Monday, August 04, 2008

Boracay Trip Report

I just got back from 4 days in Boracay. It was my first trip there.

General thoughts:
  • It is a pain to get there. We flew through Manila, caught a SEAIR prop flight to Caticlan (45 min) and a short boat ride to the resort. Our flight was delayed 45 min due to heavy rain in Manila.
  • Boracay is beautiful but attitudes towards conservation have a long way to go. The beach is nice and the water is blue but there’s litter everywhere.
  • If you plan to go during the middle of the year, be prepared for rain and rough conditions. It rained pretty much the whole time we were there.
  • NAIA is still an awful airport.
  • NAMI is a beautiful little resort with wonderful personalized service. It is, however, very far from everything else.

I did 2 dives with Blue Mango. Blue Mango is located on the far end of Station 3. Dustin Pratt runs the dive shop, while his father runs Blue Mango Inn next door. Dustin is Fundamentals trained and teaches tech for DSAT. The shop has a bunch of backplate and wing systems for rent but a limited number of regulator sets with 7 ft hoses.

On the first day, we did a dive at Laguna, an area with big coral patches interspersed with sandy areas. It was a mild and relaxing dive with no discernible current. Interesting sights included a large octopus hiding in hole, a huge cuttlefish, 2 schools of razorfish, 2 lionfish, lots of clownfish, banded coral shrimp, and a tiny lobster.

The next day, I returned for a high speed drift dive at Laurel. We were flying for about 30 min before the current slowed down and Dustin shot a bag. The ascent and safety stops were a pain, with major washing machine currents. When we hit the surface at 50 min, the swells had really picked up and the boat was nowhere to be seen. We had drifted further than expected and were in the middle of a channel. We drifted for a few minutes, while holding our SMBs high and dodging 6 ft swells. The third diver in our group was less experienced and began to show signs of panic. We tried to calm her down and started kicking slowly back to shore. After about 10 min, a passing construction boat stopped by and picked us up. As we made our way back to shore, we met up with our boat, which had been looking for us some distance away. It was a mediocre dive with a rather inconvenient ending.

It's hard to judge the quality of the diving in just 2 dives but I'm quite positive so far. I'd dive with Blue Mango again but I'd like to be more involved in the planning so something like what happened on the second dive doesn't happen again.

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