I have to be honest and say the Philippines wasn’t the most enjoyable bit of travelling I’ve ever done – true to form I insisted on doing everything overland, but the convoluted geography, weak infrastructure, and poor public transport made it tough going. I was also travelling alone at the time, so had no-one to laugh it all off with; in short, I got my ass kicked for a month (the stinky fish bus story illustrates what it was like)
The absolute highlight, though, was the diving & snorkelling, which was outstanding. I certainly didn’t make the most thorough exploration possible, but I stayed & dived in Alona Beach (Panglao Island, Bohol) & Panagsama Beach (Moalboal, Cebu), and went snorkelling with whale sharks in Donsol.
All the dives I did were good, with the standouts being Pescador Island off Moalboal (most turtles I’ve ever seen on a single dive), huge balls of schooling jackfish off Bohol like in the above video (such a surreal experience to be surrounded by them), and a drift wall dive in Bohol during which hunting tuna kept darting in from the outlying blue void like quicksilver missiles to snatch prey from the wall before shooting away again just as quickly, the sunlight playing in rainbows on their shimmering scales; truly a magnificent sight.
(While I’m on the subject of tuna, my once quite high tuna consumption has since been cut right down. Marvellous creatures, and while we don’t necessarily have to stop eating them completely we do need to eat them a lot less if they’re to survive – I know that most people basically don’t give it any thought (or just don’t give a shit), so I figure I’ll cut out more than my fair share to make up for someone else who doesn’t. Diving has certainly made me more aware of the mess our oceans are in and the unsustainable pressures on many fish species. If you do give a shit about marine conservation, see here for more on sustainable seafood)
Another place I didn’t make it to, but probably should have, is Malapascua at the northern tip of Cebu. There you can dive with the magnificent thresher sharks which are there on a daily basis – looks and sounds amazing:
Also, while it isn’t scuba diving, snorkelling with whale sharks is likely to be on the list for most divers (and many non-divers) visiting the Philippines. I did it in Donsol, and it was as awesome as I’d imagined it would be – the more convenient alternative is Oslob, but there are some serious conservation issues there. See here for more on snorkelling with whale sharks.
Have you dived in the Philippines? How was it? Leave a comment below!
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