobes that are not allowed to be fired.
It's a 45-min bangka ride across the bay in the dive boat, which was large and spacious. Comfortable enough for 19 divers and 4 dive guides. We picked up the bangka captain who represented his team of spotters, and paid the "conservation" fees and for their services. On the first day, we had 5 or 6 spotters in their little bangkas all around us. They spot whalesharks by sticking their heads in the water, pretty much like ostriches. And they are very good at what they do.
Still, whether you actually see a whaleshark or not depends on your luck. There was a group there a week before us who went out all 4 days, but failed to see any. On our first day, we had 4 separate sightings of 6 whalesharks!
I was also a victim of a hit-and-run by a juvenile whaleshark.
It ambushed me as I jumped in the water, and everyone was screaming at me. I looked down, and freaked out. The picture was taken with a 350D and 12-24 on the wide end, with no cropping. It was barely a meter away.
I managed to catch the markings of the WS as I tumbled in the wash. haha
I am definitely going back in 2009! The total cost for the 6-day trip from Singapore which included 4 days of diving (14 dives), all transfers, air tickets, food, and all accomodation came up to about S$1,200, or about US$800.
I hope this has been helpful to you, and makes you want to go there too! I feel a little regret in telling everyone about this gem of a place, because it's still relatively untouched. In the 6 days we were there, we only saw 1 other dive boat. 90% of the time, we had the entire area to ourselves. And this is during the whaleshark season!
To see more of the pictures, please visit my website at www.colouredshots.com/site/underwater.htm
Kodak disposable film camera
"I use lousy equipment. I charge very high rates."
Posted 22 December 2008 - 05:49 AM
My friends go to Sogod every year and love it. Great whale shark encounter too!
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com
Posted 01 January 2009 - 08:02 AM
The only problem I am having with this website....
I am learning of more and more places I want to go, much faster than I can ever get to them.
Posted 15 February 2009 - 01:09 AM
Posted 15 February 2009 - 07:05 PM
Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:00 AM
Jacques Yves Cousteau
Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:07 AM
Which resort between Peter's Dive Resort and sogod bay scuba resort do you
recommend in diving, room, space, food, money , service....? thanks
Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:57 AM
SLS Photography, when your images matter....
Aquatica, Amphibico, TLC, ULCS (Philippines), Stix, iTorch, Magic Filter Dealer
Philippine Dive Trip Specialist
Posted 20 June 2011 - 09:46 PM
Eileenchangs, drop me a PM if you want to know more about getting there. Personally I prefer Peter's Dive Resort.
Now my girlfriend says she wants to go in December this year. So I guess there will be a third time back there?
Kodak disposable film camera
"I use lousy equipment. I charge very high rates."
Posted 14 December 2011 - 05:43 AM
1. whale shark tour : ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/21146950@N00/...57628414449119/ )
2. wide-angle : ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/21146950@N00/...57628414405751/ )
3. Amazing Padre burgos jetty , better than raja ampat arborek island jetty : ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/21146950@N00/...57628414230505/ )
4. Macro : ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/21146950@N00/...57628413961683/ )
5. Ocean, people : (http://www.flickr.com/photos/21146950@N00/...57628414136985/ ).