Diving in the Philippines
February - March 2003 and January, February 2004, December 2009 - January 2010


Some good advice about guide books for the Philippines: DON'T get the Lonely Planet! It's really lousy. A very good alternative is 'Jens Peters' in either English or German.
Another advise. Many ATM's will only give you 4000-5000 PHP at a time on a VISA or a MasterCard. That is nothing... Check the current exchange rate at Oanda and see for yourself. Bring USD in cash and whenever you find an ATM that will give you 10 or 15000 PHP use it! And one more thing - VISA cards can only be used very few places (e.g. at PCI Equitable Bank).

Cabilao Island (December 2009)
Cabilao is located near Bohol. Lots of small stuff. Fantastic diving. (37 photos)
We dived with Cabilao Dive Center

Cabilao Island
Balicasag Island (January 2010)
Balicasag Island is located near Alona Beach. (56 photos)
We dived with some good local guys Sierra Madre Divers

Balicasag Island
Malapascua Island (February 2003)
Malapascua Island north of Cebu Island was my first destination in the Philippines. Thresher sharks at Monad Shoal, a couple of wrecks and a lot of small stuff like nudibranchs and seahorses at Gato Island. (47 photos)
I dived with Exotic Island Divers

Malapascua Island
Moalboal, Panagsama Beach (February 2003)
From Malapascua I continued to Moalboal on Cebu Island. You spend most of a day travelling and my legs are way too long for a Philippine bus... In Moalboal you stay at Panagsama Beach with plenty of resorts, guesthouses and dive shops - and rather few tourists (in February). The diving is mostly around Pescador Island off the coast of Moalboal, but there are also a number of good dive sites on the coastline. (62 photos)
I dived with Abyss Diving

Panagsama Beach
Apo Island (March 2003)
After Moalboal i headed for Apo Island. From Cebu Island you have to go to Dumaguete on Negros (a nice place actually) continue south and sail to Apo Island in a very small banca (you get wet!). The diving is very good - plenty of big fish - barracuda, trevally, jacks, bumpheaded parrotfish etc. (no sharks though). (115 photos)
I stayed at 'Libertys' and dived with Pauls Diving

Apo Island
Alona Beach, Panglau, Bohol (March 2003)
From Apo Island I returned to Dumaguete (very good internet connections ;o). There are very good ferry connections between Dumaguete and Tagbilaran on Bohol and/or Cebu City. I went to Bohol and continued directly to Alona Beach on Panglao. The first decent beach I've seen in the Philippines. The diving is good (again) - mostly small stuff, but also frogfish and shoals of barracuda. I dived on the reefs nearby and around Balicasag island. (114 photos)
I dived with Genesis Divers.

Alona Beach, Bohol/Panglao
Padre Burgos (January 2004)
We went by plane (Philippine Airlines - good website for ticket booking) to Tacloban and was picked up by a mini van from Peter's Dive Resort. After exactly 3 hours and 2500 PHP (for 3 persons) we arrived. It's actually a very charming place. The end of the world - no tourists. Maybe you shouldn't go in December or January - the weather is not really that great. But we went with the hope of seeing a couple of whale sharks - and saw none... But the diving was still good with plenty of corals and fish. And the food was absolutely outstanding - the best Philippine food I've ever had! (Maybe slightly inspired by Chinese food). We had a big family cottage being perfect for 3 and with better weather you could easily stay for 1 week. (45 photos)
I dived (and stayed) with Peter's Dive Resort.

Padre Burgos
Alona Beach, (February 2004)
Being such a pleasant place I simply had to come back to Alona Beach again. From Leyte the fastest way to Bohol is via Cebu City (even though Leyte and Bohol are right next to each other. So you leave Padre Burgos around noon and you arrive in Alona Beach around 8 PM.
I stayed the same place, I was greeted by the same people as last year, the beach was still nice, the diving was still good... Perfect!
Once again I dived with Genesis Divers.

Alona Beach, 2004
Boracay (February 2004)
Because of my poor planning the trip from Alona Beach to Boracay was somewhat complicated... We went to Cebu City, stayed for one night and the next morning we flew via Manila to Kalobi, spent 1-2 hours in a packed mini van and finally a banca to Boracay. Asian Spirit is flying directly from Cebu/Mactan to Caticlan - the airport 5 minutes away from the Boracay banca...
Anyway. The trip was a bit longer than necessary, but we arrived (at boat station #2) and sat down as soon as we had the chance in a place called De Paris Beach Resort. It turned out to be a place with good food and good accommodation (at the special seasonally discounted rate of 2200 PHP/night for 3 persons - a rip-off compared to the rest of the Visayas). So we never went any further in our quest for a cheap bed.
The beach was 4 km long, the sky was blue, there were far less tourists than I expected and the diving was actually surprisingly good. Just be aware to avoid all the dive shops oriented towards 'one-time-divers' from Korea and Japan. (40 photos)
I dived with Lapu Lapu Diving Center - I had a good local divemaster (Nonoy) and the Instructor was a nice guy from Lausanne in Switzerland with a charming accent ;o)

After the long road trip from Kalibo Airport to Boracay I ditched my 2700 PHP ticket and bought a new one at South East Asian Airlines from Caticlan to Manila - even a better departure time! And once again I'm back in Denmark...

A selection of some of the best photos from all over the Philippines. (24 photos)

Philippine highlights
Copyright 2003-2007 Jesper Ole Westerdahl @ Yezber.dk
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