So you want to go muck diving ?
One of the few advantages to owning a dive shop is that very occasionally you get offered a
“Fam Trip”. These are to showcase a resort or destination so that you are able to discuss the resort with a degree of actual knowledge, so when our friends at DIVE Worldwide said that they were organising a trip to the Atlantis Resorts in the Philippines hands were raised in very short order !!
I met up with Phill North ( Dive Worldwide) and the other guests at Heathrow on Wednesday evening and after a 14 hour flight landed in Manilla.
We stayed in the Belmont Hotel for the 1st night and after breakfast travelled by road to Batangas ( about 1 ½ hours) to board a local boat which took us to the Island of Mindoro where Atlantis have a resort in Porta Galera.
We spent 4 days diving here ( upto 5 dives a day are available and all sites, except Verde Island are within about 10 mins of the resort.
From the time we appeared in the lobby of the Belmont hotel, we didn’t need to hump any dive gear! The only “work” needed was analyse however many Nitrox cylinders you wanted for the day. Cylinder changes were done by the dive crew, and at the end of the day, they washed and dismantled it 🙂 .
The staff in the resort have the uncanny ability to remember your name after only a couple of hours and the level of service was stunning !!!!
The diving at Porta Galera was mainly “muck” (ie: looking for small critters, nudibranchs, sea horses etc…) If you get excited by frog fish then this a great place.
We arrived when the moon was full so drift dives were quite eye opening 🙂
Verde Island is about an hour by boat and is done as a day trip with a barbeque between dives 2 and 3 . This is a rocky reef with the usual selection of Philipino soft corals ( I’ve never seen such neon yellow soft corals in my life !!), and there are something of the order of 1500 species of fish here ( so something for everyone , including the opportunity to by tee shirts from the Island folk 🙂 )
After the 4 days diving, we retraced our steps to Manilla Airport and caught a domestic flight to Dumagete for the next part of the trip.
Here we were met at the airport by Atlantis staff who took our baggage tags and after collecting said bags, loaded them into the resort Jeepny.
The same level of service happened at Dumagete resort, with us now becoming used to being LAZY!
Incidentally, it is worth noting that Dumagete is known as the “Place of Gentle People” and they sure did live upto this….
As with Porta Galera, the close in sites were mainly muck dives ( Blue Ring Octopus, Sea Horses, Frog Fish etc……..) Like Porta Galera, there is an off shore Island which is a marine reserve ( APO Island )
This was mainly soft corals, Turtles and Cuttlefish ( I have to say that the Island reef is the prettiest site I have seen in many years of diving 🙂 )
OOOOPS ! how could I Forget !!!!!!!!!…. The ½ day trip by Jeepny and car ferry to Oslob for a snorkel experience with about 6 WHALESHARKS absolutely awesome !!!
All in all, it was one of the best trips I have ever been on ( taking into account the group, who met as strangers and parted as mates !!!, coupled with the exemplary service and organisation provided by Atlantis resorts, and lastly, musn’t forget Phill and the Diveworldwide team for organising the trip )
I know its further than the Red Sea, but believe me its well worth it.
We ( Diveline ) are looking at going back early next year, so if your appetite has been wetted, give us a call at the shop and I will be arranging a club evening chat with nibbles .