We have been asked to tell you about our recent trip to the Philippines. On Monday 11th March we embarked on our long journey to Malapascua which was our first destination. The first flight was great as we had so much room to stretch and relax as the flight wasn’t full, 7 hours later we arrived in Dubai. Walking through Dubai airport was just amazing! They just casually had palm trees growing everywhere, wall waterfalls and a McLaren just sitting in the middle looking spectacular! It was a short wait at Dubai but it was enough time to get an expensive round in. The next flight to Cebu wasn’t as comfortable as we hit quite a lot of turbulence. Sleeping felt impossible but eventually we managed to get a couple of hours; 8 hours went by and we had arrived in Cebu.
The next part of the journey nobody was really looking forward to, as it was a 4-hour car journey to the marina. After everyone had split up into the three cars at the airport, we were ready to set off. 100 yards down the road we knew it was going to be an interesting and scary drive because by the looks of it nobody obeyed the rules of the road. Horns were going off left, right and centre, cars just pulling out in front of everyone. In the end we were constantly on edge that we hardly got any sleep. We finally arrived at the marina for our last part of the journey, we got our luggage out of the cars and we weren’t expecting what we saw next. The local people had to drag a small passenger boat out into the water; they carried 30kg of luggage down uneven, rocky terrain to be able to transport our luggage to the big boat that couldn’t get any closer because of the tide. Watching them with our luggage was nerve racking because they were carrying the bags over the water and stacking the bags higher than expected. Once all the bags were loaded on, they were transported to the bigger boat first, we just all stood there watching it disappear into the darkness. We had to be split into two groups of 7 as there were too many of us to transport at one time. We were all on the main boat now and we started the last hour of our journey. After such a long 24 hours travelling, we finally saw the lights of Malapasuca Island. We were greeted at the beach by staff from the resort and we all received a ribbon flower. We headed straight to the restaurant to order food and a well-earned drink.
We didn’t see the beauty of the island until the next morning and it was something you would see in a book or on the internet. After breakfast it was time for our first dive, this was in the house reef which is just off the beach of Malapasuca. We split ourselves up into four groups as were such a big group we would see more in smaller groups. We saw so many beautiful animals from blue ringed octopuses, seahorses, nudibranchs, pufferfish to hermit crabs. It was a very beautiful first dive of the holiday, which got us excited for what was to come. Our next dive brought us to Quilliano1 where we saw so many different types of starfish, pufferfish, banned pipe fish, nudibranch, clownfish and blue ringed octopus.
The next morning got us up at 5am! We were very excited about this dive at Monad Shoal; this was the site where we would see Thresher Sharks! The journey to the dive was amazing as we got to see the sunrise. It only took 10 minutes for the sun to come up so capturing the sunrise at its finest, you needed to be quick. It was time to kit up as we were approaching the dive site. We were the first group in the water.
Our first night dive took us to Light House reef; it was about a 10-15 minute boat ride. The night dives were very early in the evening as the sun sets at 6pm. We saw a group of mandarin fish mating, cuttlefish, nudibranchs, textile cone shell, scorpion fish and cinnamon clownfish.
The next morning, we got up to see the Thresher Sharks again! This time the sharks stayed around for longer, this was exciting as they circled us on our ascent. After breakfast we meet up for the next dive briefing. The next two dives were based on Gato Island. The first dive took us into a cave where we saw our first white tip shark. This was very exciting as we haven’t seen a white tip before; it was just minding its own business as we entered the cave. When more divers entered the cave, the shark started to move and swim around us all, as we got further into the cave there were more white tips swimming around. We had lunch on the boat and had about an hour break on the surface. The next dive on Gato Island took us around a reef and we saw so many things such as sea horses, pygmy sea horses, pufferfish, nudibranchs and clownfish. After our amazing dives we headed back to the island, we had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the sun and relax.
Our next morning dive after breakfast took us to Pantaw-Pantaw another reef. We saw multiple blue ringed octopus, seahorses, starfish and frog fish in such a small area. We all decided that we would stay out at sea for our surface break as the next dive site was only 5 minutes away. The captain took us to a cove where we had the chance to relax for an hour or so. During this hour we could do whatever we wanted. Some decided to stay on the boat, while a selected few of us jumped into the water. Two of our guides jumped into the water and swam over to the rocks. They climbed to the top of the cliff; it was about a 15-metre drop. We were encouraging them to jump and they did. After that thrilling experience we set off to our next location Ubang Bato. This was another reef dive, where we saw similar things like seahorses, blue ringed octopus and a pygmy seahorse.
Our last and final dive on Malapascua Island was Monad Shoal, to see the Thresher sharks one more time. 5am came around and we made our way to the dive centre, this was the first time we had rain since we had arrived and oh my it rained! We got into our wet suits before even leaving the dive centre. By the time we got into the small boat to transfer us to the big boat we looked like we had already been in for a dive. This was our last dive so we made the most of seeing the sharks as we wouldn’t see them again in a very long time. Our final night at Malapscua happened to be St Patricks Day. We celebrated well throughout the day and into the night.
The next morning, we checked out of Exotic Resort and started our long journey to Kasai Village, which was on the main land of Cebu. The first part of the journey was getting the boat from Malapascua Island to Cebu harbour. When we arrived at the main harbour the mini buses were waiting. Once all of our luggage was in the bus, we then got in ourselves and settled the tip money for the locals. We set off on our long 4-hour journey to Kasia Village. We stopped half way for a break, and this is when we saw ice cream being made in front of us. It was amazing to watch, and it tasted good too. We set off half an hour later and we still had half of the journey to go. A couple of hours later we arrived at Kasia Village. As we entered the resort there was a banner hanging from the trees welcoming us, we were also greeted by staff members with real flower chains that smelt amazing!
We were all allocated our rooms and our bags were waiting outside the rooms for us. When we entered the room, it was amazing red tiled floor, huge bathroom, mini bar and the view, oh my that was incredible! Once we were all settled in our rooms, we went to the bar to get some drinks before dinner. There was also a pool table that kept us entertained throughout the days and evenings when we weren’t diving. The food was great; it was a buffet menu and a very good variety of food.
The following morning, we met at the dive centre after breakfast for our first dive. The first location was at Dolphin House, the name mislead us as were expecting dolphins it turns out it’s just the name of the hotel that was a few hundred meters away. It was a good first dive as we got to see turtles! It was so nice to see them so relaxed and free, to share the ocean with them was amazing and a privilege. We got out of the water and had about an hour on the surface before we went on our next dive, there was tea and coffee and biscuits waiting for us. Kasia Wall was the next dive and yet again we saw so many turtles. There were also nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, pufferfish, shrimps and hermit crabs. Our first night dive was at Kasia House reef, there was a lot of action in such shallow water. Hermit crabs, nudibranchs, pufferfish sleeping and there was also a turtle sleeping below some hard coral.
The next morning, we woke up and had our next briefing which was Pescador Island. The sea was very rough this morning and we knew that there was going to be a current on this next dive. We got into the water and started to fin over to the island so then we could try and keep out of the current as this was a wall dive. We had never been in such a strong current before that we had to hold onto the reef to stop and wait for our group and to take photos. In the end we just decided to take videos instead of trying to stay still for a photo as it wasn’t going to work. Towards the end of the dive we went above onto the flat reef which was on top of the wall and there was no current at all. This was very frustrating as it was very pretty.
We had another hour or so on the surface and again tea and coffee and biscuits were waiting for us. The next dive location was Panagsama Beach which is where a massive shoal of sardines live. It was so weird to swim through a massive shoal like that as it was so thick. We also saw nudibranchs, shrimp and turtles throughout the dive.
Our final day arrived, we got up had breakfast and made our way down to the boat for the briefing. The location of this was Sampaguita Point, this was a reef wall dive and we saw pufferfish, nudibranchs, turtles and many different types of fish. We had another hour on the surface for tea and coffee and biscuits before the next dive.
Our dives were over, so we headed back to the resort for some lunch. We then had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. We went straight over to the pool as it was very hot on our last day. We went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. It was very nice, and we got to order fries, they weren’t on the menu, but the chef made them for us. Let’s put it this way they didn’t last 5 minutes on the plate that they were presented on.
The following morning came; it was our time to leave. We got our belongings and headed down to the bus after breakfast. We said goodbye and we were on our way. The bus journey was roughly about 4 hours to the airport. When we arrived at the airport the check in desk wasn’t even open yet, so we lined up anyway. Once we all got through security and duty free, we all sat down to have a Burger King! We had a few hours to kill before we were able to board our flight. The first flight took 12 hours to get to Dubai we didn’t get much sleep, so it was a very long journey. When we arrived at Dubai, we only had a short time to get to our connecting flight. The flight from Dubai to Gatwick seemed so much longer than it was as we couldn’t get any sleep as we were so uncomfortable, and we weren’t used to the time difference. We landed at Gatwick, finally we were home, we collected our luggage said goodbye and we all went our separate ways.
This was such an amazing trip; we will never forget the experiences we have had. We can’t wait for the next one!