Philippines February 2004


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Trip dates:

21 -29February 2004

Boat / resort:

El Dorado Beach Resort, Dauin (Dumaguete), Negros Oriental.

Dive centre:

Sea Explorers Philippines.


Yes. Very.

Number of dives:

14 over 5 days of diving.

Diving conditions:

Clear most of the time, calm seas. No strong currents, but some in the dive sites around Apo Island. Water temperature 27 °C. Good visibility in Apo, even a decen 10 to 15m in shallow muck dives around Dauin.


This was a memorable trip, since it had to be rearranged on the go. A group of 5 of us had planned on a trip to stay on Bunaken island in Indonesia. A month before departure, Indonesia started applying a restriction for visas on arrival when our flights had long been booked and issued. We were accepted at check-in in Brussels without anybody asking whether we had pre-issued visas. After a long flight via Singapore, four of us (2 Irish, one Belgian and my Spanish self) were refused entry on arrival to Manado and only our French travel mate was allowed to purchase a visa on arrival. She had to stay in Bunaken, alone, while the rest of us were sent packing on the same plane back to Singapore. Cries and exhaustion tears did not move the Indonesian immigration officers at all.

We had originally planned a two-night Singapore stopover on our way back, so all that was left for us to do was to spend that time at the beginning of the trip and use it to find an alternative arrangement while visiting the Singapore highlights. We really did not want to go back home. Since I had stayed with Sea Explorers just 4 weeks before, I gave them a call. They found rooms for us right away in their Dumaguete centre. We booked ourselves on a flight from Singapore to Cebu and off we went. At the end of the week, we reunited with poor Isabelle in Singapore for the last stopover night there. She had had a good time, but asked please to ensure that, the next holidays, we’d spend them “together”.

After no matter how many travels, no-one is safe from incidents like this, particularly in transitional periods. Indonesia extended the visa on arrival facility to all EU countries just a few weeks after our trip. I will never again leave without double checking that all the formalities have been taken care of. It is really not nice when you are refused entry after such a long journey and we ere lucky that Sea Explorers were able to sort us out on the go. We were also very lucky that the Bunaken Resort had actually not asked for a deposit for our room bookings (which is rare) and did not lose more of our money than was needed for the Singapore-Cebu extra flight. 

The stay in Dumaguete was great, the diving excellent. The DUCOMI Pier (that stands for DUmaguete COconut MIlling, a pier where large boats load and unload copra cargo) has to be one of the best sites I have ever dived. I just heard they were going to renovate the place and that’s bad news if they disrupt the pillars with their incredible coral growth.  Note also that Sea Explorers moved out of El Dorado to the Pura Vida Resort close by, the dive sites remain largely the same. Incredible macro life, especially flatworms, which I really love. The dark sands make for muck dive sites comparable to Lembeh Strait sites in variety and abundance of rare critters. The Reefs at Apo are great for big schools, turtles, pelagics and sea snakes.

This was the first time I used an external strobe with my Olympus C-5050Z, namely an Inon D-2000 with a fibre optic synch cable.


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