Great time with 9 diver and one new one! Check the website if you are interested in joining the group on future trips around the globe.
The Philippines With Island Divers
by Sheila Jordan
After a year of anticipation, we finally headed back to Magic Island Resort in Moalboal for our Philippines Dive Trip! (Cebu, PI) Current routing from HNL gets us into Cebu pretty late, so some of our group decided to fly in a day early and stay in a airport hotel. Drivers from the resort pick up at the airport nearby.
Note: Philippine Airlines baggage policy is now 2 FREE checked bags (50 pound limit each) on international flights. Great news for divers with lots of gear!
Arriving to Magic Island Resort
All aboard the air conditioned van for the scenic drive to the resort. We pass city, hills and then countryside. Rice paddies, fighting roosters, water buffalo, wicker houses and lush tropical jungle speed by. Turning off of the main road onto the dirt lane is the cue we are very close to arriving. The gates open up and we are greeted by the whole Magic Island crew. They even remembered the names of the return visitors! Hugs and fresh squeezed mango juice greet us. Bags whisked off to our stand alone cottages, tour the gorgeous grounds, a bit of dive paperwork and check in is done.
Those of us who wanted grabbed our gear and did a wonderful dive off the house reef right away. Our verbal dive report was given at the open air bar. Several lionfish, nudibranch, mantis shrimp and so much more right in front of the resort!
Food Abroad Is Everything..
Eat, sleep dive and repeat is the name of the game. Food, rooms and diving were all fantastic. The linchpin of a great dive resort is the food. We know the diving is great or we wouldn’t visit the area. Finding the place with the best food, done! Dining is open air, either on the lanai overlooking the bay or in the covered dining area. We enjoyed ordering from the menu for breakfast, including fresh watermelon, orange, mango or coconut juice. After two dives lunch is always ready when you are. Dinner is served family style and keeps on coming until you have your fill. Any dietary restrictions or food allergies are taken seriously in this kitchen, if something is served you can’t eat or don’t like you will have a specially made dish presented instead. Breakfast, two am boat dives, lunch, pm boat dive, unlimited guided shore dives, mandarin sunset dives, dinner, guided night dives or floro night dives were offered daily. Our single non-diver had one on one pool DSD followed by first ever ocean dives over the week.
Marine Life in Cebu..
Some of the fantastic critters we spied: Frogfish, Orangutan Crabs hiding in the Bubble Anemone, Scorpion Fish, Sweetlips, Clouds of purple and yellow Anthias, hunting Jacks, Barracuda, Glass Shrimp peeking out of their Anemone homes, colorful Soft Corals (everywhere!!), huge Anemones with Clownfish snuggling down inside, Pigmy Seahorses curled around huge Coral Fans, Cuttlefish, black and white striped Sea Snakes, Eels, giant School of Anchovies, Whale Sharks and so much more! Whale shark dive & snorkel in Oslob was even better this year. We had several free swimming plus schools of tuna and big jacks swooping on in. So many selfies! White beach is always a good surface interval stop for a cold drink and a bit of trinket shopping.
The Extras that Make it a Perfect Dive Trip
Massages are very affordable at Magic Island. (Under $20 for an hour.) Twin massage tables overlook the ocean. One massage was included in our package. So easy to get hooked! Some of our divers had one each day. The two masseuses were sad to see us go, as we kept them busy! Too soon, our last night arrived. We were surprised by live music! Poor man was upstaged by our very own Jeff (with a J.), who had skill on the guitar and a mean set of pipes!
Special thanks to the crew at Magic Island and our wonderful dive travelers! Geoff, Diane, Jeff, Ken, Liz, Melissa and the newest diver Evelyn! Thanks for the great time! Matt, Sheila & Mary.
Original Philippines Trip Information
Philippines Dive Trip Feb 19th to 26th 2017
This Philippines dive trip is $1495 for dbl occ includes 5 days of unlimited diving with nitrox, lodging and meals at the fantastic Magic Islands resort, a fluoro night dive (see coral and marine life fluoresce with special lights), in house massage, and round trip transportation from Cebu City. $500 deposit to reserve space, $500 on Oct 1st and balance of $495 on Dec 1st. This trip was so great, and sold out, that we are doing a return trip only a year later. Our past trip was a 10 of 10, let’s do it again! Check out last years trip report. Trip Leader is Mary Christensen.
Your flight to Cebu, Philippines (CEB) should land on Feb 19th, 2017 and depart from CEB Feb 26th. This means you may have to leave your departure city a day early to land on the 19th. Airport transfers are included. (HINT: Try to make your flights arrive to CEB in the am or early afternoon and depart from CEB in the afternoon, there is a 2 ½ hour transit to the airport from the resort.)
Trip led by Instructor Mary C. Double occupancy at Magic Islands Resort. Airport transfers. Tanks & weights. Nitrox, if you are certified. ( HINT: If you aren’t Nitrox cert, ask Mary!) 5 days, 3 boat dives per day, fresh fruit, coffee, tea & water served aboard. Unlimited guided house reef diving. One guided Floro night dive. WIFI in rooms, lounge and bar. Three delicious meals daily. Unlimited tea, coffee and fresh filtered water. One hour massage. ( HINT: Make your reservation ASAP upon arrival.)
Anything not specially mentioned above. Exit tax to be paid at the airport upon exit. Appx $35 USD in cash. Booze not included in package. Rentals, mandarin dive, whale shark experience to be paid directly to operator.
American passport holders can get a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after return date. There is a tax to be paid at the airport upon exit. Appx $35 USD in cash. You may bring up to two liters of spirits. (Hello Duty Free store!) As of 11/01/2015 $1 USD = $46.85 Philippine Pesos. Our resort will exchange USD to PI Peso at a rate of $1 USD to $45 PI Pesos. It is best to use the peso, get small bills as it’s hard to get change for big bills. Power- you don’t need adapters but the power is 220 volt, not 110. Bring bug spray. Average water temp low 80’s. Average air temp mid 80’s. Average price for a San Miguel beer in Cebu is 55 pesos. Credit cards can be used at the resort for a 5% fee. (Not including what your cc may charge for foreign transactions.)
The Philippines is part of the “Coral Triangle” area with more species of fish and corals than any other marine environment on earth. Some call the PI reef “The Amazon of the Sea”. With more than 7100 islands, the Philippines tropical climate, warm water, vast coral reefs and mind blowingly beautiful flora and fauna make this country a true SCUBA diver’s paradise.With more than 1200 marine life species, and more likely waiting to be discovered, the underwater ecosystem is the epicenter of marine biodiversity. A Philippines Dive Trip is a great place to see clown fish, scorpionfish, emperor, barracuda, parrotfish, moorish idol, flute mouth, tuna, batfish and trevally. Some of the more unusual creatures spotted include pigmy seahorses, lionfish, triton triggerfish, unicorn fish, trumpet fish, assorted wrasse, mantis shrimp, blue ribbon eels, cuttlefish, and octopus. Bigger animals include eagle rays, devil rays, manta rays, sharks (including threshers, hammerheads) and whale sharks!. If you like nudibranch, this is the place. We have seen more variety and number of nudis in the PI than anywhere else we have been.
On land, there is plenty of diversity as well. Certian species can only be found here, such as the tube nosed fruit bat and the Visayan warty pig. More common mammals include the wild hog, deer, wild carabao (water buffalo), monkey, tarsier and civet cat. There are at least 196 species of birds like the megapodes (turkey like wildfowl), button quail, jungle fowl, peacock, dove, parrot and hornbill. Reptiles like crocodiles, cobras and pythons and the other 190 reptile species call Philippine rainforests home. The Filipino people will warmly embrace visitors and are generally very friendly and relaxed. Americans are well received. They will want to talk to you and get to know you, practicing using their English skills. While walking down the street, you will be met with a lot of smiles and waves. Many times we have been called out to with things like “Hello, ma’am-sir!” or “Hi Joe!”. (The whole Joe thing comes about from GI Joe and the WWII history there.)The PI and it’s people are considered “The Melting Pot of Asia” in part because it’s been a trade stopping point since people started wandering the open seas by boat. Foreigners ended up staying, intermarrying and living among the islanders.The Philippines has been of major interest to different Spanish conquistadores, pirates and sea marauders not to mention the Japanese and American influence left by WWII.
Magic Island Dive Resort, Basdiot, Moalboal, 6032 Cebu Philippines, ph: + 63 32 358 5477. Each stand alone cottage is air conditioned. Credit cards can be used at the resort for a 5% fee. (Not including what your cc may charge for foreign transactions.) There are motorcycles for hire at the resort. (The small beach town of Moalboal is about 15 minute drive away from the resort, trikes for hire are about $5 to Moalboal.) Massage staff available 24 hrs a day with at least 2 hrs notice. The diving is fantastic all over the PI, but this Philippines Dive Trip is made by the great folks at Magic Island.
Payments to Dive Travel Services
For this Philippines dive trip the Payment schedule is as follows: $500 deposit to reserve a spot. $500 on Oct 15 and balance of $499 by Dec 1st, 2016. All payments need to be made by check or cashier’s check to Dive Travel Services (not Island Divers). The best way to get that in our hands is mail to PO Box 30108 Honolulu HI 96820, though dropping off at a shop is an option. If you want to pay by cash you need to make an appointment with Sheila Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org Payments are non refundable for any reason. That being said we will work with any resort or operator or airline to secure refund if possible. Don’t count on this though, Dive Travel Services makes commitments based on trip payments, and once resorts have the have the money, getting it back is not very likely. Get travel insurance from DAN! www.diversalertnetwork.org/travel
Information you should send to us
- Passport number – valid for 6 months after last date of travel
- Date of Birth & Redress and Known Traveler numbers if applicable
- your contact phone & email as well as an emergency contact
- any food allergies or dietary restrictions
- your flight details
*If you have sent this information for a previous trip, we have it. Update as necessary.