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Bill22
01-25-2009, 07:38
I haven't posted here in a while. Seems there is an interest in the Philippines and I see a few of my friends here from other boards :-)

I thought I would re-post a report that I've posted on a couple of other forums about my trip to Anilao last June. Hope ya'll like it and if I can help with any questions don't hesitate to contact me.

This report was originally posted June 16th, 2008, on another board....

Just got home to Japan yesterday afternoon from a two week trip to the Philippines. This trip was spent diving Anilao and Puerto Galera. In all I did 36 dives starting with a night dive at Koala Reef on the 1st of June right after I arrived in Anilao and ending with a morning dive on Dungeon Wall on June 11th in Puerto Galera.

I gave my new Nikon D300 a workout coming back with over 2300 photos recorded in Large (4288 x 2848) JPEG Fine. I worked with two 4.0 GB SanDisk Ultra II CompactFlash cards. Each card would hold over 300 photos recorded at this setting and would usually get me through at least 2-3 dives.

I’m using an Ikelite Housing and an Ikelite DS125 substrobe. I can’t even begin to describe how nice it is to have TTL flash again! Now I can go back to focusing on my photos and not have to split my attention as I make estimates on manual exposure!

I took my Canon A630 with me along with the housing as a backup, but used it mainly for above water shots as I didn’t like removing my Nikon from the housing while on the boat if I could avoid it. Many of the above water shots, especially if they were taken from the boat were taken with this camera.

Just before the trip I opted to purchase a PhotoBank from SmartDisk SmartDisk Products (http://www.smartdisk.com/staticpages/PhotoBank2.asp) rather than carry a laptop. With enough space for up to 40 gigs of photos, this looked like it would be a good, lightweight and inexpensive alternative to the pain of carrying a laptop or the expense of purchasing additional compact flash cards.

This ended up working pretty well, the only problem being that without a reader, I didn’t get to view my photos other than reviewing them on the camera screen until after I got back. Last night after downloading all my photos to my computer here at home, I discovered that I had somehow gotten the two cards mixed up one morning and had inadvertently cleaned one card without downloading the photos first.

This was particularly painful as that particular series of dives (my first in Puerto Galera this trip) included a couple of images I would have paid money to enter into a photo contest! They included perhaps the best moray shot I’ve ever taken and a total of five frogfish (three different types) one of which I had a nice shot with my guide checking it out. I know, I know…. you’ll just have to take my word for it

I’ve decided this morning that I’m not going to slit my wrists over it, but I’m still definitely a little depressed about it

I’ve said before that I would talk a little about the process I go through when I plan my trips.

First comes the toughest part…. Deciding where to go! My favorite destination being the Philippines which with over 7100 islands; having the second largest reef system in Southeast Asia; and being part of the center of biodiversity for the entire world, makes for some tough choices!

Anilao has always been on my list of dive destination in the Philippines since I first started seriously researching the diving there a year ago. Although, I had dived in Puerto Galera last year when I returned to scuba diving after a long layoff, I had always wanted to go back so that I could do a more in-depth exploration of the area. They are close enough together to do both in one trip with a minimum of time lost to travel.

These two areas lie on different sides of the Verde Passage which was described in a joint study between the American Smithsonian Institute and the World Conservation Union as being the “center of the center for the worlds marine biodiversity”. What this means in practical terms, is that you will find more marine species in a smaller area than you will in any other marine environment on the planet!

Of course this doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other places and each destination always has something unique about it. Places, like Yap, Chuuk, Bikini Atoll, Hawaii, Galapagos, Papua, New Guinea, Fiji, Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea from Australia, Thailand, Wakatobi, Sipadan, Bali, Red Sea, South Africa….. (it’s a very long list, I know and it‘s only a partial list at that ) all have things that make them unique and are all places that I want to dive some day. Both Malapascua Island and Moalboal, places I've dived previously in the Philippines have things to offer that Anilao and Puerto Galera do not, and vice-versa.

That is part of the beauty of travel and of diving. For me personally, it is the feeling of discovery that I experience. The opportunity to see the beauty of this planet, the chance to meet new people, try new things… I’m sure many of you who are reading this, know exactly what I mean.

For the moment though the Philippines remain my number one choice for a variety of reason including the ones I’ve stated above and my current proximity to the Philippines. Having said that though, even if I lived in the US now, I would still consider the Philippines as one of my top choices for a diving vacation.

I do the majority of my research online. I’ll look at the area, what types of dives are there, what I can expect to see. I utilize the discussion forums online as there is nothing like getting the experience of someone who has actually been there or who already lives in the area that you are considering traveling too. I also look at costs… what I can expect to pay for diving, what I can expect to pay for a place to stay, etc… so that I can start working up a budget for the trip.

Once I have a rough idea of where I want to go, I start pricing plane fare. I normally go to Expedia www.expedia.com and get their price first. Then I go to at least two travel agents and get their best price for the dates I want to travel and the airline. Then I pick the best price.

I have frequent flyer with Philippine Airlines. I purchased their Sports Plus card which gives me an extra baggage allowance. With my dive gear and camera equipment, I need it! An important thing for people coming from the US to remember is that standard baggage allowance in this part of the world is only 20 kilos (54 lbs) and 10 kilos (22 lbs) for carryon. You can rent gear fairly inexpensively in a lot of places though, so that is also an option. It’s all about where you want to spend your money and what you feel comfortable with. That is very subjective.

My last two trips to the Philippines, I’ve made firm plans for the beginning of the trip and left the end of the trip more or less open. This gives me some flexibility. My last trip, I extended my stay in Malapascua and ended up switching my plans to Moalboal for the second part.

This trip I wanted to have flexibility mainly because of concerns about weather. If you come during Typhoon season, you have to be prepared to make adjustments (same as travel in the Caribbean during Hurricane season) . After hearing that weather had been known to bring ferry service to a halt for up to 3 days, I didn’t want to get stuck over in Puerto Galera.

This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t come during the rainy season. Plenty of good diving still going on, and as I like to say, “it doesn’t rain underwater” During the off-season is also when you can find some of the best deals on diving and accommodations and it is definitely much less crowded. As it turned out, I had beautiful weather the entire two weeks that I was there. I seem to be lucky that way

(to be continued)

Bill22
01-25-2009, 07:44
I was at Narita airport in Tokyo in time for a 9:30 AM departure. The flight to Manila is 4 hours and 45 minutes. After arriving on time at 1:15 PM. I processed through Immigration, picked up my bags and was waived through Customs. I found my driver from Club Ocellaris. We were on the road by 2:30.
Rather than take a bus, I decided to opt for a driver to Anilao. I paid $75 US for this. This turned out to be a good idea as I don’t think I would have made it in time to get in a dive that night. Traffic in Manila always seems to be heavy, although there can be lulls. I think by the time I would have gotten a cab to take me to the bus station, gotten to Batangas City and then gotten a jeepney to Anilao, and a trike to Solo where the resort is, it would have been very late! Going direct in this case was the way to go.

We were at the resort in about 3 hours arriving around 5:30 PM. Club Ocellaris, like many of the resorts in the area is built on the side of a very steep hill going down to the water. My bags were carried to my room. While settling into my room and getting unpacked, there was a knock on the door. A young woman who’s name turned out to be Joanne was standing there and asked if I wanted to dive that night. I laughed and said, “that’s what I came for“. She asked what time, I asked for 15 minutes to get ready and she said she would let the divemaster know. 15 minutes later I went down the very steep steps to the equipment area near the water and there I met Peri Paleracio.

Peri has an engineering degree and has worked with the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines. An award-winning underwater photographer in his own right, he’s been diving Anilao for over 10 years. He has his own photography business in Manila, but comes to Anilao every year during the season to guide and work with institutions doing work and research in the area. He also has had the opportunity to work with some of the top underwater photographers in the world, many of whom come to Anilao on a regular basis.

We had a short conversation about my background and experience, he asked me if there was anything in particular I was looking for and what type of shot’s I was looking to get. A discussion about the photo equipment I was using and we were on our way. He let me know that the resort catered to underwater photographers and that I would not have any restrictions placed on me. My gear was loaded on the boat by the boatmen, Buddy and Jeremy who it turns out are brothers, and we were off for my first dive at Koala Reef. At 6:22 PM, less than an hour after arriving, I was in the water starting my first dive.

To be continued….

Bill22
01-25-2009, 07:49
Koala is south of Eagle Point and was about a 10 minute boat ride from the resort. It’s made up soft and hard corals along with some very big rocks. It gradually slopes down to a sandy bottom at around 80 feet. I’m told there usually isn’t much current and it makes an idea night dive. I ended up making two dives here. One on the 1st and another on the 2nd.

The first night as I said we were in the water at 6:22. Water temp was 85F and visibility was as far as my light would reach, which meant over 50 feet. Beyond that it was hard to tell.

I almost immediately spied a nudibranch and was delighted to see that it was one that I did not have a photo of. I took several photos. Then a few of some brightly colored feather stars (crinoids) and then my camera stopped working

I cursed myself immediately as my first thought was that I had been getting close to a full memory card and I had allowed myself to get in such a hurry to get in the water, that I had forgotten to change it. Then I turned off the camera and continued the dive... what else could I do

Of course this meant that I would have a great dive … among other things I didn’t get to take a photo of was a very nice Warty Frogfish (a small juvenile), a few more species of nudibranchs, various crabs, fish, etc… Plenty of life down there, and I wasn’t getting any photos…. but I would get to make it up a little the following night.

After a short 46 minute dive where I had a maximum depth of 76 feet, we returned to the boat and headed in.

On the way in Peri mentioned that Roger Steene was staying at the resort. For those who perhaps don’t know, Roger Steene is a world famous underwater photographer from Australia. People like Stan Waterman have referred to Roger as being the best underwater macro photographer in the world. He has 11 books. His coffee table books Coral Reefs-Natures Richest Realm (1990) and Coral Seas (1999) are perhaps his two best know works. His Coral Reefs books have sold over a 100,000 copies. I recognized the name immediately as Reef Fish Identification-Tropical Pacific which he is a co-author of, is a book I have myself.

When we got back to the resort, I went up grabbed a quick shower and then went down for dinner. There I met Roger who turned out to be a very down to earth guy who had no end of stories to tell. Here is a guy who has been diving since the 50’s. He’s dived all over the world. Any place I could think of, he could tell me about the diving there. He was also very free with helping my with my own photography and offering advice. One of the nicest guys you could want to meet.

The conversation at dinner every night was very enjoyable for me. It was nice to sit and discuss photography, often going into technical details I hadn’t thought about in years since leaving photography behind in 2001. Roger and Peri both had great stories to tell. Roger said in his opinion that Anilao had some of the best diving in the world. He comes every year there to work for three to four weeks. Coming from someone who had dived pretty much everywhere, I think that carries some weight! Not that other places weren’t worth diving, but for sheer diversity, there was no other place like it!

A little about the food. I said to Peri towards the end of my stay that I should have written down the menu as I went. Peri said that it wasn’t Filipino food per se, but was based on it. There was always rice. There would be soup every night for the first course, always something different. Then the main course would be brought out. Vegetables, fish, chicken, beef. For desert, there would be fresh fruit or cake, or ice cream, always very good.

Joanne’s husband August was the cook and I have to say, it was excellent. The menu seemed to change everyday and the service was the best that I’ve experienced in the Philippines, maybe anywhere. Joanne always seemed to be there to fill my glass when it was empty or to clear my plate to bring out the next course.

After diving Bethlehem, Kirby’s Rock, and Darilaut the next day with Peri and Roger, Peri and I went back to Koala Reef. Me hoping that this time I was going to get a photo of the frogfish.

This dive started at 7:10 PM and lasted 62 minutes. Maximum depth this time was 74 feet and water temperature was again 85F. Visibility also again was as far as my light would shine, 50-60 feet plus.

The dive started off with my getting a shot of a Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray. Roger had suggested earlier in the day about getting shots showing the huge variety of colors and I found myself often following this advice, ending up with photos with the most incredible colors from the huge variety of corals, anemones, and feather stars.

On into the dive along with the usual variety of fish, Peri pointed out two nudibranchs right near to one another. Chromodoris willani they turned out to be. Then there was a little red octopus, then an anemone crab, two lionfish together, a wide assortment of corals, sea pens, a prawn, squid, another new species of flatworm (I’m still working on identifying), porcupinefish, another nudibranch (Halgerda carlsoni), another as yet unidentified nudibranch, a flathead, another nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa), and another nudibranch, another anemone crab, a hermit crab, another new species of flatworm, a huge pufferfish inside a barrel sponge, another crab I haven’t identified yet, another new nudibranch, a huge crab, and an hour had flown by. No sign of the frogfish from the night before, but my air supply said it was time to go up!

To be continued….

Bill22
01-25-2009, 07:54
My first morning I was up at 7AM. After a quick shower, I went down to a hot breakfast. The food was always good. Eggs, in the morning, bacon, ham, rice, juice. You also had your choice of coffee, tea, hot chocolate if you liked. Fresh fruit in the morning, mangoes, watermelon, the food was one of the things I would really miss about Club Ocellaris.

This was the usual pattern for the week. Up early for breakfast and then we would try to be on our way to the dive site by 8-8:30 AM depending on what site we were going too.

We had decided the night before to take a lunch and head down to Caban Island and do three dives before coming back in the afternoon. We would dive Bethlehem, Kirbys Rock and Dari Laut which were all fairly close together and then come back to the resort for a long break before the night dive.

I ended up doing 2 morning dives at Bethlehem during my time in Anilao. One on the 2nd and another on the 3rd. Bethelehem was only about a 30 minute boat ride from the resort and is on the southern end of Caban Island across the Maricaban Strait. There was a small cove there where we could anchor in shallow water, about 15 feet deep. It was a fairly steep slope with plenty of hard and soft corals, crinoids, sponges, etc... down to around 50 feet where it became more of a sand and coral rubble bottom. Lots of color here Here and there you could there were outcropping of coral including one with a huge barrel on it. Visibility was 60-70 feet both days.

The first dive we were in the water and the dive started at 8:32 AM. I was out at 9:31 for a 59 minute dive. My maximum depth was 56 feet. Some nice nudibranchs, an interesting flatworm of a species I had never seen, clouds of fish, anthias, basslets, cardinalfish, some nice anemones and clownfish, puffers, juvenile striped catfish, and a white-eyed moray. A very nice dive When Roger came on he said he had seen a nice ornate ghost pipefish and we made plans to come back the next day to see if we could find it again.

My second dive the following day was more of the same, but this time there was a fairly strong current. Was in the water at 8:27AM, but with the current, burned through my air pretty quick and was done at 9:08 for only 41 minutes. Still it was a nice dive. Another white-eyed moray (may have been the same one, although it was a totally different location) more reef fish, and more nudi's, basically a repeat of the previous day, with the exception of the ornate ghost pipefish, which we did end up finding

On my first full dive day there on the 2nd we dived at Kirbys Rock after Bethlehem. We went over and anchored and waited for the slack as the current was running strong when we got there. It's important for this entire area to have someone who is experienced in the local diving conditions who understands the currents and the tides.

Kirbys Rock is off the northeast side of Caban Island. On the shore side it's about 15 feet deep. On the other side it drops down as a wall to a depth around 70 feet and then more gradually bottoms out over a 100 feet down. Lots of corals here, sea stars, crinoids, sea cucumbers, and nudibranchs. I saw a few lionfish, and Peri found a nice ghost pipefish. There were reef fish everywhere... all and all a very nice dive. We were in the water at 11:41AM just in time for the slack. My maximum depth was 92 feet and my dive time was 49 minutes. Visibility was easily 75 feet plus.

To be continued.....

Bill22
01-25-2009, 08:02
On June 3rd, my second full dive day we went to Bethlehem again for the morning dive where current was running fairly strong, for our second dive there. For our second dive of the day we went to Balanoy which was a short (maybe 10-15 minute) boat ride away from Bethlehem. We tied up to the shore, Peri broke out snacks, (which he always seemed to have ) while we spent our surface interval swapping stories about some of the places that we had dived. Peri with over 2000 dives throughout the Philippines, had lots of stories and of course Roger having dived all over the world for the last 50 years had a few too


From the shore Balanoy slopes off and down. The bottom is sand and coral rubble, broken up by little outcrops of rock and coral often covered in crinoids. You can go very deep here if that is what you want. At a 112 feet this ended up being the deepest dive that I made in Anilao. It continued to slope down and we could have went much deeper. We went through a rather distinct thermocline about 60 feet down. Water temp dropped to 81F. Visibility was 60+ feet.

You had to look out for urchins, especially in the shallower depths. Lot's of life, which was the norm not just in Anilao, but pretty much everywhere I've dived in the Philippines. That's one of the the things I can say about diving in the Philippines compared to other places that I've dived. For sheer bio-diversity I have yet to dive anyplace better. Not to say other places aren't good, just that (at least so far) the Philippines are better

Lots of damselfish, especially it seemed the Neon Damsel which I see here in Japan also in the summer months. A small school of coral shrimpfish came by, swimming in a vertical position. It's always interesting to me how they do that and all with apparent perfect synchronization. I spotted and photographed two filefish swimming together. I had never seen this particular species of filefish before and have been unable to identify them in any of my books. Also photographed a nice zebra lionfish as it hunted. There were plenty of lizardfish usually perched on a rock and apparently waiting for a meal to swim by. Striped catfish, which I seem to see everywhere (including here in Japan), sea cucumbers, the usual assortment of damselfish, some schools of jacks and trevally swimming by in the distance and as I mentioned earlier, lots of sea urchins, especially in the shallower depths. Having been "stuck", I pay particular attention to those Right at the end of the dive, current started to pickup, but by then I was ready to get out.

On June 3rd after diving Bethlehem and Balanoy in the morning we went back to the resort for lunch and to take a long break through the heat of the afternoon. I burn easily so I was not adverse to this plan, which we pretty much followed most of the time I dived there.

This also gave me the opportunity to put my batteries on charge for a few hours so that they would be topped off for my remaining two dives. This was especially important since we would be making a night dive before coming back.

The first site was Dead Palm which was about a 20 minute boat ride from the resort southeast of Koala just past Arthurs Rock. This is a beautiful site with hard and soft corals, sponges, and the usual assortment of crinoids. Many small reef fish and anemones.

We left the resort around 4:30 and we were in the water at 4:50 PM. Right at the beginning of the dive I got a shot of a nice Blue-spotted ribbontail ray. This site also had a nice assortment of anemones and anemonefish, with porcelain crabs. And of course nudibranchs to add to my collection of photos

A nice dive. Maximum depth was 91 feet, average was 27 feet. Water temp was 84F and vis was 65+feet. We were out at 5:55PM for a 65 minute dive.

We then moved southeast down the coast. We were back in the water and our second dive started at 6:51PM just as it was getting dark. This is I feel the optimum time to start a night dive. Still light when you start, but full dark by the end Or on the other end, full dark when you start, but the suns up at the end

The area we started our dive was near a small sunken barge. We started there and then worked our way towards Twin Rocks. There was a very slight current, but it was going in the right direction, so no worries there Nice corals, and again plenty of reef fish. Some barracuda swimming in the distance and some nice size jacks.

Along with the usual assortment, I saw a nice decorator crab, zebra lionfish, squirrelfish, a Stumpy-spined Cuttlefish (the first I've seen), rabbitfish, scorpionfish a half dozen different species of nudibranchs, including one that had just laid an egg ribbon. One of the coolest things I saw during this dive was a butterflyfish with a cleaner shrimp that had hitched a ride Of course there were the giant clams also, which I had heard about, but this was the first that I had seen

Maximum depth on this dive was 69 feet with an average depth of 28 feet. Vis was as far as my light would shine, probably 50+ feet and water temp was again 84F. We were out at 8:17PM for a dive time of 86 minutes. A very good dive

We headed back to the resort. I took my camera while the rest of my gear was carried ashore. I usually liked to take care of my camera myself. After rinsing it, I took it up to my room and sat it on a towel on a table on my balcony, while I took a quick shower. After my shower, I would come out and dry the housing off, before opening it to take out the camera. I'd wipe down the strobe and then put it on charge.

I usually took my camera, dive computer and dive log with me to dinner each night. I would catch up my log and review photos from the day. This was my usual nightly routine.

Dinner always started with fresh soup, then the main course would be brought out and then always dessert I can't say enough about how great the food was there

After dinner I'd finish my log (the food always started coming out before I could finish ). Then I would go back to my room, put my camera battery on charge for the night, and hit the sack. I slept very well while I was in Anilao

To be continued.....

Bill22
01-25-2009, 08:09
My first dive the morning of the 4th was at Aphol's Rock. Aphol's Rock is about a 30-40 minute boat ride from the resort. A huge rock formation here reached up towards the surface. Covered in corals, sponges, and crinoids. Of course there was lots of marine life as well

We had a little bit of a late start. We started our dive at 9:24AM. Right at the beginning of the dive Peri pointed out a Blue-Ribbon Eel. There was the usual assortment of anthias, wrasses, and damselfish. Lot's of anemone's. Filefish, grouper, a really nice turkeyfish (lionfish), and another nudibranch to add to my growing collection.

This was another great dive. Visibility was 60-70 feet. Water temp was 86F. My maximum depth on this dive was 84 feet, but like most of the dives in Anilao, I could have just continued down the slope much deeper. My average depth ended up being 45 feet.

Peri signaled me and pointed out a banded sea snake. and got a few shots as it hunted along the rock and coral face and a couple more as it headed for the surface for a breath. I went back to searching for subjects for my camera. Not long after Peri pointed and I saw the sea snake below me headed down. Peri told me when we were back on the boat that the snake had passed right by my head only inches from my ear! We were out at 10:22 AM for a 52 minute dive.

The next divesite was Arthurs Rock. From here we would drift to where we would be picked up in front of Mayumi Dive Resort. We were in the water at 11:22 after exactly one hour of surface interval. Visibility was 50-60 feet. My maximum depth on this dive would be 67 feet with an average of only 24 feet. Bottom time was 88 minutes.

Some big rocks,small coralheads on sand, hard and soft corals. Lots of fish life, some big groupers, sweetlips. Some nice anemonefish, scorpionfish, Giant Clams, more nudibranchs, another really nice turkeyfish, squirrelfish, dottybacks. A very enjoyable dive

To be continued....

Bill22
01-25-2009, 08:14
Continuing on June 4th....

After being picked up in front of Mayumi Resort we headed back to Club Ocellaris for a late lunch, about a 15 minute boat ride away. As I mentioned before this was the usual pattern. Do two dives in the morning, lunch, siesta , then a late afternoon and a night dive.

Our next divesite was Cathedral. Cathedral is probably one of the most famous dive spots in the Philippines and one of the sites that was on my list before I got there. There are a couple of very large rock formations underwater covered in coral. Loads of fish that swarmed all around, and a small cross which was placed there by former Philippines President Fidel Ramos in 1983. The cross was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

Cathedral was a very nice dive, lots of anthias, angelfish, damselfish, scorpionfish, spotted an octopus, wrasse, butterflyfish, sponges, corals... a long list We were in the water at 4:41PM and out at 5:40 for a 59 minute dive. Maximum depth was 94 feet, with an average of 41. Vis was 50-60 feet and water temp continued to be around 85F.

After being picked up by the boat crew, we headed down to Basura for our night dive. Basura is probably up to this point the best muck dive that I've done. Basura literally means "garbage" in spanish and this area used to be the town dump apparently. The bottom is mostly rubble that seemed to just keep sloping down.

We nosed into shore and Peri broke out a few snacks while we waited for it to get full dark (he always seemed to have snacks with him ) When it was time, we stepped into the water. Water was clear, you had to keep an eye out for sea urchins, as they were everywhere. Stepping on one would not have be fun to say the least!

We began our dive at 6:56 PM. We worked our way down the slope, saw a nice cuttlefish right away, then as we worked our way along the slope, it was one thing right after another, nudibranchs, pipefish, banded boxer shrimp, another cuttlefish, a red octopus, scorpionfish, shortfin lionfish, snake eels, fire urchins, coleman shrimp, painted frogfish.... a really great dive and as I said, probably the best muck dive I've made up to now We were out at 8:12PM for a 76 minute dive. Our maximum depth was 75 feet with an average of 37 feet. Visibility was as far as our lights would shine, 50-60ft+.

After the dive we headed back to the resort, where we had another great dinner waiting for us, then up to my room, put everything on charge and get a good nights sleep.

To be continued....

Bill22
01-25-2009, 08:22
June 5th was my last dive day in Anilao. After breakfast we headed out to Beatrice for the first dive of the day.

Beatrice is north of Sombrero Island. it has a series of short drop-offs with channels in between. The area had lots of coral and every reef fish you could imagine... Scorpionfish, nudibranchs, morays, clouds of anthias, butterflyfish, rock cod, hawkfish, pufferfish, cardinalfish, wrasse, sweetlips.... really cool dive We were in the water at 9:01 and out at 9:59 for a 58 minute dive. My maximum depth was 68 feet with an average of 51 feet. Water temp was 85F and visibility was 60 feet plus.

Our second dive was at Sombrero Island. We backrolled into the water at 11:03. Another great dive. Flasher wrasse, grouper, Juvenile Sweetlips, more nudibranchs, Emperor Angelfish, pufferfish and a nice lionfish. We were out at 12:09 for a 66 minute dive. Maximum depth we hit on this dive was 68 feet with an average of 40 feet. Vis was about 40-50 feet and water temp continued to be 85F

After the dive we headed back to the resort for lunch. Since it was my last dive day, Peri asked if there was anyplace that I would like to dive again. I had really liked all the potential subjects at Dari-Laut. On my first dive there, my flash had died so I didn't really get any photos. We decided to go back there and then make the final dive at Layag Layag which was nearby.

Dari Laut is a sunken barge that had a restaraunt onboard. Was also used as a floating dive resort. It caught fire and sank. The part we dived on sits in about 90 feet of water between Maricaban and Caban Islands. All that's really left is the steel frame that made up the superstructure. I understand that the roof, anchor, and winches are found at a much deeper depth (150 ft).

The girders are now encrusted with corals, and sponges with lots of fish.... especially scorpionfish, which blend in very well with their surroundings there. We started just below the main part of the wreck then worked our way up. I added yet two more species of nudibranch to my collection there. We spent a lot of time working our way around the wreck. There were cleaning stations with large batfish taking their turn, a huge pufferfish, hawkfish hiding in the coral and of course as I mentioned before, scorpionfish everywhere.

Maximum depth on this dive was 91 feet with an average of 44 feet (the top of the wreck). We were in at 4:47PM and out at 6:02 for a 75 minute dive. This is another of my favorite dive sites in Anilao. Lots of incredible colors. I really enjoyed this dive.

My last dive in Anilao was another night dive, this one at Layag Layag. It was nearby so we were there in a few minutes. We sat and enjoyed the sun setting over the South China Sea while we sat out our surface interval.

Layag Layag is on the northwest corner of Caban Island not far from Kirby's Rock. Lots of coral formations. The slope was fairly steep. I added 5 more species to my nudibranch collection here including a Spanish Dancer that was easily over a foot long! Also lionfish (including another shortfin lionfish), a Yellow-faced Moray, bubble coral, anemone crabs, cuttlefish... a really good dive

We were in the water at 7:06PM and out at 8:43 for a 97 minute dive. Maximum depth was 64ft with an average of 31feet.

The next day was spent on packing after breakfast followed by a trike ride followed by a jeepney, followed by a ferry to Puerto Galera.

This concludes the Anilao Chapter of my report on diving in the Philippines

ScubaJedi
01-25-2009, 11:27
Thank you thank you thank you Bill!!!

I'm definitely using your report as a guide to my trip there!! It's late here now, so bookmarked you I have, and it'll be breakfast reading!!

Cheers,

LEE

Travelnsj
01-25-2009, 11:59
Great report Bill....of the two PG or Anilao which do you prefer? or are they like apples and oranges?

Thanks for posting.

Bill22
01-26-2009, 06:13
Thank you thank you thank you Bill!!!

I'm definitely using your report as a guide to my trip there!! It's late here now, so bookmarked you I have, and it'll be breakfast reading!!

Cheers,

LEE

You're welcome Lee :) I really enjoyed Anilao. I'm considering now if I want to extend my next trip just so I can go back there ;) I'll be headed back to the Philippines in April. I've booked a liveaboard to Tubbataha and plan on diving Palawan this trip. I've been looking at doing El Nido and Coron. Not sure I can do everything in 3 weeks and have time left over for Anilao this time, but I'm sure I'll make it back there some time :)

Bill22
01-26-2009, 06:21
Great report Bill....of the two PG or Anilao which do you prefer? or are they like apples and oranges?

Thanks for posting.

Thanks Scott. Although there are similarities, in some ways it's like comparing apples and oranges. Anilao has a very different "vibe" than PG. What someone else would like might be different. For me personally, I prefer Anilao. It's quiet, very laid back, and I thought had a greater variety, especially for macro.

PG has much of this also. I saw more big fish in PG (including the biggest barracuda I've ever seen in my life ;)) PG has some small wrecks and better access to Verde Island which many people say is one of the best dives in the Philippines (I didn't make it this trip). PG, especially Sabang has much more of a party atmosphere.

Just depends on what you are looking for :)

Travelnsj
01-26-2009, 16:13
Well I am doing PG....You and ChinaCat have given me a total of about 8 or 9 dive sites which includes the Canyons and Verde Island. I have only 4 dive days so I should be pretty busy diving when I get there....One problem I may have.....is my flight into Guam arrives at 7:10 pm and my departure to the Philippines is 8pm....of the 8 times I have taken that flight into Guam....half the time it has been late!...thanks for your 2 psi!

chinacat46
01-26-2009, 17:01
Most of the flights leaving Guam won't leave if the plane from Hawaii is late. At least that is the way it was when I was there. It's the same airline and they hold the departing flights up so they won't have a plane full of people delayed. I remember when flying between Palau and Truk we had to wait in Guam till the plane coming in from Hawaii to arrive before we could leave for Truk. It was late so our flight was late leaving. I don't think you really have to worry.

Travelnsj
01-26-2009, 18:56
You are probably right, they have held that Palau flight for up to 3 hours one time....another couple of times they have granted the Palau people to get off the plane first and a run with your carryon's.....So lets hope they hold the Manila flight....nothing I can do about!

Desert_Diver
01-26-2009, 21:23
Bill-

Good to see you wander in to Scuba Toys. This is a pretty friendly forum. Your trip report was great and I really enjoyed the pics. You had some good nudi shots.

I was hoping to do the Phillippines in November but that isn't looking too good any more. I'm taking some tec classes and the equipment costs are going to kill me. That and the Thailand trip in March. I'm not giving up on the PI, just delaying it some.

Now, as a personal favor to me, please exaggerate and magnify your dive trips. I need somebody to make Travelnsj and Chinacat really envious. You know, like one up them every time they post a trip report. :smilie39:

I would be eternally grateful. :smiley20:

Art

Travelnsj
01-26-2009, 23:38
I'm taking some tec classes and the equipment costs are going to kill me.
Art

Art i am so disappointed you are going to the dark side.....you are going to be diving deep, cold, playing with gases, playing with gauges, testing your endurance etc etc....and then develop a pompous attitude that Cold water is much more challenging then Warm water (BS)....from a Tec divers perspective....I am so disappointed....but the good thing if there are more Tec divers (as you stay at home or local quarrys)....they will stay off the planes, less damage to the reefs, less people in the far and away resorts and make prices more reasonable for people like me, Bill and ChinaCat....and you can live vicariously through our trip reports:smiley20:

mrm777
01-27-2009, 00:10
Great report.....packed full of details. I've bookmarked it and appreciate your taking the time to do such a good job. Philippines is on "the list."

Desert_Diver
01-27-2009, 09:40
I'm taking some tec classes and the equipment costs are going to kill me.
Art

Art i am so disappointed you are going to the dark side.....you are going to be diving deep, cold, playing with gases, playing with gauges, testing your endurance etc etc....and then develop a pompous attitude that Cold water is much more challenging then Warm water (BS)....from a Tec divers perspective....I am so disappointed....but the good thing if there are more Tec divers (as you stay at home or local quarrys)....they will stay off the planes, less damage to the reefs, less people in the far and away resorts and make prices more reasonable for people like me, Bill and ChinaCat....and you can live vicariously through our trip reports:smiley20:


But now I will be able to say, "You're gonna DIE" while looking down my nose at you. :smilie39:

Just to reassure you, I still intend to do my warm water wuss rec dives on a regular basis. After all, I already put both Joe and Larry's kids through college so I may as well get my money's worth out of my rec equipment. :smiley20:

Art

chinacat46
01-27-2009, 11:05
Bill-


Now, as a personal favor to me, please exaggerate and magnify your dive trips. I need somebody to make Travelnsj and Chinacat really envious. You know, like one up them every time they post a trip report. :smilie39:

I would be eternally grateful. :smiley20:

Art

So Art did you magnify and exaggerate your Palau/Yap report? :smilie40:

Bill, keep on posting I love reading about other places it gives me ideas on places to go. I've been to PG and Dumaguete and Anilao is on my list as is Tubbataha. I enjoy the Philippines alot but Indonesia is my favorite place, especially Lembeh and Raja Ampat. Komodo also gets high marks. You should visit Lembeh it's a photographer's wet dream.

Bill22
01-30-2009, 09:46
Bill-

Good to see you wander in to Scuba Toys. This is a pretty friendly forum. Your trip report was great and I really enjoyed the pics. You had some good nudi shots.

I was hoping to do the Phillippines in November but that isn't looking too good any more. I'm taking some tec classes and the equipment costs are going to kill me. That and the Thailand trip in March. I'm not giving up on the PI, just delaying it some.

Now, as a personal favor to me, please exaggerate and magnify your dive trips. I need somebody to make Travelnsj and Chinacat really envious. You know, like one up them every time they post a trip report. :smilie39:

I would be eternally grateful. :smiley20:

Art

Hi Art,
Thanks! I do seem to run into some of the same people on different boards :)

This forum is where I really started my internet posting... I've been posting for roughly a year and a half and have made around a 1000 posts divided up between different boards. The report on Malapascua and Moalboal was originally posted here on this board.

I can relate to other "expenses". I could have made it to South Africa this year if not for all the camera equipment and new gear I've bought or am planning to buy.... oh well... guess I'll have to "settle" for Tubbataha :)

I'm likely going to have to go back to the states next year. Don't know where yet. I'm not happy about it, but there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. I wanted to go to Guam, but I'm being told that is still considered to be "overseas". I'm going to try and get Hawaii and if I can't get that then west coast somewhere.

I don't really need to "exaggerate and magnify" my trip reports... I think people may be pretty "envious" already ;) All I can say is, "please don't hate me" :D

Actually, I'm envious of all you guys. Ya'll have made some pretty good trips yourself! :)

Bill22
01-30-2009, 09:51
Great report.....packed full of details. I've bookmarked it and appreciate your taking the time to do such a good job. Philippines is on "the list."

Thanks! I do appreciate it :) If you are interested in the Philippines, take a look at my profile and threads that I started. You'll find another trip report I did on Malapascua Island and Moaboal Oct-Nov 2007.

I do really enjoy the Philippines.... I'll be making my 4th trip there in 2 years this April :)

Bill22
01-30-2009, 09:58
So Art did you magnify and exaggerate your Palau/Yap report? :smilie40:

Bill, keep on posting I love reading about other places it gives me ideas on places to go. I've been to PG and Dumaguete and Anilao is on my list as is Tubbataha. I enjoy the Philippines alot but Indonesia is my favorite place, especially Lembeh and Raja Ampat. Komodo also gets high marks. You should visit Lembeh it's a photographer's wet dream.

I'm quite interested in doing Dumaguete. Not sure when I'm going to get to it. I've heard it compared to Lembeh.

I'm thinking about doing a trip to Raja Ampat when I transfer from Japan next January. I have a friend here in Japan who has dived everywhere (over 3000 dives in the last 27 years) and puts Raja Ampat at the top of her list! :) She said I would like Lembeh also ;)

chinacat46
01-30-2009, 10:40
Bill I'd heard Dumaguete compared to Lembeh as well but to be honest with you I've been to Lembeh 3 times and there is only one site(the pier) at Dumaguete that compares to most of the sites at Lembeh. Don't get me wrong the diving in Dumaguete and the trips out to Apo Island is very fine diving but from what I've seen Lembeh is the muck an frog fish captial of the world and Dumaguete or even Milne Bay in PNG aren't even a close second. Yet I'd dive either of those places in a heart beat. Lembeh is truly a magical place. I think Anilao looks to have some great diving from your pix and report. It's high on my list as is Tubbataha.

Bill22
02-01-2009, 14:32
Bill I'd heard Dumaguete compared to Lembeh as well but to be honest with you I've been to Lembeh 3 times and there is only one site(the pier) at Dumaguete that compares to most of the sites at Lembeh. Don't get me wrong the diving in Dumaguete and the trips out to Apo Island is very fine diving but from what I've seen Lembeh is the muck an frog fish captial of the world and Dumaguete or even Milne Bay in PNG aren't even a close second. Yet I'd dive either of those places in a heart beat. Lembeh is truly a magical place. I think Anilao looks to have some great diving from your pix and report. It's high on my list as is Tubbataha.

That's food for thought... Thanks! I'm leaning more and more towards Lembeh for my second trip this year.

Anilao is really good... I could also see myself making a second trip to the Philippines this year, just to dive Anilao :) I have to take advantage of the savings in airfare I enjoy by already being on this side of the Pacific while I can :)

I'll post a report on Tubbataha and Palawan when I get back. If things work out, I should be able to get a a few dives in around the Puerto Princesa area before departing for Tubbataha. Then as I said before, El Nido and Coron after. It should be a good trip :)

Travelnsj
02-01-2009, 15:33
Bill although I have not been to Anilao....but have been to Lembeh Straits a couple of times....I think it is some of the finest diving I have ever done....My TA and ChinaCat talked me into it as I do not care for Muck diving etc.....Headed back in November!

Bill22
02-02-2009, 09:07
Bill although I have not been to Anilao....but have been to Lembeh Straits a couple of times....I think it is some of the finest diving I have ever done....My TA and ChinaCat talked me into it as I do not care for Muck diving etc.....Headed back in November!

Knowing that you like the big stuff Scott that's saying something :)

If I go to Lembeh this year it will likely be sometime between August and October since I'm due to transfer in January 2010.