Day One - Saturday 27th / Sunday 28th April
We soon managed to board the mighty Airbus A380, kick back watch a few movies and settle down for the long haul. However I was soon drenched! The hostess managed to spill Tony’s beer all over me which precipitated a change of seats for me, which was nice as I got the extra legroom, however I left my reading glasses in the previous seat! Something I did not realise until later.
The rest of the flight was uneventful until we arrived at Singapore Changi airport. The place is gigantic, however we took the sky train and walked for twenty mins to get to the correct gate. The rest of the group from Manchester had no such trouble their aircraft had arrived almost at the same gate as the departure. We had a group picture in our shirts and then proceeded to board the smaller Boeing 737 to Cebu which took around 3 hours.
After arrival at Cebu we were greeted by Tony Exall the Owner of Philippine dive tours we were then given a quick brief about the plan for the next day and boarded minibuses to the Henry Hotel via a shopping mall as some of us required the services of money changers. At this moment I bought some replacement reading glasses for the equivalent of 4 pounds sterling. We then checked into the very nice and contemporary Henry Hotel. It was a brief shower and change a few drinks in the Hotel bar and then out to a restaurant of Tony’s choice for the evening meal. We all made it back to Hotel, some heroes stayed up for late drinks😊.
Day Two. Monday 29th of April 2019
The journey continued..
Day Three: Tuesday 30th April
I had to take the journey of shame back to the beach and proceeded to jog back to the accommodation in my wetsuit much to the amusement of the construction workers working nearby. I returned to the boat and kitted up straight away. We dived off the boat on the house reef which was pretty awesome, the viz and marine life was exceptional even for a house reef as such. My Fin escapade had earned me the dubious accolade of ‘muppet of the day’, however I spared Mark the honour as he had dropped his sunglasses over the edge of the boat, they were retrieved though. Luckily for him.
The second dive was a site called Tang Kwan Which was another fantastic site I saw a large banded sea krait, a highly venomous sea snake which came a little too close for comfort. The third dive was another fabulous site called Balvarte which had an abundance of marine life present,
Some people opted to do the night dive, which was pretty spectacular by all accounts. Tony Exall was using his flu night equipment which has the effect of highlighting the corals at night. Most people were exhausted by this point and after another nice meal at the dive centre it was time for a few beers and then off to bed.
Day Four - Wednesday 1st of May
The second dive site was close by, this was called Napantau This was a great site, which had a impressive wall, which was covered in small reef fish. We also located a small cave which had two small whitetip reef sharks sheltering in it. We also encountered two turtles, one green and one Hawksbill. This site was teeming with reef fish and had an abundance of hard and soft corals. Stunning dive site.
The third site of the day was Maryag which was to be a ‘muck’ dive as such. I had never done such a dive and was hoping it would be good. I needn’t have been concerned because it turned out to be amazing. Gliding over the almost lunar surface was an almost dreamlike experience, however once you started to look properly the array of macro life was stunning. I managed to see some critters I had only ever seen on television documentaries, such as the mimic octopus which as the name implies can mimic different species to counter a perceived threat. We also managed to see the beautiful but deadly blue ring octopus and the bizarre looking and rarely seen hairy frog fish. It was a stunning dive with everyone seeing something special.
After the third dive it was back to the dive centre for a beer for some and kit check for others as we prepared for the night dive. I must say as I was in the back of a flatbed full of kit and divers heading down the road with the correct group ( this concept had seemed difficult to grasp for some) I was wondering what lay ahead. The dive site was the Padre Burgos pier. It was nice kitting up in the semi darkness with the locals looking on. I was a little impatient and entered the water first, lying on my back in the water staring up at the night sky was cool as I waited for the rest get in. The dive and site were fabulous, with a huge array of marine life present. I was excited to see my first stargazer, buried into the sand with just its eyes showing, it is an ambush predator that waves a lure around in the hope of attracting a meal. We managed to make him move position, much to his annoyance. Many other species were seen on this site and everyone present had an enjoyable dive. It was then back to the dive centre via the rascal and flatbed. The entire group then had a lovely well prepared meal. I had myself had a very early night as was shattered.
Day Five - Thursday 2nd of May
At Zacks cove we saw an impressive large blue frogfish and a large barracuda on site with very impressive soft and hard corals. Whilst at Adrians cove was a site consisting of 3 impressive inlets and the what by now was the usual stunning marine life and corals. It was also my 600thdive but I kept it quiet as I did not want the beer fine😉.
We then transited back to the dive centre and made our way to the third dive site; Santa Sofia which was a turtle hot spot as they seemed to be everywhere on this particular site I also spotted a large frogfish and a very splendid looking mandarin fish who looked quite happy to be unmolested by the notorious Japanese aqua terrorists. It was then back to the dive centre for food and a few beers.
Some of us were tempted to take part in the local fiesta celebrations at the basketball court. It was a great night and much dad dancing was on display, I was also nearly claimed by one of the local women who had introduced me to her approving family circle on the dance floor, I had a job removing myself from the situation. I feared I would wake up in a remote hut somewhere my past life erased as I started my new life in the Philippines. However I managed to escape her clutches. We all had a fabulous spontaneous night, marred slightly by drinking the god awful local brew ‘red horse’ which was not the best, but was wet and cold.
Day six - Friday 3rd May
The second dive was Sonok point which had a fantastic coral garden. The end of the dive was quite interesting as the jelly fish arrived and as I was the only one in a shorty wetsuit I had to be quite vigilant as I surfaced, I managed to get stung a few times on the legs and managed to be the first one back on the boat😉.
We then departed to the next site Limasawa island which was to be a whale shark spotting trip, excitement was in the air as our spotters hitched themselves to the back of the boat and we began patrolling in the likely hope that we may see one of these majestic yet elusive creatures. Many people were kitted up in snorkel gear on the baking deck ready to jump in at a moments notice. However it became painfully clear after a couple of hours that our search was in vain and we would not be lucky. Still it was an amazing place to be. The journey back took quite a while but the conditions were super calm and I kept scanning the surface in the vain hope that we might see something, but alas we did not. We returned to the dive centre had food and a few beers.
Day 7 - Saturday 4th May
Day Eight - Sunday 5th May
Day Nine - Monday 6th May
The second dive was the house reef and turned out to be a great dive, we saw mantis shrimp, leaf fish and sea horse as well as much more. We were aided in finding marine life by the expert eyes of Paul Quinto our guide who is an expert at spotting marine life as you would expect.
The third dive was a site called pantau pantau, once again the macro life was in abundance. We even encountered a feather sea star swimming in the open which was a fantastic sight
Day Ten - Tuesday 7th May
Before long we were in transit to Monad shoal and with a sense of excitement we entered the water. Making our way down the bow line we were soon visited by our first Thresher, it majestically swam and turned in front of us allowing us to get some decent footage. We managed to see a few more threshers on this impressive dive site. It was a fabulous dive and well worth the early start. We then made our way back to the hotel for breakfast and a reset before the next dive. The next was the pretty impressive Kalanggaman island.
It was about an hour or so before we made it to the island. We had a good second dive along a fabulous wall and made our way back over the reef to the boat. After this we all went ashore and had a BBQ on the beach which was great. I was expecting the island to be quiet but was in fact very busy with people enjoying the idyllic place. We then headed out for our third dive which included another great wall dive and back over the reef to the boat again. My highlight of the dive was watching two large parrot fish having a territorial dispute and a bit of a scrap😊. We then headed back to the resort and discovered the ‘one up’ bar which became our favourite end of the day hang out, especially when we discovered the two for one cocktails and the extended happy hour, the food was decent too
Day Eleven - Wednesday 8th May
Day Twelve - Thursday 9th May
Day Thirteen - Friday 10th May
The second dive was at a site called Batang Bato which another fabulous site, I managed to annoy a clown fish which actually bit my go pro, little tinker. Some divers in the other group allegedly spotted a large cuttlefish. We had a further dive in the afternoon, which turned out to be a bit of a muck dive, but we managed to see some fabulous macro life.
We then returned to the dive centre to wash and dry kit was this was to be our last dive, we also had a double birthday celebration to look forward to as Mark and James were another year older and maybe wiser😊. The celebrations went ahead in the one up bar and a good night was had by all. Thankfully at the last moment we noticed due to flights that some of us me included would be leaving earlier the next day so we had to make arrangements with Tony Exall to allow this to happen
Day Fourteen - Homeward bound
Rachel Perry / Rick Smith / Mark Nicoll / Lee Caukwell / Tony Marshall / Tracy Adcock / Sam Adcock / James Jennings / Joanna Durrance / Pete Starbuck / Steve Calver