Atlantis Dumaguete Resort Dive Resort Review by cdub

Atlantis Dumaguete Resort

5
5
5
5

I had a great stay at Atlantis Dumaguete in early March 2013 on a group trip with 7 of us in total.

Travel coordination:
When we arrived in Dumaguete, we were greeted at the airport by the friendly Atlantis staff, including Jess who would be our dive guide for the week. They quickly tagged up our luggage for us and loaded it on the bus for us and (everything would be delivered to our rooms) and we were whisked off to their bus for the ride to the resort.

Once we arrived, we were greeted and introduced in the outdoor restaurant/bar by the rest of the staff, and welcomed with fresh coconuts and shoulder & neck massages while the manager greeted us and went over the resort briefing. This was a nice treat after the travel.

For our departure, they not only took care of our transport from the resort to the Dumaguete airport, and also expedited our luggage check in at the airport. Our connecting flight was in Manila, and they also arranged for pick up at the domestic terminal and brought us to the international terminal. This sounds odd because you might think, how far can it be? However, we were surprised that you basically had to totally leave the airport grounds and re-enter in order to change terminals, so this service was a huge help.

Accommodations:
The resort was clean and well kept overall. There were several room types and we were in the rooms closest to the restaurant, office and dive center. We didn’t have any problems with noise even though we were arguably in a “higher foot traffic” area. Our rooms all had AC, ceiling fan, minifridge/bar, TV, single or double beds, closet, safe, and a desk and chair. The bathrooms all had sinks, standard toilet, and a shower stall. There was a small patio outside of the room with two chairs a table and a drying rack for clothes/gear. Our group ended up spending a lot of time hanging out on one porch or another, so for the next trip, we would likely opt for one of the connected rooms that have a larger shared living room or porch.

I had solid wifi access in the room as well, with no noticeable outages. It was strong enough that I could manage some Skype calls.

If you tend to be a tasty mosquito magnet like me, I'd recommend bringing some sort of deet based insect repellent. It would be difficult to avoid them altogether in the local climate, and they weren't a major problem and I was fine as long as I wore repellent.

Resort features:
There is also a resort pool that we used a handful of times (mostly because we were diving so much), and their Spa. We all probably had at least 3 massages each during the week of our stay. They offered a variety of treatments, though I typically opted for deep tissue. It’s a great way to end a dive day!

Their front office was connected to their gift/dive shop, and located just across from the restaurant/bar and dive center. The office staff was always super friendly, and you could also leave your room key with them while you were diving, or if you were going offsite for an excursion or out in town.

The gift & dive shop had a variety of goods. On one side, they had dive gear items like wetsuits, rashguards, masks, muck sticks etc. On the other side, you could purchase local jewelry, hats etc.

Restaurant/Bar/Food:
We had 3 large excellent meals/day, and they often had fresh cookies or other snacks ready for us for when we got back from diving in the afternoons. The days’ menu options are posted near the restaurant entrance, and someone from the restaurant staff is typically there to take your order as you’re walking in.

On a day with closer dive sites, you’d have breakfast, then do 2 dives, come back for lunch and then do another 1-2 dives. In instances where the dive sites were farther away, a member of the restaurant staff would come on the boat with us and they would have an amazing buffet meal and fresh bbq for us.

For drinks, water, coffee, tea, juices included are typically included, with alcohol and sodas extra.

They have a bar in the restaurant area, and we had a great time hanging out there, and meeting a few of the other resort guests and groups.

Camera Room:
Oh, how I love their camera room. Air conditioned (so low humidity), with multiple work stations that essentially became “yours” for the week of your stay. 3 of us had still camera set ups and our other friend had had a full video set up, so we were THRILLED to have this room. Each work station was spacious and had its own power strip, air hose, work table space, stowage shelves and space underneath. As someone who often ends up having to commandeer much of my resort or live aboard room for dealing with my camera gear, it really made assembling, prepping, charging, and storing it so much more pleasant! The room is securely locked at night, and opened again before bfast begins so divers can access their gear.

Diving:
Once you set up your BCD, Regulator and weights the first day, you basically don’t need to touch them again all week. The staff loads and unloads them from the boat, and rinses them daily.

The dive center has a briefing area and also a storage/hanging room where each person is given a large cubby for personal gear (boots, mask etc) and space for you to hang up your wetsuit to dry. There’s also a freshwater shower and several large rinse tanks for gear and a separate one for cameras. If you’re diving nitrox, you can also analyze and log your tanks for the next day after you finish up your afternoon dives so they are ready to go.

Our lead guide all week was Jess, who was great fun. He had a good sense of humor, and made us feel very safe in the water. They would usually start the dive day with a dive site briefing and they had maps drawn out for each dive site. We’d then walk/wade out to our boat for the day for the morning dives.

They had two smaller boats for closer dive sites, and a larger one for the farther sites. For boat entry, there is no dock with how changeable the tide levels can be. You’d usually walk into the water and then each boat would have an inclined ramp to climb up. They always had dive/boat staff assisting us. Since you are wading in the water and on some days the waves are kicking up a bit, I would highly recommend bringing a waterproof bag for any dry gear on the boat. Typically I’d wear/carry my wetsuit, mask, fins, dry bag and camera.

We chose to do a mix of diving between macro and wide angle. Water temps were 79-82 degrees, with air temps in upper 70s to upper 80s, so I wore a 3MM wetsuit for most of the trip as I tend to get cold with us doing 4+ dives a day sometimes, and particularly with muck diving, you’re not moving a whole lot.

For dive locations, we chose to dive the Dauin coast, Siquijor Island, and Apo Island.

For macro, you will never lack for subjects. There was great muck diving and we were seeing frogfish of all varieties, scorpion fish, cuttlefish, nudies, ghost pipe fishes, mantis shrimp - and these were some of the most common critters we saw! Jess and our other guides were great at spotting items for us, and since we were diving with our group, once one of us finished with a subject, we’d often go tap another friend to let them know where it was. They also gave us tips for how to spot spot of the macro subjects, which was really helpful since it was the first time diving in the Philippines for several of us. Giant frogfish and reefs were wide angle highlights there.

For specialized dives we also opted to do the night dive to see mandarin fish matings. I found this to be probably the most difficult photography dive. Patience was definitely key.

There was also a fluoro night dive that 3 of us opted to do where they provide the UV lights and goggles. This dive was on the house reef, and it was cool to get to try it out as I don’t often night dive in California and hadn’t experimented with one of the UV lights before. I didn’t bring my still camera for this dive, but I did take an extra pair of the filter goggles that I had fit onto my GoPro as a makeshift filter and was able to shoot some video footage from the dive.

Our whole group also did a half day trip to Cebu to snorkel with whale sharks, coordinated though Atlantis. The resort bused us to a ferry boat that carried us and the bus across to Cebu and we drove from the port to the snorkel landing.

In Cebu, they gave us a briefing about what distance to keep from the whale sharks and then carry you out in a canoe to a shallow cove within site of shore (~40 ft deep) where the whale sharks come in to feed. There are other staff there in canoes as “feeders” who are dropping krill into the water. While I know some people don’t support the feeding of the animals, my personal experience here was that the whole experience was much more relaxed and for me as a snorkeler, and seemingly for the whale sharks as well vs. other experiences I’ve had.

For example, on a trip in the Maldives where we were hoping to see a whale shark, there must have been close to 100 people in the water as several liveaboards convened on the one lone whale shark that was spotted. It looked like a massive water rugby match at the surface with all these people chasing this one shark, and there were also scuba divers below it. Many in our group decided not to go in the water at all, or jumped in for a few mins and quickly got out because it was so hectic. It really seemed stressful on the one animal, who was trying to swim away, but was surrounded on all sides.

By contrast in Cebu, there were 10-15 whale sharks at any given time who were calmly snacking, and not trying to swim away. The feeder canoes spread out so there was room around each shark, and the canoe guides carrying us out did the same to spread out the snorkelers. For photography, the obvious benefit is that this gives you A LOT of opportunities and time with the animals. It also means was fairly easy to get a shot with a dive model if you wanted to direct one to swim into the shot, or to get a clean shot without people in it if that was your goal. We had over 90 mins in the water (we only got out when we all felt like we’d had enough) and everyone in our group was really happy with the experience.

The Atlantis staff also brought a full lunch for us, so we ate a nice meal before getting back on the bus for the return trip.

Other non-diving activities:

We did a half day excursion in the middle of the week to have some dry time to the Malapatay Market. The local market has a mix of food, handicrafts, and goods. There was also a livestock market. Some of the staff accompanied us here, and brought a full family style lunch for us.

For nightlife, about half of our group wanted to be out every night, and the other was more into staying in. For outings, you can arrange van transport through the resort and the driver would wait for you while you were out, or you could take cabs back if people in the group felt like returning later/earlier than others. There is also a 24 hour guard at a gate into the resort, so again you can also leave your room key with them if you don’t feel like carrying it while out on the town, and just pick it back up when you return later that night.

The boulevard area had multiple restaurants, bars and clubs and you could walk up and down the area to determine which one fit your preferences.

Oftentimes, our guide Jess and some of the other dive and resort staff would either accompany our group, or meet us out after they were off work. We were told by the resort that most times their customers tended to skew a little older than those at their sister resort at Atlantis Puerto Galera, so I think we were a fun group for them. ☺

What I would say is that if you want a quiet night, it’s very easy to stay at the resort and relax there. If you’d like to go out though, definitely ask the staff! They’ll give you some good recommendations, and to be honest it was nice to have them with us on some outings because they really know the city.

Staff:
Can’t say enough nice things about everyone on the staff there. We arrived around lunch time and by dinner, they all knew us by first name. They were all incredibly welcoming, friendly, attentive, and you felt very taken care of for your entire stay. They all seemed to really enjoy working there as well.

Tipping:
The staff members don’t accept individual tips. If you are happy with the service during your stay, you can donate to their Christmas fund, which they split with everyone.

Visited on 03/2013 - Submitted on 01/24/2014
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