Dumaguete 2019 Dive Report

Dumaguete 2019 Dive Report

Dumaguete Summer 2019 Dive Trip Report

Words by Scott Gietler

Every so often, you find yourself on a true dream vacation. Some dive locations excel in macro, some in coral, some in animals like sharks, turtles or rays. Dumaguete is a place that excels in all three.

We awaited our return to Atmosphere Resort in Dumaguete with bated breath. During our previous trip 2 years ago, we experienced excellent marine life encounters, fantastic food, and good weather and excellent service at the resort. Would this year's trip live up to expectations? 

  

Beautiful shots by our guest Rick Levesque.

Hopefully, the travel from Los Angeles to Dumaguete was not indicative of how the trip would go. We had numerous delays, close encounters, long lines, heavy traffic and slow service between the time we left our house in California and arrived at the resort - without our bags! Three hours was barely enough time for transferring flights at Manila airport, on three occasions! Would the resort be a respite from the punishing travels, or would the pain continue?

I am pleased to report that our bags arrived on the same day, only a few hours later. And the arrival of the luggage was a harbinger for what lay ahead. From that moment on, we experienced the most blissful trip imaginable.

How did we love the trip? Let me count the ways. Should I first mention the ultra-comfortable accommodations? Or the even better marine life. The fantastic visibility. The great weather. The 5-star food. Or the excellent service delivered by the resort staff? No, I think I will start with the first-class massages delivered by one of the best spas on the planet!

 

During each meal, there were 4 menus to choose from—the meal-specific menu, specials of the day, the “all-day” menu, and the “healthy” menu. Well-traveled guests commented that they never before we're treated to such culinary delights. The quality and preparation towered over anywhere the collective group had been before. Not even desserts were skipped.

Our days consisted of the following: awesome breakfast, followed by 2 great dives, then a lunch made for kings, more diving, a swim in the infinity pool, classroom sessions/image reviews, massage at the spa, and a 3-course dinner. 

 

Mating blue-ringed octopuses (LEFT) and a seahorse (RIGHT) by Nick Chow.

The macro dives were at “local” sites along the coastline. We saw over 35 frogfish, blue-ringed octopus, nudibranchs, wonderpus octopus, pegasus sea moths, squid, cuttlefish, numerous seahorse and pipefish, mantis shrimp, ribbon eels, and so much more. Boxfish, pufferfish, juvenile sweetlips, and numerous small shrimp, crabs, and eels were ubiquitous. Mandarin fish mated every day at dusk. The sites never disappointed. 

The dive operation at Atmosphere Resort is top notch. They have a state of the art camera room, individual dive lockers for gear, ove-sized rinse tanks, and comfortable dive boats. The dive center Ollie is quite a gem, he really goes out of his way to make sure the customers' needs and dive requests are met.

 

  

There was no shortage of critters along the Dauin coastline! Photos of nudibranchs by Gary Moore (LEFT) and flamboyant cuttlefish by Tina Quan (RIGHT).

The dive guides employed by the resort were excellent, going out of their way to find the smallest and tiniest critters. Highlights included more frogfish than we could count, mating seahorses, and mating blue-ringed octopus laying eggs. We were lucky to see some truly special sights!

  

Cool frogfish photos by our guests Jessica Levesque (LEFT) and Regina Hsu (RIGHT)

We made two trips to Apo Island to visit the stunning reefs. A majestic school of jacks was there for us to command at a moments notice. Turtles were falling out of the sky, and to see a sea snake, you sometimes just had to look down. Corals were in great shape. All of us partook in purchasing the well-priced and well-made Apo Island t-shirts sold by the locals.

On our first dive with the schooling jacks, they were feeling coy - keeping their distance in this courtship ritual. The second day with them, we were like old friends. The school settled down to a comfortable spot at 70th, letting us plunge into the center of the school and take some incredible shots.

 

Excellent reefs, friendly sea turtles, schooling jacks—diving Apo Island is simply not to be missed! 

The sea turtles had the opposite schedule—the first dive at “Turtle Bay” had prolific encounters, but they were more sparse during the second attempt. The snorkelers, including my son, had better luck with numerous sightings in the clear shallow water.

Our day with the whale sharks brought us several extra-large specimens, repeatedly swimming back and forth in front of us in clear blue water. Ideally, our group would have been able to spread out more, but alas there must always be something for a trip to improve on.

 

Whale shark photos by Gary Moore (LEFT) and Nick Chow (RIGHT)

Two of our 16 guests summed up the trip nicely: “We came with high expectations. Somehow, those expectations were exceeded”. Never before did we receive such good feedback on the combination of dive sites, weather, food, accommodations, staff, marine life, and trip coordination. 

To top it off, my 8-year-old son did his first ocean dive, after careful training from an instructor in the pool. His parents have never been happier. My 4-year old daughter enjoyed some of the best snorkeling the world, just a few meters offshore directly in front of the resort. The perfect snorkeling spot is one of the resort’s best-kept secrets.

But all good things must come to an end. For a grand finale, for those of us flying Philippine Air, the resort staff was kind enough to bring our bags to the airport ahead of time and check them in—saving us lots of time and hassle.

Afterward, we stopped for some time in Singapore. My trip back to the USA was long and uneventful, but the joyous memories of the trip carried me back home like a baby happily sleeping in a blanket. Now I must suffer in waiting until we return again in 2020. You should join us! 


More Underwater Images by Our Guests 

Click on images for larger views

BY NICK CHOW 

  

By Gary Moore 

   

BY Rick Levesque 

  

 


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