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Travel and diving with whale sharks in the Philippines

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Travel Story, scuba diving in the Philippines - Cebu (Moalboal - Oslob) - Negros - Bohol

Where are the Philippine Islands Negros, Cebu and Bohol?

map philippines

Map 3 of the islands, Cebu, the dive sites in Moalboal and Oslob - Negros - Bohol:

The islands from west to east: Negros - Cebu, the dive sites in Moalboal and Oslob - Bohol

folder philippines islands cebu negros bohol

Diving in the Philippines - Cebu, Moalboal and Oslob - Negros - Bohol:

The coldest water temperature measured during our dives in November and December in the Philippines - Cebu, Moalboal and Oslob - Negros - Bohol was 28 degrees Celsius. The sight at most dives was ca 8 to 30 meters, depending on the dive site and type of diving. The dive sites are located within ca 5 minutes by boat. The small and protected islands, which in general are better sites, take ca 45 minutes to sail to. Diving at for example APO Island, which is a nature conservation, obviously costs more than diving at the other dive sites. During the diving on for example APO Island, the quality, visibility and amount of coral and fish is noticeably better. Therefore, I'd like to recommend dive sites such as APO island at Negros, Pescador Island at Cebu - Moalboal and Balicasag Island at Bohol.

Dive and Travel Story - scuba diving in the Philippines on the islands Cebu, Negros and Bohol:

What happened beforehand

On Friday the 8th of November 2013 typhoon Haiyan roars with a devastating strength through the Philippines. Houses, trees, ships, etc. are shredded to pieces and catapulted into the air. A few islands are totally destroyed. Aid operations worldwide, come in action on a large-scale to help and provide the affected population with water, food, shelter and medical care.

The typhoon also made very serious damage on Mala Pascua island, where we booked 6 nights, to dive with thresher sharks. However, Haiyan destroyed all hotels in Mala Pascua, so two weeks before departure, were obliged to find alternatives, all hurry-scurry.

Thursday 21 November 20th 2013:

of Antwerp to Schiphol

After we close the door at work, we make our way to the Ibis Hotel near Amsterdam Airport, where we can park our car, free of charge during our holiday (89 EUR for the Park Sleep Fly Package). After check-in, we go for a quick nightcap in the cosy bar and look for our warm beds.

Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November 2013:

From Schiphol Airport to Cebu in the Philippines

It's about 5 degrees Celsius when we take the Ibis hotel transfer shuttle to the airport, around 9.15am. Shivering from the cold, we look forward to our warm final destination, where we can take off all our winter clothing. But, before we get there, we still have a long way to go.

Since we took a wide margin of three hours, we have time for an extensive breakfast buffet at the airport, followed by some window shopping. Since Schiphol has a huge offer, in terms of dining and shopping, we can't get bored here.

Around 12.45pm we take off with Cathay Pacific for our 11-hour flight to Hong Kong. Fortunately, it's a modern and comfortable Airbus A340, so that we have sufficient leg room and space for movement. With our individual animation program, we can choose our own film or TV program to watch. Of course, our thirstiness is thought of as well and we regularly get provided with water and fruit juice.

Despite the relatively relaxed environment, the long flight is extremely tiring and we are pleased to land in Hong Kong, so we can stretch the legs a little. We only have two hours of transit time and since our connecting flight to Cebu in the Philippines is located, all the way at the other side of the terminal, we're in a little rush. Our muddled sleeping heads are immediately awake!

During our flight to Cebu, we're again reminded of the horrific typhoon Haiyan, that destroyed a few areas of the Philippines, two weeks ago. There are a few doctor-teams on board, traveling to the worst affected island Leyte. Hats off to all the humanitarian aid!

After a short flight from ca two hours we land in Cebu in the Philippines, where we, as usual take a while to get through the immigration. Meanwhile, our suitcases have come off the baggage band. At arrivals, there's none, or we couldn't find it, ATM machine to withdraw money and hope we'll be able to find one once we're through the gate. Hoping as well, that our, in advanced reserved, transfer awaits. Once outside, searching for a sign with our name on it, in a huge crowd, takes a while, but in the end we find our driver.

Luckily, our taxi features air conditioning, because it's 29 degrees Celsius outside, but it doesn't take away the stickiness caused by the humidity. In Cebu City in the Philippines, we ask the driver to make a stop at the ATM, because we know that taking money out in less densely populated areas, could pose a problem. The ride to our final destination Moalboal goes along Cebu Island and takes a short three hours. On the road, we already see the classics: crowded vans, meagre cottages which are made of wood and corrugated sheets, lush greenery, countless scooters, etc.

Our trip has now taken a little over 24 hours and around 16.00pm, local time we arrive in our hotel Sumisid lodge, where we're kindly welcomed with a refreshing drink. Subsequently, we check out our small and basic room, in which a little more storage room would have been good. After we have taken the most necessary items out of our luggage, we're expected for dinner at 18.30pm. The Asian cuisine has never let us down and this time, as well, we're extremely spoiled. Apparently, we're the only guests in Sumisid Lodge, so all the staff's attention is focused on us.

At 20.30pm we're knackered and crawl in bed for a well-deserved rest!

philippines cebu moalboal hotel beach

Photos, Hotel diving resort Cebu Moalboal

Sunday 24 November 2013:

Lodgement in Sumisid lodge and diving in Cebu Moalboal in the Philippines

Around 8.00am, we get pampered by the ladies of Sumisid Lodge in Cebu Moalboal in the Philippines, with an American breakfast, which makes us ready for the first diving day of this holiday. Today, we've planned three dives: at 9.00am we'll visit Sampaguita, at 11.00am we go to Talisay and at 15.00pm to Pescador Island. In between, we'll go for lunch and enjoy a firm massage (300 pesos per hour).

At the diving school, we become friendly with another Filipino diver, that for a substantial amount, takes us to Oslob, the following day. Here we get the opportunity to dive with whale sharks (5000 Php for the first dive, 2000 Php for the second dive and 3000 Php to go snorkelling. Certainly, an expensive activity, but transport and the mandatory government fee (1500 Php per person) is included, so we're saved from any rip offs, on-the-spot.

Since it's a reasonable amount, we quickly drive to the centre of Moalboal at Cebu in the Philippines, to get some additional money out, but are very unlucky. One of the ATMs is out of order and the other device is not compatible with our European Maestro Card (a problem that we've encountered several times in other countries). Taking cash (EUR or US dollars) is certainly not a superfluous luxury at such destinations!

Tomorrow morning will be an early rise, so we go to bed early tonight.

philippines diving cebu

Pictures - Photos, diving Cebu Moalboal, dive sites Sampaguita, Talisay and Pescador Island

Monday 25 November 2013:

Diving and snorkelling at Cebu - Oslob at Cebu in the Philippines with Whale Sharks

Today we get picked up at 5.00am to go diving with Whale Sharks in Oslob at Cebu in the Philippines. This way, we try to avoid the large crowds, because the village is packed with tourists who'd like to see these giant fish at a close range, daily.

After a trip of about two hours, along the south-west coast of Cebu in the Philippines, we arrive in Oslob, which already has several early birds in the water. After we have set up our diving material, we straight away jump in one of the small boats, which brings us very close to the whale sharks.

We've only just entered the water and are immediately surrounded by six whale sharks which are continuously treated to tasty snacks by the local fishermen. Since the animals love these shrimp, they remain in the surroundings of the boats and make Oslob an amazing tourist attraction.

Everyone is allowed to swim, snorkel or dive with the whale sharks for an hour. In Oslob at Cebu in the Philippines there's a 100 percent guarantee that you can encounter the animals from a very close distance. In principle, you have to be at least 5 meters away, but in reality it's not always feasible, because the whale sharks approach themselves, (un)aware sometimes. Thrilling, when such a massive colossus swims upon you!

For an hour long, the snacking whale sharks are filmed and photographed (flash is however not allowed) and subsequently it's time for us to lift ourselves back in the boats. Easier said than done, as one of the whale sharks scoffs and sucks in the shrimps with open mouth and thence blocks our access to the boat. Speaking about close encounters!

At 9.15am, we enter the water for a second time and repeat the same scenario. The visibility is a little less, since there are more divers and the sun is stronger, but it remains a unique experience.

Then we drive back to Moalboal, where we arrive around noon. We have a light lunch, settle ourselves in a deckchair on the patio of our hotel and try to catch up on some sleep.

Just before the twilight arises, we decide to explore the house reef in front of the Sumisid Lodge while snorkelling. Certainly, no wow effect, but you should at least try to stick your head under water. For a night dive, however, we wouldn't recommend it.

philippines diving oslob whale shark

Pictures - Photos, diving Cebu Oslob with the whale shark

Biology page of the whale shark

Tuesday 26 November 2013:

Diving in Cebu Moalboal in the Philippines

In the morning, during our breakfast there's some heavy rainfall. Fortunately, it clears up after ten minutes and the sun slowly squeaks through the clouds again.

Just like the day before yesterday, we've got three dives on the program. At 9.00am (Pescador Island), at 11.00am (Dolphin House) and at 15.00am (White House). In between, we eat, laze, read and enjoy a last massage in Sumisid lodge.

Then it's time to mess around with our luggage and get our bags ready for our next destination. Finally, we go for a little nightcap in the local pub and enjoy our last dinner in Moalboal at Cebu in the Philippines.

philippines diving cebu

Photos, diving Cebu Moalboal, dive sites Pescador Island, Dolphin House and White House

Wednesday 27 November 2013:

Drive and the ferry from Cebu Moalboal to Negros in the Philippines

At 9.00am we get picked up at the Sumisid lodge for a journey of about 1.5 hours to Liloan, the southernmost tip of Cebu. At 11.00am we take the ferry (62 Php) to Sibulan on the island of Negros. The heavy luggage pieces get taken on board, via the steep shelf walk by the helpers (20 Php per piece). On the ferry, we meet a Fleming who's married to a Filipino and warns us to certainly not enter the Negros in the Philippines mountains by ourselves, as the local population can respond very hostile to westerners. Later, we hear we've got nothing to fear and need his accusation with a pinch of salt.

After half an hour sailing, we arrive on Negros in the Philippines, where our driver awaits and will take us to Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort Near Dauin. We first drive by the hectic student city Dumaguete and are glad that after three quarters of heavy traffic, we take an unsightly small sideway, in the direction of the coast line.

At Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort we are warmly welcomed by a German couple (Peter and Regina), which, in the absence of the Dutch - German owners, manage the diving club and the hotel. First, we get the necessary explanations about the resort, the diving opportunities and get the option to upgrade our garden bungalow to a beach bungalow (5 euro extra per night, per person). After seeing the beach bungalow, we're in no doubt and we choose for the upgrade. As these rooms have excellent bathrooms and a phenomenal view of the beach and the sea.

Philippines Negros amontillado beach diver resort

Photos Negros The Amontillado beach diver resort

After a tasty à la carte lunch, we make the room ours and go for our first dive at 14.30pm. The first dive at El Dorado is a muck dive, with a lot of great sea life to spot. This first diving experience in Negros is an immediate success and real must do!

At dusk, we enjoy with one of the most spectacular views from our terrace and slowly start to get ready for dinner. At Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort, dinner gets served daily. In the morning you specify you wishes, so groceries can be done during the day. Here you can opt from several options. Three starters, three main dishes and two desserts. The portions are rather massive, meaning that small eaters will be satisfied with only the main dish.

In addition to us, the hotel counts only three other (German) guests. Clearly low season, which in our opinion is only better!

philippines diving negros

Pictures - Photos, diving Negros, dive resort El Dorado

Thursday 28 November 2013:

Diving on Negros in the Philippines

After breakfast, we're personally greeted by Peter, the Dutch hotel owner. He's appears to be very charming man, telling us fun anecdotes about building and running a hotel in the Philippines. He also truly cares about his neighbourhood residents, organizing aid operations for the victims of the typhoon Haiyan. The neighbouring island Palawan, has fully swept away and puts in all resources in order to help them.

Today is a typical diving day, with three dives planned: at 9.00am we make our way to Atlantic Point, at 11.00am to Atlantic North and finally we will sail to the dive site Panabulon at 15.00pm. In between we again, eat, laze, read and swim a little. Nothing left to say, about this day.

philippines diving negros

Photos, diving Negros, dive sites Atlantic Point, Atlantic North and Panabulon

Friday 29 November 2013:

Diving and excursion from Negros to APO Island, a protected natural reserve

At 8.00am we take the Banka (Filipino boat) from Negros to Apo Island, a protected reserve that, among divers, is known for its beautiful corals and rich sea life. After three quarter of sailing, we arrive at the beach of Apo, where the non-divers and snorkelers, will be dropped off. As usual, we're warmly welcomed by the local population, which are all too happy to try and sell T-shirts, pareos, blankets, towels, etc. Fortunately, they don't hang on indefinitely and walk off, after being told we're not interested.

Close to the beach of Apo Island, turtles are reported are regularly, making this a very nice place for snorkelling. The branding and the slippery stones in the water don't make it any easier to get in and out the water, but it's certainly worth the effort to continue the search to the turtles.

After the first two dives, we have lunch on the boat. After, we have about half an hour to do some shopping at the local shops. We've hardly set foot on land, and already are surrounded by a horde of women, showing us their merchandise. Ultimately, we buy a dive t-shirt of Apo (300 Php) and a colourful beach sarong (300 Php).

After all, it's time to get back on board of the Banka and go for one last dive, in this magnificent dive reserve, only 100 meters from the coastline.

Finally, a bumpy boat trip, back to Negros in the Philippines, on which we're regularly splashed by the water, awaits. Returned at Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort we jump in the swimming pool as quickly as possible, to wash and rinse off the salty seawater.

philippines diving negros

Photos, diving Negros on APO Island with dive sites Cogon, Katipanan and Chapel North

As usual we conclude this successful day with a fine drink (Freaky frog fish is our absolute favourite) and a delicious meal.

Saturday 30 November 2013:

Chill-day by the pool, sea and diving

Again, a sunny day in paradise, with three dives ahead: Car wreck, Punta and Talysay. In the meantime we've created a little pattern and so, in between the dives we read, laze, jump in the pool for a swim and enjoy the beautiful landscape, etc.

philippines diving negros

Photos, diving Negros, dive sites car wreck, Punta and Talysay

Sunday 01 December 2013:

Morning dive and shopping in Dumaguete in Negros

After breakfast, we're ready for a morning swim on Mainit, a dive location near the hotel.

Philippines Diving negros

Photos, diving Negros, dive site Mainit

Since we've been told we're able to shop for some bargains at Dumaguete in Negros, we drive there with Peter and Regina around 11.00am. We're dropped off near the centrally located Lee Super Plaza and begin exploration right away. In the Philippines, the Christmas celebrations start fairly early, and so the entrance hall is packed with Christmas trees in all possible colours. The many salespeople walking around with Santa Claus heads on, in this tropical heat, is truly fascinating!

After we've walked through the lower floors quite quickly, we remain for a long stroll around the men section. Here you can find really good quality T-shirts of famous brands for very attractive prices. Unfortunately, they don't have all brands in the larger (Western) sizes in stock, but the sellers are so friendly to refer us to the other stands which have 'American sizes' on sale. We make use of this opportunity and abandon Lee Super Plaza with 8 t-shirts (at an average price of 600 to 700 Php). Women on the other side, will be fairly disappointed, because the ladies department isn't very spectacular and we don't succeed finding any qualitative clothing.

Next we satisfy our hunger with a hamburger and hot dog in the opposite Jolly Bee and take a tricycle for 20 Php (moped with indoor sidecar for passengers) to the Robinsons Mall. The most famous shopping centre of Dumaguete. This modern shopping mall has less to offer (less bargains and no large sizes available), so we're done here quickly. Fortunately, they do have an ATM machine at the exit, so that we can supplement our Peso stockage.

At Robinsons Mall there are several tricycles waiting for potential customers, so we immediately organize our transport to the hotel in Bauin, for 250 Php. The motorbike is quite noisy and the seats aren't the most comfortable, but we enjoy this authentic ride.

Once arrived in Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort we still have sufficient time to relax for a while. After, we take a refreshing shower and dig into dinner.

Monday 02 December 2013:

Excursion on Negros to the Balanan Lake, along the rice fields and sugar cane plantations

Our last day on Negros we're not diving, but give in to a modest exploration of the island. According to our hosts, the trip to the Balanan Lake is the most interesting day trip and we take him at his word.

After breakfast, we leave with the minivan of Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort for a 1.5-hour trip to the Balanan Lake, that's situated higher in the mountains. Along the way, we see some typical Filipino villages and later also the classic rice fields with water buffalos and sugarcane plantations. Just before we reach our destination, we pass a school that's rehearsing a dance with and immersive drum for some festivity. A touch of folklore is always welcome!

The last ten kilometres of the trajectory, we pass a very bumpy road, which shakes us thoroughly, but in the end, we reach Balanan Lake. Due to the low season, it's reasonably remote and we seem to be the only ones on the domain. Heaven!

At the lake, we step into a small Banka, where two peddlers take us to the other side of the water. When we get off, we still have to walk for a few hundred meters on a difficult path (cobblestones, rocks, river, etc), to ultimately reach the waterfall. Fortunately, there are a few clouds, but nevertheless, the humidity and hot climate makes us break out in sweat. During our past trips, we've seen many waterfalls, so we're not immediately impressed by the waterfall of Balanan, but then again, it's not disappointing. In that respect, we simply have been spoiled too often!

Subsequently we sail back to our starting point, where our driver awaits with lunch. Then we make a short walk to the 'tree house'. A real hut in a gigantic tree, where you effectively can book a night. Bugs and insect at your own risk.

We end our daytrip to Balanan with a refreshing dive in the nearby swimming pools, that are filled with fresh (but fortunately not freezing) mountain water. At last, we go back to our hotel where we as well, take one last dive in the swimming pool.

Our last dinner at Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort, we eat in style with a delicious 'Freaky Frog Fish' and then it's time to pack our bags for the next stage.

philippines negros balanan lake

Photos, Negros trip to the Balanan Lake

Tuesday 03 December 2013:

Drive and ferry from Negros to Bohol in the Philippines

Our last day in the heavenly Negros! After breakfast, we pack our last stuff and have some time left to relax in the comfortable patio chairs on the beach and enjoy the magnificent view of the sea. In the meantime, Peter, Regina, Peter and Silke personally come over to say farewell and wish us a nice continuation of our holidays in the Philippines.

Around 14.00pm the driver from Amontillado Beach and Dive Resort takes us to the port of Dumaguete, where we'll take the fast ferry (680 Php) at 15.30pm to the Bohol island. Unfortunately, the boat is defective and the company doesn't dispose of a replacement ship. In other words; the boat trip to Bohol is cancelled! Help, now what!? Two options. We either have to wait for the ferry to be repaired, but that may take some days, or we take another ferry to Siquijor island, to, from there travel further to Bohol. We have no choice and buy a ticket to Siquijor (140 Php per person+ 15 Php port taxes), departure at 16.00pm.

Of course, after a great discussion on the price for the luggage carrier (160 Php to carry three heavy suitcases on board), we get charged another 100 Php, once on board. This for our 'overweight' items. The trip with the relatively small ferry, runs however smoothly and after an hour we reach the neighbouring island, Siquijor.

Since our connecting boat transfer occurs from another port and real taxis in the Philippines are hard to find, we're forced to continue the trip, including all our possessions, with two tricycles. With the drivers, we're able to agree on a price of 500 Php for our ride to Larena. It's a bit of a struggle to get all the luggage on the tricycles, but after all they seem to have some experience and soon we can leave in the direction of Larena.

During the half hour ride, we chat away with our driver, but his limited knowledge of English sometimes sounds like a Babylonian confusion. In the meantime, it's become dark and so we can't see much of the landscape of Siquijo, but this island as well, seems to be very pretty.

Around 18.00pm we arrive at the harbour of Larena, where at 19.00pm a large patch of boat leaves to Bohol and Cebu. The ticket sales, runs the 'Filipino-way'. First, we write down our names and destination on a piece of paper and leave it at a picker. Then names are called out by a staff member, next you get to choose what seats you'd like (economy: sitting, standard: lying, tourist: lying + air conditioning, etc.) and then the tickets get written manually, one by one. The entire process is painfully slow.

Since we don't know the various travel classes, we opt for the Middle 'standard' class (280 Php per person) and are surprised when our places aren't just large adjustable relaxation seats, but real bunk beds, which for large westerners are even a bit too small! Hilarious! We're accompanied by the local population, who look at us weird and probably wonder why we didn't opt for the Closed Beds Room with air conditioning. Fortunately, there's enough refreshing wind when the ship starts sailing and we don't feel anything of the pressing heat anymore.

The trip to Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol, takes up a little over three hours, which means, we finally have time to relax and recover from the last hectic hours. Since most of the passengers have enthroned their beds almost immediately after departure, it is, despite the crowd of people and the number of children who are present on this ship, surprisingly quiet on board. Even the roaring, snorting and snoring happens in relative peace and quietness!

Finally, after a long and successful trip around, we reach Tagbilaran around 22.00pm. The driver of Oasis Resort is already waiting for us. Pffff, fortunately the last bit of our trip continues without any problems and we reach our hotel on Alona Beach on Panglao Island after a drive of half an hour. This is the most touristy part of Bohol.

The caring and helpful staff of Oasis Resort accompany us straight to our rooms, where we find two bottles of water 'on the house'. Our tired and thirsty bodies, deeply appreciate this! We take out the most necessary items from our bags and go straight to bed, as we've got three dives ahead of us, tomorrow.

philippines bohol oasis diving resort

Photos, Bohol

Wednesday 04 December 2013:

Diving on Balicasag Island and search for a good and cosy restaurant

This morning we are spoilt with a fairly comprehensive breakfast buffet, consisting of various egg dishes (omelette, scrambled eggs, baked eggs, etc.), toast, jams, fruit, bacon, fried rice, porridge (yak!), corn flakes, yoghurt, etc.

Later in the day, we'll be diving three dives at Balicasag at Bohol, all at different location; Divers Heaven, Cathedral and Black Forest.

In between we take the time to relax on the edge of the well-kept pool of Oasis Resort. After lunch, we're personally greeted by the Dutch manager who's very intrigued by our hectic crossing from Negros to Bohol.

When the night kicks in, we start our journey of exploration along the idyllic Alona Beach, where each restaurant holder tries to convince us to eat with them. The offer is quite large and the choice is difficult. In the end, we choose a restaurant in which we find a reasonable amount of people already. We settle down at a table on the beach and put our bare feet in the soft sand. What a wonderful feeling!

Unfortunately, this eatery invited a singer-guitarist and apparently has a very extensive repertoire, which means we're obtained to listen to him constantly. The sound is too loud, so to be understood, we have to scream to each other. The food is tasty, but the noise too much, no return!

philippines diving bohol

Photos, diving, dive sites on Balicasag Island Miscellaneous Heaven, Cathedral and on Bohol Black Forest

Thursday 05 December 2013:

Diving and lazing at the pool

It is another classic 'day' in paradise, with three dives ahead of us: Doljo Point, Gok-ang and Kalipayan.

The last few, upcoming days we'll be a little short on our Pesos, so we decide to get some extra cash out, at the ATM machine near Oasis Resort.

Later that day, the lady at the front desk of Oasis Resort, asks how much we've paid for our unforeseen transfer from Negros to Siquijor and Bohol, so that they can claim this additional expenditure from the ferry company. This is the last thing we'd expect, but consider it as a very attentive gesture of Oasis Resort. What a service!

Having more than enough cash now, we take full advantage and go for a full body massage at 16.00pm. 500 PHP for a full hour, combined with an additional half hour of foot reflexology for 200 Php. Peanuts, in comparison with what we'd have paid in Belgium!

At night, we wander along the various beach restaurants, looking for a nice meal. This time, our eyes catch an eatery which seems to be a bit more expensive, but then again offer nice rattan seats to sit in, instead of the common plastic chairs. The cocktails and long drinks contain significantly more alcohol then the ones we had yesterday and when we find out, the food as well, is super tasty, we decide this place to be our 'local pub' for the rest of our stay in Bohol. The fact that the music band plays less loud and even a repertoire that features our taste, is the icing on the cake.

Philippines Diving bohol

Photos, diving Negros, dive sites Doljo Point, gamble-ang and Kalipayan.

Friday 06 December 2013:

No chocolate, but tasty fresh fruit and diving for Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas (a Dutch-Flemish holiday), is unknown in the Philippines, so today we won't get served any marzipan, chocolate or other (Western) delicacies. On the other hand, we're spoiled with sunny weather, high temperatures and delicious fruit, that you literally, can pick of the trees yourself. Every continent has its own charms and benefits!

To go to Sea Quest, the more distant islands with stunning dive sites, we need at least eight divers, but since we're only with seven today, our last three dives will take place at the nearby diving sites Atlantic, PPB, Garden Eel. A pity and a bit annoying, but Sea Quest is intractable! As expected, these local dives aren't very spectacular, which leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

Never change a winning team and so we go back to the same restaurant at our last night. We try the flaming water fall, one of the more expensive (260 Php) cocktails on the menu, which consists of vodka, kahlua and Baileys. At the table, they finish the drink off by pouring burning Sambuca in the glass, causing a blue glow. Nice spectacle and obviously extremely tasty!

philippines diving bohol

Photos, diving Negros, dive sites Atlantic, PPB, Garden Eel

Saturday 07 December 2013:

Island Tour with visits to the Tarsiers, rice fields, river tour, Chocolate hills, butterfly garden and hanging bridge

On our last day in Bohol in the Philippines we're booked on an Island tour (2280 Php per person), via Oasis Resort.

At 9.00am we leave the hotel with our driver-guide and go inland. He introduces himself and starts speaking about the island Bohol in the Philippines, the earthquake in October 2013, that with a strength of 7.2, caused him and his family mortal fear and the extreme damage to the historic churches from the Spanish colonial past, etc. This man is obviously proud of his place of birth and wants to share his knowledge with all us.

Via the peninsula Panglao and the capital city Tagbilaran, we reach the reserve of the Tarsiers after an hour's drive. This smallest primacy in the world (they easily fits in the palm of your hand) is a night animal and difficult to spot during the day. Fortunately, our skilled guide spots two of them, pretty quickly and the creatures willingly poses in front of our lenses, with their eyes, wide open. Cuties! Tarsies owe their ears and long tail of a rat and the eyes of an owl. Like owls, they can rotate their heads 180 degrees. The guide tells us, that at the time, the Tarsier was used as a model for the character Joda from Star Wars. An awful lot of similarities are found, indeed!

philippines bohol tarsies primates

Photos, Tarsies are the smallest primate in the world in Bohol The Philippines

We continue our trip further through the idyllic rice fields, where farmers with primitive work material and water buffalos cultivate the field. On the way we see blacksmiths, who make up and forge their knives manually, children who reign palm leaves as basic material for ceilings, etc. Activities which are inconceivable in the Western world, but in the Republic of the Philippines belong to their everyday life.

philippines bohol rice fields

Photos, manually edit rice fields and thatched roofs plaits

Around noon, we arrive at the Loboc river. Here, we're going for a lunch cruise on the blue-green water. It appears to be an extremely touristy attraction, particularly attractive for Asian tourists. The cuisine of the buffet is therefore particularly tuned on their taste. Additionally, at the rear of the boat, there's a singer who again plays his corny old songs way too loud, but of course is very much appreciated by the Asian passengers. The trip on the river is nice, but we would have appreciated less loud music to enjoy the authentic nature sounds.

philippines bohol loboc river

Photos, a round trip on the Loboc River in Bohol

Then we drive to the Chocolate Hills. The main attraction of Bohol in the Philippines is a region counting 1270 pointy hills and a brown vegetation in the dry season. They look like giant Tunnock's teacakes! Due to the recent earthquake and damage, the vantage point on one of the highest hills was closed for a while, but since the 1st of December, everything is reopened. The weather gods however, aren't with us. When we start to climb the 214 steps, dark and stormy clouds hang above the Chocolate Hills and soon, the sky unlocks its massive clouds. Damn! Not now! We wait for a little while, hoping it stops raining, but the bright blue sky unfortunately doesn't return. Ultimately, the low hanging clouds create a mystical picture and atmosphere, which results in some amazing photos!

philippines bohol chocolate hills

Photos, chocolate hills in Bohol The Philippines

After the Chocolate Hills, we start out journey back to the hotel in Bohol. During the trip, we make a brief stop in a butterfly garden and walk over a large suspension bridge, which mainly consists of bamboo and only a few tensioned cables. Some bamboo planks are all cracked, but fortunately we reach the other side unscathed! During this short walk across the bridge, we get the chance to observe the local population, living in the underlying Loboc river, washing their clothes in a tub in the river. It's unbelievable, this is still possible in the twenty-first century!

Just before we return to Panglao, around 18.00pm, we are spoilt with a beautiful sunset. Such a great seen, is seldom seen!

We conclude this successful last day of the holiday in an appropriate way, with Flaming Water Falls, in our favourite restaurant on Alona Beach. After drinking a few of these, packing our suitcases subsequently runs smoothly.

Sunday 08 December 2013:

Drive and ferry to the airport of Cebu

After breakfast, we mess around with our last luggage, enjoy the last ultimate sunshine and then get driven the port of Tagbilaran at 10.40am, by the driver of Oasis resort. Here we take the Ocean Jet ferry to Cebu (800 Php per person).

This time there are no last-minute difficulties with defective vessels or other unpleasant surprises. We pay 440 Php at the terminal for our overweight luggage and then take a seat in the cool passenger compartment with air conditioning. At 11.40am the ferry leaves for a nearly two-hour trip to Cebu City. When we get off, our taxi driver is already waiting at the terminal and within half an hour, we arrive at the entrance of the international airport.

As our flight doesn't depart till 20.00pm, we have to wait for a long time. The small airport of Cebu doesn't have much to offer. There are a few shops and eateries, but in 15 minutes, you've seen it all. Sufficient lecture, notebook or other distraction equipment, is what we need!

After a short flight, we land at 22.40pm in Hong Kong, where we hop on our connecting flight to Amsterdam at 00.25am. Fortunately we travel at night, so we try to catch as much sleep as possible during this 13-hour flight.

Monday 09 December 2013:

Arrival on Schiphol and drive to Antwerp

At 6.30am local time, we arrive, with sleepy eyes at Schiphol. It's 6 degrees Celsius, so our tired bodies directly get to endure a shock. Brrr, it's so cold here! We quickly grab our luggage, take the transfer shuttle to the Ibis hotel to pick up our car and drive towards cold Antwerp.

Description of the diving and dive sites in the Philippines - Cebu, Moalboal and Oslob - Negros - Bohol:

Dive Sites Moalboal

Pescador Island diving from the south to the north along the west side 3star

Pescador Island in the Philippines is an island located a on a 10-minute boat trip from Moalboal in Cebu. Pescador has steep, but not very high walls in the south, with a plateau that of 4 to 6m deep. On the plateau, many snorkelling trips are organised. Pescador Island has a beautiful under water life, with many types of coral, soft corals and very many different reef fish. At the back the plateau it drops off straight away from 6m to 45m deep. If you dive at north-west side, you reach a maximum depth of 65m. With its plateau and drop-off, Pescador Island is ideal for diving because it offers you an encounter to maximum diversity. The visibility here goes quite far, 20m to 30m. Strong currents can be experienced, which turn some dives into drift diving. During the dives, you get to see some spectacular species, such as schools of ensis fish, barracudas, sweet lips, groupers, snappers, tuna, green turtles, scorpion fish, coral devils, mackerel, octopus, hard coral, soft corals and much more. White tip sharks as well as regularly spotted. That's why it's advised to keep an eye on the blue and depth, during your dives, to see and watch the larger fish. During our dives, we saw some slugs, but no frog fish or anglers fish as were described on the many websites. At the end of this dive, there's the Cathedral cave in the north-north-west, which is nothing more than a cavity under water and one opening. Pescador Island is without doubt the most beautiful dive location of Moalboal in Cebu.

Pescador Island Diving from south to north along the eastern side 3star

From the plateau in the south we dive into the drop-off that approximately reaches a depth of 40 to 45m. The east side is thus less deep than the west side. During this dive, there was little to no current. At the end of our dive the plateau, that's situated in the direction of the north-west only 2 to 3m deep, was completely destroyed. Despite that, it was a great dive. Some say that Pescador Island offers four different dive sites are, but if you dive for a little over an hour, you can swim a full west or east side. The side of where you start diving, is dependent on the current. When we were there, the current went from the south to the north, twice. The north of Pescador has no plateau, which makes it a little less attractive. Nevertheless, Pescador is without doubt the most beautiful place of Moalboal in Cebu in the Philippines.

Sampaguita 2star

Sampaguita is a diving site located in a bay and also the house reef from the opposite hotel of Moalboal in Cebu in the Philippines. On 5m depth there's a plateau that afterwards drops-off to 45m depth. During the dive, you come across hard and soft corals. Green turtles are regularly potted as well. On the bladder coral, we came across an achaeus japonicas, known as the orang-utan crab and porcelain crab, which are so small that if you don't know these creatures, are easily missed.

Talibay 2star

Talibay offers a light current dive, in the house reef of a hotel. The diving starts on a plateau with next to it, a drop-off to a depth of 45m. On 20m depth you can find some beautiful, hiding pygmy seahorses. The guide found an electric clam, hiding in a small cave, which resulted in beautiful light effects. A large octopus was unfortunately hiding itself in a cave, so that we couldn't take any good photos. There are also several green turtles present on Talibay.

House Reef Sumisid 1star

The house reef of Sumisid Lodge in Cebu, Moalboal is mainly visited for night dives. The coral here is pretty poor and after the plateau of 2 to 3m depth, there's another very sandy plateau on only 6m depth. Then there's the drop-off. The school of sardines, which call this place home, is the most impressive picture you come across while diving here.

Dolphin House 1star

The diving on Dolphin House starts on a plateau that will make the transition to a drop-off. The maximum depth is 45m. During your dive you see some coral, that's damaged by the anchors of boats. Due to the weather conditions, the visibility turned somewhat hazy. This reduces the chance on spotting larger fish in the blue. During our dive, we saw some tuna, a few barracudas and two turtles.

White House 1star that transfer into 2star, while the dive progresses

White House means diving on a plateau with drop-off to maximum of 30m depth. The coral on the plateau of White House is unfortunately completely destroyed. Due to the weather conditions, the visibility was up to 10m. The diving was navigated south because of the current. At the end of the dive, the coral on the plateau in the south was fortunately still in good condition. During this dive we saw tunas, a school of mackerel and turtles.

Oslob in Cebu

In Oslob in Cebu, you can dive or snorkel with Whale Sharks, in exchange for some extra costs. The soil in Oslob is pretty flat and is located at 100m of the coast line on just 6 to 7m depth. It has a very sandy bottom with here and there a rock with some life. The sun heats up the water quickly, so the visibility midday is much more obscure than e.g. the early mornings at 7 o'clock. Except for the diving or snorkelling with the Whale Shark (where you can encounter the animals from a very close distance), there's not much else to find or see for divers.

Dive Sites Negros

El Dorado 4star

At El Dorado you can go muck diving in a protected area in Negros in the Philippines. The start is quite sandy and the soil gently tilts down. From 15 to 20m depth, you'll see lots of little rocks and coral. Around El Dorado there's also a lot of fish to find. During our dive, we saw e.g. three schools of barracudas, two large hogfish, a schools of snappers, schools of goat fishes, butterfly fish, sweet lips, Groupers, coral devils and other fish which you don't directly would expect on a muck dive. There's also a small wreck of 12m. length. No green has grown in the wreck and its pretty ugly, but there's a lot of fish swimming in and around it, which is very amusing for divers. Among other things, we come across a lot of macro life, such as nudibranchs, syngnathus, sea feders, eels, anemonefish, moray eel in the cavities, Harlequin Shrimps, lizard fish, etc. The visibility was up to 10m, which is actually quite a lot for muck diving, but according to the dive guide, the sight was hampered due to the northern wind.

Atlantic Point Macro 4star

On Atlantic Point in Negros, you as well, go muck diving. The sandy soil gently goes over into the depth. On 24m depth, there are a few seahorses and frog fish on a soil which has nothing else to offer. But, if you want to see them during your dive, you're obligated to go to these sandy places as well. Although it doesn't offer very much, it's fascinating to see how the animals prefer the few sprouts and wilted aborted seaweed over tender seagrass. During the dive, you come across all kinds of small life, for which a professional dive guide is absolutely recommended. Even if you know these creatures, it's very difficult to spot them because they're easily missed. Here you'll find syngnathus, nudibranchs, tube worms, sand eels, sea feders, rino scorpion fish, winged fishing on legs, porcelain crab, ghost shrimps, etc.. Next to good eyes, you need a great photo device to be able to shoot some sharp shots. On the sand rocks, there's coral and in between you'll also find the typical reef fish. On our dive, we spotted two large hogfishes, a large moray eel and a green turtle on this location. The sight was up to 10 meters, which is quite far for muck diving.

Atlantic North Macro 3star

Atlantic North in Negros also offers muck diving, with a smooth start, slowly going down on a soft sandy bottom. The original intention here was to get to the coral field via the soil, slowly back to the surface, to eventually drift out, but there was too much small life in the sandpit. It was necessary to take multiple photos, to at least have one good shot to take home. A crab on a green leaf looks way too similar to a plant, it's difficult to photograph them and distinguish them. As well as the crabs that sat on fire coral. They are white and striped, like the fire corals itself. To me, they were two new underwater animals that I'd never seen before. A mantis shrimp was digging a little hole, from which a stone that was twice as wide, and as high as the Shrimp itself, had to be pushed out from the nest. Also, the two petal ghost flute fish and razor fish were difficult to photograph. We've come across a lot of attractions here, which made the time fly. The visibility was only 8 to 10m. The emerging wind and waves we're the most likely cause of the limited sight, but at the end of the day this is typical for muck diving and didn't result in any problems while diving, nor taking photographs.

Panabulon 1star

To see the colourful mandarin fish, you have to go scuba diving at dusk on e.g. broken coral. At a depth of 5 to 7m., the Mandarin fish come out their holes and start courting during twilight. Since mandarin fish are very lively, it's very difficult to photograph them. But their activities and courting resulted in some awesome film material. The male is larger than the female and continuously hunt on his beloved one. When you want to find them yourself, you'll have to prepare for a big search and be extremely patient. You'll also need to plan at least half the time of your dive on taking good shots. Afterwards, we went diving at the good coral, where we were able to admire Nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, walking sea stars, e.a.. As a second main attraction during this dive we got to see a blue ringed octopus. These creatures are extremely rare and, more importantly, extremely toxic. Be prepared, if you don't know what to expect when you go diving on mandarin fish, it can constitute a disappointment.

Diving on Apo Island, dive place Cogon 4star

The dive site Cogon on Apo Island always has a strong current, which results in all dives to be drift dives. Participants must therefore have quite some experience to dive on this dive site. The diving starts on a tilted reef with many soft corals, hard coral and sponges, on which you can spot many types of reef fish and other marine life. Due to the strong current, there's a big chance on spotting schools of eye jacks. Green turtles are regularly spotted, so keep your eyes open! If at the end of the dive the current decreases, you should have a look between the rocks and crevices, in which you can find and admire small life such as prawns, eels, little crabs, e.a.. The visibility during the diving was approximately 25m.

Diving on Apo Island, dive site Katipanan 3star

Katipanan on Apo Island is a dive site with lots of soft corals on a slight dissolving soil. The current is pretty mild, pushing you gently over the coral. There are very many types of reef fish and other reef life to spot, during our dive. It's a suitable place for night dives. Green turtles are found swimming and sleeping on a regular basis. Sometimes you can see large batfishes swimming in the distance, but they keep a sufficient distance so that's taking photos becomes almost impossible. The sight during the diving was approximately 25m.

Diving on Apo Island, dive site Chapel North 3star

At Chapel North on Apo Island, we dived on a sandy bottom where different types of coral grow. In the sand, you'll see a lot of eels and other bottom sea life. Sometimes, when you look around actively, you can be lucky by finding some green turtles too. Chapel North is also a place where you can find frog fish (if they haven't been driven out of their patch). The current was quite peaceful and probably a nice place for night dives. The visibility during the dives was approximately 25m.

Dauin Car Wreck Macro 3star

At Dive Resort Dauin at Negros you can go muck diving on an old car wreck. The diving starts on a shallow site, with a light dissolving sandy bottom. On 30m. depth there are two decommissioned car wrecks. On the bottom, you'll find a lot of marine life. The car wrecks have become an artificial reef, where many reef fish are found. The coral vegetation is practically non-existent.

Punta Macro 2star

Punta means muck diving without coming across anything other than sand. Yet, we found four sepias, flat fish, multiple sand eels, reef snakes, a turtle, mantis shrimps, syngnathus, a strange crab, e.a.. A freely swimming remora also kept us company nearly the entire dive. The visibility was less than 10m. The current pushed us forward, backwards, sucked in an out, but particularly pulled. It was a relatively shallow dive site.

Talysay Macro 3star

The strong wind and heavy waves in Negros made the weather previously very unfavourable. Since this dive took place in the afternoon, the sun already had had a few hours to interact with the sea water and so our visibility was limited to a maximum of 8 to 10m. Also, the dusting sand hampered the photographing, but didn't destroy our dive, because there was a lot of life to find on the coral. Both small life as larger fish and some turtles crossed our path. At this place, there were also multiple blue-yellow ghost moray or moray nose, which aren't present everywhere.

Mainit 3star

The diving on Mainit starts in Negros on a sandy soil that's softly inclined. On Mainit there can be a strong current, in this case you'd speak of a drift dive. The advantage of this is, that the strong current gives you a great chance on spotting schools of barracudas, trivalies, e.a. while your diving. Subsequently we pass a coral reef where we come across many reef fish, but also trivalies and hogfishes, as well as several nudibranchs and other small life, but these are unfortunately difficult to watch or shoot, due to the strong current. Subsequently the drift continues a small piece of sand, which is followed by an artificial reef made from truck tires. In and around this artificial reef you'll find besides little coral, again a lot of reef fish. The drift diving ends on sandy soil. Probably due to the strong wind and waves, the visibility was only 8m., but fortunately, this didn't result in real restrictions during the diving.

Dive Sites Bohol

Diving on Balicasag Island, dive resort Divers Heaven 2star

Divers Heaven in Bohol, means diving on different profiles. the diving start above coral and sand. Followed by a drop-off to 32m depth, because here you get the chance to spot a reasonably large white frog fish. 40m. depth can easily be achieved, but the bottom on this depth is gently slopping down. At the drop-off, there's unfortunately not much coral to find and the amount of fish is very meagre. Yet there was a peacock tile shrimp, who willingly posed for the photo. The dive ends on the bottom surrounded by seagrass and soft corals, where six green turtles enjoy munching the seagrass. Also, a leaf scorpion fish knew how to pose for a portrait. The visibility was up to 15m.

Diving on Balicasag Island, dive place Cathedral 2star

Cathedral in Bohol has a few obliques on slopes and notches on the drop-off. Because there's a sandy plateau with seagrass, at the diving we came across five green turtles, with one standing out with a length of at least 1,2 m. long. Furthermore, at this dive we found the three frog fish, two white leaf scorpion fish and a oerang-utan crab, but in general the presence of fish or other life in this area is rather poor. The sight was up to 12m and there were many floating particles in the water.

Diving on Balicasag Island, dive place Black Forest 3star

At Black Forest in Bohol, the diving start on a fairly flat bottom with quite a lot of coral, soft corals and reef fish, followed by a small drop-off, on which 30m is an achievable depth. On some of the drop-offs the level-difference between the plateau and the soil was only 10m. In the event of current you get the chance to admire schools of Jack fish. The diving ends on coral, sand and grass. On the shallow coral, there was a lot of reef fish, which caused movement in the water. The sight was up to 12m and there were lots of floating particles present in the water.

Doljo Point start 2star subsequently 3star

The diving on Doljo Point starts in Bohol on a sandy plateau without seagrass and on the edge of the drop-off, where soft coral has started to grow. After 5 minutes, the dive got a lot better and were we able to see much more life and coral. The fan, in the depth, with its many fish swimming around, was a great touch. The end of the dive was extra spectacular. We found ourselves on a sandy plateau which was completely covered with seaweed and we saw many pinnacles which were completely covered with coral and surrounded by hundreds of reef fish. It seemed like a landscaped garden, a unique and stunning spectacle. The depth was about 35m, with a visibility up to 15m. The water in Doljo Point, was with 29 degrees Celcius, a degree higher than the other dive sites in the Philippines.

Gamble ang 2star

Guess-ang in Bohol is a sloping plate with corals and a small drop-off. We were propelled by a gentle flow so that we could dive without putting in too much effort. A few frog fish were in a photogenic mood, and so were the macro creatures. The deepest point was about 25m and at noon we had a visibility of 12m.

Kalipayan 1star actually 0star

Diving on Kalipayan in Bohol is not recommended! The diving starts on a sandy plateau, which gently flows to a depth of 25m. Very little coral or marine life is found here. A large yellow frog fish fortunately came to accompany us, but this place didn't have to offer much more than that. The dive started with swimming against the current, but we soon had to drift back to the boat. A useless approach, which only respiratory consumed gas and didn't constitute in something fun. The sight during the diving was limited to 10m, which, most likely was caused by the bright sunlight.

Atlantis 1star

At Atlantis in Bohol, we dived on a tilting sandy soil. The dive went down to 30m. to spot muck dive creatures such as the flamboyant cuttlefish, frog fish, winged horse (Pegasus), ghost pipe fish and dragon scorpion fish. We only found the frog fish and Pegasus. Later this dive, we reached a drop-off with a beautiful, raw rock formation, but unfortunately little coral and marine life. The visibility during the dive was 15m and there were a lot of floating particles present in the water.

PPB 1star

Here we dived on a sandy plateau, with on the edge a shallow drop-off. A frog fish, some scorpion fish and an achaeus japonicas, known as the orang-utan crab were the most impressive sea animals during this dive. The visibility during was 15m and there were a lot of dust particles present in the water.

Garden Eel 1star

On Garden Eel in Bohol the dive starts on a sandy plateau with a drop-off to 20m. depth, with on the bottom ground fragments of broken coral. The name Garden Eel is excessive, because it's rather a molehill with garden eels. An electric clam, some nudibranchs, peacock scrimps, a porcelain crab and a small school of snappers were the highlights of this dive site. The sight during the diving was up to 8m. The sun probably was one of the causes for the additional fog formation in the water during the subsequent afternoon hours. There were also plenty of floating particles present in the water.

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