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Critter Spotting in the Visayas, Philippines



It had been 3 years since my last visit to the Philippines and I was itching to get in the water and revisit some of the spectacular critter sites along the coast of Dauin, Negros Island. Having spent 8 months in the region during my time as Cruise Director on the Philippine Siren in 2009/2010, I was keen to return and see for myself how the sites had changed and perhaps spot a few new critters along the way.

Not looking for a bus-man’s holiday, Thomas and I opted for a shore-based vacation at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa rather than joining a liveaboard trip. The resort has an amazing set up and from the first moment we were welcomed by all and felt immediately at home. Our apartment was luxurious and nicely secluded, the dive centre is very well thought out and the guides are top-notch. New additions since my last visit were the Sanctuary Spa and Yoga Hut – which made a welcome addition to the holiday – Anna certainly had healing hands for the post-dive relaxation.

Leaf Fish- Visayas

Upon the advice of our guides Arjay & Lor our first dive was to be at Pyramids; an artificial reef made up of metallic pyramid shaped structures which are encrusted with corals and sponges. This was a new site for me and I was pleasantly surprised how much growth there was considering the short space of time since the site was created. Within minutes Arjay was gesticulating at a tiny devil scorpionfish and the macro critters just kept on coming; tiny painted frogfish, candy crabs, thorny seahorse, sawblade shrimps, ornate ghost pipefish were just a few of the finds during the dive. My favourite spot had to be the crinoid shrimp which was nestled within its home and very well camouflaged.

ghost pipefish

For our second dive we chose a shore entry to explore the Atmosphere House Reef; another critter haven. We were surprised by the number of sea snakes spotted during the dive- thankfully for me they were rather lazy and allowed us to approach. Not a lover of snakes I am however fascinated by sea snakes so it was great to be able to get up close to them. Other finds during the dive were leaf fish and many species of my beloved nudibranchs. Yes I am a self-confessed nudi geek! So once one was pointed out I could think of little else. The house reef, whilst a gentle sloping sand & coral garden also benefits from several sunken structures which have sponge and coral growths providing a perfect haven for numerous molluscs. A Nembrotha Cristata happily posed for photos and I was able to get some shots showing its rearing action.

nembrotha cristata1_lr

Another dive highlight was Masapolod, where once again I was off nudi spotting – with several species being found including some rather amorous Nembrotha Chamberlani. More leaf fish and an elusive crab eyed goby were all pointed out by Lor, along with a hairy squat lobster ticked right into the folds of a barrel sponge.


With some great dives and several frozen margarita cocktails under our belts we bid farewell to the Atmosphere team for our return to cebu. Bringing our Aqua Lung travel gear we were able to save on luggage space which is a real benefit when flying with Cebu Pacific Airlines – the bag fitted neatly into the overhead locker and we didn’t have to pay excess. Fly to Dumaguete with Cebu Pacific Airlines or Philippine Airlines.

There are numerous resorts to choose from along the Dauin Coast all offering superb critter dives and Apo Island trips as well as trips to see whale sharks in Oslob. The Philippine Siren also combines diving in Dauin & Apo Island with dives at Moalboal, Cabilao & Bohol, for those who wish to take the liveaboard option.

We recommend diving with:-

Siren Fleet /

Atmosphere Resorts

Amontillado Resort

Liquid Diving

Susie has been enjoying the life of a dive instructor, travelling the world diving and teaching. Susie is somewhat of a liveaboard junkie after working as a cruise director in the Red Sea, the Philippines and Indonesia. She has also led trips to Fiji, Palau, Similans, Myanmar, East Timor, the Maldives and the Galapagos, yet she still finds time to do some shore based diving at her favourite sites in the Philippines too. Find Susie at


Discover Peace and Tranquillity in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and its Amazing Red Sea



There is a dive resort in the Red Sea that is stuck in time; a time when the marine life was not bombarded by modern times. No tourist hotels, no day boats, and very few divers… simply the Red Sea at its best.

That place is the multi award winning Roots Red Sea.

Nestling on the edge of the Eastern Desert beside a mountain back drop, Roots Red Sea offers an idyllic comfortable retreat in the desert making you truly feel at one with nature.

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea is a small friendly resort aimed at scuba divers, snorkellers and those who want a quiet, peaceful, relaxed atmosphere but with the convenience of having the small traditional town of El Quseir on its doorstep. The tag of a camp should not be taken too literally; it relates more to the location than the outstanding accommodations with modern facilities.

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea is managed by British-owned and run Pharaoh Dive Club, who have an unsurpassed reputation for friendly helpful staff delivering great personal service. Owners Steve and Clare have vast experience of the Red Sea, having been working the region for over 35 years.

Roots Red Sea

Their simple mantra is to deliver the holiday the guest wants and treat everyone the way they would like to be treated themselves. There is a distinct no problem attitude and nothing is too much trouble for the team. It’s certainly a winning formula, as testified by their guests. TripAdvisor award winners every year since opening resulting in being accredited to the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame.

Roots Red Sea

It’s no wonder that Roots Red Sea boasts an annual 75% repeat guest rate. It’s one of the diving world’s best kept secrets!

But you don’t go to the Red Sea to sit in a hotel, no matter how perfect it is – you go for the diving, and that certainly doesn’t disappoint – starting with the awesome house reef!

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea isn’t just the base for Pharaoh Dive Club, its operated by them too. Unlike the majority of holiday resorts across Egypt, at Roots Red Sea everything revolves around making your diving experience as good as it
could ever be.

Roots Red Sea

The dive operation is seamless, from arrival to departure. All the check-in procedures are on-site, right next to the accommodation, and once completed, it’s just a short walk away to the private beach on Abu Sauatir Bay – Roots Red Sea‘s house reef. On the beach, you will find all you need to while away the hours: sun loungers, parasols, toilets, showers, and the Beach Bistro where lunch is served each day.

Roots Red Sea

Diving with Pharaoh Dive Club is extremely relaxed and flexible. For those with suitable experience, the house reef is open from 8am to 5pm for unlimited unguided diving. Come and go as much as your computer allows!

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea

Everyday, if you want, there are options to go further afield and explore the amazing variety of sites both locally and those which require day excursions. Trips are run by bus to shore locations and by zodiac for the less accessible sites.

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea

Roots Red Sea


There is more than enough local diving to fill the days for many visits, however we do also have access to some of the more renowned dive sites, and offer regular opportunities for our divers to experience them.


Elphinstone Reef is one of Egypt’s most exhilarating diving spots. The summit of a subterranean mountain barely reaches the surface and is abound with rich in colourful corals and fish species, all attracting the interest of hungry barracuda, dolphins and sharks.  This is one of the few places where divers can regularly come in direct contact with the awesome Oceanic White Tip shark.

Roots Red Sea

These encounters are only for experienced advanced divers due to the reef’s location in the open-sea, with its alluring but dangerously deep coral plateaus and caves and its infamous and constantly changing currents. You’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.


The Salem Express is a wreck to be dived with immense respect for the poor souls who lost their lives in tragedy just an hour away from its final destination, the Safaga Port.
Originally built in the French shipyards of La Seyne in 1964 and known by several different names during the course of its life, the Salem Express was a 100 meter (300 feet) long roll-on roll-off ferry. She is is resting at a depth of 12 to 30 meters on its starboard side with its bow doors wide open.

Roots Red Sea

On descending, the port side of the ship is merely 12 meters below the surface and is surprisingly intact. The lifeboats with the distinct “S” emblem are indications that they passengers didn’t even get the chance to lower them.
The Salem Express is a fabulous wreck dive for all levels of diver with clear waters allowing you to see the complete wreck as you descent to the the port side to begin your tour.


Night diving at Roots Red Sea is constantly referred to by our guests as their best ever. The unspoilt reef around the bay changes completely at night with a whole new cast of attractions. Without a doubt, the stars of the show are the awesome Spanish Dancers and eerie Flashlight fish who dart around the reef face.

Roots Red Sea

They may be the stars, but the reef is also abundant with the resident sleeping Hawksbill turtle, sleeping parrot fish in their mucus bubbles exciting finds, and more. When the dive is over and you are back on the beach, you will undoubtedly be reaching for the marine life ID books, as there are some very strange looking night visitors!



Roots is also the perfect location for diver training, from total beginner to going pro. 


Fancy turning your hobby into a career?  Our PADI Pro training is provided by the best in the industry, namely Ocean Turtle Diving.  Platinum Course Director Kerrie Eade works alongside Elite Course Director Edwin Lodder to ensure each course is fun and enjoyable whilst delivering the highest level of coaching and extraordinary success rates.

Roots Red Sea

Kerrie and Edwin have achieved the highest level of recognition from PADI for their Pro training. They train in excess of 200 professionals each year, yet still deliver bespoke, tailored training to meet the needs of each candidate.

The next IDC at Roots Red Sea will begin on 30th November through to 7th December with the IE in Hurghada on the 9th and 10th December.  Click here for more details or to book:


Have we whet your appetite to come and visit us? Lets make it a simple decision by making a very special offer!

Come and grab some winter sun with our exclusive offer in association with Scubaverse:
Visit Roots Red Sea during the whole of December 2023 through to the end of February 2024, with an amazing 2 for 1 package. Valid for bookings received before 1st November 2023, quoting reference SBV1023.

Roots offers all the amenities you need to recharge your batteries without any animation to disturb the peaceful ambiance.
For more information, contact us:
And don’t forget to quote SBV1023 before 1st November 2023 to take advantage of our exclusive Scubaverse 2 for 1 package if you come and dive with us anytime from the beginning of December 2023 until the end of February 2024!

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Join Murex Resorts in North Sulawesi and embark on a Passport to Paradise!



Are you planning your next tropical diving holiday? With literally the world at your feet and so many different types of diving to choose from it can be tough deciding where to go…

The Indonesian province of North Sulawesi lies in the heart of a marine rich region and offers incredible wall diving in the Bunaken Marine Park: wreck, critters and reef combinations in Manado Bay; colorful coral reefs surrounding Bangka island; and the world’s best muck diving in the Lembeh Strait. So how do you begin to choose which region to allocate your holiday time to?

Whilst many divers have heard of these world class diving destinations, many may not realize the close proximity within which they are located. Taking a scuba diving holiday in North Sulawesi does not mean that you have to choose between locations – you can see all that is on offer and explore the areas which appeal to you – IN ONE TRIP!!!

Bunaken Marine Park was one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Indonesia – and it shows! The dive sites around this small island are characterized by staggering coral walls which are teeming with life. The resident population of green sea turtles has grown from strength to strength and at some dive sites you’ll lose count of the number of turtles you see in a single dive.

North Sulawesi, Nord Sulawesi, Celebes Sea, Murex Manado

Manado Bay is home to wide ranging marine life and diverse dive sites. Manado Bay is becoming increasingly recognized for its black sand, muck diving sites, which are home to a plethora of unusual critters from numerous cephalopod species through to seahorses, nudibranch and crustaceans. The Molas wreck is an exciting wreck dive and also offers a myriad of fish and critters. To the South of Manado Bay lays Poopoh – a record breaking site where 385 different species of fish were recorded in just one morning.

Bangka Island is as beautiful underwater as it is on land. This white sand, paradise island is surrounded by kaleidoscopic, soft coral reefs. Schooling snappers, passing reef sharks, occasional dugongs and an array of reef fish and critters have all made Bangka Island their home. Bangka offers phenomenal diving coupled with the chance to completely get off the grid on this stunning, remote tropical island.

The Lembeh Strait is home to the highest concentration of rare and unusual marine life on Earth. Exploring Lembeh’s world famous muck diving sites is akin to opening a treasure chest of critters. Even the most seasoned of divers can’t help but be impressed by the species found here: eight different species of frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, wunderpus, mimic octopus, blue ring octopus, bobtail squids, harlequin shrimps, tiger shrimps, three species of pygmy seahorses, countless species of nudibranch, bobbit worms, Ambon scorpionfish and rhinopias – just to name but a few!

The idea of moving from resort to resort can seem arduous and result in wasted diving days – but in North Sulawesi this does not need to be the case! Stay with us at Murex Manado (for diving Bunaken and Manado), and smoothly transition to Murex Bangka and then on to Lembeh Resort too. You can choose the number of nights you wish to stay in each location and transfers between resorts are by boat and include two dives along the way! No wasted diving days, no logistical planning, no drying and packing gear and your dive guide will stay with you from start to finish. Dive your way, hassle free, from one place to the next. Two resort combinations are also available.

For those of you who want to experience the full diversity of Indonesia, choose from up to 150 dive sites and maximize your diving opportunities – a Passport to Paradise is the dive trip of a lifetime.

For more information or for enquiries:

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Jump on board the newest addition to the Emperor Fleet! Seven Seas is a very impressive liveaboard boasting 12 spacious cabins. It offers 5-star service and is perfect for exploring the waters with its spacious dive deck and 75HP zodiac tenders fitted with ladders. Enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic introductory special offer.   Price NOW from just £1625 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including: Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage 7 nights in shared cabin 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees Free Nitrox Airport transfers More information on Seven Seas Booking deadline: Limited availability at this price! Subject to availability. Alternative departure airports are available. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email More Less

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