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Anilao, Philippines 2017

June 4, 2017

The story so far, after a couple of uneventful Emirates flights we arrive in Manilla. Taxi pickup worked perfect then almost three hours later we were dumped on a beach and met by some young folk in a boat, they made off with our baggage so we decided to follow. After 5 minutes at sea. We round the headland and there it is, home for the next couple of weeks.

Check in and briefings completed we order dinner, unpack our bags, eat dinner and now it is time to collapse.

I think there may be another two people on the boat tomorrow, busy!

It’s 33 degrees, dry with clear skies. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Dive day 1, straight in there!

June 5, 2017

Well, brief is the operative word, the briefing consisted of “it’s a sandy bottom let’s go”, that was pretty much it.

Muck diving was the order of the day, from our dive boat Calypso, see the picture, not to be confused with Simons boat. We did three dives and a night dive. Frog fish of the normal and the hairy kind,nudis, blue ringed octopus, Bobbitt worm (!), seahorses, pygmy and large, shrimps, mantis shrimp, loads of stuff.
the water is between 29 and 32 degrees, not sure why most folks are wearing wetsuits?

The resort is great, though yesterday we discovered a large land crab in the bathroom and then the mother of all spiders in the bedroom. So large it was that apparently it was outside the spec of what Jo will deal with so I had to catch the thing using a large box, no glass large enough. (Jo’s comment: I only deal with spiders up to the size of my hand, any bigger, then it’s a man’s job)

The bar is well stocked with the red horse (Jen – 6.9%, explained a fair bit on the last holiday) and yesterday’s special was long island iced tea, slept well.

Dive day 2

June 6, 2017

Another 4 dive day, blue skies and sunshine, all good dives, the most outstanding was the bubble dive, volcanic reef with bubbles coming up everywhere and really really hot sand, too hot to touch in places.

Night dive included sea horses and squid, back now for some red horse and pina colada, yum.

Sweet and sour chicken, fried rice and chop suey for tea, more yum.

Dive day 3

June 6, 2017

Breakfast done, cylinders checked, cameras ready, best go diving Anilao style!

Another 4 under the belt including a night dive. Lots of stuff, shrimps, nudies and the occasional fish. Great diving. Loving the house reef for the night diving.

Jo just ordered a cocktail with 8 different spirits. It was a two red horse kind if evening.

Getting a little worried about our food ordering. Each day  more food is ordered. Each day more food is eaten. We have even found the tubs of biscuits.

…let’s see how that goes!


Dive day 4

June 8, 2017

The day started with an epic battle.  At five o’clock in the morning, Richard took on, in the noisiest way, the eviction on the land crab from the bathroom. Richard won although it sounded like it was closely fought. So, all he has to do is evict the two lizards and the other spiders. I would say that I liked the land crab and wanted to bring him home.

Another 4 lovely dives on various sites including a night dive with various frog fish, large, medium, small, micro, plain and hairy! Seahorses, seahorses, seahorses and lots of other stuff.

Another fine dinner of sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, chip suey and deep fried lumpia. All washed down with a Shirley temple and the compulsory red horse, yum yum.

Dive day 5

June 9, 2017

Started like this (which is like it does every other day):

Well that wasn’t quite how it started. My lack of enthusiasm at getting out of bed resulted in Richard sitting on my head! Beware the hairy arse of hairy arsed diver, particularly before breakfast!

Anyway, today was the day of the current…  Dives one and two on the west side. Nice dives on reefs but with current. Divethree on the East side, no current but rough in top. Dive four, dusk/night dive, also on the East side. Rough on top and raging current and getting darker with every second. FFS! Thank goodness for our wonderful guide, Nanie.

Had a little torrential rain today. Waterfalls on the steps.  Well that is the tropics.  Didn’t rain all day.


Diving Day six

June 9, 2017

It poured and poured last night. One of the swimming pools, which is closed due a leek caused by an earthquake, is starting to refill. It was empty when we arrived and now has about six inches of water in the bottom… So, it is overcast today, well this morning anyway…could be brilliant sunshine later, you just can’t tell.

Almost missed the dive. Knock, knock. Judy at the door. Are you coming?  Ring, ring. Reception asking if we were diving. Bugger! Got the time wrong! Oh the embarassment. Everyone waiting! Forgot to mention that on day 2, the boat had to go back to shore to get both of our masks. Oops! What a couple of numpties!

First two dives completed, first was a wreck in Gin clear visibility, lots to see and at 30m, deepest dive of the trip so far, the second was amongst very colorful coral outcrops and at 91mins, the longest of the trip so far.

The rain has stopped and the sun is trying!

Dive three completed, loads of stuff on a very pretty site. Taking a night off tonight, skipping a night dive (shock, horror) to recharge batteries and see Barry and Judy off in style, Sangat for them tomorrow.

We shall shortly be heading off to the bar for a spot of liquid refreshment, red horse will almost certainly be joining us, as well perhaps as some tea from the long island.

…and we have made it all the way to the bar!

And just to prove it…

Dive day 7

June 11, 2017

This morning, Barry and Judy head off to Sangat at 05.30. Clear and bright today so those remaining head over to Kirby Rock, no current when we arrive so in we go. Great dive on a huge pinnacle which is festoon with life. Amazing colours.

Back on board for the surface interval in hot sunshine then back in for a kind of muck dive where we found all the usual suspects plus a few others.

After lunch a quick nap before heading out again. Another reef dive with pygmy seahorses at 14 metres.

An hour’s surface interval, in the pool, was followed by a dusk dive on the house reef. Another excellent dive to finish an excellent day of sunshine and clouds. No torrential rain.

We could get used to this!

Dive day 8

June 11, 2017

A reminder of the resort rules:

Now let’s go diving…

Dive one, favourite dive of the trip so far, amazing under water topography and more nudies in one place than we ever did see anywhere else ever, frog fish, corals and loads of stuff!

Dive two, more underwater topography but a bit of a push against a bit of a current.

Had the luxury of a surface interval in the pool with coffee and biscuits and yes, the biscuits do go soggy!

Here’s one from earlier in the trip:

Dive three was a return trip to a site that wasn’t too clever last time we went there, nothing changed this time! Dive four on the other hand was a spectacular night dive on the house reef, highlights included octoporn, nudiporn and a veritable feast of other nighttime critter action.

Dinner was accompanied by a couple of red horses, we were also joined by divers that we had met from France and Australia for the sharing of diving stories from across the globe, then it’s off to bed!

Dive day 9

June 13, 2017

Fresh meat:

We have watched the divers on our boat diminish as the days go by, first to go was Matt, then Barry & Judy, Arrianne from Australia joined the team, Helen came and went, Martine just hung up her fins and now Julienne has joined the team from France so we are up to 4 divers on the boat.

First dive was a muck dive featuring wonderpuss, mimic octopus and coconut octopus as well as fire worms and various frog fish, then back to base for a brief dip in the pool and we picked up Julienne.

Second dive was “bubbles”, the one with the very hot rock and gas bubbles rising out of the sand. An excellent bimble with nudies, frog fish and a turtle.

After lunch, dive 3 was in coconut bay, so called because of all the palm trees nearby. A great dive with lots of stuff including ghost pipe fish. Ornate ghost pipe fish, razor fish and a garden of white hydrozoas with all manner of supporting critters at hand.

Dive 4, the night dive was at Heidi’s point and once again featured many octopus, crabs, shrimps and all manner of pointless beasts, I mean, sea moths? Completely pointless if you ask me, what a waste of an existence, all night scratching around the sea bed like a half trodden on sparrow!

Dinner was the usual sweet and sour chicken and chop suey chased up by a long island iced tea and a Singapore sling, yum.

Photo processing beckons….

Dive day 10

June 13, 2017

Dive days reach double digits, this is not necessarily a good thing as there aren’t many left.

Jo found this in the bathroom this morning, not her favourite insect!

Today the plan is to cross the bay and go round an island to dive “The Wreck”. Not sure what it was but it is now a box structure with all girders covered in life, a small section lies just off the main lump which looks more like a piece of hull. Did it macro last time, now loaded for the wider angle, let’s see how that turns out.

I am pleased to report that it all went to plan, visited the wreck with the wider lens. On the way back we saw an electric clam, Gabby, you will be pleased to know that we introduced the rest of the boat to the correct and now internationally known sign for these.

Back for a quick dip in the pool then back out for a muck dive where we had a bit of a current both ways. I found a Christmas starfish which was special, well it made me laugh. Jo on the other hand not so amused as at the same time I persuade my find out of the sand (to reveal a small Christmas decoration I had found earlier), Jo decides to take a swipe at a fire urchin with her leg, all needles now removed and the leg is saved though it was all a bit of a nasty shock at the time.

Lunch done, now just off gassing before the next dive.

Dive 3 complete, lovely bimble in zero current, back to the pool for the briefest of moments before we head out to “secret bay” for a dusk dive which was great. No current (always a good start), hairy ar$ed frog fish, normal frog fish, seahorse and a couple of octopus were the main attractions. Not so many shrimps, most probably as I had them for my tea:

.. And they were great, the green stuff? Freshly slouched chilli, tasty. Jo went for the BBQ pork and a salad of carrot, mango, Apple and a local fruit thing, really nice. The while lot wanted down with a drop picture Red Horse and a Shirley Temple.

Back at the room now for picture processing and related shenanigans!

Dive day 11

June 14, 2017

It’s just gone six, not a breath of wind, a few boats out fishing, cockerels cockeraling, the guy who fixes boats on the beach is fixing boats on the beach (I think he only has one tool and he uses it all of the time).

Today we plan to dive ‘Mainit Corner” which is festoon with Nembrotha then a muck dive then after lunch we are off to Anilao jetty for a dive and a night dive. It’s supposed to be quite special, a full report will follow.

Report #1: Mainit corner was excellent, no current, Great visibility, hugely colourful and loads to see. Apart from the usual suspects we saw a banded sea snake and a free swimming blue and yellow ribbon eel, a wonderful dive.

Back to the resort for coffee in the pool then out again for a muck dive at Heidi’s point. Loads of frog fish, small, smaller and smallest, nudies, sea horse, a snake eel reversing into it’s home, robust ghost pipe fish, coconut octopus, blue spotted rays.

Editors note: lying on the bed, updating holiblog holding phone in the air, drops phone which hits head, ouch…

Report #2

This afternoon was a bit of a trip down to Anilao jetty with a dive along the way. First dive was around a rock with a sandy and rubble sea bed. Didn’t see much at all apart from a few nudies and shrimps.

Off to Anilao jetty for a night dive, slight detail, there is no jetty, just a sandy bottom with nothing to see at all.

Jo suggests we find the boat and get out, just then it all started, octopus after octopus after octopus as well as a Bob tail squid, proper squid and a shield slug. An excellent dive followed by a long trip back in total darkness and a serious electrical storm, quite exciting!

Another excellent day was had by all, last one tomorrow, oh dear

Dive day 12 

June 15, 2017

Today is the last diving day  it has been epic and the diving has been great, it is definitely on the list of places to return to one day.

Not sure where we are diving today but I am sure it will be lovely. We have spent at least 5hrs a day under water each day (dive times regularly 75 minutes) as well as some serious pool time, it’s going to take a while to dry out after this trip.

Dive boat Calypso ready for our last adventure.

So we headed out to Elmer’s point for a spot of reef diving where I got to play wide angle for a while and Jo wrestled with yellow pygmy seahorses @24+m.

Back to base for a dip in the pool which @31 degrees was a whole degree warmer than the sea after which we headed out back to secret bay for some muck diving fun. We picked up a few more guests on the boat. All from Taiwan.

We found all manner of frog fish and a large sea horse along with all the usual suspects.

Back to base again for a spot of lunch then heading out again at three for the last two dives of the trip.

OK last two dives completed, both excellent.  Gear now drying, which it does very well in this heat!

First dive was a bumble amongst coral outcrops, the second was a dusk dive on the house reef, we came up in time to see the sunset and keep the dive computers happy, we fly tomorrow at 18:30.

We have both completed 47 dives. Definitely not dived out. Wish we could stay longer. Another place to which we would like to return.

Diving summary: 47 dives completed, 59.5 hrs bottom time, average dive time 75.95 minutes.

Happy divers.

The journey home

June 18, 2017

Up early on the transfer day to commence throwing things into boxes and bags and jumping up and down on the lids until we could zip them all up.

We headed out for breakfast which was then followed by the rest of the packing.

Finally, we could take it no more, into the pool for a swift broil followed by a light lunch.

It was all very sad watching the new guests arriving as we counted down the minutes until our departure

We settled our bill, said the last round of goodbyes then we boarded or transfer vessel that would whisk us away.

In only a few short moments we had rounded the point and headed in to the beach and up some steps to what is actually the resort car park.

Willing helpers bought our baggage up at which point they asked which was our car, our car? No we should have a pickup but before you could say “two deep fried lumpia” they had got back on their boat and were heading out of sight.

Hmmm we thought, this must be just fine, we’ll just hide from the sun as best we can and hope that some transport turns up soon.

After a few short moments a local woman made her way up the steps to us as passed a phone to Jo, “it’s for you” she reassured us, good news, transport arriving in two to three minutes, Jo handed the phone back, the woman disappeared.

Sure enough, three minutes later a swanky Toyota mini bus turns up, just for us, with the A/C set to max, the journey to Manila commences.

The first half is spent winding through small villages, up and down hills, avoiding dogs and small children. Occasionally we would get stuck behind one of those chrome clad extended jeep bus type things which we could overtake when they stopped.

When we arrived at San José (apparently our driver knew the way already and didn’t need to ask) we turn on to the main super highway to Manila which after about 40 minutes grinds to near complete standstill as the various toll plazas and Saturday afternoon traffic do their best to stop us reaching our objective (the airport) however, after more than a few twitchy moments, we arrive with much time to spare.

Emirates check in was a breeze, or so it was until they weighed our baggage, we now scored an impressive 84kg out of an 80kg limit, not only that, our hand baggage was slightly over too.

Panic sets in as we are given the opportunity of purchasing an additional 4kg allowance at $64 per kg.

So there we are, at the front of the queue desperately pulling stuff out of the hold baggage and either wearing it or stuffing it into our carry bags or secreting it around our personage.

Bags weighed again and accepted, I agree with Jo that it must be down to wet items as we had taken nothing back that we didn’t bring out with us.

We check in to the lounge and to my delight a bottle of yellow tail Chardonnay is sat there in the fridge, I soon process that as well as some JD and coke and a light snack. In our excitement we manage to check in to a different lounge than Barry and Judy are in, they had just flown in from Coron.

Regardless, we meet up on the way to the departure gate and exchange stories of our adventures. Once on board it’s the usual non stop movies+food+drink all the way to Dubai, 3 hours in a lounge in Dubai doing exactly the same thing then back on board for the last flight to LHR with even more of the same.

Taxi pickup was fine and we arrived back here some time just before 09:30 I think.

An epic adventure and a place that we would really love to return to. 47 dives with an average of 75 minutes dive time.

We used 32% nitrox for all dives which was mixed on site using the continuous flow method and computers were clear before takeoff.