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Philippines - where, oh where?

Discussion in 'Philippine Paradise Divers' started by Pelicanne, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK

    I have my first trip to the Philippines next March for two weeks and am tearing my hair out slightly over where to dive. So spoiled for choice - not a bad dilemma to have, lol!

    I’m AOW with approx. 150 dives and will be travelling solo on a pretty tight budget. Generally speaking, I love a mix of big stuff, pretty reefs and critters. Love wrecks, too, but unless the vessels are spectacular, more for the marine life than the history.

    I also love very laid-back, quiet places which aren’t commercialised but still give you the chance to mix with the locals. Not into the party scene at all.

    Please can anyone suggest an itinerary or must-see places? I thought, due to travelling times, I’d be best limiting myself to two places or, at the most, three.

    My thoughts so far are:-

    * Malapascua looks wonderful. Thresher sharks, small stuff, island visits and relaxed, convivial place;

    * Tubbataha sounds amazing and absolutely up my street, but unless anyone can suggest a truly budget liveaboard I think sadly it’s going to be out of my reach this time;

    - Coron - how is the fish life on the wrecks? I’ve read it isn’t great. But there’d be an opportunity to do a short budget liveaboard to Apo Reef. Also diving with dugongs? And the topside scenery and activities look marvellous. How busy is the town, though? Would I be better off on Coron Island?

    - Donsol/Ticao Island. Sounds beautiful and remote with opportunities for whale sharks (which I’ve never seen) and mantas, but the other side of the coin is that it sounds as though it might be a bugger to get to in my limited time;

    - Southern Leyte. Sounds quiet and laidback with varied diving and the chance of seeing whale sharks in an environment I think I’d very much favour over Donsol or Orlob. Also easier to combine with Malapascua than some of the other places I’ve mentioned?

    i really am overwhelmed at the moment - would be extremely grateful for any other suggestions or thoughts on the above. Thank you in advance!
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  2. Barmaglot

    Barmaglot Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Israel
    I'm wrapping up ten days on the Philippine Siren right now (motoring from Cabilao back to Mactan), and it's been awesome, but decidedly not budget friendly, even at the 40% discount deal that I scored via this board. Tubbataha is going to be expensive any way you slice it, because the number of permits is limited, and the season is short. You may want to look into one of the diving safaris like this one - you get to dive a bunch of locations like on a liveaboard, but you sleep on shore every night, and it's considerably less expensive.
    Blueringocto_73 and Pelicanne like this.
  3. diveUAE

    diveUAE Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Abu Dhabi
    We went to Philippines in March/April.

    absolutely loved Malapascua!! We stayed with Thresher Cove Divers in a room, but they have dorms as well - very reasonably priced. The food was excellent and not too expensive. Had the best dive guide ever (Vic), he made sure we had the thresher sharks all to ourselves (I know others describe Monad Shoal as a “circus”)

    Only downside is, it’s a bit far from everything else, but for us it was perfect.

    We paired it with Bohol/Alona beach, since we were traveling with family- Balicasag is ok, but I’m not rushing back;-)

    Everything I read about south Leyte makes me want to go there, but even from Malapascua it would have been a trek. To give you an idea: we arrived to Cebú in the evening and stayed 1 night at the airport hotel (very expensive), left the hotel at 10 am with a private transfer and was at the pier for Malapascua around 3 pm, at resort around 4 - again a private boat, so we did not have to wait.

    On our departure day we left Malapascua 9 am, reached the pier in Cebu around 3, was on a boat departing 4 pm and arrived in Bohol 6 pm - again with private transfer. If you use shared/public transportation it will take longer.

    It surprised me how long all transfers were, so when we go back it will be for South Leyte (flying there from Manila) or Tubbataha. Puerto Galera sounds good as well.
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  4. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
    Thanks so much... I'm just getting my head around the travelling times and trying to work out what's realistic, so that's really helpful. I've also realised that while some of the resorts and diving are extremely reasonably priced, private transfers (especially for one) can be extremely expensive!
  5. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
    Glad you had a great trip - the Siren looks lovely (tho' out of my reach this time) and Tubbataha sounds amazing. What have you seen? :)
  6. Centrals

    Centrals Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    March is far too early to dive Tubbataha even though the Marine Park is opened in mid Mar.Mainly for pelagic and the deep wall is lively.
    The wrecks in Coron are highly recommended and hose in Subic is pretty pale in comparison.
    Forget about Southern Leyte as you do not have the time.

    PAL fly non stop from London to Manila and Anilao(macro) is only 3hrs away by public transport. Puerto Galera(an all rounder) is just across the strait and the recent improved ferry service makes the transfer rather painless.
    Another option is Malapascua + Moalboal(school of sardines). You do need a domestic transfer but I am pretty sure PAL can sell you a through ticket all the way to Cebu City from London. Public transport is available to link up these two places.

    Mar is perfect time to dive Philippines. No worry for the typhoon.
    Blueringocto_73 and Pelicanne like this.
  7. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
    Thanks very much, Centrals - my flight's actually already booked, to Manila. Why do you say March is too early to dive Tubbataha? Currents, etc?

    How is the fish life on the Coron wrecks? I've read that while the wrecks themselves are great, the marine life isn't anything too special.

    I was put off Moalboal a little as from what I've read it sounded like a bit of a dive factory - but maybe I'm wrong on that score?

    Also, I thought if I headed back to Cebu I could get a ferry from there to Leyte, and it might not be too bad a journey... But maybe I'm wrong.

    Too many questions, ha ha!

    Many thanks again.
  8. jaseUK666

    jaseUK666 Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK
    I flew PAL to Cebu from Heathrow with a change of planes in Manila. If you're flying with PAL, changing terminal there is ok. I think Emirates also fly to Cebu with a change in Dubai.

    Last trip, I did Malapascua, Moalboal and Subic. I found the fish life, apart from the sharks, to be a bit lacking in Malapascua. Moalboal was much better for that and it's more backpackery, so cheaper and without all the girly bars that Subic has. Cebu Dive Centre is the cheapest and they have dorm and non dorm accommodation but they book up quick.

    I've done Coron in the past and the wrecka there are awesome but not so much for the life in then. Sabang is also a good cheap option, I've done.
    Blueringocto_73 and Pelicanne like this.
  9. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
    Thanks a lot, Jase. I'm flying from LHR with BA, but maybe I can still pick up a painless PAL transfer to Cebu? I'll look again at Moalboal as maybe I dismissed it too soon.

    What's wrong with girly bars, ha ha ha!
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  10. torachen

    torachen Registered

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Shanghai
    Hey, Malapascua indeed is amazing, it's a must.
    i love southern leytes so much so i make sure i come back every year

    Malapascua + Southern leytes is doable. but could be a bit more hassle if you are using public transportation for each leg.
    there are ferries leave Cebu to Massin(45mins car ride) or Hilongos (90 mins car ride) to Peter's or Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, 2 main diving facilities in the region. you can search both resort website for transportation information.
    but, it's not easy to travel there all by public transportation considering it's your first time in Philippines. Plus, you need ample time travel from Malapascua to Cebu city.
    I think price value wise, southern leytes is very good. but due to limited resorts options. it's not that cheap.

    Alternatively.based on your preference, budget and you are travelling solo.

    you can combine Malapascua and Moalboal.
    Moalboal has good wall diving sites, and a big school sardines attract pelagic fishes.
    laid back atmosphere, good snorkelling and many accommodation and food options.
    you can take a public bus from Maya port (the port to Malapascua) to northern bus terminal (5 hours) in cebu, then hop on a taxi to southern bus terminal for a bus to Moalboal (2 hours).
    Pelicanne likes this.

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