Travel time: 07/2012
Dive boat Philippine Siren
The communication and booking by Nina from www.diveadventures.com.au was fast and efficient including helpful advises how to reach the embarkation point at Dumagete and what could be interesting spots after the safari. She informed the boat crew about special requirements and organized a pick-up shuttle from the airport. Thanks for that Nina :-)
To get a better idea of the boat download a short self-made video (68 MB) and have a look to informative website of worldwidediveandsail.com which offers nice 3D views. On board there is room for up to 16 guests and 10 crew members. All cabins are at sea level, are spacious with tiny portholes and as higher the cabin number as closer they are to the machine room. Number one is right at the bow and the most silent but also the most moving when it gets into rough sea as the boat has no stabilizer.
All cabins are equipped with adjustable AC, an additional ventilator, in-room safe, a few cupboards, a computer with games and a local network system to upload your pictures onto the big screen at the living area but no internet. At the twin shared cabins the beds equipped with soft mattresses are a bit small and some are within the airstream of the AC. The bathroom with toilet is functional small, has a shampoo dispenser but nothing to stow away your toiletries. A bathrobe is provided and towels are changed every second day.
Cabin no. 6 and 7 are most close to the engine. As the boat was moving at some nights it was noisy. Ear plugs are recommended. At rough sea the boat was moving a bit much as it is not equipped with a stabilizer so cabin 1 is the most moving.
At the stern of the main deck the dinning area is present where also the dive briefing takes place. If it's getting too windy or rainy removable covers are protecting this area. Next to it is a fridge offering chilled fruit juice, milk, soft drinks and different kind of beer which is all inclusive. They also offer a selection of wines (30 € per bottle) as well as long drinks (5 €) and hard stuff (4 €) all on additional expense. At both sides are "public" toilets which are also accessible from the dive area. Towards the middle of the main deck is the living area with the companionway to the cabins.
The living room is equipped with sofas, a big screen to watch movies or dive pictures, a small selection of books in different languages left or exchanged from previous guests, a small served bar and a self-service coffee area. Most important for the underwater photographers might be the "dry area" including plenty of sockets for chargers and a big personal drawer. In front of the main deck is the dive area where everyone has its dedicated place including a drawer for the small equipment. Fresh water tanks are present to rinse the cameras after the dive as well as showers. Above the living room is the sun deck with a few sunbeds but no shade (which they will change in the near future).
Two dinghies are present for the transfer from the Philippine Siren to the dive sites which are mostly within less than five minutes ride. A small platform helps to enter the dinghies but it becomes tricky when the sea gets rough. Still the crew takes utmost care while changing the boats, handling the cameras with the same care and moving the dive gear separately if you wish. Likewise when climbing back into the dinghy after the dive.
Other services they offer are different PADI courses, same day laundry is 0.5 € per piece and massage 25 € per hour. The dive gear as well as the tank filling with air or Nitrox was inclusive except dive computer and torch.
Before the first dive a small breakfast buffet with different kind of muesli and fruit yogurt is offered. After the first dive a second breakfast with scrambled eggs, fried ham, baked beans, toast and different kind of sweet spreads is available. Lunch and dinner is offered as buffet or served at the table and always very tasty with loads of meat. In between muffins or other bakeries are served.
The crew did a real good job. They served us very well, were present if needed, were always friendly, informative and in good mood. They rinsed the dive suites, handled the heavy cameras with care and even carried the tanks to the dinghies when necessary.
The Dive Sites
Because a larger group where already staying in Dumagete at a resort the meeting point for the departure was shifted to here. Departure time was 1:00 PM. The crew handled the luggage while a welcome drink was offered followed by a small lunch. Introduction of the crew and a short overview of the travel followed by the introduction of the boat in small groups.
The next days were split in three day and one night dive. Only at the feeding spot of the whale sharks it was recommended to use only snorkeling gear. We were split into three groups of fife to six divers and guided by an instructor. Some instructors were very enthusiastic pointing out every unusual animal others were more relaxed only looking at their dive computer. But there was no compulsion to stay with the instructor. Our instructor never requested the air pressure while diving and some came back with less than 15 bar!
The dive sites are listed according to the 7 days dive safari (zipped gpx-file with the dive sites).
1st day only cruise to the dive site.
2nd day: Tongo Point, Kasai Wall, Dolphine House, Copton Point.
3rd day: Pescador Island (three dives), Copton Point.
4th day: Sumilon Island South (two dives), Oslob (snorkeling or diving at a whale shark feeding spot), Sumilon Island North.
5th day: Coconut Point, Boluarte, Cercs, San Miguel.
6th day: Black Forest, Divers Heaven (two dives), Cathedral Wall.
7th day: Cambaquiz, Lighthouse, Talisay: Last dive at 2:30 PM as most had flights the next day in the afternoon.
Cruise to Cebu and disembarkation at around 9:00 AM. From the harbor to the airport it's only 10 minutes by taxi and the transfer was included.
Coron - El Nido with Tao Philippines
The 5 day - 4 nights journey between Coron and El Nido is great to experience the beauty of the small islands, enjoy snorkeling and kayaking at unspoiled spots, get an idea of the rural live of the locals and support them to develop schools and medical care. One of my most relaxing holidays was organized by www.TaoPhilippines.com which has a very informative website. To have an idea about the journey, download a zipped gpx-file with all our stops and POIs.
Part of the payment for this holiday is linked to social projects like building schools and employing teachers which you will normally visit on your journey. It is also a good idea to bring some school equipment, tooth brushes especially for the children as well the adults including tooth paste. This could be a bit better coordinated by Noel, who runs the office in Coron and is responsible for the communication and organization.
TaoPhilippines runs some traditional looking outrigger boats between Coron and El Nido. Some are smaller, some larger. We were lucky because we started from Coron with one of the bigger boats, the Aurora 2, as we were 16 customers and the sea was rough at certain times mid of July. Sometimes that rough that some of us got seasick for a while. The Aurora 2 has a covered sun deck on top of the kitchen where also the lunch was served. At the front of the boat was space for all passengers and coffee, tea and snacks served. Below was the storage and drying area. On the outriggers five kayaks and a small motorized outrigger boat were placed. Enough space for everyone.
Unfortunately the sea was that rough at the departure day that the coast guard did not give their permission to leave the harbor. TaoPhilippines quickly organized some accommodation for our group and a visit to the hot springs next to Coron. The next day we started with destination El Nido and TaoPhilippines offered us an additional day for free at a bay close to El Nido as compensation of the "lost" day which was not their fault.
At the fist day we stopped at two ship wrecks and a nice coral spot for snorkeling followed by two stops at beautiful beaches for snorkeling, kayaking or just relaxing at the beach. For the night we anchored next to a few fisher huts called Coring Village. Here TaoPhilippines prepared a bamboo hut with mattresses, blankets, pillows and good mosquito nets. Next to it in an open space is a fresh water shower and in a separate hut a toilet. Dinner prepared on a bon-fire was served under million of stars.
Day two started with a nice breakfast and the visit of a small hut used as school which was financed by TaoPhilippines. After the staff took everything back to the boat, we started to visit three different beautiful islands for snorkeling, kayaking and sun-bathing. For the night we stopped at a great spot at Daracotun Island. After the hut was prepared a very delicious dinner was served.
After a nice coconut muesli for breakfast at day three the village, school (sponsored by TaoPhilippines) and the rest of the island was discovered by walking. Around noon we left the island, stopped at another island which we visited and afterwards had a longer transfer until we reached the picturesque bay of Cadlao Island where stay here overnight. The singles, the couples and the families had their own huts. Two fresh water bucket showers and one toilet is present as well as a diesel generator for some light after dawn and to recharge batteries. Two trainees from a village nearby are learning to apply a massage, work for free and may accept a donation ;-)
After breakfast at our official last day we went to the scenic island of Miniloc to visit different spots for snorkeling and kayaking. As this spots were close to El Nido they were not that unspoiled than the days before. Back at the bay of Cadlao Island TaoPhilippines invited everyone to stay one more day here for compensation of the "missing" day but also organized a water taxi to El Nido and accommodation for those who had other appointments.