Milisen

Milisen

My Dive Map

Reviews (6)

Hippocampus Beach and Dive Resort

5
4
5
5

Malapascua is a haven away from the bustle that is the Philippines urban life. The picturesque beaches are lined with resorts and the sleepy interior houses the resort workers. And somewhere on the idyllic strip of sand is a laid-back resort that is both a sleepy tropical island destination and the ideal launching point for the area's world-class diving; Hippocampus.

You cannot mention Hippocampus without mentioning the food. Its inspiration comes from a number of European countries fused with Filipino cuisine. The result is delicious and possibly the best on the island. I still remember the Bruscetta. Yum!

We were there for 4 days with one purpose: to dive. Neighboring SeaQuest divers came to our room, grabbed our gear and took care of everything from there on. There is no shortage of help in the Philippines, making short work of the gear-rinsing tasks at the end of the day. Our favorite dives were the house reef with its muck critters, Deep Rock with loads of soft coral and pygmy seahorses, and of course the thresher dive. It was my first experience with Filipino diving and it was spectacular.

Getting to Hippocampus means jumping in a taxi and heading north to Maya which is about 3 hours away. From Maya you will catch a traditional banka style water taxi that will drop you off on the beach in front of Hippocampus. One word of caution: there are no ATM's on island and you are not allowed to tip by credit card, so bring plenty of cash to cover your stay.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 09/01/2014
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Atlantis Dive Resort, Dumaguete

5
5
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4

The team was waiting for my travel weary buddy and me when we first stepped off the boat at Sibulan. We had been traveling for 10 hours, so a friendly porter to help with our bags and a refreshing drink of water were exactly what we needed. And they continued to anticipate our needs for the rest of our stay such that we wanted for nothing.

On day one, they took us to Apo Island, a reserve that sits about 45 minutes off the coast. Our gear was set up and waiting for us on their banka before we were able to rub the sleep from our eyes. The only preparation we had to do was throw some breakfast down our throats and climb aboard. If you travel to Dumaguete, Apo Island should not be missed. The amount of coral hanging from the walls of the island is breathtaking. I tried capturing the scenery on dive 1, but by dive 3 I had resorted to just soaking in the stunning magnitude of life around me. We had humphead parrotfish, a multitude of hawksbill sea turtles, batfish and schooling jacks, all against a backdrop of unimaginable colors. Between dives, they brought a chef that cooked up a feast for the divers and crew.

We made it back in time for a night dive. I mentioned to the divemaster that one of the critters on my bucketlist was an ornate ghost pipefish, and sure enough, we found one on the dive mooring as we descended and later we saw pairs of robust and halimeda ghost pipefish as well. This pretty much set the mood for the rest of the dives. We would request an animal, and they would find it. We didn't make it easy on them. Blue ringed octopus, ribbon eels, bluespotted stingrays and many other creatures materialized from the sand under our divemaster's helpful eye. We didn't make it easy, either. They had not seen a flamboyant cuttlefish for months until we asked for one, and then they found 2! We did the nearshore sites for the rest of our stay and knocked nearly every macro creature we could think of off our list. The diversity of life offshore from Atlantis was pretty incredible.

Atlantis has a mantra that they strive to live up to. "Come as a guest, leave as a friend." Thank you, Atlantis, we had an unforgettable time.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/31/2014
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Kosrae Nautilus Resort

5
5
4
4

When we first stepped off the plane in Kosrae, I wondered what sort of place I had gotten myself into. The airport consisted of two rooms, there didn't appear to be many houses or stores and the landing strip was suspiciously short. Kosrae is on the edge of civilization with the population consisting of mostly subsistence farmers and a few fishermen. Bats even fly overhead in the early morning and late afternoon to give the place a special wild feel. As soon as we got to baggage claim, however, somebody called our names through the crowd. It was the owner's son, Scotty and one of his trusted employees, Salek, welcoming us to their island. Suddenly we knew we were in the right place.

The Nautilus boasts 18 rooms, a restaurant with some of the best food on the island, and a pool in some prime real estate. You can't discuss the Nautilus without mentioning Doug, the owner, who personally ensures that you have everything you might want. He and his family have developed a local reputation as some of the nicest, most genuine people in the south Pacific. And because they take such good care of their guests, they cater to many repeat customers, so Doug prides himself in keeping the same employees around year after year so his returning guests will already have friends.

We went as part of a dive package and could not have been more pleased underwater. The hard coral surrounding that island is absolutely pristine. There are anemones with clownfish on nearly every dive. And even though Doug won't admit it so as to not get your hopes up, the large animal life there is splendid. We saw a gaggle of grey reef sharks, many blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays, turtles, two species of stingray, schools of barracuda and even got pushed around by a school of dogtooth tuna. The diving just didn't get old and when the conditions picked up by the end of the week, they showed us some of their incredible wrecks in the lagoons.

The Nautilus is one of the world's lost gems, tucked into a haven in the middle of nowhere. If unplugging from the bustle of the western world is on your to-do list, the Kosrae Nautilus is the perfect escape.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/29/2014
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Kosrae

5
4
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5

There is a good reason I am the first reviewer for Kosrae- it is completely off the map and mostly untouched by the western world. If you are looking for modern luxuries, a hopping nightlife and a community of fellow divers, go to Chuuk, Palau or any of the other dozens of overinhabited tropical islands to which divers flock. If your goal is to unplug, dive on gorgeous coral reefs, take in some serenity, encounter genuine local culture and go home with an amazing experience from a place none of your friends have visited, Kosrae is for you.

The 2000 inhabitants give the island a small town feel; they all seem to know each other and many will recognize you and quickly start to greet you with a smile every day. Kosrae has no major imports as the locals are supported mainly by subsistence farming, but they are very welcoming and appreciative of tourists. The mood is vey laid back, especially on Sundays when no diving or working is allowed. Small stores are fairly spread out throughout the island. The cars are all purchased used from Japan, so they are right-hand drive even though everybody drives on the right side of the road. It is at once a funny yet beautiful place inhabited by wonderful people.

This island is an undiscovered gem both above and beneath the waves. The diving is mostly drift diving over wonderful hard coral gardens with abundant reef fish and punctuated by frequent encounters with larger animals like gray reef sharks, stingrays, turtles, and giant Pacific groupers. The staple organisms of anemones with resident clownfish can be seen on nearly every dive.

The island also boasts a number of wrecks. The Sansun Maru is a supply ship that rests in about 60' of water. Don't miss out on the sunken plane wrecked nearby. Finally, there are the remains of the pirate ship owned by the infamous Bully Hayes. Called the Leonora, there isn't much left, but the dive itself is a fun muck dive in Utwe Harbor, perfect for days when the winds kick up and limit your options.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/24/2014
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Dumaguete

5
5
5
5

Dumaguete is known as the city of gentle people which serves as an apt descriptor for the atmosphere. The four universities keep the local population well educated and friendly. The majority of visitors we encountered were from Europe and China. I hear that the area has a rich night life, but our time was limited so we spent most of it underwater.

We made it out to Apo Island on our first day and I cannot help but write about it in dramatic tones. Soft and hard corals competed fiercely over the limited real estate creating a dynamic environment full of colors that would seem unnatural anywhere else. And while the diverse coral cover at Apo was nearly 100% in places, the wildlife was even more spectacular. There were times when I had to choose between the in-your-face humphead parrotfish and the hungry hawksbill sea turtle, all against a staggering backdrop of unimaginable colors. Apo Island ranks alone as the single best dive I have ever done.

If Apo is all about sweeping seascapes, the local sites at Dauin are as impressive on a macro scale. The local dive spots are very close to the resorts with our farthest near-shore site being a brief 10-minute boat ride away. At first the dark volcanic silt seems an unlikely place to find tropical creatures, but then armies of cryptic animals start appearing from the muck. Within one day, I had checked many dozens of animals from my macro bucket list. In my first dive alone we came across a warty frogfish, seahorses and all 3 species of ghost pipefish. It was uncanny. Before each dive I started asking the DM to find something rare and specific like a blue-ringed octopus or a stargazer and without fail, they picked one out of the muck. They claimed that flamboyant cuttlefish hadn't been seen for months, so I requested we try and sure enough, I was playing with a pair of them on the next dive.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/23/2014
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Malapascua Island

5
5
4
3

Malapascua is an isolated island off the northern tip of Cebu. It is a wonderful blend of picturesque beaches, laid-back island atmosphere, excellent food, solid nightlife, friendly people and world-class diving. It is a great place to unwind for a while and get some diving in.

The standard diving around the island ranges from solid reefs at places like Deep Rock and Deep slope to incredible muck diving right off the beach at any of the various House Reefs. It may be fun to try your luck at finding the critters, but sticking close to your guide is the best way to be rewarded with such rarities as pygmy seahorses, blue-ringed-octopuses and pipefish. The intricate sunset mating dances of the mandarinfish at Lighthouse Reef should not be missed.

While the near-shore diving is pretty special, the majority of dive travel here is for the thresher shark cleaning station found at Monad Shoals. These animals are found on 95% of the dives year-round with slow periods experienced most frequently around the full moon. Do not be discouraged by the early hours or the crowd of other divers setting up at the lineup on the bottom. The animals have grown accustomed to seeing divers and swim in to get cleaned regardless of the crowd. When the first shark materializes from the blue your efforts will be rewarded. They will often just swim circles past the group, giving everyone a number of solid views before your NDL is reached.

One caution is that the island has no ATM's and the dive shops do not accept cards for tips, so bring plenty of cash. Getting to Malapascua requires a 3-4 hour taxi ride from Cebu airport and a water taxi out of Maya. Everyone along the way in Cebu will ask for tips including porters, drivers and even just people standing by. Use discretion. The buzz subsides once you step foot onto Malapasua Island.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/23/2014
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