It wasn’t difficult coming up with a title for the final instalment of my Philippines trip report. The resort we spent our last few days at is evocatively called Magic Island; located in a beautifully calm bay in Moalboal on the island of Cebu it is a peaceful and tranquil place. We arrived after dark and enjoyed a lovely alfresco dinner overlooking the sea; the water was so flat it could have been a lake reflecting the shining stars and moonlight overhead. We instantly fell in love with our intimate and charming new home and after a long day of travel on public boats and buses from Malapascua we hit the sack ahead of our first dives in the morning.
Magic Island Bay by night and by day – a peaceful place.
Before breakfast I had a wander around the resort, this time with the help of the glorious sunlight rather than subtle outdoor mood lighting. Ten traditional thatched style bungalows make up Magic Island along with a small pool, open air bar and plenty of spots to sit and enjoy the views of the bay. Across the water is Moalboal’s very own chocolate hills; Bohol is the island famed for having so called chocolate hills but the scenic back drop here is every bit as beautiful. After a hearty plateful of scrambled eggs and toast it was time to prepare our gear for the first dive of the day. There was a Belgian dive club who dominated the resort while we were there, a friendly bunch but we kept ourselves to ourselves mostly – we even had our own boat just for the two of us. The equipment area is spacious and well thought out with personal hangers and boxes for all your gear. I was excited to discover that Pescador Island was first up on the agenda – widely regarded as one of the best sites in the area…not a bad start.
A short 10-15 minute boat ride away, Pescador Island can be seen from the bay. A huge bait ball of sardines used to take up residence around Pescador but they have since moved. Fortunately for us they simply moved to another local dive site and so we hoped to dive amongst them at some stage. If I’m completely honest I had set my expectations pretty low with regards to the diving. Moalboal is not known for encounters with the ‘big guys’ of the ocean and my understanding until now was that the dive sites are somewhat modest to put it politely. Well I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Pescador. The shallow reef that encrusts the island is filled with pristine hard coral and countless Anthias – the goldfish of the sea – have made it their home. My first thought was quite simply “well this is very pretty”. The sunlight pierced the surface of the water and making our way from the shallows to begin our descent along the wall was like cruising through a giant aquarium.
The clear waters and healthy reefs make Moalboal like diving in an aquarium.
We reached a depth of around 40m in the hopes to catch a glimpse of the white tip sharks that usually lurk there but they didn’t come out to play unfortunately. As we circled the island hugging close to the wall we made our ascent within a wide vertical swim thru called ‘The Cathedral’. It has a number of window-like openings, and looked less like a Cathedral and more like the carved features of a Halloween pumpkin. An abundance of fish life inhabit the dive site which probably attributes to its name – translated from Spanish, Pescador simply means ‘fisherman’. Our safety stop was spent playing in the bubbles that escaped from the fissures of the rock – I’m not sure if these bubbles were from divers in the swim thru below or whether they are produced from some kind of volcanic activity but I expect it was simply divers (I should have asked!).
We only had 4 nights at Magic Island with two days of diving – I wish we could have stayed for longer. The order of the day is wall diving in Moalboal; the clear water and healthy reefs make for very pleasant experiences underwater. We saw an astonishing number of turtles, nine on a single dive in fact. Some were very bold and quite content to pose for a close up; clearly familiar with bumping into divers on a regular basis. We took to the water after dark on our second day to see what the house reef had to offer on a night dive. Rather than taking a guide we navigated the simple site ourselves; 30 minutes one way, turn around and 30 minutes back. As we always do we spent the second half of the dive with our torches off enjoying the natural environment without the intrusiveness of an artificial beam of light. When we came across a group of four divers searching for critters along the face of the wall with their underwater lightsabers we swooped beneath them – unseen like aqua ninjas! If you haven’t dived this way before I highly recommend it if you really want to immerse yourself in the experience.
An abundance of turtles are as good as guaranteed in Moalboal
Remember the bait-ball of sardines that disappeared from Pescador Island? Luckily they didn’t make it very far. Just 10 minutes or so away from the resort and close to shore is a dive site called Panagsama Beach and it is here where the huge cluster of tiny fish have decided to set up camp. We intended to spend 10 minutes or so playing amongst them and snapping a few pictures but actually we ended up spending a full hour mesmerised by them. The ball tends to stay within about 5m of the surface and never seems to drop below 12m or so; it makes for a fun dive and some interesting photos so I’d definitely factor it in.
Our last day was spent out of the water, well…out of the sea at least. We drove 45 minutes or so to Kawasan Falls; a beautiful place with a number of waterfalls. It’s possible to climb up to 6 different stages and there are a number of opportunities to jump in the pools below from heights that some may find unsettling. The local people will often visit the falls to cool down and enjoy a swim; the children show no fear as they perform hair raising back-flips from the highest of jumping points – truly nosebleed worthy! It was a great afternoon and well worth the visit.
An exhilarating dip in the Kawasan Waterfalls makes for a refreshing change from diving.
It wasn’t long before our time in Moalboal had come to an end, and to make matters worse this also signalled the end of our trip altogether! Just 3 flights, a night in Manila and 35 hours later and we would be tucked up in our own beds. Island hopping in the Philippines makes for a truly amazing itinerary; the diving opportunities are rich and varied providing encounters with critters both great and small. If you haven’t read the previous instalments to this article (or you have but could do with a re-cap) here are some quick ‘hashtag’ highlights of the 13 blissful days we spent in the stunningly beautiful seven thousand (plus!) island country that is the Philippines.
#sogodbay #whalesharks #sunsets #threshersharks #happyhour #hammerheads #mantas #matingmandarin #sambawanisland #sardines #octopus #gatoisland #kawasanfalls #whitetipsharks #padresburgos #nightdives #sogod2malapascua2moalboalin2weeks
Seeing it on paper like that makes me want to do it all over again!
If you would like to know more about planning an island hopping diving holiday in the Philippines then you can contact Mat at Dive Worldwide where he works as a Dive Specialist Consultant.
WIN a Bigblue Expandable Tray!!!
The Bigblue expandable tray (176mm-287mm) has fittings and screws to attach action and compact cameras. The base and handles are made from high grade aluminium with the handles having a neoprene grip. The package also includes clamps and adaptors for 1” ball and YS light fittings.
To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:
In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that the Handicapped Scuba Association South Africa has announced plans to host their 6th Annual fundraising event “HSASA 50hr Dive–A-Thon 2021” this year. But on what dates will the event take place?
- A) 15th – 17th October
- B) 22nd – 24th October
- C) 29th – 31st October
Answer, A, B or C to the question above:
Jeff chats to… Jim Elliott and Tinamarie Hernandez of Diveheart (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jim Elliott, Founder and President of Diveheart, and Tinamarie Hernandez who is the organization’s Executive Director.
Diveheart is a US-based, nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization which aims to provide and support educational scuba diving programs that are open to any child, adult or veteran with a disability, with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value to that person.
In their own words:
We’ve discovered the forgiving, weightless wonder of the water column provides the perfect gravity-free environment for those who might otherwise struggle on land. Underwater, we’re all equal.
Diveheart works with individuals who have a variety of disabilities, including physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more. Diveheart seeks to help its participants “Imagine the Possibilities” in their lives.
Find out more about Diveheart and their valuable work at www.diveheart.org.
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
WIN a Bigblue Expandable Tray!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue Expandable Tray as...
WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag! The Air...
Win a Waterproof BODY 2X Power Stretch Hollow Fiber Undergarment!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at CPS Partnership to give away a Waterproof BODY 2X...
WIN a SeaLife AquaPod Mini!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at SeaLife to give away one of their AquaPod Minis...
Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email email@example.com
Competitions3 months ago
WIN a PADI eLearning Course – 5 courses up for grabs!!!
Competitions3 months ago
WIN an Envirus Everyday+ Mask from Sharkskin – 5 up for grabs!!!
Competitions4 weeks ago
WIN a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag!!!
Competitions1 month ago
WIN a DivePro S10 Compact Dive Torch!!!
News4 weeks ago
Scubaverse.com’s NEW Monthly Underwater Photo and Video Contest Prizes worth more than £500 each!
Marine Life & Conservation3 months ago
Philippines vital for endangered Whale Sharks
Competitions3 weeks ago
WIN a SeaLife AquaPod Mini!!!
Gear Reviews3 months ago
Divers Ready: Garmin Descent Mk2, Mk2i and T1 Transmitter Review (Watch Video)