After two weeks in the Philippines and awaiting my flight to Chuuk in Micronesia, it's time to write a blog on the highlights from my diving trip so far. Impossible! There are just too many. Let's call this the highlights of the highlights!
I spent three days on Panglao Island, just south of Bohol in Cebu. This island is most famous for Alona Beach - a lively stretch of white beach full of bars and restaurants and quite touristy. However, I stayed on the opposite island which was pure paradise, at the beautiful Ananyana Beach Resort and Spa (the caramel flambé bread pudding is second to none!). The corals are in excellent condition and absolutely teeming with fish and the visibility is some of the best I have seen. And there is also the possibility of whale shark sightings on Cebu.
Above the waves I took a tour of Bohol to experience the famous chocolate hills, adorable tarsiers and other attractions such as the butterfly farm where the guides introduce you to the 'ladyboy' butterfly! This is a great place to visit for divers and non-divers alike.
Next up was Amanpulo, located on Pamalican Island in the Sulu Sea. This is the most beautiful place I have ever been and the resort is perfection from start to finish. I have never seen whiter, more powdery sand and water that aquamarine! I sat just taking in the view before I could think about doing anything. The diving is very good and most of the dive sites are within 10 minutes boat ride, where you can see sting rays, eagle rays, big schools of snapper and jack and of course the turtles, which are absolutely huge - some of the biggest I have seen. Not to mention lots of nudibranchs and shrimps for the macro enthusiast! Sunset at the beach club must also not be missed with a huge variety of cocktails followed by a delicious meal at the Vietnamese restaurant - what a day!
Diving with turtles in the Philippines After Amanpulo, I headed to El Nido, on the island of Palawan. Flying into El Nido in a small propeller plane you know you are in for something special. The area reminds me of Halong Bay in Vietnam, what it was like perhaps 50 years ago before all the tourists. The diving here was very good as well, not much 'big stuff' but excellent coral and macro life. Away from the diving there are a wide variety of activities on offer including hiking, island hopping and trips into the bluest of lagoons.
My final stop of my Philippines diving trip was Puerto Galera. The coral here is fantastic, some of the best I have seen in the Philippines and a particular highlight was the turtle who was more interested in getting his dinner than the onlooking divers! There are also some excellent wrecks in the area.
Some fabulous diving, great resorts and delicious food, I leave with a very positive view of the Philippines and just cross my fingers that I can get back here soon as there is just so much more to experience.
Contact Louisa to find out more about her Philippines diving trip (she isn't back for another week though!).