First Trip in the Philippines…
First Trip in the Philippines…
After waiting three long months in Cebu Yacht Club and making her voyage back from providing aid to those left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the brand new S/Y Philippine Siren 2 was back in action doing what she does best; providing world class diving to passengers from around the globe. This week we were lucky enough to have 15 guests hailing from all parts of the planet: Guatemala, Brazil, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands and France. We picked up our passengers in style off the Movenpick Hotel beach and shuttled them out their new home for the next 7 days. We greeted them with snacks, showed them around their cabins, set up all the dive gear and after a quick muster drill, weighed anchor and we were off on our overnight cruise to Cabilao Island. During our cruise our talented chefs treated us with a delicious dinner where we began to share diving stories and get to know one another.
We were awoken to the beautiful sight of Cabilao and as we enjoyed a light breakfast the anticipation for the first dive was very high. We started things off with an easy dive along the beautiful Gorgonian Wall. We were delighted to be greeted by visitors of all shapes and sizes including Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse, two types of chromodoris nudibranchs and many beautiful fish darting in and out of the magnificently colored wall. After we got back to the boat and refueled ourselves with a delicious hot breakfast, it was time for a couple of wall dives at Lighthouse. Here we were so lucky to find three different bargibanti pygmy seahorses, a giant yellow frogfish, juvenile short-fin batfish, a ribbon eel and a whole collection of beautiful reef fish surrounded by dense beautiful corals and anemones. Our night dive took place with seven guests at Cambaquiz 2 and it was full of our nighttime friends! We saw ringed pipefish, sleepy sponge crabs, zebra morays, snake eel, red spotted guard crabs, porcelain crabs and numerous other species of crab and shrimp.
We started day two of diving at Balicasag with a site called Black Forest. We drifted Black Forest along its slow fading slope and were first greeted by a giant school of big eyed jacks we also saw a black giant frogfish, Persian carpet flatworm, a day octopus, many green sea turtles and a few different types of morays. Our second dive of the day brought us to a beautiful wall site named Diver’s Heaven. This site really does once again live up to its reputation. On this site we saw many different nudibranchs such as Kubaryana’s Nembrotha, Heron Andeadoris and Chamberlain’s Nembrotha. This site is also home to quite a few green sea turtles, Zanzibar whip coral shrimp and an astonishing amount of coral species. After lunch we headed to another gorgeous part of this reef system which drops off to a very extreme part of the wall named Sanctuary. Here we got even more macro finds such as a yellow leaf scorpionfish, a banana nudibranch that was laying its eggs, crowned coral crab and bubble coral shrimp. Once again we were followed by plenty of green and hawksbill turtles on this dive. For our night dive we returned to where we started the day at Black Forest and had a beautiful night dive despite only having four divers join us. Staying shallow afforded us the opportunity for a long slow night dive, showing us Serene’s black coral crab, zebra moray and xenia shrimp to name a few critters.
Day three, Christmas Day, started off with such a wonderful gift. We motored all night to get to Oslob to do some early morning snorkeling with juvenile whale sharks! There were 8 in total each measuring around 3-5 meters in length, we were so lucky to have a fantastic attendance. After finishing up taking our pictures of the whale sharks we headed down to Dauin to go do some muck diving. We had three very productive dives in Dauin at Bonnet’s Corner and an afternoon and night dive at Pyramids with so many macro critters including: Pegasus Fish, Flying Gurnard, Seahorses, Wunderpus, Pipehorse, Spiny Devilfish, Berry’s Bobtail Squid, Reptile Snake Eel and more more more. It was truly a Christmas that won’t be soon forgotten full of fantastic marine life and great memories.
Day four started off with a morning drift dive again in Dauin at Mainit. This was a unique dive in that it had the best of muck diving from the day before with beautiful reef mixed in as we drifted along the black sand bottom. We saw schools of barracuda, potato head grouper, green sea turtle, porcelain crab and a pair of mating Tryon’s Risbecia. This site also has a unique feature in that late into the dive you will notice small vents with warm water flowing out into the current and upon closer inspection and feeling the reddish black sand around this area, you will notice that it is hot to the touch. This is geothermic activity caused by the volcano that provides the backdrop to our diving while in Dauin. We then set off for Apo Island for two more dives at Coconut Point and Rock Point West. These dives are home to beautiful species of soft and hard corals, banded sea snakes, bumphead parrotfish, groupers, many different species of jacks and a plethora of small reef fish finding safety in the crevices of their coral homes. We decided not to have a night dive tonight, but instead we put the sails up for a sunset sail and slowly made our way back to Dauin to drop anchor for the evening
The fifth day of diving began with the sight of Siquijor coming and a dive at Paliton Wall right before breakfast. Along this dramatic wall we found day octopus, a few different species of nudibranch including the Coleman’s Chromodoris and quite a few crustaceans such as Halloween Hermit Crab. The next dive we did was at Wonderwall where we saw squat shrimp, orangutan crabs, spotted eagle ray and another collection of colorful nudibranchs. Our next dive on Siquijor was Sanctuary. This dive site is full of beautiful coral structures and staghorn gardens. Among all of the coral we were able to spot scorpionfish, lizardfish, Anna’s chromodoris and white spotted hermit crabs. The last dive we did in Siquijor was at Coco Grove as a night dive. This site showed us its potential as a night dive as we saw a yellow edged moray, hairy hermit crab, xenia swimming crab, orange-fin anemonefish and a whole lot more hiding in the soft corals and anemones.
Our sixth and final day of diving was done back close to our home port at Mactan. Our three dives were done at Nalisoan, Hilutongan and Talima. Nalisoan brought us a pretty dive filled with large fish life such as brown marbled grouper and tons of different types of pipefish including, network pipefish, reeftop pipefish and ringed pipefish. Hilutongan was a beautiful wall dive covered in colorful soft and hard corals where we found plenty of nudibranchs then our 22nd and final dive of the trip was at Talima only a few miles away from where we started the week from and here there was plenty to see. We found a huge school of sardines appearing to flow like liquid underwater, a school of barracuda and also spotted mandarin fish in the last minutes of our dive.
We finished off the day by motoring to our mooring outside of the Movenpick Hotel and enjoying a nice relaxing evening barbeque while we sang some songs and reminisced about the wonderful week we had shared together. In the morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and said our final goodbyes as our guests went their separate ways with memories of a wonderful trip in the Southern Visayas, Philippines.