All in one!
The Philippine Siren crew welcomed on board a new group of divers all ready for their 13 night liveboard dive trip between the Tubbataha Reef and Southern Visayas. Many of them were repeat guests, so soon everybody felt at home! We went through the boat, cabin, safety, and general dive procedures briefings, and got on our way to the Tubbataha Reefs National Park.
We got up nice and early for the first 2 dives at Jessie Beazley Reef. We had a lot of shark action and a beautiful reef top edge. During lunch we drove the boat over to the North Atoll for the remaining two dives of the day at the dive site Malayan Wreck. The first dive was a nice drift along the gorgeous wall with its massive sea fans, barrel sponges and its patrolling whitetip sharks. Everybody loved the dive so much that we decided to repeat the dive profile and enjoy the scenery and the underwater life some more. Two highlights were a big school of bigeye trevally on the top of the plateau and a really huge barracuda under the boat. Everybody agreed that this had been a great first day of diving and a perfect way to start their liveaboard vacations! In the early morning a very gentle current took us along the slope and walls of the dive site Ko-ok. We spotted some cool things: marbled stingray skimming the slope, some pretty big grey reef sharks, a black jack chasing a whitetip reef shark and a school of blacktail barracuda doing the ‘typhoon thing’. The second dive was at Wall Street. There were some whitetip and grey reef sharks around, but all the wide angle photographers particularly loved Wall Street for its dramatic wall with overhangs and crevices filled with gorgonians and sea fans. The dive site Gorgonian Channel brought us a very nice drift along the wall where we spotted some hectic swimming schools of reef fish and a hawksbill turtle. The last dive was at Amos Rock where the divers were amazed by the layers upon layers of sea fans and Gorgonians. Next on our schedule was the south of the South Atoll. This is one of our favorite areas to dive in the Tubbataha Reefs National Park! Turtles, a manta ray, a scalloped hammerhead and heaps of schools of reef fish like bigeye trevallies, barracudas, midnight and black snappers, surgeonfish and loads of other stuff on the dives at Delsan Wreck and Staghorn Point. We finished the diving day off with a dive last Southwest Wall, where again the amazing dramatic overhangs and layers of gorgonians and sea fans won over the divers. It had been a great day with action and scenic dives alternating. Tubbataha struck again! We started the next day by dropping in at Ko-ok. We enjoyed a good dive with sightings of a big school of big-eye trevallies and lots of reef sharks. On the surface we noticed that the crew of the S/Y Philippine Siren hat put her sails up; what a great sight. We rounded the corner of the Atoll and we hooked up on the mooring buoy at Black Rock North. We encountered three manta rays, stingrays and a whale shark! At the end of the dive we flew through a big school of midnight and black snappers and surfaced wig big grins. The next morning, we did the Black Rock area twice and the afternoon was reserved for two dives at the Delsan Wreck Area. The catch of the day included the following highlights: whale shark, reef manta rays, sailfin snappers, loads of green sea and hawksbill turtles, and of course the famous Tubbataha massive schools of reef fish. At Shark Airport, we encountered a school of beautiful surgeonfish hanging out on the sand, plenty of turtles, a school of barracuda and some very hard to find creatures: shrimps. You hardly find the small stuff anywhere in Tubbataha, so finding two peacocktail anemone shrimps and plenty of squat shrimps together in an anemone was considered a great find. The last dive in the Tubbataha Park was an amazing one! We chose the Northeast Wall for a farewell dive, and it was a great one. Everybody was awestruck by the magnificent wall with its overhangs, crevices, colors and abundance of gorgonians. We spotted a scalloped hammerhead, a marbled stingray, and a nurse shark as well as two tiny Denise’s pygmy seahorses. What a way to say goodbye to the park! See you next year! After little over twelve hours of driving we arrived at Cagayancillo in the early morning. We jumped in at the Southwest Wall; a dramatic steep wall with loads of gorgonians and soft and hard corals. The second dive at the Gorgonian overhang was just amazing. The site is a massive overhang with a plateau at 20 meter that is covered in absolutely massive gorgonians in layers upon layers. This truly is an awesome dive site. The top part of the wall is also very pretty with all the soft corals and busy macro sea life. Early in the morning we arrived back in the Southern Visayas. We were welcomed back with some great dives at the Dauin coast line for some muck diving! We dived Atmosphere House Reef, Kabayo Point and San Miguel. Here’s a shortlist of the day: different kinds of frogfish, including baby ones, ornate ghost pipefish, cockatoo waspfish, a zillion crabs, a bobbit worm, nine (!) thorny seahorses, juvenile sweetlips, bobtail squids, and a mimic octopus. After a day of black sand we opted for the famous coral reef of Apo island for three dives of the four this day. The early morning dive was at Coconut Point. The medium fast drift was a great one over the colorful coral structures and along the slopes. The numerous Crinoids in all colors imaginable give this dive site so much color; lovely. The next dive was at Cogon. Again it was a nice drift dive over coral boulders and along the way we spotted a big black giant frogfish, a banded sea snake and quite some fish actions on the different corners on the reef. The last dive at Apo was at Rocky Point West, in our opinion the best site of the island. It is just gorgeous with the hard corals on the walls and slopes, and the endless soft coral fields on the top. For our last dive of the day we headed back to Dauin’s Atmosphere House Reef. We switched our lights on for another cool night dive. We were particularly happy finding some cool candy crabs, banded sea snakes, mating box crabs, and our favorite: a lovely frogfish. Tomorrow another day at Dauin! Dauin rocks and delivered once again drift diving over coral covered boulders, black sand and hot volcano sea bottom, five seahorses, pegasus sea moths, countless juvenile frogfishes, including some hairy ones, mating seasons for peacock dragonets and cuttlefish, spiny devilfishes, robust ghost pipefishes, numerous mantis shrimps and literally thousands of different kinds of crabs in the night dive. It was the last full day of diving. Now that felt weird after having doing very few else than dive eat sleep for this transition trip between the Tubbataha reef and Southern Visayas! But we had some great stuff to look forward to: Whale sharks in Oslob, and 5 more dives at Balicasag and Cabilao Islands. The Oslob Whale shark encounter is always an optional dive on our trips. Some people opt out and prefer to dive the nearby Sumilon Island. This time also we had two groups. Most divers jumped in with at least six different individuals of Whale sharks and a small group took the dinghy ride over to Sumilon where we found some whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, some nice nudibranchs and a very pretty and rare comet. After the dives we set course to Balicasag Island. Our first dive was Diver’s heaven where we encountered 15 turtles, a swimming giant frogfish and a very handsome and colorful warty frogfish. There were some more frogfishes in the next dive at Black Forest – of the Painted version this time. The dive is typically a nudi-dive with five different kinds of nembrotha resident in the area. We spotted four out of five. The last dive was another great one, as to be expected, because the night dives at Balicasag are always good fun. This are some of the highlights: an absolutely massive giant frogfish, two zebra morays, a pitch black lionfish and sea feathers and unfolding hypnotizing basket stars everywhere. The last two dives of the trip were at Cabilao Island: Lighthouse and Gorgonian Wall. Everybody was blown away by the reef to edge and the walls with their fields of soft corals and the explosion of colors! What a great way to finish this awesome trip! On the way back we had a sunset drinks and took some memorable group pictures and shared great memories of the past transition trip. What a marvelous experience it had been! And what a great group of people we had on board! Thank you everyone!