Once you start to dive and talk to other divers, your hit list for dream dive destinations gets longer and longer. The Philippines has always been up there for me, and when my sister said she was interested in going we put a trip together!
Macro diving (looking for little things) is something both my sister and I love, and the diving in Anilao (Batangas) did not disappoint. We were staying and diving with Crystal Blue who have lovely rooms staggered up the hill from the ocean. Even minutes from the resort we would happen upon dive sites covered in nudibranch of all types, frog fish, pygmy seahorses, and enjoy the incredible coral cover. An hour was easily spent with our nose to the ground trying to find the smallest and most beautiful creature to show each other!
From Anilao we took a transition liveaboard trip across to Puerto Princesa, in Palawan. It was early in the season so not all of Tubbataha was open due to high winds and surf, but what we experienced was brilliant! The M/Y Resolute is an old Russian spy ship converted into a hardy but comfortable liveaboard. Recently under new management (with renovation in the rooms and communal spaces) this boat only takes 16 divers which meant we weren’t too crowded on the dives, split into two groups of 8 divers.
The national park – split across two atolls (islands) – was vast, with the biggest fan corals and barrel sponges I’ve ever seen! Sharks were present on almost every dive, and we were blessed with sightings of whalesharks, hammerhead and even a flyby from a chunky tiger shark. We didn’t catch much current (which often means for more action) but still managed to see heaps of trevally, barracuda as well as black and white tips (even juveniles!).
Tubbataha is known for big things but diving with my sister you can’t help but look for and notice small things! She managed to spot a crab looking after it’s eggs hidden in a coral, clown fish eggs laid nearly underneath the skirt of its anemone, and I spotted a tiny frogfish that was hitching a ride on a plastic bag (the only piece of trash we saw at sea).
There is so much more of the Philippines to explore and I’m looking forward to when I can get out there next to look for thresher sharks!