I am looking to do Anilao (rather than Lembeh) on the cheap Jan or Feb for 1-2weeks, my budget is around $70-90 a day with 2 dives all included. Is this possible? Or should I just head to Lembeh? Any tips on info is greatly appreciated! -Oren
January 1st, 2012, 08:29 AM
That will be more than enough for Anilao. You should consider other sites in the Philippines like PG since 1-2 weeks is a bit long to stay in Anilao.
January 1st, 2012, 02:24 PM
I agree, 2 weeks is a long time in one place. Puerto Galera, is not far away, and your budget will thank you, Dive Puerto Galera, Dive Philippines, Dive Action Divers (http://www.actiondivers.com/) is one place I have stayed and dove with. Great time!! Sabang Inn Resort, Puerto Galera, Philippines (http://www.sabanginn.com/index.html) another!
January 1st, 2012, 03:45 PM
Might be tight finding something in that price range. You can look at Two Fish Divers, maybe a couple of others. Factoring in air fare to Manado is also a consideration. I think Lembeh is great though.
Not stayed in Anilao in this price range, but should be doable. Check Arthur's Place and others. The diving here is fantastic for small stuff, esp. nudibranch.
Advantage of Anilao is that Bunaken is close, and offers a totally different kind of diving. Another Two Fish there, where I have stayed, plus another of others affordable.
Puerto Galera is good, though Anilao is better, I think. I do like it though, because it isn't isolated from everything like Alona. Number of places here to stay and dive. I think Searider SEARIDERDIVECENTER.COM | THE BACK PACKER CHOICE (http://seariderdivecenter.com/) is great. Personal attention, no crowds, no silly rules. Prices are hard to beat. Not a "resort", they can arrange rooms to fit budget. On Small LaLaguna Beach, a short stroll from the main part of Sabang. Much more low key here.
My, suggestion, for one week, stay one place, for two weeks, one or two places only. Plenty to see. I like to stay 2 weeks or so before going somewhere else. Can dive same site repeatedly, and still find new things.
From travel perspective, it's a bitch getting to Lembeh, whereas Manila is a piece of cake to do.
Right now, planning long trip for May-July, Puerto Galera, Anilao, etc.
January 2nd, 2012, 11:23 PM
Came from Puerto Galera for 5 days; dived with Sea Rider. No one can beat his rates and am very happy with his service. But don't entertain the complaints against him from the other dive shops who normally cater to Euro or Dollar rich guests who charge double. Stayed at an inn near the shop. 2 dives, room, and food can fit your budget.
In Anilao, I stay at Planet Dive and once again will fit your budget.
January 2nd, 2012, 11:36 PM
Anilao diving has a lot of 'hidden' costs.
Firstly, transport infrastructure to get there sucks. Resorts don't offer discounted pick-ups, so you've got the option of hiring a private car ($100 each way!) or being adventurous and jumping on a public bus from Manila... then onto a jeepney.... then onto a trike... Allot a 1/2 day to get there by public transport and don't bring any heavy/bulky bags..
Secondly, most resorts there advertise a price for shore diving. They all have decent shore dives, but even the best of these will grow stale over a week. To really get the best out of Anilao, you need the option of boat trips to visit the full spectrum of sites (secret bay, mainit point etc being 'must do'). However, many of the resorts are pretty dead during the week - catering primarily to the Manila 'weekend diving crowds'. They also charge a set-price for boat trips that is divided between the passengers. If you are the only person (or one of a few) that is staying at the resort, then your boat trips can be ridiculously expensive (circa 4000php per dive extra cost).
January 3rd, 2012, 01:00 AM
Anilao diving has a lot of 'hidden' costs.
They also charge a set-price for boat trips that is divided between the passengers. If you are the only person (or one of a few) that is staying at the resort, then your boat trips can be ridiculously expensive (circa 4000php per dive extra cost).
what DevonDiver says is so true. An example of hidden costs in anilao, using Aquaventure resort would be, charging for tanks, weights by the pound, resort fee (about $10US a day), DM fee is also split among everyone and during the week you are usually the only one around so the full cost goes to you. AC is an extra $6-8US night.
Planet dive has shore diving right out in front at twin rocks.
Cheap would be San Jose Dive Camp, very budget almost backpack style.
The usual routine is a 2-tank morning dive, with SI on a beach, no snacks or drinks (bring your own), if you want to go a bit further out to say Sombero Island or Tinloy it is extra.
Puerto Galera, a place like marksearider in small lalaguna is one price for tanks/weights included as with the boat and DM. One person same price as six. SI back at the shop with coffee/tea/water. In Puerto you have a wide range of options for staying, anywhere from $15-20 night to 30-50 or $100plus a night. Plus more eating and drinking places to walk to.
January 3rd, 2012, 02:48 AM
Anilao offers better diving conditions than PG.
The viz has gone from poor to bad over last several yrs. Even the "fresh" water(flood tide) didn't seem to improve it. Too much development, the river kept bursting its bank in Calapan etc etc???? Sooner or later every dive would be charged as night dive as light is absolutely essential!!!!!!
The pricing at Anilao is a joke. I certainly won't dive Anilao on my own because of that. For what ever reason(s), most resorts seem very unwilling to direct you the economy route other than suggesting private transfer!!!
I am not sure if Jan/Feb is the right time to dive Lembeh.
January 4th, 2012, 03:26 AM
Because I'm a nice guy, I can offer you a ride from Manila to Anilao; I go every Saturday. You can remain there for a week or two and hitch a ride back with me. If you choose Planet where I stay, I can help you with the arrangements. Normally on weekends you can join a group of divers for the boat dive but on weekdays you might end up paying more. I'd say 2 boat dives with safety diver will cost you $95.
January 14th, 2012, 01:43 PM
Arthur's at Anilao wasn't what I consider good value at all. I actually thought that for what we got it was ridiculously overpriced.
Lembeh offers much better value with a greater choice of operators and superior diving.
Even getting there has hidden costs if you fly Cebu Air. The advertised sale prices looked great, but our tickets were more than doubled with added on fees by the time I got to the purchase button.
If you go, make sure that you have in writing what the package includes ie: are snacks, coffee/tea, towels, bottled water in the room provided and included in the package price.
Plan to pay in pesos so that you can avoid their "% du jour" on credit card (I heard they accept cc now but didn't when we were there) and Paypal fees!
January 23rd, 2012, 11:16 AM
Ok thanks. So I booked a flight to Manila on the 29th @ 8pm. Based on your recommendations I will go to PG first? how is the diving? Is this the best/easiest first place to hit? I don't have a real time line. At 8pm what is the easiet/best way to get to PG. Please keep on mind I am on a $75-90 a day budget.
January 23rd, 2012, 05:34 PM
I think PG is likely your best bet, affordable and easy to get to, with little time wasted on transit. Lembeh will cost you more, esp. if travelling alone,
Unless you charter a boat to take you across at night [expensive], you will need to stay over
Swagman Hotel will give you free transport from the airport if you book a room. They have a
service called "Fly the Bus" which leaves in the morning to take you to the ferry crossing.
You want to go to Sabang Beach, not Puerto Galera, which is further away..
CityState Hotel has similar service.
I suggest you dive with SeaRider
They are on Small LaLaguna Beach, just next to Sabang Beach.
There rates are very good, and quite flexible with schedules, more personalised. I prefer them over others I have tried. They can arrange a room for you near by to fit your budget.
Sabang has many dive operations, plus many places to stay with affordable rooms.
Check with them for current water temps. Last year was unseasonably cool in the spring. Of course, being from Montreal, you might not even notice.
I've not been there this time of year, usually go April-June timeframe. Diving should be good. Depends what you want to experience.
No ATMs in PG.
I've attached some notes below that I've gathered from the internet. I have more...
After your arrival at the Manila airport, you may take a yellow Metered Taxi (left from the
exit). The metered taxi will implement a PHP 90 flag down rate for the first 500 meters and
an additional PHP 4 for every succeeding 300 meters. Important: Make sure that the driver
uses the taximeter!!!
If you plan to go to Sabang, you may stay overnight at the Citystate Hotel (Ermita, Manila,
Tel. +63 2 4007351 +63 2 4007351 to 61);
you have to purchase your ticket to Sabang from the Si-KAT office at the hotel lobby (Tel.:
+63 2 521 3344 +63 2 521 3344 ).
The Manila to Puerto Galera schedule is as follows:
8:30 AM Si-KAT Bus departs at Citystate Hotel, Mabini St., Ermita, Manila
10:30 AM Arrival at Batangas Pier
11:00 AM Bangka leaves for Puerto Galera
12:15 PM Bangka arrives at Sabang Beach
The Puerto Galera to Manila schedule is as follows:
9:00 AM Bangka leaves Sabang Beach for Batangas Pier
10:45 AM Si-Kat Bus leaves for Manila
1:15 PM Arrival in Mabini St., Ermita, Manila, Citystate Hotel
From Manila Public buses leave from various parts of Manila to the port of Batangas frequently. If you are leaving from the Malate/Ermita part of Manila, you'll want to take a taxi to the Buendia bus station and get the next bus to Batangas. From there see above for simple arrangements to transfer to a ferry for the trip over. An only slightly more expensive and much more convenient alternative from Malate/Ermita is the Sikat bus/ferry, a private service run out of the City State Tower Hotel in Ermita. The bus leaves at 8AM and after arriving in Batangas you are lead to the connecting ferry by a Sikat agent. Whichever bus alternative you take, you'll usually be on the beach in Sabang for lunch
At Sabang, porters carry your luggage for PHP 50 (small) to PHP 100 (heavy) to your room.
Many recruiters are waiting at Eddie's Place, they bring you to selected resorts
For the adventurous traveler go to Buendia LRT station in Manila and from there you will see buses and shuttle services going to Batangas pier. It cost around P180 from Buendia to Batangas pier. And when you get to Batangas pier all you need to do is to ride a ferry boat going to Sabang.
Most visitors to Sabang are attracted by the excellent SCUBA diving provided by the protected marine sanctuary. There are a number of dive shops in the area (estimated at around 35) that provide access to a micro (i.e. small life) heaven. The dive sites that feature a large variety of small sea life with the occasional shark or turtle. Several sites are drift dives and often turn into (strong) current dives with the best diving (for coral and small life) being at 18m or 60 feet. Almost all of the dive sites are within a 10 minute boat ride of Sabang which allows you to spend your surface interval on the shore and it also allows most shops to offer as many as four dive trips (single tank) each day. Prices for a single dive are around $18~$32 for a single tank dive, including equipment rental, boat and dive guide, with discounts for more dives and if you have your own equipment.
* ABWonderdive  is a PADI 5 Star Dive Beach Resort owned and operated by Danish couple Alice and Bjørn Askholm located in Small Lalaguna. Offering all level of PADI courses – from entry level up to Dive Master, as well as a wide variety of specialties taught in English, Scandinavian, German, French and Tagalog. Accommodation is in their own nicely appointed rooms or in one of the many resorts nearby.
* Action Divers  is a smallish dive shop has been in Small Lalaguba for more than 10 years but is very proud of its high level of customer satisfaction and safety.
They generally run 3 dives a day at 9AM, midday and 3PM. Local guides know all the good spots and understands the tides in the Verde Channel. If you contact them they can put together diving and hotel packages to suit your needs.
* Asia Divers  is a reputable dive shop that has been around Sabang for over ten years. The divemasters, hailing from Britain, Germany, and Canada, are friendly and dive in smaller groups (usually four divers and one divemaster). They typically run four dives each day, including one night dive, and put together some nice hotel/dive packages with their sister resort, The El Galleon, located adjacent to their dive shop.
* Atlantis Dive Resort  is a Five Star PADI Career Development Centers; two of only few dive centers with such a rating in Asia, you will find the highest standard of dive education, first class facilities and world class dive guides.
* Big Apple Dive Resort  is the place for all your fun and scuba diving requirements in Puerto Galera. The resort is in the middle of Sabang beach and is central to and within a few minutes walking distance of all the famous nightlife and restaurants. The bar and restaurant are open 24hrs, serving a wide range of food and beverages. With two full size billiard tables in the bar overlooking the bay of Sabang it's a great place to make new friends and enjoy the fun loving atmosphere. A wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets from cottage style fan rooms to luxury air conditioned apartments with standby generators guaranteeing 24hr power. For the sporting fans there is 'Super Sports' Satellite TV showing live sports events from around the world. Fully equipped dive shop adjacent to the best swimming pool in Sabang offering PADI and SSI courses from open water to dive master at competitive rates.
* Mermaid Resort and Dive Center  is a world-class resort offering accommodation, nature tours, and diving services. It has over 30 spacious guest rooms and suites that are newly renovated. The resort offers both international and local cuisine as well as a fully equipped beach-front shop with new and top-of-the-line compressor room. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Frontier Scuba  - Owned and run by Rick Kirkham an instructor trainer with over 20 years experience diving in Puerto Galera (yet still loves to dive everyday). Froniter Scuba is TDI / SDI 5-Star Instructor Training Facility, one of only a handful in Asia. Packages are arranged including direct private transfers from Manila airport and excellent resort accommodation. Their partner resort have more than 40 rooms all with hot shower, cable TV and airconditioned and are very reasonably priced. One night aircon accommodation in twin share with full meals and three guided boat dives is U$98 per person. The dive center has trained naturalists as guides. Recreational courses are offered from the Discover Scuba 'try dive', PADI Open Water up to Divemaster and SDI courses up to and including the Instructor Course and Exams. The Technical dive center offers nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Advanced Wreck, Extended Range, Trimix and Advanced trimix courses as well as Technical Instructor courses.
* Sea Rider Dive Center, e-mail email@example.com +63 29215885994, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,  . The cheapest dive and courses rate in the island with excellent macro & pelagic spotter. Berde island trip and night diving are always part of their daily activities. They arrange accommodation and transporation from Manila Intl airport & Clark Field Pampanga Intl airport to Sabang vice versa. Free intro dive for Non Nitrox Divers. Free boat pick up for public commuters from Sabang pier or Muelle pier to Sea Rider. Free slot for group organizers and commissions awaits!
* South Seas Divers  ]. Friendly and fluent instructors in Jappanese, Korean, Tagolo, Spanish, and French. PADI courses offered at reasonable rates.
* Song of Joy Divers  ] is located right on the Sabang beachfront and with accommodation options including a range of rooms with sea or poolside views, or the private penthouse suite. All rooms come with full facilities. Resort facilities include a freshwater swimming pool, restaurant specialising in International and Korean food, verandah bar overlooking the beach, wifi internet access and in-house massage. Dive Instruction on offer includes PADI courses from first time try discover scuba diving to professional divemaster or experienced diver education from the speciality programs.
* Tech Asia is the technical branch of asia divers. Run by an extremely experienced and dedicated team, they've been around for pretty much as long as asia divers have. They can provide trimix and advanced nitrox diving and courses, and also supply essentials for rebreather diving such as sofnalime. They are reasonably priced, with a trimix dive (including gas) coming in under $100 They offer IANTD and GUE courses. The instructors also appreciate supplies of english tea bags, curry powder and Fray Bentos pies!
January 23rd, 2012, 08:19 PM
OK thanks! No ATMs ! Will places take credit cards??? I usually don't travel with cash.
I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=42.306503,-71.460494
January 23rd, 2012, 10:41 PM
At 8pm what is the easiet/best way to get to PG. Please keep on mind I am on a $75-90 a day budget.
assuming arrival is at 8pm, by the time you clear immigrations and customs, that would be around 9pm.
It will take around 2.5 to 3 hours (approx.) from Ninoy Aquino International airport to Batangas port assuming you have a vehicle already arranged to tkae you from airport to port. otherwise, better make arrangement with the resort you are to stay with at PG.
so from 9pm , plus 3 hours , that puts your ETA at port midnight. maybe hard to coordinate at this time.
However if your point of arrival is at Clark, thats another 3 hours from manila, so from Clark to batangas port, thats a total of 6 hours ! minimum from clark. transport cost would be quite a challenge to the "$75-90 a day budget."
points to consider
1. Decide on the resort to stay with in advance based on reco from other Scubaboard members' postings
2. once resort has been chosen, clarify and ensure veracity on credit card and transportation arrangements from AIRPORT to PG.
3. take sufficient local currency (pesos) for travel from airport to PG and vice versa) can be done at the airport before leaving on arrival. Php 5,000 pesos (equivalent to $115 to $150, US$ or Canadian) as pocket money for the duration of your stay if you intend to use credit card for the visit.
4. Prior to leaving country of origin, via email, Get a cellphone number of contact person (resort AND driver of transport).
Upon arrival at Philippine Airport, get a local sim card (and ensure sim card works with your mobile phone at the airport) and send a text message to your contact person and establish communication right away. sim card would be cheap about $1 for the sim card, but a preloaded sim would be best approx $12 to $20 pre loaded.
January 23rd, 2012, 11:45 PM
OK thanks! No ATMs ! Will places take credit cards??? I usually don't travel with cash.
There is a ATM at Puerto Galera town but not in Sabang.
There is always extra charges on credit card with some exception.
$75-90 a day budget is fine in most places.
This is what I came across on numerous occasions in Philippines:
In God we trust, the rest pay cash
January 24th, 2012, 12:24 AM
Thanks Kilili. That's one of the best reports I've read, good job.
January 24th, 2012, 06:07 AM
OK thanks! No ATMs ! Will places take credit cards??? I usually don't travel with cash.
I am here: Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=42.306503,-71.460494)
Many will take credit cards, not all. Check in advance if possible. I use the following with places that don't. I have a PayPal account and use that to transfer funds via whatever email address they choose to use.
It clears very fast, and I've had no problems doing so. A number of places charge extra percentages to use credit cards, and this avoids all that.
Not tried, but you can probably send funds to yourself this way as well.
Have also used www.xoom.com, but takes a bit of work to set up so that things go smoothly. Not as fast and money can be sent to only certain locations, like wiring funds. Maybe better now, as opposed to 18 months ago.
January 24th, 2012, 10:14 AM
First. Thanks for all the info! Sadly I booked flight from sin to Clark (thought it was the same, what a rookie mistake) on Cebu pacific. Think I could change the flight? Also I have an American and an Israeli passport. I read online that Israelis get 59day visa? Should I enter with that passport or just my US.
I really appreciate all the help.
January 30th, 2012, 10:52 AM
guys, anyone knows the daytrip rate for Aquaventure nowadays? We will use a DM and their boat and tanks...i heard its 2,800 per person for the resort fees , boat and DM. is this the right rate or a bit on the expensive side?
February 4th, 2012, 09:15 AM
The current bangka rates from Aquaventure resort are Php 2000 (about $46) for a 2-dive trip to Sombrero Island area, and Php 1800 ($41) for a 2-dive trip to sites along the Mabini coast. The dive guides charge Php 600 ($14) per dive. A 3rd boat dive costs about Php 600 ($14) to Php 1000 ($23) depending on the distance of the dive site. Tanks/airfills cost Php 180 ($4) each, and the conservation fee, Php 100 ($2.30) per person a day. So for 3 dives the typical, approximate costs may be as follows:
Php 1800 - boat trip to Mainit and Twin Rocks
600 - boat trip to Koala, Arthurs or Cathedral
1800 - Dive guide for 3 dives
100 - dive pass (conservation fee)
540 - 3 tanks
4,840 - total for 3 dives (about $112), or an average of Php 1,614 ($37) per dive, for a single diver.
2 divers sharing the boat and guide fees will drastically bring down the average cost to around Php 900 ($21) per dive for each diver. Of course the rates may vary depending on the resort, and some DMs may charge higher, if you decide to hire one instead of a regular dive guide, however, the Php 4000 additional boat cost per dive quoted earlier is way way off the mark.
While it's true that Anilao diving gets more expensive for a single diver, if one can get with a group of only 3 or 4 divers (which is not too hard to do on weekends) it becomes the CHEAPEST diving in the world. :)
February 4th, 2012, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the breakdown on Aquaventure Matthew.
As I recall they also charge for weights, so much per pound.
There was a resort day fee of 500P per head. This was consumable and could be used for food, drinks, gift shop, and gear rental.
My nondiving nephews and nieces would use the pool, showers, kayaks, and eat/drink while I would go diving.
I always dove by myself at Aquaventure, because my wife lives 5 minutes from there and during the week it is a quiet place.
The weekends are totally different, packed and sometimes DM's have to be shared between 2 bangkas as there are not enough DM'd to go around.