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Christian K

Philipines/Indonesia with children?

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Anyone have any advice? All seem to have descent diving at pretty short travelling distances from resorts, good snorkeling nearby for the children. And all seem to have a couple of good resorts to chose from and they are all fairly easy to get to from Europe and similarly priced.

 

Any of the places have diving that stands out in a way or another? Anything else?

 

/christian

Edited by Christian K

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I don't recall there being any good snorkeling in Malapascua. Panglao is nice, Balicasag also has good snorkeling potential, the standby's of Anilao and Puerto Galera are also decent for snorkeling.

 

S.

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I don't recall there being any good snorkeling in Malapascua. Panglao is nice, Balicasag also has good snorkeling potential, the standby's of Anilao and Puerto Galera are also decent for snorkeling.

 

S.

 

Thank's Stu

So would your pick be Panglao/Alona of the lot? Balicasag is reachable from Panglao? Or better to stay on Balicsag? I want a place without bargirls and hookers, so I guess PG is less suitable.

 

/c

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Christian

Before you give PG the reputation of being a sleazy place, it is also a place where many families go ;). White, Little and Big Laguna beaches are very resort-like and plenty of families go there. Sabang beach is the place where you see dirty old (and young) men (caucasian and otherwise :) ) try to live it up.

How old are your children? Will you need child care? I don't know how you like to structure a holiday but I think the Philippines is better for finding a nanny than Indonesia, mainly because of the language issues. Many philipinos speak english which will help with childcare while you go diving. On Mindoro, there are plenty of excursions to keep the kids happy (waterfalls etc). It's also has plenty of different restaurants for the kids to enjoy their meals.

Panglao and the entire Bohol area is very fishy and worth diving but then depending on how old the kids are and how much diving you want to do. Balicasag is more basic. Alona has the nicest accomodations. I've stayed at the Alona (Eskaya and Palm Beach). I would not stay at Alona for pure diving because the boat rides to Cabilao and Balicasag are really long on the bangkas. Again it depends on what you want, the best diving and accomodations can be spartan or a bit of civilization but the diving is so so.

My favorite dive sites in the Bohol area are in Balicasag (great coral growth and fish life) and Cabilao (which especially has a good mix of decent pelagic and good macro. There's even sharks there once in a while.).

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Christian

Before you give PG the reputation of being a sleazy place, it is also a place where many families go ;). White, Little and Big Laguna beaches are very resort-like and plenty of families go there. Sabang beach is the place where you see dirty old (and young) men (caucasian and otherwise :wacko: ) try to live it up.

How old are your children? Will you need child care? I don't know how you like to structure a holiday but I think the Philippines is better for finding a nanny than Indonesia, mainly because of the language issues. Many philipinos speak english which will help with childcare while you go diving. On Mindoro, there are plenty of excursions to keep the kids happy (waterfalls etc). It's also has plenty of different restaurants for the kids to enjoy their meals.

Panglao and the entire Bohol area is very fishy and worth diving but then depending on how old the kids are and how much diving you want to do. Balicasag is more basic. Alona has the nicest accomodations. I've stayed at the Alona (Eskaya and Palm Beach). I would not stay at Alona for pure diving because the boat rides to Cabilao and Balicasag are really long on the bangkas. Again it depends on what you want, the best diving and accomodations can be spartan or a bit of civilization but the diving is so so.

My favorite dive sites in the Bohol area are in Balicasag (great coral growth and fish life) and Cabilao (which especially has a good mix of decent pelagic and good macro. There's even sharks there once in a while.).

 

Sorry about that, PG :)... Children are 4 and 6 and they don't speak english anyway, so that wont matter to us. Basic is fine with us as long as there's electricity to charge strobes, running fresh water and good food. And fishy is good, not that interested in critters. However it's important that the good diving isn't too far away, so perhaps Balicasag would be the best place for us. Prefferably a nice house reef, or at least something nearby.

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Hi Christian,

 

Hard to beat the proximity of the Balicasag House Reef as it's about 5 meters from shore and drops straight down.... easily hitting over 200ft in some spots. Beautiful wall dives. But, last time I was there, generator power was limited and a group of photographers plugging in their battery chargers literally blew the fuse!

 

PG as Drew said can be "clean" just stay out of Sabang Beach (dive the bay, stay clear of the beach). It's hard to beat the proximity of the PG dive sites. Stay in Small La Laguna and you'll be no more than 15 minutes from the furthest site, at the closer sites, if you take too long putting your fins when you get on the boat, you'll be late getting in the water!

 

A lot of European languages are spoken in PG, predominantly German and Dutch. Many of the expat divers there have Filipina wives that have picked up the language and you may get lucky with finding a nanny you kids understand. A top notch dive operator that I've used there for the past 10 years is the Scubaplus Dive Center www.scubaplus.com run by a German fellow, Martin, who used to be the General Manager of Atlantis Resort in Sabang....he got tired of the sleaze and moved to Small La Laguna. Ask for Rico to be your dive guide (might be difficult as EVERYONE who knows asks for Rico). I can't recommend the food highly enough at Scubaplus either. Friends who booked late on a trip with me ended up staying in Atlantis still made the trek over to Scubaplus for dinner every night.

 

Good luck! I'm envious as I won't be heading to PG till Nov. of 2009!

 

Stu

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Sorry about that, PG ;)... Children are 4 and 6 and they don't speak english anyway, so that wont matter to us. Basic is fine with us as long as there's electricity to charge strobes, running fresh water and good food. And fishy is good, not that interested in critters. However it's important that the good diving isn't too far away, so perhaps Balicasag would be the best place for us. Prefferably a nice house reef, or at least something nearby.

 

As Stu says, Balicasag is really basic, which was why we moved to the Eskaya double quick after 2 nights at Balicasag. I was there with one other photographer with various chargers. Once another 2 came, the generator was puttering in protest. Good food is definitely lacking in Balicasag. Problem with recommendations is the subjectivity. However, the nice thing about the area for kids are the spinner dolphins (S. Longirostris) which are resident.

I'd stay in Panglao at either Alona or Djolo and dive from there. Boat trips are a bit longer but I think the kids will be more comfortable. Then move to Cabilao for a few days to dive there. La Estrella was the place I stayed at and it was ok. Oh and getting there is a PITA. 2 hour car ride plus 1 hour boat ride.

Good luck.

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When we stayed at Atlantis in Dumaguete there were several children among the guests. In fact the day before we left a HUGE extended family showed up. There is a really nice pool, a long flat sand beach, and a restaurant right there on the premises. I don't know about babysitting or other child activities but they all looked like they were having a great time splashing in the ocean at the beach.

 

The diving is ok...there is a home reef, but mostly small creatures...not too many fish left. But Apo Island is a day dive, and there are other dives all within 5-10 minutes away.

 

Kathy

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Another consideration if you're travelling with kids is the additional travel time needed to get to where you're going....it's not like just landing at the airport then expecting to be at the resort within an hour.

 

In order of ease of accessibility

 

Anilao: Upon Arrival in Manila, resorts usually have a shuttle service pick you up and drop you off either at the resort or at a small beach for a quick banca (outrigger) ride to the resort, from Anilao you can arrange day trips maybe to Taal Volcano and Tagaytay Highlands (a ritzy resort area higher up in the hills)

 

Puerto Galera: Upon Arrival in Manila, most resorts will pick you up for a 2-4 hour (traffic is hell over there) ride to Lea Beach then a 30 min boat ride to the resort of choice....I STRONGLY DO NOT recommend taking the public bus system especially with kids, as Drew mentioned, there are jungle treks, waterfalls and decent snorkelling in PG. I'd avoid the Korean resorts because they pretty much cater to their customer's preferences language and food wise.

 

Bohol: You should try to fly to Mactan International (Cebu) instead of Ninoy Aquino International (Manila), this way you don't bother with switching from the International Terminal to the Domestic one. Depending on where you'll be going, you can have the resort arrange for a pick up and transfer to the interisland jet catamarans that are very comfy. You could fly to Bohol but that's additional work and the hassle of getting dive gear on the interisland routes can be a pain...if going to Balicasag, add an extra hour of boat time.

 

Malapascua, again try to fly to Mactan instead of Manila, then add a 4 hour car ride and a short boat ride to the island....no snorkelling really to speak of, dive sites are not close, Gato Island is the next closest after Monad Shoal (threshers) and that's over a half hour ride, good diving though.

 

I honestly never considered Dumagete as a great place to bring kids the beaches are black sand for the most part and there's really not much for them to do unless the resort has a pool...and when you're that close to the ocean, the pool kinda sounds dumb.

 

Stu

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If it's just you, the wife, and two kids, I think transporation will be fairly easy as long as you are willing to pay for private transfer to/from airports. All the resorts will be able to arrange a comfy van that would fit all your gear and kids safely...

 

If you have to fly and transit in Manila, it can help a little to use PAL (Philippine Airlines) for both the international leg and the domestic legs as their int'l and domestic flights share the same terminal.

 

But if your destination is in the Cebu region, best to just fly into Cebu. Not sure where in Europe you are flying from, but a lot of people prefer to fly from Europe to Hong Kong and then transit directly to Cebu, bypassing Manila. However, if you plan on going straight to Bohol, maybe it's better to fly into Manila and then fly to Bohol (Tagbilaran)

 

Quick question, and the answer might influence where you decide on. How are your kids with long car rides? 1hr? 2hr? 4hrs?

 

PG: you're looking at 2-2 1/2hrs from the airport to the boat pickup in Batangas + 1hr boat ride.

 

Malapascua - you're looking at 3 1/2-4hrs in the car (can get quite bumpy on the last leg) plus 1/2hr boat ride.

 

Panglao - whether you arrive by Fast catamaran ferry from Cebu or from Tagbilaran Airport, it's just a quick 30-40 min ride to the resorts down on Alona Beach. If you don't mind being stuck in a single resort, consider Bohol Beach Club. It's further north of Alona Beach so it's not walking distance from the restaurants and dive shops on Alona. But it has nice facilities including one of the best white sand beaches on Panglao island, very nice pool, and has numurous detached bungalows which would be great for a family. There's a small dive shop on the premises as well. Nice DM's. I was lucky enough to have the entire bangka to myself for a couple days one summer. Great drop off right in front of the resort and they will go to Balicasag and other dive spots.

 

As Drew mentioned, Alona Palms is another higher end resort that comes well recommended. And you're right in Alona Beach, so you can walk down and have access to a variety of restaurants. Nice pool and rooms there. Rooms are set back from the beach so it's pretty quiet.

 

Unless you like roughing it, I wouldn't consider staying on Balicasag Island. And really, it's just a quick 30min ride from Alona Beach. But don't miss out on diving it. Beautiful little white sand fringed island with some very interesting diving. (don't forget to look around in the shallows for interesting macro critters!).

 

Dumaguete - I've only stayed at Atlantis. Nice cozy place, great staff, and good food. They do have a small shallow pool towards the back. Black volcanic beaches but interesting place for walking along the shore.

Edited by pakman

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If it's just you, the wife, and two kids, I think transporation will be fairly easy as long as you are willing to pay for private transfer to/from airports. All the resorts will be able to arrange a comfy van that would fit all your gear and kids safely...

 

If you have to fly and transit in Manila, it can help a little to use PAL (Philippine Airlines) for both the international leg and the domestic legs as their int'l and domestic flights share the same terminal.

 

But if your destination is in the Cebu region, best to just fly into Cebu. Not sure where in Europe you are flying from, but a lot of people prefer to fly from Europe to Hong Kong and then transit directly to Cebu, bypassing Manila. However, if you plan on going straight to Bohol, maybe it's better to fly into Manila and then fly to Bohol (Tagbilaran)

 

Quick question, and the answer might influence where you decide on. How are your kids with long car rides? 1hr? 2hr? 4hrs?

 

PG: you're looking at 2-2 1/2hrs from the airport to the boat pickup in Batangas + 1hr boat ride.

 

Malapascua - you're looking at 3 1/2-4hrs in the car (can get quite bumpy on the last leg) plus 1/2hr boat ride.

 

Panglao - whether you arrive by Fast catamaran ferry from Cebu or from Tagbilaran Airport, it's just a quick 30-40 min ride to the resorts down on Alona Beach. If you don't mind being stuck in a single resort, consider Bohol Beach Club. It's further north of Alona Beach so it's not walking distance from the restaurants and dive shops on Alona. But it has nice facilities including one of the best white sand beaches on Panglao island, very nice pool, and has numurous detached bungalows which would be great for a family. There's a small dive shop on the premises as well. Nice DM's. I was lucky enough to have the entire bangka to myself for a couple days one summer. Great drop off right in front of the resort and they will go to Balicasag and other dive spots.

 

As Drew mentioned, Alona Palms is another higher end resort that comes well recommended. And you're right in Alona Beach, so you can walk down and have access to a variety of restaurants. Nice pool and rooms there. Rooms are set back from the beach so it's pretty quiet.

 

Unless you like roughing it, I wouldn't consider staying on Balicasag Island. And really, it's just a quick 30min ride from Alona Beach. But don't miss out on diving it. Beautiful little white sand fringed island with some very interesting diving. (don't forget to look around in the shallows for interesting macro critters!).

 

Dumaguete - I've only stayed at Atlantis. Nice cozy place, great staff, and good food. They do have a small shallow pool towards the back. Black volcanic beaches but interesting place for walking along the shore.

 

Thank's Pak. There's a lot of great info. Long car rides are difinetely something to consider... Our kids are pretty used to long car rides, as we routinely do 6-7 hour drives to my parents place in the south of Sweden, but I presume it's on more comfortable roads. A portable DVD helps, off course. They have both been to Thailand (the older kid twice), we have been on Ko Lanta and Ko Ngai with them, the latter is (or was) a bit more primitive, but not rough. It seems like kids seldom do have problems with spartan accomodations, parents do. And a pool isn't necisserily a good thing, concidered there's a nice beach with clean/clear water (if there's a pool, kids tends to prefer it to the ocean).

 

cheers

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For ease of travel I think Manado is much easier. Land and you're at the resort within the hour... maybe 2 if you choose the island ones. Plenty of excursions on the main island. The diving is pretty colorful but not as fishy as the Bohol area. Certainly you lose the pelagic portion. But you do get the rare orca and sperm whale sightings as they come through the migration route.

If you don't mind the travelling to Panglao, I think you'll have a good time with the family. I'd stay in Alona or near by. If you don't mind moving every 3-5 days it's better to move to each island for proximity to the better diving.

For me 30 mins is too far a trip for me on a banca.

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Hej Christian,

 

Nice to read that there is a fellow southern swedish guy on this site :-) Läget?

 

I would probably say that all these places are nice, but it depends on where you stay.

We stayed a couple of days in the Manado region doing Egyptian like day-trips to Bunaken. That was nice, but family friendly? However, a friend stayed on the Island for a few weeks and said that it was really nice and of course a lot shorter trips.

We spent a couple of days at PG in Sabang Beach on the way to Palau. The diving was nice, but Sabang Beach was not. There are probably other areas closeby that are nicer.

We did a trip combined with Malapascua, Cabilao and Panglao. I personally did not really like Panglao. There was too much Nightlife for our taste and too many divers around. I guess that I am getting old :uwphotog:

I liked Malapascua quite a lot. It had a really nice Beach and the place was a bit more laidback. Cabilao was really good for Critters, but if I remember it correctly there was no Beach.

 

/Erik

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My wife and I went to Bunaken 8 years ago. Since then we have had 2 daughters and not as much international travel. We are finally starting to emerge from our self-induced sabbatical from international travel. There was some discussion earlier this summer about taking our kids to Bali or Bunaken. They are now 6 & 3. My wife decided that Indonesia was a bit too far for a first time trip, but we are going to take them to Panama for the holidays this year. A bit shorter flying trip to see how they do. Anyway, I would not hesitate to take my kids to Bunaken or Bali. Indonesia is very family friendly, but the longer you stay, the more likely that someone is going to get sick. A lot of the resorts give big discounts or better for children. I think that they'd have a great time doing some snorkeling (putting a face mask on, at least) and playing in the shallower water.

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