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#1 Mehmet Gungen

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 02:45 AM

I am planning to visit Philippines for 2 weeks. This most probably shall be during the last week of Dec 2011 and the first week of Jan 2012.

I did not decide the exact schedule and location of my stay.

My choice will depend on a location where i can achieve the following goals:

1. Dive sites - Both macro and WA. Abundance of life - fish, coral, etc...There can be wrecks also but the main theme should not be wreck diving.

2. Dive operator with an individual approach - Individual dive planning, private dive guide, private speed boat(when needed), having not overcrowded boats etc

3. Resort - A land based high quality facility - having all the necessary amenities that should be in a luxury resort including but not limited to SPA, good food, good quality rooms, high level service, reliable internet, etc

4. Transport - The possibility to reach with no more than 2 flights plus a short boat/car ride after departing from Singapore. Individual transportation from the airport would be a plus.

Existence of hard core night life is not a necessity for us. I am not searching for the best product at the cheapest price level. I am ready to pay a price matching the level of service i will get.

In places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt i managed to achieve the above goals in my trips. I hope these are realistic for Philippines as well :-)

In the light of the above factors i would appreciate in case you would advice me which exact location/operator etc would be the right choice.

Or anything else that might be good to know while planning this trip.

#2 Alastair

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 04:09 AM

Mehmet,

I travelled to Philippines quite a bit and i recommend that a first trip to Puerto Galera as it meets all your criteria that you have listed abaove and perhaps a week in Anilao then a short hop across the channel to PG. I stay with El Galleon and dive with Asia Divers and i feel that i get a good value trip, nice accomodation, excellent facilites and good dive guides.

For PG you fly into manila and then a 2 hour or so drive to Batangas then about 40 minutes in a large Bangka and off load on the pier so easy journey.
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#3 elbuzo

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:11 AM

[quote name='Mehmet Gungen' date='Nov 16 2011, 03:45 AM' post='295176']

2. Dive operator with an individual approach - Individual dive planning, private dive guide, private speed boat(when needed), having not overcrowded boats etc

3. Resort - A land based high quality facility - having all the necessary amenities that should be in a luxury resort including but not limited to SPA, good food, good quality rooms, high level service, reliable internet, etc


Hello Mehmet

I spend 5 weeks diving around Philippines (may-june this year ) and learned that your number 2 and 3 requirements are a difficult match to be found there. I terms of u/w photography best places are :

Anilao: for rare/inusual macro stuff , some good w/a opportunities in some specific dive sites

Apo island : great hard corals scenics

Balicasag Island : great colorful panoramic reefs / school of small fishes

Cabilao : decent combination of macro and scenics

Tubbataha : only place you can see some big animals and good wall diving with big and colorful seafans . But only available certain months of the year ( i think february-june ) from liveaboard .

You can find some upscale resorts at Anilao and i think at Panglao ( from where you can dive Balicasag and sometimes Cabilao - that's a 2 hours boat trip )

Philppines is very productive destination for u/w photography specially for the amazing biodiversity you can find .

Have a nice trip

JA

#4 drako

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:44 AM

Was just in the Philippines for three weeks...Puerto Galera has night life and good diving. There are some good opportunities for macro life (pygmy and coleman shrimp) however I found it to have a lot of current and low visibility (for the Philippines). I also spend some time in Dumaguete, where they have pretty awesome muck diving but no reef scenes since all of the diving is coastal (and no pygmy's). However both of these options offer Verde island (in puerto galera) and Apo Island (in Dumaguete).

Apo island is a marine sanctuary,has a lot of different corals and is pretty healthy, water clarity was good (when I went) and you will see many turtles and sea krates.

Verde island is a small island off of Puerto Galera which offers steep walls and a ton of marine life, I heard it can get to over 100ft of visibility. I took my wide angle and got a lof of pictures of very large sea fans and reefscapes. My friends all took their macros and saw plenty of mating nudibranchs and other macro life.

Finally the last place I went to was in Cebu. I hada very nice time there, they had a great shore dive and you can dive whenever youd like. It was a compromise of the two other places.

When I get home I will scrounge up some photos of some of the different spots. I also have a good contact who can (probably) give you a discount...I dont make any money of it, just a heads up.

Also the resort in Dumaguete had a very, very nice camera room. They really cater to photographers there.

Jose

#5 Mehmet Gungen

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 07:09 AM

Finally the last place I went to was in Cebu. I hada very nice time there, they had a great shore dive and you can dive whenever youd like. It was a compromise of the two other places.


Dear Jose,

Out of these three Cebu sounds interesting since just like Manila there are direct international flights to Cebu.

Besides i like dive sites with shore entrance where you can dive whenever you want.

I believe in Cebu there should be decent accommodation opportunities also.

Any dive operator or accommodation you could recommend there?

Mehmet

#6 johnjvv

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:16 AM

Mehmet,

I was in Cebu about 2 months ago in Malapascua. It was great and my first real underwater photography trip, there were loads of macro opportunities and my first muck diving experience. I had my hands full and there were always interesting subjects to photograph....many different nudis. The island is great although quite rustic, we stayed at a resort called Tepanee which had a nice Italian although it was a bit of a pain walking to and from the dive centre Thresher Shark Divers (TSD). There are many other places to stay though. The other large dive center is Exotic however we found TSD to be more responsive and professional. The thresher shark diving was cool but you cant use a strobe.

Beside a manta and the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal, we did not see any large animals and I understood this to be due to dynamite fishing. There is a hammerhead season, believe from now to April.

From Cebu it is a 3-4 hour drive to the boat that takes you across to Malapascua, which will only cross during the day.

Talking to the Dive Masters, Malapascua is the best place to dive in Cebu and we loved the trip. I can't comment vs. other Phillippines destinations however a friend in our group whom has dived a lot in the Phillippines said that whilst it was cool to see the threshers that he would rather return to Puerta Galera than Malapascua as it was more accessible and offered better variety.

Cheers,
John

Edited by johnjvv, 17 November 2011 - 06:18 AM.


#7 drako

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 07:02 AM

Mehmet,

I was in Cebu about 2 months ago in Malapascua. It was great and my first real underwater photography trip, there were loads of macro opportunities and my first muck diving experience. I had my hands full and there were always interesting subjects to photograph....many different nudis. The island is great although quite rustic, we stayed at a resort called Tepanee which had a nice Italian although it was a bit of a pain walking to and from the dive centre Thresher Shark Divers (TSD). There are many other places to stay though. The other large dive center is Exotic however we found TSD to be more responsive and professional. The thresher shark diving was cool but you cant use a strobe.

Beside a manta and the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal, we did not see any large animals and I understood this to be due to dynamite fishing. There is a hammerhead season, believe from now to April.

From Cebu it is a 3-4 hour drive to the boat that takes you across to Malapascua, which will only cross during the day.

Talking to the Dive Masters, Malapascua is the best place to dive in Cebu and we loved the trip. I can't comment vs. other Phillippines destinations however a friend in our group whom has dived a lot in the Phillippines said that whilst it was cool to see the threshers that he would rather return to Puerta Galera than Malapascua as it was more accessible and offered better variety.

Cheers,
John


There is also pescador island which has a large sardine population (and supposedly threshers)

#8 Drew

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 07:50 AM

Mehmet
If you won't want noise, then you will want to stay away from Puerto Galera, Malapascua and all the other places that's a town. The Pinoy x'mas/new year celebration is very boisterous, with fire crackers and stuff. Plus they tend to have lead up parties to those events which are very loud.
I went to Malapascua over x'mas and they had loud music playing every night a week before x'mas, so loud we gave up trying to sleep and partied at Maldito's and the local parties until the shark dive at 5.30am then slept in the afternoon! I've also spent NYE at PG and they lit up the place but I guess it's NYE. The diving in PG is mediocre at best unless you go to Verde Island, which is very nice.
If you want good fish life and good accomodation, Bohol/Panglao is a nice place. Balicasag and Pamiclan are very fishy and the coral is very healthy. The macro isn't as good as Anilao, but not many easily accessible places are!!
I'm assuming you are catching the DME-SIN SQ flight? I'd do a week in Bohol/Panglao and another week in Anilao. I suggest flying to MNL and take the internal flights from MNL-CEB. I've never liked SilkAir and prefer SQ and Phil Air in PI because it's in the same airport for internal flights. Cebu Pacific etc you have to change airports on your way in or out, depending on your choice of flights.

Places I've stayed at in Panglao:
Eskaya: Not really on the beach, very secluded. If non diver partner, this is a nice place.
Amorita: On Alona and walking distance to a bunch of dive shops.
Ananyana Beach: Away from everything and a bit long boat ride to Balicasag.
Alona Beach: Right in the middle of Alona Beach where everything is. Can be noisy.

Dive shops: I normally dive with whomever is going to the sites I want to go to. Sea Explorers and Bohol Fun Divers are decent ops but they are all tourist trap style ops but will leave you alone to shoot. Others are about the same except for the boats. All are bangkas. If you want to go to Cabilao, I suggest you stay on the island instead of dealing with the 2 hr ride back and forth.

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#9 Mehmet Gungen

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 02:41 AM

In case I would stay at Panglao how far would be the dive sites.
JA wrote that Cabilao is 2 hours approximately.
What about closer dive sites?
Are there dive sites worthwhile diving with not more than 30-40 minutes boat ride?
Or with shore entrance?
At the moment i am focusing on Panglao since there are couple of accommodation alternatives with acceptable quality and still available during the New Year holidays.

#10 drako

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 05:21 AM

Here's a shot of Apo Island right next to the dive boat.

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Edited by drako, 18 November 2011 - 05:23 AM.


#11 elbuzo

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 07:46 AM

Balicasag is about 30 minutes trip from Sea Explorer dive center ( if i remember well ) but they don't go everyday because will always depends on the group they have .

Dive sites around Panglao are not the most productive in terms of photo opportunities but you will always find some macro subjects like thorny seahorses , frogfishes , ghost pipefishes , nudibranchs , several kinds of clownfishes , etc

JA

#12 Luko

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:29 PM

I am surprised Moalboal didn't come out often in the replies. It's only 3h car ride from Cebu city airport.
Macrowise the area is very good, lots of pygmy seahorses, nudis, shrimps and crabs of all sorts, frogfish and GPF variety as they come.
For wide angle, Pescador stands quite high, and its permanent sardine run is something to see.
I believe Savedra can provide a private guide ( I had one, at certain days I even had two competing at who was going to find the more critters) : either a villa at Cabanas beach resort or a comfortable bungalow at Turtle Beach resort would certainly comply with your requirements.
Pls have a look at my Flickr photo gallery and leave a comment.
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#13 Drew

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:05 PM

The only reason I don't consider Moalboal viable is that it's not as fishy as Bohol in terms of biodiversity. There are few if any predators on those sardines, so while the sardines are fun to shoot, it's not really a destination that's worth a week... unless the threshers are back to hit them. Unfortunately, many places are just fished out in PI.

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#14 Luko

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 02:51 AM

The only reason I don't consider Moalboal viable is that it's not as fishy as Bohol in terms of biodiversity. There are few if any predators on those sardines, so while the sardines are fun to shoot, it's not really a destination that's worth a week... unless the threshers are back to hit them. Unfortunately, many places are just fished out in PI.

Huh... we could debate on Bohol vs. Moalboal in terms of macro variety, I wouldn't be sure of the ending whereas I would agree with your conclusion that many places are fished out in the PI, and that's why Bohol didn't impress me either on this side. The downside of Panglao is for that me it is too "resorty", you have to go at least out to Balicasag to spot interesting stuff (one of the most boring dives I had in SEA was in Doljo! I thought the fish specie was extinct on the earth).
All in all I find Moalboal more convenient to go to from Mactan airport and unique from what is happening around Pescador, besides that I prefer Panagsama's village atmosphere.
Pls have a look at my Flickr photo gallery and leave a comment.
Galleries in Pbase : Ambon & Maluku, Bangka & Bali, Komodo & Maumere, Moalboal, Mabul & Sipadan.
Vanuatu incl.SS Pres.Coolidge wreck.