MalaysianUnderwater.com (MUW) • View topic - IS it more FUN in CEBU?

IS it more FUN in CEBU?

For trip reports, resort reviews and questions about international destinations.
NOT for selling trips. NOT for looking for buddies.

IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#1  Postby Knightdivers » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:55 pm

Hi Divers! I was in Cebu during the 2012 Christmas season for a dive and just want to share the experience for those who plan to go there sometime in the near future.

26th Dec
Took a flight from KL to Kota Kinabalu on Air Asia. Waited for 3 hours in Kota Kinabalu airport before taking Cebu Pacific to Manila. Waited another 2 hours to transit to Cebu. Arrived at midnight and was told that my luggage was still in Manila!! Was also told not to worry as it happens all the time and it will arrive in the next flight! Darn! I was definitely worried as all my dive gear and camera equipment was in that luggage. We checked into BE Resort in Mactan way pass midnight!

Costing (approximately)
KL - KK (Air Asia) RM500
KK – Manila – Cebu – Manila – KL RM600
Taxi from Airport to Hotel RM15 (midnight charges)

Lesson Learnt
1. Take a direct flight from KL to Cebu on Cebu Pacific as it is cheaper and flies 3x a week.
2. Don’t check in your most important camera equipments!
3. Separate your camera from the hand luggage else you will be asked to pay for overloading. Cebu Pacific is very strict (Second strictest after Ryan Air in Europe!)

27th Dec 2012
Woke up after a few hours of sleep worrying about my lost luggage but was pleasantly surprised thanks to the efficient receptionist at the hotel who followed very closely with Cebu Pacific until they located my bag. She told me that it was ready for collection at the airport.

After breakfast, we were greeted by JC & Sito who are the owners of Fun & Sun Dive Travel. They offered to send us to the airport to retrieve our luggage after hearing our misadventures.
Fun & Sun's dive centre is located only a few minutes from our hotel and as of 1st January this year, they will also have a centre in BE Resort itself. Their current dive centre is fully equipped with half a dozen of dive masters and more than a few dozen helpers to make you dive like a king! It was an honour to have both the owners to take us on a private dive trip.

We only manage two dives that day because of my luggage issue. The first dive was at Nalusuan. Before diving in, I was considering whether I should go wide or 105mm and Sito pointed to my dome port. I did pop the question to him about the macro scene around here but he said it's not a big deal.
You wouldn't normally expect much from a dive site that is located minutes from a congested city especially with the sightings of tourist boats carrying bus loads of amateur divers, discovery divers and snorkelers. I am glad I was terribly wrong! We dive into the azure bluish sea with good visibility despite a storm a night before. According to Sito who has been operating and diving here for the past 2 decades, the visibility can reach over 30 metres. I was also expecting to see damaged corals on the slopes and to my amazement, the corals here are diverse and growing healthily with sea fans stretching out into the blue. Eagle rays were also spotted when we were at about 25 metres.

As a fan of macro, I have the habit checking the bubble corals for Orang Utan crabs, sea fan for pygmies, sea sponges for hairy squat lobsters, the back of a sea star for shrimps, anemones for porcelain crabs and crinoids for squats and guess what? They were all there and shockingly in abundance! Before I could curse myself for the wrong lens, JC and Sito were busy taking shots of a frog fish!

Our first dive did not end without seeing the icon of this site - a ghostly statue of a naked woman with a vase.
When we surfaced, the very first thing that I did after was to grumble to Sito and JC about the critters and the wrong lens! Sito laughed and assured me that there are tons of them everywhere and he didn't think it was such a big deal.

During our surface interval, we were treated to the secret recipe of the Fun & Sun - BBQ on the boat! From fresh prawns to BBQ pork, it was fantastic especially when you have fruits to end the meal. We were so stuffed up that I had difficulties with my zippers for the next dive!

As I was seriously considering bringing my macro setup, we saw a school of Jacks on the surface. Darn! I just couldn't make up my mind at that time but one basic rule that I learnt was to capture what you see and not what you expect to see. I know I don't sound much like an artistic person but I am just being practical I guess! As we joined the jacks, we could observe a few curious dogtooth tunas trying to get close to them. Hilutungan, which is the name the locals gave to this site, offers schools of batfishes, anemones, loads of macro critters (again!) and what appears to me an underwater meadow. At this spot which is less than 8 metres of water, you will notice that the sea grass looks extremely identical to the common cow grass at your backyard. With some rocks and the open blue, I was firing dozens of shots hoping to capture one that could justify the serene beauty of this site. Although there were enough tiny critters to justify my macro lens, I surfaced from this dive with a strong sense of satisfaction with my 10.5mm.

As we were heading back to the dive centre, JC was busy pointing to different dive sites that are great for macros and majority of those he fingered are shore dives.

After my quick wash up, I was greeted by Gary, the GM of the BE Resort who made an appointment with me for lunch at the best 'lechon' restaurant. He was also kind enough to give us some tips on the best seafood around before getting his driver to chauffeur us to Golden Cowrie.

We ended our day with a satisfying dinner and looking forward to tomorrow.

Dive: Varies according to season but way cheaper than you expect. Check with Alan of http://pacdome.com/ for pricing as he was the kind gentleman who made the arrangement for us.
Dinner at Golden Cowrie: RM30 per person for a fantastic fresh seafood meal.
Taxi (if you don't get a ride from the GM's driver!) RM15.00

(to be continued)
Knightdivers
Diver
Diver
 
Topic author
Posts: 33
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:56 pm
Location: KL
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#2  Postby run » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:46 am

yea when u on Cebu Air , if they see u holding a camera bagpack they will request your bag to be weighted. They know camera bags have items more than the handcarry weight limit. Very strict indeed.
Have you been to Puerto Galera or Anilao? If havent then you should.
run
Master Scuba Diver
Master Scuba Diver
 
Posts: 859
Topics: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:12 pm
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#3  Postby gavstang » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:48 am

Awesome report..thks for the detailed report, really does sound like Cebu is FUN!
gavstang
Sport Diver
Sport Diver
 
Posts: 181
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:20 am
Location: Ipoh
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#4  Postby Knightdivers » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:42 am

run wrote:yea when u on Cebu Air , if they see u holding a camera bagpack they will request your bag to be weighted. They know camera bags have items more than the handcarry weight limit. Very strict indeed.
Have you been to Puerto Galera or Anilao? If havent then you should.


Puerto Galera was the original plan but will definitely head over there the next time. Thanks Bro!

-- Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:45 am --

28th Dec 2012

We started early as we wanted to catch a glimpse of the Threshers in Tingo Point, a site located 15 minutes away from Fun & Sun's centre. I didn't even have enough time to fully enjoy the huge deck on the spacious and comfortable boat before I realized it was time to gear up. The choice of camera was pretty obvious for this site but I have decided to bring my compact camera with macro lens along (just in case!)

We agreed that we will have to hit 40 metres to see the Threshers and as we were heading down, we had to fight a pretty moderate current and a sea snake! As I was busy fining and breathing deeply, I thought I saw something. I could see JC and Sito moving deeper but my depth meter showed that we were only at 25 metres. As I strained my eyes and gave chase, it was indeed the Threshers! With the tail and a sleek body swimming against the currently effortlessly. Before, I could get the settings right on my camera, they were gone. It was then I started to realize that the visibility would be at least 30 metres.

Sito and JC noticed that I wasn't going down with them, they thought I had some problems with my equipment but they were so envious when I told them what I saw when we surfaced. There is always this feeling of dissatisfaction when you couldn't show any evidence of what you witnessed. Sito gave me a pat on the back and said that I can be almost certain of getting a good shot of the Threshers if we go to Malapascua.

It was pretty obvious to JC and Sito that I was a fan of macro as they brought us to our last dive site for the day - Talima. Sito warned me that this site is going to be a bit of everything on a good day but no promises. When I got in, I realized this site had everything and not only a bit! The viz was great and the corals were teeming with life. I then realized why JC and Sito said it was everything and not macro alone.

As we were packing up and heading back for my lunch appointment with Garry, I had a very good perspective of Fun & Sun's positioning. For divers who can spare only a day or two in the exciting waters off Cebu City and wanting to check out the macro critters in the blue, my itinerary above would be highly recommended. However, if you have five days or more, then it would indeed be more fun to dive with Fun & Sun as they have the most experience in bringing divers to explore the Visayas on their comfortable boats. If you have four divers or more, they will be more than happy to customize your trip. Their main routes are Northern Cebu (Malapascua), Southern Cebu, Bohol and Southern Leyte (the Ultimate trip!). You can go to their http://www.funsundivetravel.com or FB http://www.facebook.com/funsundivetravel for details on the trips.

Unlike a live aboard, JC and Sito's idea of an amazing dive journey is to spend the day on the boat exploring the seas and the night to be spent in a comfortable hotel on different islands that is on the route. It will be more like a 'sea trip' instead of a road trip! By the way, if you are a Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai or Chinese from China, Mr. Alan Lim would be the man to contact at http://pacdome.com/ to give you the details of all these sea trips.

After cleaning up, we manage to catch Garry for 'the best lechon' near Mactan airport called Zubu Chon (non-halal). I have to agree with Anthony Bourdain after the sumptuous meal. Garry insisted of getting us to the Southern Bus Terminal in Cebu City and I can understand why. The roads were so congested that it took us an hour from the restaurant to the station.

When we got to the station, we could see a long queue of people who had similar plans to go south. I didn't expect the 'free Wi-Fi' on the bus would work but it did! Not the whole journey but for a third at least.

After a journey of 4 hours that was filled with stops and winding turn, we arrived at the front entrance of Noblesse Hotel that is located in Santander. You would notice that this town is at the south most of Cebu Island and an important port for those planning to go to the southern islands of Negros and Apo.
As we were too tired to check out the surrounding area, we had dinner in the hotel instead with a rather romantic view of the full moon, coconut trees and what appeared to be crystal clear waters as we could see the light from the dive torches of two night divers.

Before we called it a night, we made arrangements with the hotel manager for some dive equipments and a motorized tricycle as our mode of transfer to Oslob the next morning.

Lechon Lunch: Depends on how much you can eat. About RM35 per kilo of lechon
Return Bus Ticket to Santander RM20 per person
Dinner at hotel: RM40 per person (rather over priced at the hotel)
Noblesse Hotel: RM180 per room for two per night.

(to be continued)
Knightdivers
Diver
Diver
 
Topic author
Posts: 33
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:56 pm
Location: KL
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#5  Postby toodus » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:11 pm

There's a general and unwritten rule ...if a diver claims to have seen a marine creature of any sort but cannot produce a picture, then that diver did not see the said marine creature. That's all.... Sound harsh but that's that....especially if the diver is an UW photographer.... hehe
toodus
Advanced Diver
Advanced Diver
 
Posts: 314
Topics: 18
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:42 pm
Location: Jalan Gasing, PJ
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#6  Postby Knightdivers » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:50 pm

toodus wrote:There's a general and unwritten rule ...if a diver claims to have seen a marine creature of any sort but cannot produce a picture, then that diver did not see the said marine creature. That's all.... Sound harsh but that's that....especially if the diver is an UW photographer.... hehe


Yeah Toodus, I was really gutted and Sito's pat on the back was a little sarcastic [-(

-- Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:56 pm --

29th Dec 2012
After our heavy American breakfast at the hotel, the dive master of Noblesse’s Dive Centre helped us to load our tanks and dive equipments onto the tricycle. We were pretty amazed with the load the tricycle took and before we could ponder further, we were on our way to Tanawan Bay. The 15 minutes journey gave us amazing view from the top of the cliff and along the winding road.

Besides the busy port of Santander, the southern part of Cebu was pretty quite. Things are extremely different for over a year now especially in Tanawan Bay, Oslob. It was not because of a new Jusco or a Disney Land and neither was it because of a central government project. It was strictly because the local fishermen found ways to attract Whale
Sharks to this part of Cebu. They realized that the Whale Sharks are fond of the shrimps that they feed them with.

I did some research before making a decision to check this unnatural attraction. You will discover that there are some articles and research done by marine biologist on this local practice and majority are against it. The local government on the other hand is justifying their actions and the best way to understand their views is to see the whole affair for myself.

When we arrived at the bay, our tricyclist had difficulty making a decision as to which centre he should stop as there are over half a dozen of dive operators situated along the beach. Most of them would come to you with offers of better service than the other operator but the pricing here are pretty fixed by the local government. We made the decision to use the one with lockers and showering facilities. I would have to say that the operators here are very efficient and systematic. They appear to be operating here for years although this phenomenon is only a year old. Perhaps with the constant threat from the environmentalist, the operators here feel that their days of prosperity may be numbered and therefore are doing their best to be as professional as possible.

Within minutes, they assisted us with our gear and we headed off to the shore. We did not use a dive guide with us as the site was pretty straight forward. Basically, we had to fin ourselves for about 100 meters from the shore and get below the boats. We had to fight an inward current that day but as the bay was less than 8 meters deep, it was quite simple. I signalled to my buddy when I saw shadows above me and yes, it belonged to a 5 meters Whaley. We could also see loads of kids snorkelling around. Just like us, they were briefed on a few important rules i.e. no touching, no gloves, no diving right below the whale and a maximum of 60 minutes bottom time is allowed.

I decided to surface as I wanted to take some split shots and at the surface, I could see fleets of boats with tourist. I had to look out for the boats that had the tendency to come straight towards me. The whale sharks were following those boats that held the task of feeding them with krills and I guess they were instructed to circle the fleet of tourist boats. There were easily 7 whales circling us that day and I was told that it could double that figure on better days.

We spent the rest of our dive fining against the current to keep our position and it gave us a very good opportunity to observe the behaviour of the whale sharks as well as the whole operation. We were told that the feeding stops about noon and the whale sharks will disappear to search for ‘real’ food in the deep.
So what do we have here? Here are some questions and answers I got after interviewing a few locals and our dive.

Q: Are the operators well organized?
A: Yes!

Q: Is the current attraction giving them a better income?
A: Most definitely!

Q: Were they poverty stricken before the arrival of the whale sharks?
A: Obviously!

Q: Would they kill a whale shark for their fins before this tourist attraction started?
A: Possible

Q: Would they kill a whale shark now?
A: They may be killed by the locals if they try!

Q: Do they think this practice should stop immediately?
A: Please DON’T!

Q: Are the dive operators the only party benefitting from this attraction?
A: No! Everyone from the cleaner to the government is benefitting from this (and that includes my tricycle driver!)

Q: If this practice continues, the whale sharks may be attracted and get friendly with poachers when they migrate to other waters. As it is, propeller marks are already seen on some of the whale sharks. Do the locals think that this is an unhealthy act and just a selfish way of them earning money?
A: Propeller marks can also be seen on other whale sharks around the world that doesn’t come to Tanawan Bay. Those people who are making such a fuss are not the locals. They can say what they want in their comfortable sofa at home. If they earn our income and live our life, they will not say such things as life is really difficult for us. Please do not think that we are ignorant.

With the above, I leave it to you to decide whether this activity should continue or not. JC and Sito of Fun and Sun are totally against this as they showed me detailed scientific research done by a friend of theirs that indicates such activities will harm the whale sharks in the long run. Therefore, the only place that Fun and Sun will bring you for some whale sharks will be in Southern Leyte.

As we had enough for the day after one dive, we headed back to the hotel and chill out for the rest of the day before departing on a bus back to Cebu City the next morning.

Return Tricycle Ride: RM30 (this accommodates two divers, tanks and our gears)
Full Gear with Tank from Noblesse Dive Centre: RM50 per set with tank and weights
Marine Fees at Tan-awan Bay: RM115 per diver
Porter Fees: RM5.00 (they will carry your gear and provides locker and shower facilities)
Lunch and Dinner at Santander RM5.00 per person per meal (if you go to the nearby stalls outside of the hotel)

30th Dec 2012
From Cebu City South Terminal, we headed back to Mactan Island for a night of shopping and ‘lechons’ before departing back to KL on Cebu Pacific Airways on New Year’s Eve. We definitely ended a fun year in Cebu and will be back for more!

(posted the photos on this trip in www.facebook.com/funsundivetravel
Knightdivers
Diver
Diver
 
Topic author
Posts: 33
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:56 pm
Location: KL
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#7  Postby run » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:39 pm

very thorough report. You must like to write Knightdivers :)
my 5day4 nights dive trip report will never ever be as detailed as this.
I just know morning wake up eat , dive, SI, dive, SI lunch , dive , SI snack, dive, night dive, dinner, sleep.
Your report definitely worth to read.
run
Master Scuba Diver
Master Scuba Diver
 
Posts: 859
Topics: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:12 pm
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#8  Postby toodus » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:17 pm

Q : After this spectacle/phenomenon/luring, can I claim that I have seen a whale shark?

A : No.
toodus
Advanced Diver
Advanced Diver
 
Posts: 314
Topics: 18
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:42 pm
Location: Jalan Gasing, PJ
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#9  Postby gavstang » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:59 pm

Excellent, well written and insightful report. Really enjoyed reading it.
gavstang
Sport Diver
Sport Diver
 
Posts: 181
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:20 am
Location: Ipoh
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#10  Postby Knightdivers » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:15 am

Here are some photos:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

-- Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:17 am --

run wrote:very thorough report. You must like to write Knightdivers :)
my 5day4 nights dive trip report will never ever be as detailed as this.
I just know morning wake up eat , dive, SI, dive, SI lunch , dive , SI snack, dive, night dive, dinner, sleep.
Your report definitely worth to read.


Thanks run!

-- Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:19 am --

toodus wrote:Q : After this spectacle/phenomenon/luring, can I claim that I have seen a whale shark?

A : No.


I guess one would ask whether this is more like seeing an elephant in a zoo or in the wilds of Africa
Knightdivers
Diver
Diver
 
Topic author
Posts: 33
Topics: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:56 pm
Location: KL
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#11  Postby run » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:34 am

the nemo pix is an eye-catcher for me. Maybe coz u took it in wide angle with green background & vivid foreground. A little something other than the macro angle or potrait shot with black backgroud i mostly see posted online.
run
Master Scuba Diver
Master Scuba Diver
 
Posts: 859
Topics: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:12 pm
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#12  Postby jonnyontheroad » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:26 am

toodus wrote:Q : After this spectacle/phenomenon/luring, can I claim that I have seen a whale shark?

A : No.


Of course you can. This is not like seeing an animal in a zoo, or diving in an aquarium. The animal is still in its original habitat, behaving entirely as it would if it came across a sea of krill naturally.

Excellent report on your trip, and though your analysis of the ethical argument was clearly biased in favor of this activity, it still addressed the main points, so kudos for that. I'm not sold on it, but I do agree that there are positive aspects that contribute to the preservation of this species.
jonnyontheroad
Diver
Diver
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:21 am
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#13  Postby decimal86 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:22 pm

let me jump in here and give my 2 cents worth, yes i have been to Oslob--just to see the whalesharks. yes, it impedes their natural cycle of migrating. no arguments there. but if we tell these village folks to stop...u can all guess what is going to happen next.

whaleshark meat on the table for the village. we are tourist, they are just trying to put 3 meals on their dining table. who are we to dictate what they can and cannot do? they have been killing these magnificent craetures for decades, now they feel they can earn tourist dollars from them.

so on ethics, we ask everyone to boycott?
decimal86
Master Scuba Diver
Master Scuba Diver
 
Posts: 871
Topics: 25
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 8:52 am
Location: south of the border, not mexico
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#14  Postby toodus » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:14 pm

jonnyontheroad wrote:
toodus wrote:Q : After this spectacle/phenomenon/luring, can I claim that I have seen a whale shark?

A : No.


Of course you can. This is not like seeing an animal in a zoo, or diving in an aquarium. The animal is still in its original habitat, behaving entirely as it would if it came across a sea of krill naturally.

Excellent report on your trip, and though your analysis of the ethical argument was clearly biased in favor of this activity, it still addressed the main points, so kudos for that. I'm not sold on it, but I do agree that there are positive aspects that contribute to the preservation of this species.



The key word here is "naturally'. The polar bear behaves in it's original habitat "setting" in a zoo.
It's all set up. Not natural anymore.
Photographers wait for days and days until a clouded leopard comes into view. No bait no nothing. Just pure perseverance.
It's not the same.
Doing a 3 minute safety stop somewhere in Tioman and a whale shark comes along, that's a sighting. Oslob/Donsol is a Disneyland version of it.
toodus
Advanced Diver
Advanced Diver
 
Posts: 314
Topics: 18
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:42 pm
Location: Jalan Gasing, PJ
Gender: None specified

Re: IS it more FUN in CEBU?

Post Number:#15  Postby dorothy » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:01 am

Great write up. Really enjoy reading it. Sounds like a fun place to go... hmmmmm.....
dorothy
Sport Diver
Sport Diver
 
Posts: 81
Topics: 8
Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:23 am
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Gender: None specified


Return to International Destinations

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron