Dutch turn Southern Visayas orange…

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Dutch turn Southern Visayas orange…

After almost four months away from Cebu, with diving adventures at Coron, Anilao, Apo Reef and Southern Leyte, we returned to cruise through the Southern Visayas. For this trip we had 14 divers, including Lex Schotema as trip leader from Veenendaal (Netherlands), and once all aboard the Philippine Siren lunch was served, boat briefings and dive gear checks concluded, we were on our way.Group shot from Philippines Siren

 Frogfish seen in the PhilippinesAfter a smooth overnight crossing to Cabilao Island we were ready for an early morning plunge at Talisay Tree, with Lighthouse and Gorgonian Wall selected to follow. These site all have healthy soft and hard corals and we were delighted to see that our two resident pygmy seahorses had not moved from their sea fan during our absence. Pipefish, turtle, orang-utan crab and nudibranchs were also spotted during this first day of diving, plus a new frogfish.

Flat calm seas stayed with us during most of the trip and Balicasag Island further south was our next stop. At this stage our guests were already cheering Chef Boy’s “chop chop chop” briefings, as well as enjoying his superb food. Warty and giant frogfish, green sea turtles, a school of bigeye jacks would accompany us during the day’s dives. Decorator crabs, pigmy cuttlefish, pipefish and a wide variety of macro-critters had started to venture out during our night dive.

The next two days we combined the day dives at Apo Island with night dives in Dauin. The latter is renowned for its awesome ‘muck dives’. At Apo Island we once again had the chance to enjoy the colourful Coconut Point with its fast drift, then during the surface interval our guests had the opportunity to visit the small village on the island, and do some shopping. The other dives of the day were Rocky Point West and Baluarte. The latter offers a unique landscape as columns of bubbles rise from the sandy base due to the volcanic activity. For the night dive we chose San Miguel in Dauin, where we were very lucky to spot the extremely rare mototi blue ring octopus! We also saw plenty of ornate ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, robust ghost pipefish and a micro frogfish.

Mototi blue ring octopus

Our fifth day we spent in the Dauin area for more ‘macro-critter’ dives where Negros Island offers wonderful scenery with its volcano as a backdrop and its dark sandy beaches. After three dives at Cars, Atmosphere House Reef and Pyramids we were once again invited to Atmosphere Resort for a drink, whilst relaxing by their infinity pool. This obviously met with rave approval as some guests decided to remain, while our more ardent divers headed back to the Philippine Siren for a night dive at the Pyramids. Our dive guide, Donato, had a great time underwater with Thom, Ieneke, Dave, Elsebee and Irma though they ‘ribbed’ him constantly and ‘drove him crazy’ with their “in the blue” dives!

Another smooth crossing we reached Pescador Island and Moalboal, located on the west coast of Cebu, where we spent a couple of fantastic days ‘in the blue’. We also took the chance to thank Jeroen, Lex, Ursula and Jan for being back on a Siren Fleet boat with our Philippine Siren polo shirt on behalf of Frank, Mark and crew.

It was then time to head back towards Mactan, but not before stopping in Oslob, where we had the chance to either snorkel or dive with at least 7 whale sharks!

Thom's birthday aboard Philippines Siren

Everybody came back to the boat with huge smiles on their faces after the experience. Once again we stopped by Balicasag and Cabilao Island for our last 2 days of diving. In the evening Chef Boy prepared his delicious mango float cake for Thom’s birthday and while the boat’s choir chorused ‘happy birthday’ a special commissioned greeting card was presented.

Unfortunately we reached disembarkation day, though before this fun group departed we took the opportunity to thank them on behalf of all of Philippine Siren group, and take our traditional group photo. Some headed home, while others continued their Philippine adventure. Hopefully we will have this group again on board with Siren Fleet.

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