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Indonesia or Philippines

Discussion in 'General Asia' started by hedonist222, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. hedonist222

    hedonist222 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai, AbuDhabi, United Arab Emirates
    Hello everyone,

    I know this is a very broad question and I will provide some criteria to help narrow it down.

    Friend & I want to spend 10 days muck and reef diving in April/May.
    We'll be flying from the United Arab Emirates.

    Type of diving:
    Muck, night, & reef.

    Dive Shop:
    Catering to keen divers. I understand resort divers but I prefer that we're around like minded enthusiast divers. So nitrox, night dives, black water diving and so on.
    And dive shops willing to go on a 3rd dive or night dive if we're only 2 people.

    12 days
    Prefer to based in 1 resort and be able to do both muck and reef.
    But don't mind 5 days in a muck based area then 5 days in another resort.
    Like Lembeh and Bangka.

    My dive partner & I both have about 350 dives. 38 and 44 years old.
    We usually finish dives with 70 bar left.
    We've dived planned dives as deep as 35-40 (115-130 feet) meters.

    I'll have everything except tank/weights.
    Friend will be renting everything except tank/weights/goggles/fins.

    No live aboards.
    Luxury to mid luxury resort that is aimed at divers. Definitely no backpacking or bungalow or budget places and definitely don't want to drive to a dive shop every morning for dives.

    Total travel logistics:
    No more than 2 flights & a boat ride.
    We're flying out of Abu Dhabi via, United Arab Emirates - via Etihad airlines.
    Therefore we can fly directly to Jakarta, Manila or Singapore.

    Then Jakarta to Ambon or Manado for example.

    Or Manila to Cebu or Palawan.

    Singapore also flies to a lot of smaller south east asia towns like Cebu and Manado.

    The two main criteria then:
    Access to muck diving and no more than 2 flights and a boat ride.
    3rd given criteria: obviously that weather permits diving.

    Therefore Alor would be out of the question, because thats a flight to Jakarta, then Kupang in East Nusa then another flight to Alor. Then a possible multi hour journey trek to the resport.
    Same with Raja Ampat & Sipadan/Mabul.

    Problem is too many flights eat up vacation time + the risk of delayed or cancelled flights - that'll alter total vacation time.

    At this point it looks like either :

    1- Ambon
    Abu Dhabi - Jakarta - Ambon

    2- Cebu (central Visayas) :
    Abu Dhabi - Singapore - Cebu (I know I can go through Manila but prefer Singapore)

    Looks like inCebu, there are many areas to be based:
    Bohol / Panglao / Dumaguete / Moalboal / Malapascua

    But as above, if in Cebu, then no more than 2 places. A muck and a reef.

    I have half the mind to return to Sulawesi:
    4- Lembeh & Bangka
    Abu Dhabi - Singapore - Manado then:
    Lembeh & Bangka

    5- your suggestions

    While I know I won't regret returning to Bangka & Lembeh, I'd still like to go somewhere else.
    Theres a lot of the globe to explore.
    But the appeal with Sulawesi is that I can dive much at Lembeh for 5 days, then a 45 minute boat ride to Bangka with beautiful colorful reefs.

    This is actually why I went to Bunaken (Manado based), then Bangka, then Lembeh in early December of 2019. 2 types of diving (3 if you count the walls of Bunaken, reefs of Bangka, and muck of Lembeh).

    I've read that both Anilao & Ambon have excellent muck.
    But the cons I presume would be:

    Close to Manila and therefore sites may be crowded.

    Mostly muck and generally dive shops are hesitant to go outside the bay

    Common cons:
    I feel based on reading that dive shops in Anilao & Ambon will plan muck dives only because the majority of divers will want muck diving - not reef.
    This happened to me in Manado.
    I was there for 2 days and day 1 was muck diving. The next day we went to Bunaken for wall diving.
    I was a little disappointed because I was going to Lembeh for muck diving and was in Manado for reef/wall diving. And the dive shop knew that, but on day 1 the majority of divers wanted muck diving because they hadn't dived muck on their journey. Dive shops need to satisfy the majority.

    Thank you.

  2. Luko

    Luko Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Paris, France
    Huh.. why not Bali? It fulfills all your requirements. Tulamben has some of the best black sand diving in SEA and Nusa Penida provides great coral dives with some pelagics: don't believe me ? Go and see my Flickr galleries.
    6 days in Tulamben and 4 days in Padang Bai and you have some of the most varied dives in SEA, besides that the private guide is yours if you want to do 1 to 5 dives a day from 5AM to 10PM.

    Anilao : you book as a private guide Dennis Corpuz, you'll have your own bangka and your own schedule to go to whichever site you decide, muck, corals, you name it. He can also set up your accom bookings in Anilao (Acacia, Casa Escondida, ..) & transfer from Manila as well.
    Ambon : DIA which is NOT located in the bay combines muck diving in Ambon Bay with coral dives in the south/eastern areas.
    If not a Visayas combo like Dauin + Alona (or Cabilao) should be fine.
    Searcaigh likes this.
  3. hedonist222

    hedonist222 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai, AbuDhabi, United Arab Emirates
    First of all, thank you for your genuinely helpful reply.
    More importantly - WOW you are a stunning photographer. Those are some immaculate shots. Good job. As a surface photographer, I know how difficult it is underwater.

    I honestly wrote off Bali because I am disenchanted with the crowds.
    I could be wrong but let me clarify. Bali is a huge hot spot for tourism and divers.
    I'd hate to find half a dozen dive boats at a given location.
    I liked the remoteness of Sulawesi. Even at Lembeh with about 9 dives, only one time there was another boat at our dive site.
    I'm just assuming there will be triple or quadruple the divers at typical Bali sites compared to Sulawesi or Ambon or Alor.

    I LOVE the idea of a private bangka. May I have Dennis' contact info please.
  4. Luko

    Luko Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Paris, France
    Thanks for your comments :) !

    This is Dennis' website you should contact him through this way Anilao Diving, Underwater Photography|Dive Anilao/Batangas Philippines

    About Bali, it is true that you'll find many divers on the Liberty wreck at the wrong time of the day on the wrong period.
    That said if you lodge in Tulamben, your private guide will bring you on the sites athat are frequented only by Tulamben dive centres and advise when to go. Each time I am on a site, I only meet a couple or maximum 5-6 divers that I already know for years because like me they are regular repeaters (sometimes twice or three times a year).
    There are many more divers in Lembeh than the numbers I get in the specialist sites inTulamben! (this is why I don't enjoy Lembeh that much)
    In Padang Bai Gekodivers hate crowds so they generally go earlier and schedule their dives to avoid the crowds in NUsa Penida.
  5. Hank49

    Hank49 Contributor

    I haven't dived Ambon, but an ichthyologist who has written 15 books on reef fishes of the world told me he saw more fishes there than anywhere in the world.
    I had just returned from a shrimp
    operation on the north side of Seram and was sharing my observations with him in Hawai'i.
    I was just free diving but was blown away. So much fish...BIG fish and no fishing boats other than the occasional one passing by.
    And the Indonesian Thru Flow?....that current that drops the temp about 8c depending on the tide? Amazing place.
    Jakarta flights straight to Ambon.
  6. diveUAE

    diveUAE Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Abu Dhabi
    We’ve not been to Bali for some years, but we did find dive sites like Liberty and Manta point quite busy with divers. Most other dive sites we had to ourselves. We went in August, and I think May might be less busy. You can get a direct flight to DPS from DXB.

    There are also direct flights to Cebu from DXB. We loved Malapascua, but pick your dive center carefully- people describe Monad Shoal as a “circus”, while we had 20 min all alone with the thresher sharks. We dived/stayed with Thresher Cove divers and had Vic as our guide. He also found lots of small stuff for us, including our very first blue ringed octopus. We combined the trip with Bohol:Alona beach diving 2 days at Balicasag and while the corals were beautiful and our guide did his best at keeping us away from the crowds, we’re not likely to go back there. Liked the dive sites closer to Bohol better and saw some nice macro.

    Have you looked at Puerto Galera in Philippines? (Fly AUH-MNL) We’ve not been, but try to read the live report from TrailBoss in the Philippine forum, sounds like the place would tick your boxes with a trip to Verde Island.
  7. Andreni

    Andreni Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Switzerland
    I absolutely love Ambon because it is so off the beaten track. You could combine Ambon - to dive the bay - with Cape Paperu. It's only a short boat ride away.. We've never seen other people under water in Ambon.

    I agree with Luko. I've been in Bali and dived the hotspots around Tulamben without seeing other divers underwater. You have to chose wisely where to stay and with whom you dive.

    Haven't been there but heard a lot of good stuff about Kalimaya. Oh sorry, this is probably one leg too much.. But maybe to consider for your next holiday. Lots of different dive spots with a huge variety (big fish, muck & vulcano) withouth a crowd..
  8. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    Don’t go to Bali. It’s way too crowded. I need some elbow room. :)
    chillyinCanada and Searcaigh like this.
  9. Searcaigh

    Searcaigh Chromodoris gordonii Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Dubai, UAE
    Other sites are quieter and Liberty is quite frankly overrated. Last year in April, the slope to the left of Liberty was practically empty with only another pair of divers looking for critters while we were diving.
    Luko likes this.
  10. hedonist222

    hedonist222 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai, AbuDhabi, United Arab Emirates
    Very interesting. Thank you.

    Puerto Galera looks very very very busy. Resort diving...

    I guess it really depends on the type of the divers at a dive center.

    Thank you.

    Thanks for the tips.

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