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Critter Spotting in the Visayas, Philippines

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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.

Frogfish

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 www.sirenfleet.com / info@sirenfleet.com

Atmosphere Resorts http://atmosphereresorts.com

Amontillado Resort http://www.amontilladoresort.com

Liquid Diving http://www.liquiddumaguete.com

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 www.heritagediving.com

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Wakatobi Offers World-Class Diving and Snorkelling

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wakatobi

Wakatobi Resort is known as one of the world’s premier diving and snorkelling destinations. Set on a small island in Indonesia’s Banda Sea, some 1000 km east of Bali, this landmark destination is surrounded by a private marine preserve that protects some of the world’s most pristine and bio-diverse coral reefs. Five-star guest reviews often mention the pristine condition of Wakatobi’s reefs, as well as the idyllic small-island setting, attentive service, ease of travel and gourmet dining experiences.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Though remote, Wakatobi is easily reached by way of direct guest flights from Bali to the resort’s private airfield. Wakatobi’s concierge team assist with the details of international arrival, transfers and layovers. On arrival at the resort the staff takes care of everything, leaving guests free to relax and prepare for an afternoon dive or snorkel excursion.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

The Wakatobi preserve takes in more than 40 dive and snorkelling sites. The centerpiece of this protected area is the House Reef, which lies just offshore of the resort’s beach and stretches for more than a mile to either side of the resort. This expansive site includes seagrass meadows and patch reefs that are home to thousands of species of marine life, including unique finds such as pygmy seahorses and ghost pipefish. Some 73 meters from shore, the reef transitions from depths of 1 to 3 meters to deeper water in a series of precipitous slopes and walls.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

A fleet of 21-meter custom-built dive boats provide daily access to dive sites within the preserve. All boats feature  shaded seating, large deck-level bathrooms with freshwater showers and convenient mid-boat water entries. Many sites begin at depths of less than 3 meters and drop into deep water in a series of slopes and walls. This creates ideal conditions for long multi-level dive profiles, while also allowing snorkellers to enjoy the same sites as divers.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Ashore, guests enjoy bespoke personal service and fine dining. Wakatobi is known for five-star guest experiences, with five staff members for each guest to ensure the highest level of individual attention. Bespoke indulgences include private beach dinners, dedicated personal guide services, spa services and private boat excursions.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Many guests have described the dining experience at Wakatobi as a highlight of their vacation. Each day the resort chefs prepare a diverse range of culinary offerings that includes international and Indonesian favorites. The kitchen can also accommodate bespoke entrees and fulfill special dietary requirements or wishes.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Resort accommodations include Bungalows set in a palm grove facing a white-sand beach and oceanfront Villas with sunset views of the reef. Buildings are hand-crafted in regional Indonesian style from sustainable local materials, and carefully sited to ensure both privacy and views. Though traditional in appearance, these spacious accommodations offer a full range of modern comforts, including air conditioning, private verandahs and details such as Asian-style outdoor showers.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

The resort’s latest property enhancement is the completion of the Turtle Beach Bungalows. Set amidst palms with ocean views across their namesake beach, these new accommodations are an enlarged version of the resort’s popular Ocean Bungalows. Turtle Beach is a quiet, scenic stretch of sand located at the southern end of the property, just a short stroll to the Longhouse, dive center, restaurant and dive boats.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Wakatobi is a recognized as a global leader in private-funded conservation efforts. The resort supports one of the world’s largest privately funded marine preserves and is committed to programs that provide proactive environmental protection and social benefits to the local community.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

Vacationers who have the flexibility to visit Wakatobi in the months following the Christmas and New Year’s holiday find there are some added benefits to booking during this time. These months are known for comfortable mid-range water temperatures and good water clarity. During the first quarter of the year there is a greater chance of securing reservations for a desired week without necessarily having to book a year or more in advance. In addition, peak-season airfares of the holiday season often drop during the first months of the year.

wakatobi

Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

We encourage you to get in touch with a guest experience consultant and discover the opportunities to enjoy Wakatobi at any time of the year.

Contact Robert Parrington, Guest Experience Representative:
Email: robert.parrington@wakatobi.com / Call: +44 20 8393 8511

www.wakatobi.com

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Diving With… Nico, Ocean Earth Travels, Indonesia

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diving in Indonesia

In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…

diving in IndonesiaWhat is your name?

Nicolas Roos

What is the name of your business?

Ocean Earth Travels

What is your role within the business?

Founder and CEO, but also trip leader and photographer / videographer for some of our expeditions.

diving in Indonesia

How long has the business operated for?

We opened the company in 2018 and started operating in 2019.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

First try dives when I was 12… then started diving seriously in my early 30s, first with CMAS, then decided to move the the recreational world and became PADI and SSI instructor in 2016.

What is your favourite type of diving?

It really depends on my mood and the location I am at. I love wreck diving and am more attracted towards big stuff. But I also enjoy  macro and muck diving, especially when in the right place and with the right local guides.

diving in Indonesia

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

We run trips all around Indonesia. The country has more than 17,000 islands and there is still a lot to explore. So any diver can find what they are looking for. We create unique trips for our guests, depending on their wishes, their level of diving and also their personality. Aside from diving, we also invite our guests to discover the wonders that Indonesia has to offer on land and its very rich culture.

What is your favourite dive in your location and why?

Amed, in Bali, has a special place in my heart. It is a fishermen village with chill vibes. The area offers amazing diving all year long and most dive sites are accessible from the shore. So if I feel like it, I can just call a buddy, grab a tank and my equipment and go diving there whenever I want and go explore a wreck, a deep wall, or spend hours looking for critters . For me, the Amed and Tulamben area is the best value for money you can get in the world.

Another special location is the Banda Sea. Banda Sea crossing trips happen twice a yeasr (around April and October) and are always amazing, with sightings hammerhead sharks and many more amazing encounters.

diving in Indonesia

What types of diving are available in your location?

We are in the heart of the coral triangle and the biodiversity here is truly amazing. From Komodo’s ripping currents to muck diving, Indonesia has it all.

We organize dive safaris between different locations and we also work with many liveaboards, which are the best to explore an area.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

I love sharing my passion for the ocean and for the Indonesian culture. The most rewarding thing is the smile on our guests’ faces and when they tell us that they will come back to visit us on another trip.

Just last month, a 71 years old diver from France told me that she most probably did her last dives with us… We just spent an amazing day in Nusa Penida island and saw manta rays and mola molas, so I was wondering why. She told me that coming here and doing these amazing dives with her 2 sons was an achievement for her, and she felt that her job was done… A truly heart-warming exchange.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

If I have to name one, I would say the octopus. Truly amazing creatures, and they come in many shapes and sizes!

diving in Indonesia

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

We are based in Indonesia… we are literally sitting between 2 major tectonic plates and surrounded by volcanos… so we have to be aware of the risks of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions which could put a halt in our operations.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

We are working with NGOs and dive centers doing conservation work. We encourage our guests to learn more about coral reef restoration, and to take part in some actions when possible (coral farming, beach cleanups, survey dives).

Our focus is on education and on supporting operators and NGOs having a positive impact on the environment.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Always! After this high season, we will be exploring some lesser known islands around the country and working with our partners to explore new dive sites in order to take our guests there.

diving in Indonesia

Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

We design trips for groups and individuals of all levels. Get in touch with us, let’s have a chat and we will create together a diving adventure that suits you and your budget. We will also advise you and organise visits on land to discover Indonesia’s breath-taking nature, wildlife and meet its amazing people.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business? 

Visit our website www.oceanearthtravels.com, follow us on Instagram @oceanearth.travels and get in touch with us.

My personal Instagram can be found here.

We will be happy to advise you on the best destinations and time to visit depending on your wishes. Talk to you soon!

WhatsApp: +62 819 136 11 770

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