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DavidG

Phillipines

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Hi everyone,

I'm thinking about doing a trip to the Philippines on September October for three weeks. I have never been there but I read good review about it for underwater photography.

Does anyone has any recommendations about what are the best places for diving and underwater photography there? and what are the best flight connections to get there from the USA.

Thanks.

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Anilao I've heard is nice, look up a guy who goes by the name tankado and PM him. He should have a few suggestions. Flights, I took Continental which turned out pretty good. You wouldn't want to miss out on at least a day or two of diving the Ducom Pier while you're there.

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sept/oct you might hit the tail end of the monsoon season, more so in september.

 

Anilao rocks for UW photography. here's some photos from my last trip there:

www.ladiving.org/anilao.html

 

fly phillipine or korean air to manilla. they pick you up in manilla, then its 3-4 hours drive to Anilao.

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usual dive destinations in the Philippines I know of are: Malapascua (threshers), Moalboal, Anilao, Donsol (whalesharks!) and Sogod (whalesharks!). some people go to Boracay too for some partying, but I'm not sure how the diving is like there.

 

One possible route is to fly in to Singapore, do some last-minute shopping for electronics, scuba and photography gear, pig out on the food, then head over to the Philippines. There are many choices for airlines ranging from budget to full-service carriers. I paid about US$200+ to fly from Singapore to Cebu on a Filippino budget carrier (cebu pacific).

 

Do note their baggage policies when opting for budget carriers..15kg is not much if you're lugging dive and photo gear! We all have our tricks on sneaking past though.

 

((=

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Sep-Oct is the intermediary period between the end of the wet and start of the dry season. Sep is also part of typhoon season for part of PI. Then again, you get fewer people so you have dive sites all to yourself.

As for "best" diving, what are you looking for? Macro in coral reefs/wall ? Muck? Pelagic...errr forget this one! Wrecks? Best diving is very subjective so it's much easier to recommend if you tell us what you are looking for, esp anything in particular. Too many people have too many ideas on what "the best" diving is to be accurate.

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I dived Moalboal in October. We picked there so avoid the typhoon season that hits further north.

 

Moalboal is basic but comfortable. The coral and macro are very good but there is very little fish life bigger than a few inches.

 

So, if you want coral and macro then Moalboal is well worth a visit. For all round diving much less so.

 

Daniel

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Thanks all for your advice,

I'm planing to spend three to four weeks around the Philippines and I will love to visit as many different dive areas as possible.

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My wife and I spent 12 weeks in the Philippines this summer and visited several locations. Dauin was our favorite. Fly (or ferry) to Dumagette City. Your selected resort will pick you up there for a thirty minute drive. We stayed at El Dorado Resort and it was nice enough. I haven't been to Lembeh (yet) but I have heard the two compared. Seahorses, Frogfish, Various crabs and shrimp, octopus, and ornate ghost pipefish are common. I took my first steps in to underwater photography in the Philippines, so the results are variable. Certainly not as good as Scott in post number 3, but it wasn't because of lack of opportunity. Here is the link to my photos from Dauin: Dauin Pics on flickr

 

There were several other locations we went to that we enjoyed. Puerto Galera is not that nice of a town, but if you go with the right shop you can get some very good diving. Malapascua and Moalboal were both pretty good if you find yourself on the island of Cebu. El Nido is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been topside. It also has beautiful hard corrals in shallow water, but we found that diving didn't add a lot to just snorkeling there. If you enjoy wrecks Coron is highly recommended, but the town is horrible. My wife wasn't a fan of the wrecks and we moved on after three days. We highly recommend Camiguin for topside outdoor activities, but thought the scuba diving generally wasn't up to the standards of other places.

 

If you have a flexible schedule, go to Dauin first, as you may find you want to stay longer then you would expect. On the other hand, you may want to save the best for last.

 

The two places we missed that we will go to next time are Tubbataha (liveaboard) and Donsol (whalesharks). we were there the wrong time of year for both, and I think you will be also.

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This is my first post at wet pixel, but I just had to chime in as the Philippines is my favorite place to dive. I was there this summer and did a lot of diving, mostly on the island of Cebu, but also Anilao (so good, so close to Manila). Here's my take:

 

The absolute best diving I did was under the pier at Siquihor (sp??); get yourself to Dumagette, then ferry over. Our accomodations weren't great, but my goodness, the macro life under that pier was in-freaking-credible. Pipefish, frogfish, nudis, seahorses, juvinille batfish....I can't even remember all the stuff I saw (without getting out my pics) but I remember being so hesitant to dive there (under a pier??) and thinking afterward THANK GOD I DIDN'T MISS THAT!! I also saw mandarin fish in Siquihor, my first time! If you go there, ask around about Tata....he runs his own dive shop, not associated with any resort, and he is AWESOME!

 

Moal Boal...another macro paradise. Our family was the only divers in the resort; at one point, it was me with two divemasters in the water. I asked them why they both were coming, since I'm experienced, and they said "'cuz we don't get a lot of chances to dive with guests this time of year" (June/July). Even though they were in the water with me, I called the shots....where we went, how long we stayed under, etc. etc.

 

Bohol: we stayed on Balicasag island...and again, tons of macro and turtles. I saw pygmy sea horses here! And ghost pipefish.

 

Malapascua: the thresher sharks require you to get up at 5:00 a.m, and it's a terribly boring dive.....UNLESS YOU SEE THE SHARKS! I went three times before hitting the jackpot; but having seen something that is rarely spotted just makes me SO HAPPY. The other diving there is nice, too...the corals are in good shape, lots of fish, etc., etc. And the resort and beach were lovely.

 

Anilao: I love diving here! You hire a boatman for the day, rent your tanks and weights, and they basically follow your bubbles. If you're alone, like I have been lots of times (dh dives but we have kids who need tending to), the resort will also send a divemaster with you to be your buddy.

 

The softcoral in the Philippines is brilliant. Other creatures I see there with regularity: turtles, cuttlefish, octopuses, lionfish (my gosh, they're like the cockroaches of the sea here), every kind of clownfish imaginable, nudis I can't even find in the fish ID books, OMG, I could go on and on and on....

 

All I can say is, you better get the largest memory cards you can, 'cuz diving in the philippines is a photographers dream.

 

Marilyn in Maryland

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I have been to Puerto Galera, Dumaguette and Malapascua and I would highly recommended all these places.

 

Puerto Galera is about 2 hours drive from Manila and 45 minutes boat ride. All the dive sites are within 1-15 minutes boat ride from most resorts. The first time I went there, there were incredible amount of nudis, pygmy seahorse, Coleman's shrimps, Stargazer, seahorse etc a few sharks. The resorts are not 5 stars but comfortable, decent food. Asia Diver is a very good operator there. However, 2nd trip I went was not quite as good however.

 

Dumaguette, we flew from Manilla and El Dorado Resort picked us up at the airport. At that time, the pier was closed to diver but just doing beach dive from in front of the resort is quite amazing, ghost pipe fish, flaming scallops, candy crabs, frogfish. There are a few other sites along the same beach within 2 minutes boat ride that had seahorse, lots of nudis, mimic octopus, bluering octopus, cuttlefish, mandarinfish etc. Apo Island nearby is also well worth the visit.

 

Malapascua is nice and easy but a bit of a travel. From Cebu, there is a 4 hours car ride and a boat ride to the island. After 2 morning dives, I saw a glimpse of a thresher shark and that's it. Mandarinfish here was giantic. There were also bluering octopus (on a night dive that I skipped :D ) and decent number of macro stuffs. Drew told me that there were Coleman's shrimp there but I did not see any!

 

Some people really like Donsol for whale shark however you can only snorkel there and water is more green than blue. Viz has not been all that great, judging from all the pictures I have seen but a friend who went there told me that viz was excellent when he was there and it is a good chance to see lots of whalesharks. Never been there myself though.

 

I heard that Boracay is a very nice resort town with good beach but diving is just so so. May be a good spot at the end of long dive trip to just relax.

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