Lembeh vs Anilao
Posted 20 September 2013 - 08:55 AM
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Posted 21 September 2013 - 12:17 PM
Given 8 trips to Lembeh over the past 10 years and 2 to Anilao here are my comments:
Today, Lembeh is a far cry from what it was 5, 10 years ago. Excessive diving pressure is now evident and fish trappers are working the area. 4-6 weeks ago the first rhinopeaus was seen in 4-5 years.
Anliao is now better in the Dec -April time period, but as the water warms in May and later the critters head deep.
Notwithstanding the preceding, you will not go wrong with either location.
If it is so easy every one would be doing it!
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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:28 AM
Lembeh, probably has a slightly higher density of critters. But Anilao is so much easier to get to, and the viz is generally better, and better wide angle. Anilao has the greater variety.
Not to take anything away from Lembeh, but Anilao/Philippines has the most friendly people I have ever met. And the level of service is top notch.
In the future, my return ratio is 3:1 in favor of Anilao.
And...since you haven't been there, I would give Anilao a try.
Hope that helps.
Posted 22 September 2013 - 02:13 PM
I'm both biased and ill informed, since I have a house at Anilao and I have not been to Lembeh. What I can say is that the macro opportunities at Anilao have kept me busy for years, and there is enough variety to do other kinds of diving when I get tired of that. For even more variety you can combine a trip to Verde Island and/or Puerto Galera pretty easily too. The only thing you won't find near Anilao is big pelagics. December is a good time for diving as the habagat (wet windy season) will be finished and the ambient temps still relatively cool. Finally, there are lots of resorts at all price points (search the threads) and it is cheap to hire your own banca and guide for the day so you don't have to go with a larger group if you don't want to. I'll get to Lembeh some day but I don't feel that I am lacking for opportunity here.
Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:52 PM
I have been to Lembeh, Anilao and Tulamben numerous times. Last month I dove Tulamben and the Liberty wreck and was disappointed. A big storm hit Tulamben this past winter burying many coral heads and the critter count was down. My wife and I prefer Anilao over Lembeh Straits, both have great macro, but Aniao is a day of travel from the States versus two days to Lembeh. This past spring our critter count at Anilao was 189 different critters.
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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:06 PM
Having spent way too much time in Indo and PI, I think the one has to go by the type of critters at each location. Both locations are great diving areas. However, as diversity goes, Lembeh has more critter diversity (for eg. Syngnathidae species etc) than Anilao (or most other places for that matter). As mentioned, Anilao has white sand/pebble and more normal coral reef type critters. Lembeh is famous for the volcanic dark sand critters. Some of the critters like octopuses are adept in both. In Secret garden in Anilao, we had 8 species of rarer octopus (Wunderpus, Mimic, 2 types of Blue ring, Mototi, white V etc) in one dive on certain days. Of course, Lembeh has alway been great for the little hairy octopus too, and in my trips there since 94, a whole lot more.
Which brings me to the point that everyone's opinion is based a brief anecdotal period. As we all know, life is cyclical and it is very possible that often hitting a location on the down cycle gives a bad impression of the area. I've had my unfair share of the wrong end of the life cycle. Moon phases, seasons, weather, anthropogenic influences all factor in.
Another point that you may wish to consider is that time of year you are choosing is also close to X'mas and New Year. The Pinoys culture is very big on x'mas celebration, many areas have noisy parties leading up to X'mas day and New Year. Fireworks and even gunfire aren't uncommon.
Another thing is that in Anilao, the dive boats are bangkas, which aren't comfy, eco or fast, and getting in and out with that small ladder and high hull can be tough for some. Still the bangkas are run by local fishermen, who then respect certain NFAs. So the dive sites are somewhat protected from overfishing by the dive industry. Lembeh is in the process of being declared a MPA but that seems a long way still.
All said, if you've never been to Anilao, it'd definitely worth a visit. Just know that late Dec is party month for the Pinoys. It's pretty quiet if you choose resorts neared Mahinit. Beware of the weekend dive crowd from Manila in Anilao. Lembeh gets a similar influx but nothing like Anilao. The more famous black sand dive site of Basura because pretty zoo like during weekends.
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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:58 PM
Having been to lembeh more than anilao i would say i prefer lembeh especially since i travel out of singapore. silkair flies to manado and gives 30kg check in for divers so that's a big boost.
i also prefer the general topography of lembeh compared to anilao in terms of photography. I find photography easier there compared to anilao. also i feel lembeh is ahead in terms of guides as they started out in the macro game first. you generally have very good guides in lembeh while anilao can be hit and miss. any new and exciting critter also tends to be found by lembeh/indo guides first as well before those in philippines.
that being said, anilao is great as well as the comments above have shown with many plus points. just my personal preference.
Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:02 AM
We have been to both places on multiple occasions. The macro/critter life is excellent at both places, and it is true that Anilao is easier to get to from the states. However, in my opinion, Lembeh has the edge in terms of resort quality, conditions, critter density - and especially (sorry, Dustin) wide angle sites. There are sites along the edges of the Strait and the backside of the island that are phenomenal, and there are a couple of nice shipwrecks in the Strait, as well. Steve Williams wrote an article on WP recently about returning to diving after a medical issue, and he posted lovely images as well as a trip video that demonstrate some of Lembeh's W/A.
Note - this is a matter of opinion - I know many divers who love Anilao and return often!
Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:56 AM
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