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View Full Version : Philippines Trip Report February 27th thru March 5th



Travelnsj
03-20-2009, 18:52
Getting to the Philippines was one of the most arduous journeys I have done. I flew Continental, left LA (at 10 AM), changed planes in Hawaii on to Guam changed planes again to Manila. Upon arrival around 9:30 pm and 22 hours later (my bag made it with all the connections) found the waiting Van and had a two hour and a half ride mostly through heavy traffic to the embarkation point to Puerto Galera. This was a twisting and turning, stop and go ride. Then to the boat that takes you to Mindoro-Puerto Galera was another 50 minutes as it was pitch dark and at times a very rough crossing. The boat driver a couple of times had to slow the boat down getting through what seemed like 4’ plus seas. Finally, after 27 hours with virtually no sleep I got to bed at 3 AM. I have been to places much more remote like Layang Layang, Sipadan and Raja Ampat but I found this trip to be the most sleep deprived trip I have taken. Perhaps it was the routing with Continental.

I stayed at the Atlantis in Puerto Galera. The resort, staff, and dive operation are excellent. The rooms were nice but very small (my feet had about a 3” overhang in the bed). Just enough room unload your dive bag! All the meals were excellent. I had a room over the dive shop and at around 6:30 AM had a faint alarm of the occasional clanking of the Scuba tanks also a view of the bay. The one thing in Puerto Galera is being pestered by the vendors selling everything from necklaces, fake Rolex’s etc. They do not take no for an answer….LOL! Puerto Galera reminded me a bit of a party town like Mazatlan at spring break, with floating bars in the bay, bars lining the walkways etc etc.

The diving: I had a great dive guide Rusty and there were only two or three of us diving with him at any given time. I found the diving to be good not great, good biodiversity and healthy corals. Water was a cool 76 to 78 degrees. I brought a 1mm Henderson fullsuit, layered with my 2mm shorty, a 2mm vest and a beanie. I have not dove in cool waters like this in a while so it took a bit getting used to, I was chilled a few times. The diving here reminded me a lot of Bali with wall and sandy bottom dives. However, I would rate this a couple of notches below Bali.

This has to be the Feather Star (Crinoids) capitol of the world almost every color you can imagine and they do get on your wetsuit. Many Mantis shrimp, Lionfish, Banded shrimp, Nudis (saw a really cool one I have not seen before call a Reticulidia helgardo), Clown fish etc. Three dive sites I thought were outstanding were the Giant Clam, kinda a critter hunt like Lembeh straits, lots of thorny seahorses, The Canyons, lots of fish action. The best one Verde Island about an hour away. The dropoff was the best site, the best Vis of the trip around 60’ to 100’, lots of marine life, nudis, schooling Trevallies etc. Best biodiversity I had seen on the trip. Unfortunately, we had a very poorly planned entry and exit. There were 4' to 6' swells with chop (thank god I took my seasick meds), 11 divers and 2 DM's. They had us all jump at the same time...being they limit the dives to 50 minutes we all came up at the same time. Remembering what the water was like when I entered I signaled the DM I wanted to stay about 18' under while the other people exited the water as I had 750 psi. No, I had to surface! I surfaced with my buddy and now we were in 7' to 9' swells and waves crashing over our heads....We tried to swim towards the boat looked for my dive buddy and he was drifting away and away from the boat that was about 75 yards away. I hollered at the DM to grab him and he did. It was impossible to swim towards the boat so the three of us locked arms for about 15 minutes until the boat loaded and came and got us. In addition, even when they got us it was hell getting back on the boat as only one person at a time can exit the water to get on the boat. Much of this could of been of been prevented by letting the first group go 10-15 minutes prior to our group going. The next day another boat went to Verde and the spaced the groups by 15 minutes.

Would I go again to PG?...I doubt it, if I do perhaps another time of the year when the water is warmer and visibility better, the diving was good but not great. I am assured there are many other places that maybe better in the Philippines like Malapascua that I may go to next year or I would rather spend my time diving in Indonesia.

CODMAN
03-21-2009, 07:35
Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the Philippines that much Travel!:smiley5: Is there any chance that you are just a bit spoiled with all the time you've spent in indonesia???:smilie39::smilie39::smilie39::smilie3 9::smilie39:

Anyways, don't forget about the Palau part of the report and thanks for posting about your experience there!

:smiley20:

h2odragon1
03-21-2009, 11:28
American Airlines and Northwest airlines are one stop flights, so that should save time.
You were in Sabang Beach. Yes it's a night-life Beach. Sorry to hear the rooms were soo small. The rooms my wife and I had at The Deep Blue Sea Inn on Little LaLaguna Beach werre nice sized with two full sized beds, and room for a small table and a couple of chairs. Our dive shop was a short walk down the beach.
Did you skin dive? Or did you have a 1mm suit. My wife and I dove 3mm suits and they were fine for the water. We were in PG in Nov. 2005. Last year Feb. 2008 we were in Bohol and Cebu in 3mm suits. The water was 80F at 75 fsw.
There are many places other than PG for great diving in the Philippines. Malapascua Is. has no night-life, and has only the Thresher Sharks as a high-lite. Try Moalboa, or Panglao Is. or Dumagete. All have fantastic diving.
TRY AGAIN!!! :smiley20:

Travelnsj
03-21-2009, 12:59
h20....Palau was part of the trip thus going thru Guam. The flight schedule was hell especially taking the 11:30 pm flight out of Manila that arrives at 4:30 am into Guam...then 6:30 pm to Palau...It was ugly!

I did have a 1mm fullsuit with a 1mm shorty, vest and beanie...It was still chilly at 76 degrees....my first dive in Palau (report to follow) I thought I was in heaven in the 84 degree water!....I'm assured there are better places to dive in the Philippines than PG!

CODMAN
03-21-2009, 15:15
I'm assured there are better places to dive in the Philippines than PG!

I don't think better is the best word, but rather different!!! PG is renown mostly for it's variety! Shallow, deep, wreck, reeef, wall, muck (obviously not like Lembeh...:smilie39::smiley2:), Tech, rec, drift, shore, boat,... It pretty much has it all! Other places in the Philippines have more pelagics... more macro.... more wrecks... etc.... But from what I've read (and I've read a lot), there are few places in the PI that have it all like PG!:smilie40: And that are as close to major entry points (manila). As always, I think it's more of knowing what you want and choosing the right destination for what you want.

But honnestly, I think you're just spoiled!!! :smilie39::smiley20: Reading many of your reports from various places like Palau, Indonesia, etc... I think you've been to the best and now compare everything to that. :smilie39::smiley20: But obviously, this will make you harder to please...:smilie40:I'm sure I would if I'd been to the places you have!:smiley9:

May I ask you a more specific question about your stay in PG? Although you didn't find it as great as you had hoped, what do you think of it's diving as far as value goes? I mean compared to places like Palau, it's considerably cheaper, isn't it? How does it fare in your oppinion for value?

Anyways, can't wait for your other reports! Thanks again for taking the time for sharing!:smiley20:

chinacat46
03-21-2009, 16:28
I can see where you feel the diving in PG is good but not great but it still beats the heck out of most places. Great variety of macro if you want to spend some time looking. Sure it doesn't compare to Lembeh or Raja or Palau but I'd put in the top 10 there are only 5 slots in the top 5 LOL!

Travelnsj
03-21-2009, 16:31
CODMAN....I did not find it that cheap. I stayed at the Atlantis and Georg (the owner) although he gave me a deal for 6 nights and then my air (rt) from Guam, tips etc.... was around 2.3k....that's about what I spent in Palau for 11 nights and that included a trip and land tour of Peleliu. But the Atlantis is one of the most expensive in PG and a very nice operation.

I know I would of enjoyed it a bit more if the water would of been warmer and better vis. I do agree there is good Bio-diversity....It is just I have seen better for cheaper.....my 2psi

gbrdiver
03-22-2009, 00:14
Atlantis are one of the more expensive operations at PG. You don't need to shop around far to get much better value. PG has some excellent dive operators that provide real service with high standards at a fraction of Atlantis' prices.

CODMAN
03-22-2009, 07:21
Yes Atlantis is definetly amongst the most expensive there... But it is a rather nice resort and I perfectly understand why you chose it. :smiley20:

During my first few weeks there (untill my girlfriend came to join me), I was paying between 10 and 15$ a night. After that I had to upgrade to LBC :smilie39::smilie39::smilie39: The same goes for food there. Tokos is quite good, but very expensive! Same thing for the 50bar. When eating local foods, I was able to get away with about 2-3$ a meal...

As for the temps, I was also surprised that the water was that chilly. Although I'm used to cold water and was able to endure it, it wasn't my typical caribean warm water dive vacation!:smilie39: It's not for nothing the dive OP I was with rented 5mm fullsuits! It's the only way to make sure clients are comfy in that water!:smilie40:

Cheers!:smiley20:

chip104
03-23-2009, 21:36
Thanks for the trip report Travelnsj. To be honest, knowing how well traveled you are and your level of expectation, I didn't think you'd be very impressed with PG. But I am glad you enjoyed Verde - that is, according to research (http://sci.odu.edu/biology/directory/carpenter_files/CarpenterSpringerEFB2005CenterofCenter.pdf), the center of marine fish biodiversity in the world.

Sorry to hear you got hit with the rough weather and cold temps. It should be a great time to dive around the area right now. Very disappointing to have that happen to you.

I think that you would like Sogod Bay (whalesharks, pristine corals) or Alona, Bohol (larger fish, schools) much better than PG. Maybe Duma as well for Apo Island (pristine corals, large fish, schools but they also have great critters).

Were you able to do anything topside? edit: and yeah, the crowd and annoying vendors are what make me limit my time on Sabang!

Travelnsj
03-24-2009, 00:36
chip104...The one dive at Verde think it was called the Wall was great (nothing I have not seen in Palau or Raja Ampat) but that exit was dangerous. The other two dives were the Coral gardens on the west side of the of the island which were just OK.

Doing anything topside....I was doing 3 to 4 dives a day and hung out at the 50 bar a few nites and my no dive day packed and walked up and down the beach a couple of times then left around 2:30....so not much time to do very much.

But every time you would walk out the hotel....yikes the vendors were all over ya:smiley5:....LOL....One day I walked down to Western union to change some money....five vendors followed me...unbelievable!!!

CODMAN
03-24-2009, 06:43
Yeah Travel, there are vendors just outside the Atlantis hotel on a permanent basis!:smilie40: I guess they know the typical Atlantis customer has a bit more $$ that cheapskates like me hanging at the rooms for rent...:smilie39::smilie39:

I did a tech dive on Verde Wall down to 48 meters. It really is a beautifull wall! It's trully my favorite dive there... It's also know as the best Verde dive. If I return, I would definetly only dive the wall, the others not being worth the time and money to get there...

:smiley20::smiley20:

Travelnsj
03-26-2009, 23:21
I think ChinaCat paid some of those vendors to look out for me....LOL

48 meters...at the dropoff....much down that deep?...or were you doing a Tech dive?

chinacat46
03-27-2009, 06:27
I don't have to pay them they see you coming. They were bad when I was there. They don't let them on the resort property but they hang out on the sidewalk between the resort and dive shop. I'd drink my coffee at the bar in the morning and they would badger me from the sidewalk while I was still half asleep. I told them I didn't want anything but they never stopped the whole time I was there. Guess what I never bought one thing from them and one of them walked down the beach with me with lowering his prices right before I left. Still didn't buy.

CompuDude
03-30-2009, 21:57
Water was a cool 76 to 78 degrees. I brought a 1mm Henderson fullsuit, layered with my 2mm shorty, a 2mm vest and a beanie. I have not dove in cool waters like this in a while so it took a bit getting used to, I was chilled a few times.

Wuss.

:smiley2:

:smilie39:

CODMAN
03-31-2009, 08:44
Yes it was a tech dive. I wouldn't go that deep without the proper gear or dive plan.

The funny thing is Verde wall is pretty much vertical down all the way, but the marine life didn't change much as we got deeper. Or at least the change wasn't clearly visible. The wall was as rich and lush at that depth as shallower, except maybe for less sea fans as well as the tiny little Anthias that were so abundant there. But morays, Nudis, lionfish, scorpionfish, Swetlips, Tons of those and the other regulars of the area. But the topography was spectacular.:smiley20: Ahhhh great memories... Hopefully I'll make it back some day...:smilie40:




I think ChinaCat paid some of those vendors to look out for me....LOL

48 meters...at the dropoff....much down that deep?...or were you doing a Tech dive?

Travelnsj
03-31-2009, 14:11
Water was a cool 76 to 78 degrees. I brought a 1mm Henderson fullsuit, layered with my 2mm shorty, a 2mm vest and a beanie. I have not dove in cool waters like this in a while so it took a bit getting used to, I was chilled a few times.

Wuss.

:smiley2:

:smilie39:

LOL.....And I proud of it:smiley20:....strong suggestion...give that Bali trip to someone like me....you may be ruined for life once dive Indo and those warm waters!