Tag Archives: travelph

Scuba Diving Caluya Island: Beyond Expectations !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 8-12, 2017

caluya island
caluya island

Sorry took me long again to finish writing on our last adventure, it only means it is so special that I wanted to spend time to put into writing on how it went through.

So lets start.

Before remoteness had begun, 4days 3nights of chasing waves and exploring the largest lagoon system in the country and witnessing an expectacularly just perfect rainbow that left us speechless, which can only be found in Siargao and by the way it even deserves a separate blog which again I think will keep someone waiting. We started our journey to Antique province.

So how we found out about Caluya? Does anyone know this place in the first place? From my friends- no ,hmmm maybe 2 of them but they haven’t dive there yet, from my family absolutely no. We found Caluya island because of a dive article online about Pelagics you can see while diving Panagatan island. Both islands are remote considering the accessibility and infrastructure, however , lucky as we are , we found out that instead of getting there through Boracay dive shops which we do not prefer , we found out that an awesome couple together with friends just started a dive operation base in Caluya island- Caluya Divers. With no hesitation we started the standard operating procedure.

Caluya island dive map
Caluya island dive map

1. Research ( this consist gathering information about the place to every single details possible), how to get there and sorts of preparation.

2. Contact dive operator

3. Book flights

Every single difficulty to arrange for our journey to Caluya only excites us more. The dive operator had been very responsive from the start despite the difficulty of internet access in the island.Yes you read it right, the place where we will stay doesn’t have internet connection. Does it make us sad? As you know my life has been constantly online almost 90% of my day for the last 2years.Hmm sounds like a challenge for me considering small businesses I run online. But how can you say no when the ocean is calling , and what better affirmation you have for a place that pass all of our criteria ; remote place, friendly people, uncrowded dive sites and the best reason EXPLORATORY DIVES.

We landed in Caticlan airport at around 1pm from Cebu , took a van to Culasi for 3 hrs.Another option to reach Caluya is via Mindoro if you come from Luzon. As usual you have to take note that boat ferrying from these places are small -medium size cargo-passenger boats owned by small businessman schedules change without prior notice. A good tip is to communicate as frequent with your dive operator contact as they know the updates most of the time, relying on the internet for schedule updates isn’t a good idea.

I’m already planning  to sleep the whole road trip but guess what , how can I sleep when the first 40 km travel is along the coast and you can clearly see the crystal clear sea water with soft waves crashing to the shore, and in many instance on the other side of the road a very sturdy looking proud hills and mountains covered with green forests while on the base is endless hectares of rice fields.Seems nostalgic, but these scenery always covers up the many months of stressed face while working in a concrete jungle. Imagine me and my dive buddy taking turns of pointing left and right to watch out the good view, it’s just breathtaking.

So we arrive in Culasi town 4hrs earlier than the boat schedule of departure. So what more good way to kill time than to explore Culasi. I remember one friend is from Antique, she recommended us to go to the town proper , hangout in the boulevard near the shoreline and witness the sunset, we eat our lunch at a nearby restaurant and found out another cool thing to do in Culasi- climb Mt.Madjaas. (save it for the next time)

MISSION : Explore Caluya underwater

Boat ride from Lipata port Culasi to Caluya island is about 5hrs , just enough time for us to sleep, good news the sea is calm. Kalayaan Shipping  is a RORO ship serving from various ports to Caluya and other islands of Antique.Banton liner is another ferry which is rather smaller than Kalayaan Ship also crosses to and from islands within Antique.

We arrive in a small port in Caluya and a smiling couple is picking as up very early at dawn when it is still dark. The woman immediately recognize us hence Uwe is the only foreign looking guy inside the boat.

We loaded our bags in the tricycle , yes tricycle- the main public transportation in the island besides Habal Habal (a single motorbike). We took quite  a pave road about a kilometer then a rough road almost the entire trip ,it was a fun ride , it reminds me about 10yrs ago in my hometown where I grew up is as rough as Caluya road, did I frown? Ofcourse not, because I love dirt roads and YES I drive dirt bikes (Kawasaki KLX 150cc) almost a joke, no its not a joke. I love dirt bikes, see my practice day here .

Day 1 : Arrival and first dives  ><(((*>   ><(((*>

After about an hour we arrive at Island Diver’s Caluya  base.It is still very quite a little dark and I still here the crickets, barking dogs welcomes us to this peaceful place surrounded by trees. Couple Cindy and Roland greeted us a good morning and they looks so happy to see us.From that moment on I knew our dives will be lots of fun.

We had a quick hour power nap and rest at our bamboo bungalow, very clean and spacious enough for my dive buddys’ camera set up and accessories 😀 😀 😀 were never been too excited like this to be honest, alrady lookin forward for underwater surprises.

dive shop front 2
Frontbeach

So house rules are discussed at a cozy native restaurant adjacent to the diveshop fronting the beach, with bananas and tall coconut palm trees on the side.Rules are simple just behave and be free. Meals will be served island style, we will be eating together whatever is produced for the day . Roland and Cindy told us the story how they started, most of the talks are in German as they speak the language same as my dive buddy grrrrrhhh.I promise to learn the language soonest 😉 😉 anyways I’m more excited with our first dive plan.

Local dive crew and boat staff are shy but are friendly and very kind people.Cindy and Roland found a family in Caluya, the people welcome them and their guest as a family, something we wont’ forget in our travels.

CALUYA ISLAND 

The dive sites within Caluya island are close to the dive shop can be reach by 30mins boat ride. We start our first dives within the island , in west side. Explored dive sites starts from the shallow sloping down to 20-25meters deep. Visibility is really good down to 20meters. Dive sites within Caluya were found by Island Divers, usually with their guest giving each a name. On the west side we are greeted with a very healthy coral garden teeming with many reef fishes and also a resident giant frogfish, theyr’e always funny to look at. They are very good in camouflaging and they don’t usually swim , they walk among rocks and move slowly.Their body has different patterns and colors but what makes them really really special is when they start to yawn and you can just imagine how flexible their mouth is to a large opening.

FROGFISH MOMENTS

We also saw a variety of nudibranches in all sites their colors and patterns are to die for. A giant cuttle fish also showed up.A lot of crinoid shrimps that easily camouflage in different colors and pattern. In one dive site we saw 2 ghost pipe fish.

NUDI PARTY

There is a notable population of Crown of Thorns on one site.Roland and Cindy said they’re trying to eliminate most of them but they keep on repopulating.This animals eat corals but removing them from the site should be carefully planned, my dive buddy said once you touched and remove them they immediately release a sack of eggs around thereby causing more Crown of Thorns to come.

THE GHOSTS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

NIGHT DIVE @ the HOUSEREEF

We finally had a chance to do a night dive a day before we leave the island. Cindy said the house reef is home to napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrot fishes at 18-20meters deep. However we weren’t able to reach there. The first 5meters of the housereef already entertained us. All this magical tiny critters comes out and hunt at night.We saw a very huge nudibranch crawling on the bottom, a very tiny white nudi and a the cutest bobtail squid.

SIBAY ISLAND

We explored this nearby island western bound from Caluya.The dive site is at the western tip of the island. Caluya island divers discovered dive sites here. It is wall dives starting at a shallow entry of a coral garden about 10meters then drop to 30meters down deep.Visibility is superb, curent is average. The wall is stunningly decorated with large sea fans and gorgonians very healthy corals in vivid colors. We found bunch of nudis and a huge lobster on a crevice. Mooray eels and giant lobsters are also there to say hello to us.

We spent 3 dives in one day, spending one surface interval inside a mangrove forest where we passby a seaweed farm with smiling farmers. We tried to snorkel in the mangrove areas hoping to see some juvenile fishes nesting on the roots.

Sibay island

On our way back home we brave huge waves which makes our travel time 2x than coming to the island. But , a surprise friends suddenly came up halfway our route, Spinner dolphins say hello to us, it was a very happy dive day. Next dives is within Caluya island hence weather didn’t permit us to go to Panagatan island (there is always a next time).

dolphins
dolphins

Anyhow luck is still on our side, we are lucky for our exploratory dive we found our dive site, we named it ”Gardenia” it looks like a garden covered with hard corals full of reef fishes,anthias, damsel fishes, and fusiliers,  it’s literally like watching over an aquarium.

Again we are lucky divers exploring a remote paradise.Mother nature has been very sweet and kind to provide us with all these underwater haven which also provides the mankind and other living organisms it’s source of food. It is not new to us that many parts of our coral reefs around the country and around the world,most of them are damaged due to our abuse,due to our bad habits, due to lack of knowledge, due to lack of empathy. There are so many reasons  and cause of this distruction, however even if it’s a little bit late , let us start changing our habit and the way we look at our environment, lets take good care of it for the next generation.

Thank you so much to the entire team Island Divers Caluya for 4days awesome dives.They are the only operating diveshop in the island. Best season to dive with them is during dry season starting December-June of the following year.

Find their contact below:

FB : https://www.facebook.com/islanddiverscaluya/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/cindy_island_diver/

Thank as well to the cool and kind neighbors of Cindy and Roland who hosted us for our 2nd night dinner and preparin our meals, the island divers boat crew and the super friendly dogs and goats around the resort.We hope to come back next season.

Things to note:

Transportation : Tricylcle or Habal Habal

Food: There is no Carenderia near the resort and town is a bit far.Scuba divers are offered to eat with the resort owner like a family.

Signal: no phone signal around the resort area except in the next town.

ATM/Banks: There is no atm or bank in the area so you better bring cash, the resort don’t have credit card terminal as well hence no signal, which I think is an advantage when you are in paradise.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!!

 

SUPERB DIVING, AMAZING REEFS, SPECTACULAR VISIBILITY, AWESOME PEOPLE, YUMMY FOOD, LOTS OF NUDIS, LOTS OF CRITTERS, PARADISE PARADISE AND PARADISE, we will be back !

More photos !

Next Adventure : Samal Island -Sarangani-Siargao

Follow  and or have an Adventure with us !!!!

https://web.facebook.com/GECKOMEdotCOM/

https://www.instagram.com/geckoadventuresandtours/

https://twitter.com/AdventuresGecko

Photo credits to:

Uwe Michaelis  – using Sony RX100 IV camera with , Nauticam housing

Alieth  – Gopro Hero 4

Cindy Meier Hanstein

”One Adventure at a Time”

Advertisements

10th Reason why #SOXisNEXT? a Scuba Diving journey through Mindanao’s Sarangani Bay

SOX- a short term for Region 12’s SOCCKSARGEN comprising South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.

”We been promoting Culture -Nature-Adventure” within the Region said Regional Director Nelly Dillera of DOT Region 12.

  1. Culture- South Cotabato’s Tboli tribe -Lake Sebu
  2. Fishport tour -witnessed why GenSan is hailed as Tuna Capital of the Country.
  3. Nature-7 Waterfalls in Lake Sebu South Cotabato
  4. Adventure -Paragliding in Maasim Sarangani
  5. Pacquiao Mansion
  6. Sarangani Highlands- up in the hill have a romantic and sumptuos meal.
  7. Sunbathe at Gumasa Beach (Glan, Sarangani)
  8. Tuka Beach – mini Boracay of Sarangani
  9. River Tubing-in Maitum Sarangani
  10. Scuba diving- newest offering that we ventured for a 3-day Dive Safari
Sarangani Dive Safari
Sarangani Dive Safari

April 29- May 1

When some plans doesn’t happen for some reason, don’t fret, it only means a new opportunity will open up. Take for example, our Startup weekend Bohol schedule (Apri28-30) got cancelled 2weeks before the event. I was frustrated a bit hence I been longing to join such kind of event to meet likeminded people and to learn more new things about technology in tourism.

But thanks to technology, a post in FB pops up from Sarangani Adventures page, it says a 3 day dive safari with unlimited diving in areas within Sarangani bay. I only have heard about Sarangani as a destination for paragliding ,and who doesn’t know about the National Champ Manny Pacman Pacquiao place. So I start looking for articles online about scuba diving in the area, found some blogs and video clips, there is not much to read but that only leaves me more curious. I told my Dive buddy about this package as an option hence it fits the date when our initial plans is cancelled. He was able to message Sarangani Adventures in their FB page and they were so responsive, means plus points for us.

All is set, flights are booked and everyday gets more and more exciting to discover this new place. Looking at the map, Sarangani bay resembles so much to one of our favorite dive destination (Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte) where you have bountiful fish life, beautiful reef and walls, macro dives, muck dives sites and a Whale Shark sighting.

To reach Sarangani, easiest way is to fly from Cebu or Manila to General Santos city with Cebu Pacific then a van transfer about 45mins to Lemlunay Resort– the only dive operator in the area.

MISSION: To take photos of all what we can see underwater while diving in Sarangani Bay and help promote Sarangani as a new dive haven in Mindanao.

Day 1- Woke up early with news that Sarangani was rock by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. I was holding my breath for some seconds then I start to breathe easy and google for news updates online. It was true there was an earthquake, but it seems that there is no major damage and the tsunami warning from US Geological Society’s website was already lifted. I message Michelle Solon –our point of contact for this Dive Safari to have some updates and she respond positively that Dive Safari will go on and they’re actually set to dive in the morning, all is good. I proceed to the airport, meet my dive Buddy and other co-explorer Garri Immanuel Tadlip from ‘’Iggy Dives’’ –the youngest underwater photographer in Asia, with his Dad Sir ‘’Oleg Tadlip’’. Arriving at General Santos airport we were joined by another co explore Arabelle Jimenez a writer/mermaid from Manila.

Arriving at Lemlunay Resort we were greeted by friendly staff and offered a chill coolers with mint for a hot summer day. Drop our bags in our respective rooms and proceed to the dining area where we meet another co explorer Stella from Sunstar Davao. Then we finally meet Miss Michelle Solon one of the head organizer for the event and Paul Partridge owner of Lemlunay Resort. This event is supported by Region 12 Department of Tourism represented by Regional Director Nelly Dillero and the Provincial Government of Sarangani.

We were welcome by a presentation video about Sarangani and the tourism initiative dubbed as #soxisnext, ”people already discovered and traveled to Bohol, Boracay, Palawan so where to next? said Michele Solon of Sarangani Adventures.

Sarangani shall be the upcoming tourism destination of PH and not only for paragliding, not only for tunas, not only because its Pacquaio’s homeplace,but also because they have something underwater to be proud of, so the diving has to start soon. After a sumptuous dinner we rested for some minutes then start gearing up for the first dive- a night dive.

The photos below shows we are happily welcomed by our friends underwater.

Day 1

Spanish dancer, soft coral shrimps, bobtail squid feeding, cuttle fish etc.

Day 2

First dive – Lomuyon dive site – dive aborted – ABS CBN local media arrives and men in uniform escorted us to Tuka island, kickass dives with kickass escorts.If any of you think that its dangerous to dive in all places in Mindanao, well , think again, because this is the proof that it is NOT. Not all places in Mindanao is unsafe, it even became more and more interesting for us since day 1.

2nd dive –Tuka reef 1 –2 sec blue spotted eagle ray shows up, fishy reef, lots of dorid nudis, bat fishes and angel fishes .

diving with the Youngest UW Photographer in Asia
diving with the Youngest UW Photographer in Asia

3rd dive- Tuka reef 2 –farting pawikan, chromodoris nudibranch plenty of them , fishy reef, giant lobster with 1 meter antennae, batfishes, and angel fishes plenty of them

Visibility is not so good but a group of Bumphead Parrot Fish are clearly huge enough to be recognize almost a meter in size.Theyr’e a kind of fish that feeds on benthic algae and corals 🙂  but they also shit a powdery substance that makes up the white sands in Boracay. Awesome discovery !

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

turtle preapring to fly
turtle preapring to fly
turtle chillin waiting for its food
turtle chillin waiting for its food

We had lechon kind of lunch with fruits and some special dishes preapred by the locals, the hospitality of the people in Sarangani is worth  praise.Thumbs up.

After lunch we grace an interview by ABS-CBN Soccksargen featuring the Sarangani Dive Safari.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We did another night dive and found mooray eel, 2 new nudis , 1 new hard coral crab, porcelain crab in anemone, flatworms and many more crabs and cuttle fish.

Day 3

Maasim Reef- a very nice offshore reef blooming within the ocean.

We jump for a negative descent following a dive line due to strong surface current. However deep down at around 18-20meter deep  is relatively calm to mild current .We were in awe seeing a very beautiful fishy coral garden , which minutes after, we went down to the bottom floor saying hello to the 3 resident juvenile blacktip shark under a huge table coral.The reef looks healthy, the garden is decorated with huge barrel sponges, gorgeous gorgonian seafan and  lots of reef fishes in many colors, good visibility up to 20m.

Rocky Island – sphagetti nudi branch, many fishes, chrinoid shrimp

sphagetti nudi_rock island
sphagetti nudi_rock island

Lemlunay House Reef – Large sea fans of different colors, bit of drift dive, napoleon wrasse,and many nudis.

The Dive Safari event ended with a Press conference held at Green Leaf Hotel General Santos City attended by representatives from Government Sector , media personnel and our team (Divers). Discussions on improvements and facilities needed for the protection of the Seascape  in the province of Sarangani is being tackled. We also share to everyone what we see and what we have found underwater through pictures and videos.

In our opinion, it has a huge potential for dive tourism industry, some improvements shall be done.The people, local government units and Tourism department shall start implementing environmental laws protecting the seascape, tap with people or organizations outside the province that can help share their expertise in management of Marine Protected Areas.Another thing is also to develop training programs for dive guides in the area as spotters. Established dive sites should have markers and buoy or dive lines.It is also a big advantage of Sarangani having General Santos airport which has daily flights from Cebu and Manila which are both having domestic & international connecting flights.

There are dive sites where currents can be mild to strong but that can be manage with experienced and caution.This currents also attracts pelagics and schools of big fish.There is also a potential for more macro critter finds, our night dives were awful, and the Housereef is amazingly embedded with all sort of beautiful corals and fishes.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!

Salamat Sarangani !

#SOXISNEXT

We end our day in Ssarangani with a hearty lunch at the hill in Sarangani Highlands Garden

Special thanks to:

Michelle Solon of Sarangani Adventures click the link to contact them.

Paul Partridge of Lemlunay Resort for accomodating us.

They have one the best sunrise view in Ph .

FB: https://www.facebook.com/lemlunay/

Website :http://lemlunayresort.com

RD Nelly and the DOT Team

Thanks to the entire team of Lemlunay South Divers Point, the people in Maasim, Kiamba and the local government of Sarangani Province.

Photo credits to :

Uwe Micahelis of http://underwaterexposure.zenfolio.com

Garry Emmanuel Tadlip of ”Iggy Dives”

Stella Stremera

”Mermaid ”Arabelle Jimenez- my first mermaid coach

Climbing the summit of Mt Hibok Hibok -a second try

So after being defeated by leech last year while attempting to Summit Mt.Hibok Hibok:D Now were’ back, ready to accomplish the mission. 

(you need to bribe me a coffee session to tell you the story behind what happened last year )

Mt. Hibok Hibok is standing 1332+ MASL high – an active stratovolcano so therefore we like it !Somehow volcanoes is appealing to us, its an interesting kind of mountain.

Jan 14, 2017

Climb Plan-  A Dayhike

Schadow1 Expeditions
Schadow1 Expeditions
Mt habok hibok trail map
We followed this trail Entrance : Ascent at Yumbing Trail Exit: Descent to Ardent Trail

430am: wake up call

530am: guide picks us up to jump off point

600am: registration and start ascent

3-4hrs estimated ascend duration via Yumbing trail

2-3hrs estimated descend via Ardent spring trail

Upon hym of my buddy’s phone alarm, we started to open our mind then our eyes. Unfortunately we have to get up earlyagain L This is one of the moments I don’t like when we travel to places, we oftentimes have to get up early for the days’ adventures. But, do I regret? Hmmm of course not, I somehow accepted what I call ‘’the geckos destiny’’– that I am made for ‘’Adventures’’ and in no chance I will ever regret such thing. So far it’s one thing that keeps me going

foot ready to summit Mt Hibok Hibok
foot ready to summit Mt Hibok Hibok

Let’s continue, we start to ascent at about 630am entering in an easier path sloping up across some bushes and coconut plantation. The first hour felt ok, but the next minutes after an hour my guts seems to be testing me. I started to have an acid influx and about every 500meters trek I threw up, and I’m losing energy, seriously I was thinking of going back and give up at that time, I really felt that I couldn’t make it, buddy was also telling me that its ok to go back we don’t need to force to summit Mt.Hibok2x with my current conditions. Buddy is assisting me with water and crackers to replace the sandwiches I just lost. We slow up our pace, and slowly I regain energy, I was trying to be so much conscious about my stomach and in my mind every step I was able to confirm that I will make it to the top.

We started to see tall trees with mosses, after almost 2hrs trek we reach a viewpoint of the famous White Island of Camiguin. It was a very nice feeling, and we even joke a lot- 2 of our friends should be there at that time looking us up on top of the mountains. While we were sweating and exhausted, they’re having a nice time at the white beach getting sun tanned, but at that time I completely surrender to mother nature and felt positively on top of the mountains seeing a vast island, trees look so small down and so green enveloped with oceans so blue.

viewpoint-White Island in front
viewpoint-White Island in front

After taking pictures of the white island view, we arrive at the Crater Lake after 30 minutes. It was foggy and cold, and we don’t have a clear view. It was also cloudy at that moment. We stop there to have our lunch, we notice there is a campsite, our guide told us that a month ago he was with 30 other climbers that helps clear the area to have the camp site establish, he even saw a huge snake at the time. You know already what happens next, they have a very sumptuous dinner for sure.

After lunch we proceed to trek up one hour more and will be at the summit, I start to pray for a clear view on top, so we can see the entire Camiguin Island. Before the summit we pass by bushes with many pitcher plants, it makes me happy as I am fond of them, their shape, their color and they’re being unique as a Carnivorous plant. I took lot of photos.

The last few kilometers to the summit was a bit difficult trail, there is even a portion where we have to climb a super vertical inclination where u have to grab hold a root of a tree and a rock to get your way up, and down there is a cliff. Another thing is, we have to cross in between thick bushes and have to bow down, as it is very short bushes engulfing the trail. Then we reach another resting viewpoint. This is the last stop before the summit.We had a rest I was sitting on top of the rocks and felt the roar of the wind, it was still cloudy and view isn’t so is foggy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mathieu the Belgian guy saw a very cute mice along the trail it was surprising for me, its my first time to see mice in the mountains, I thought I can only see them inside a house.

Finally after 3hrs we arrive at the summit, somehow the sun starts to come out a little bit, but still it’s cloudy and no clear view at all. We tried our luck and waited for some minutes and decided to have a quick snacks, as we chit chats while waiting for a clear view, we heard a screeching sounds, it was very familiar, sitting near some bushes I felt them near me, while eating my rice someone came out at my back, guess what?The mice is there, it was funny they followed us; they must have sensed the food inside our bag. I tried to put some of my rice on the ground, one mice starts to get it and bring it somewhere, my buddy put some bread then another mice came out, there are 2 of them. The next time we put bread we covered it with the eggshell from my lunch pack. So the mice came out again and they didn’t find the rice, but they break into the eggshell ‘’smart ass’’.

Then my buddy put the rice in his hands, when the mice came out, they went slowly to eat it and grab it from my buddy ‘s palm, they’re so cute and funny, our attention was with them almost the whole 15mins.

that cute little mice
that cute little mice

After the rice is finished, we decided to wait more minutes for clearing, but unfortunately luck is not on our side we have to start descending, it was somehow sad but that’s life, that is part of climbing mountains, and a fact that everyone should accept. Clearing is only a bonus when climbing mountains, for us being on top -reaching the summit is already something we have to grateful of. It humbles us in so many different ways; it opens our eyes more and more to realities and how beautiful mother nature is.

at the summit of Mt.Hibok Hibok
at the summit of Mt.Hibok Hibok

So time for descent, we estimated it would take us another 2-3hrs going down and it’s gonna be a test how strong our legs and our knees will be.

I use to like descending rather than climbing up, I always thought its faster and easier going down, it’s a feeling I use to have when I was a kid whether Im drivin my brother’s bmx or sliding down with my coconut branch ledge (palwa in bisaya).

But it proves me wrong when doing mountain climbing. Going down proves to be tougher because you have to stay focus on every step you take; you have to keep the balance as well with strong knees as control or else your you will drop. We have about a kilometer of stiff drop, and then an easier walk in the fields, the last part is farms, and we saw carabao, cows and goats in the field.

The last 2km I have so many rest because I felt dwindling and my muscles is so sore and my knees is starting to show signals of being weak, getting oldie I guess, plus the fact of not having enough climb preparation.

We are lucky bastards again we made it, after 2hrs we reach Ardent hot spring where motorbikes are waiting for us, again we are lucky bastards the fact that I almost gave up second time around I was still insisting of climbing up because I know in my heart that I wanted to do it and that it is what I want and that my guts is only testing me at the time. So wise decision indeed.

Everyone is happy we made it!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Notes:

Guide fee + permit we spent PhP600 each we are 4 people in 1 group.

Standard fee is 800/each min.1-2person

Thanks to our Guide ‘’Kuya Bebot’’

Thanks Mt Hibok Hibok !

Next Adventure :

Exploratory dives somewhere in Antique, I’m super excited for this.

stay tuned ><(((0>

How Camiguin wins our heart the 2nd time around ?

white-beach-camiguin
White Beach Camiguin January 2016

After weeks of adventure/misadventure typhoon filled Scuba week in Southern Leyte we are finally journeying to more relaxing mode , switching on to our next MISSION, so you read it right there , above on the the title”CAMIGUIN” Come Again. The photo is lastyear at around same dates when we visited Camiguin, that’s the popular White Beach with Mt Hibok Hibok at the background.

Mission: Discover what’s beneath Mantigue island and fill our  stomache with Phad Thai @ Guererras’  endlessly 😉

Cebu Pacific Air Cebu-Camiguin, have flights daily – 2 flights for Mon-Wed-Friday-Sundays and 1 flight in the morning for Tues-Thurs-Saturdays.We took the first flight on January 12 at 545am , flight takes about 45mins only.

So we arrive at this very scenic airport, the moment you step out of the plane you immediately see the Volcanic cone of Mt.Hibok Hibok.This place is one of our favorite, we been here once together last year so aside from being such  a very nice place, coming back doesnt cost us any doubt, we promise to come again, so here we are and even more exciting because we are tagging along our best of friends so they can experience what it feels like being in CAMIGUIN and literally they would immediately realize the ”Come Again” feeling.

On our first day we keep it simple, we check in at Caves Dive Resort where we stayed last year, there is actully many accomodations that will suit different levels of your budget from 1000/room good for 2 person, to P4000+/room which has amenities like swimming pool , bath tub etc. located around Mambajao, the center of Camiguin.

At noon we decide to just relax in our room and come out to watch the sunset after few hours, while our dear friends ‘Sugar & Alex’ hurriedly hop to the White Beach Island.Part of the plan was to do 2dives the following day, we proceed to talk with dive center staff for the booking, including finding an instructor for my dear friend ‘Sugar’ because I have a surprise gift for her, she will have her first time to breathe underwater using a Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, yes you read it right, she will have her first Discovery Dive with us in Mantigue Island.

So after discreet discussion among 3 of us, we decided to reveal it to her the night before so she can be emotionally prepared and I hope she will be happy and excited.

The following day we woke up early, had breakfast and prepare our dive gears, we will travel by land 45mins from the resort to the boat station Barangay San Roque, Mahinog goin to Mantigue , the dive center boat will pick us there. We sail for about 15minutes to Mantigue island, can’t contained the excitement anymore especially the weather showed signs of sunlight.Actually I was more excited for Sugar, finally destiny will let her feel what I have been talking about every after dive trip that I have, and to be honest I want to infect her with ”Aquaholism” virus. 🙂

So Sugar and ”Kat ”another traveler we met in the diveshop will go together for the DSD while me and my buddy have our dive briefing. After hopping into the water , I can already ‘sea’ schools of fish near the Sanctuary, just imagine again the smiles all over my face.

The first dive site is a slope after the sanctuary about 15-20mtrs deep. Visibility is not so good above but slowing down it becomes clearer with a slight current. We see schools of fish hovering on top of the hard corals and huge groupers.After 15mins of the dive , felt a sudden thermocline , yes literally a sudden chill ,so I signal my buddy that Im feelin cold but as we continue to glide the temperature changes to warmth water , pretty amazing 🙂 )) During surface interval , I happily ask Sugar about their DSD, and thankfully what Ive got is 2 thumbs up and a huge smiles with just all good words and amazement.

The second dive is on another corner of the sanctuary, almost same topography and we met again with schools of fish, whats unforgettable is a giant creature we come across with as we ended our second dive. Last year we dive in some other spots of Camiguin and one special dive site where we met the rare Mimic Octupos + and  Wonderpus which we tagged as ”Wonderful Octopus”

See photo below :

gliding cuttlefish
gliding cuttlefish
giant-cuttlefish
giant-cuttlefish
So diving is good, lets go to the next addiction.
THE FOOD
One of the many reason why we love Camiguin is the food. Last year we found an awesome place to dine. A friend of mine from Cebu recommended it to me months prior to our departure. In Cebu we have this favorite Asian Restaurant inside Mango Square at the heart of the City its called ‘‘Big Bangkok Lilttel Saigon” they have atleast 3 restaurant around the city where we would dine with friends, our favorite is their ”Phad Thai”.Late 2015  we heard theyr’e closing down and my friend told me that theyre’ moving to Camiguin with a different name.
Guererro restaurant is located in Yumbing, a town on the foot of Mt.Hibok Hibok  along the beach. It is in the middle of a rice paddy. It’s one of a kind romantic place for me, you have to walk through bamboo path in between rice plantation before reaching the restaurant. The staff are very friendly and accomodating, as well as the owners.
They have Asian cuisine with influence from Thai, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysian food which most of the ingredients and spices are source out freshly from their backyard.Last year we almost have Phad Thai every dinner at their place, were kinda addicted to it, what’s in my mind at that time is that I have to grab the chance to eat the best Phad Thai as much as I can since I couldn’t have the same Phad Thai in Cebu. I have to say it’s the best Phad Thai I have ever tasted outside Thailand. Their staff will gladly introduce to you their menu of the day, which in most case this are special recipes prepared by the owner itself.
Sugar had fallin in loved with their Spicy Chicken Rendang, while Alex had almost tasted most of their menu and had nothing to say but all positive response. We coudlnt agree more specially when we tried their Thai Basil cocktail.
Phad Thai
Guerrera’s Phadthai
Please forgive me for the shitty photo,  but I can assure you the taste is like to die for 😀 😀 😀  ”mmmm yummm” mode switch on – ”FOODGASM” as they call I guess.
Their food is just more than amazing and more than delicious that non of us bother anymore to touch our mobile phones and capture photos.
Take a look at their webpage to appreciate more of their place.
Highly recommended place and definitely you shouldn’t miss when in Camiguin.
They recently open rooms too for travelers and you can book directly online through their website.
A choice of Beach View or the Mountain View (Mt Hibok Hibok view) with outdoor bath tub good for two, so no need to worry for  ”Honeymoon” place .
camiguin
Guererro_camiguin
So, next adventure.
To finally summit Mt.Hibok Hibok, after a failed attempt last year. Stay Tune for the next blog.
Quick Note : Camiguin bans and encourage to reduce use of plastics ,when you go to their market to buy fruits , food , bread or anything they will wrapped it in recycled paper or bags. 🙂 )) this is another reason why we love Camiguin.Aside from that the island offers hot springs, cold springs, breathaking views , waterfalls , hectares of rice paddies, hills , friendly people a very relaxing ambience. What more can you ask for. 🙂
Special thanks to :
Caves Dive Resort and dive crew
Photo credits to :
Sugar Edam and Alex
Most special thanks to my dive  and all time buddy Uwe :))) for capturing under water photos. See his photos here:
><(((0>

Hidden gems : An Underwater exploratory dive in Sambawan Island

Mission : to see the Coral Cat Shark in Sambawan Island.

Our preference when scuba diving : Simple, uncrowded places, semi remote-remote area (because in most case these places are unspoiled),friendly locals, simple accommodation no luxury and awesome deal for dive packages.Plus cute critters (were macrophotography lovers) but we love Sharks and pelagics too 😉 ))

What’s more exciting than planning a dive trip for your Christmas holidays. Once upon a time sometime in June 2015 I saw a very beautiful landscape picture online, it was called Sambawan Island- a literal Paradise 🙂 a crescent shaped and skinny island just next to Volcanic Maripipi.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.52.10 AM

When we found out that diving is possible in the island and there is one dive Centre available, with no hesitation, Sambawan become our top choice.We negotiate and book a dive package with Sir Nestor Macorol owner and developer of Sambawan Dive and Camp Resort  and as usual by the power of my dive buddy’s lucky charm we got a good deal, Yay !!!

Getting to Sambawan Island :

First we took the night boat to Naval via Roble Shipping Lines departing Cebu @830pm and arriving Naval 130-2am.From Naval town we will have to take a 2hr van to the place where we take the boat to Sambawan island. There are two options getting there. First is via maripipi island, atleast 3public boats are available going there or head to Kawayan port where private boat for rent is available-this is best for groupsof 6-10people since boat rental is pricey.We choose option 2 and hop in the small cab going to Kawayan port (1hr).

We are lucky since our dear friend Sir Patrick brings his lucky charm with him and he found another group of young travelers who can share with us with boat rental.

sambawan

Approaching the island feeling the excitement already with the Maripipi view which look like a volcano with clouds kissing its summit.

maripipi

We arrive at Sambawan island around 2pm and greeted by their staff with warmth smiles and bright disposition.They look so happy to have us, the Dive team immediately introduce themselves and ask us what we want for lunch, sounds a good question. ”We want rice, we proclaimed” rice and veggies.While the Kitchen staff prepared our lunch, our dive guide bring us to our hut where we will be staying for 3nights, we put our bags, test the bed , savour the freshest air and wander around.

simple hut

The island has no supply for fresh water so resort staff fetch it everyday in a nearby Maripipi island (15mins via small boat). Electricity source is from a solar panel located on the top roof of one of the huts and runs from 6pm-5am the following morning. The dive team are friendly locals from Maripipi headed by Kuya Rodel. When he knows I am from Cebu he immediately knows we will have lengthy discussion and exchange of stories, later I found out from him that the people that help them set up the Dive Centre is a Filipino instructor from Cebu, they were the ones who trained them to be dive master and good dive guides.

Diving in sambawan is not crowded hence the remoteness of the place. There are occasional divers from Malapascua which do excursion dives  after Kalanggaman island in Leyte and another groups could be from mainland Maripipi which has atlas 2-3diveshops.

We spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling and planning for a night dive at 530pm. The night dive is in quest for the Coral Cat Shark, however we didn’t find her.But we find some cute nocturnal critters, cute gobies and smiling crabs.

The next dive days are filled with different topographic seascape, from boulders to boulders as in huge  of them inhabited with endless nudibranches from smallest to the tiniest of them. Sunken City is the prime dive site in the area it is a beautiful reef garden filled with colours, schools of fusiliers, sweetlips being nibbled by cleaner wrasse a couple of hefty golden trevally zooming around in the midst of it all and thousand of Anthias are enveloping the whole scene.

Another dive site is called Black forest, I know what you are thinking, must be creepy down there , and dark, but opposite to how it is called , the black forest in Sambawan island is a dive site sloping to huge boulders from the shallow 5meters to a sandy slope to 30meters. Down there is a forest of soft corals in white that you felt like wading in between snow or cotton covered bushes.

Sorry no photos for those mentioned, my dive buddy has macro lense at the moment and no chance for wide angle shots.

On last day in the island is a rest day. we went walking around the island and the small islets interconnected to each other. The north view is Biliran while south is Maripipi. Maripipi looks inviting , we ask the Kuya Rodel if it is possible to climb up to the summit of Maripipi he said he never have done it yet only to almost halfway since the water source and a reservoir that supplies the island is there.

All in all this trip is like a dream come true, all preferences is achieved except seeing the Coral Cat Shark :p :p :p yet another reason to be back 🙂

For more info just click the Link : http://tourism.biliranisland.com/sambawanisland.php

Photo credits to his highness 😉 Mr Uwe ”awesome” Michaelis (UnderWaterExplorer)

Other photos are from the gecko babe too 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepy Surfer Award

20151128_102919

 

 

 

Lemme start this blog with the awesome view above. My accomodation for 3N/4D surf trip in Mati Davao-Nov26-29.

So whats up with the title ? Care to explain 😀

Well, its my most prestigious award from a recent surf trip in Mati Davao Oriental- Dahican Beach.This is how it goes:

A friend of mine knowing my addiction to the saline water ask me to join an organized event called ”Ripples goes to Dahican”. With no hesitation, I said yes, that was like 3 months before the scheduled surf trip (Nov.26-29). I paid down payment of 3000 pesos to secure the slot and as down payment also , total package fee is P8500 which can be paid in installment before the event, package covers our accommodation for 3N/4D, food, van transfers, surf instructor/guide and surf board rentals.

But things went wrong with my schedules and the event is getting closer, I’m slowly drifting away, sad , mad, upset all negative vibes engulf me, so I decided to cancel my slot 2 times and then 3rd time.But hold on, do you believe in miracles ? … miracles do happen. Few days before the event I got the money to pay for the remaining balance of the package plus my work leave was approved, so this is it pancit !!! Happy gecko is jumping with joy and immediately pack my bags and ready to go. Alas we touched down Davao city in the morning of Nov.26, 2015-thursday.

Our first day was spent on a side trip in Samal Island, first stop is the Hagimit Waterfalls, series of 1-1.5m drops of curtain like water.Second stop was funny, hahahaa everyone in the group knows why so I just say thank you for the ”Johnny’s Ride ” makes a huge difference on our trip 😀 😀 😀 and ohhh theres more, that addicting water slide that ends you falling into the sea, finally what makes this side trip special is our illegal trip underwater without the lifebelt(which is extremely prohibited by the lifeguard) just to have our mermaid photos taken, sorry for that but we can be kids too,.. sometimes.

After the Side trip in Samal we’re off for the real purpose- the ”waves”. Arriving in Mati is a relief for all of us, although it’s dark already we can already feel the roaring waves splashing into the sand. We have our welcome dinner which is a hot Sinigang soup and barbecue (yohooooo just right for hungry tummy).After dinner we had a quick orientation for the entire surfing program and we got to be introduce with other campers.The following day, everyone woke up early (alams na bakit  🙂 – its our first day of surfing, so everyone was on their boardshorts , bikini and surfing attires.First, the instructor and head guide Mac do the demonstration for basic of surfing , then we grab our boards and paddle towards the line up.I was able to catch some small waves, small but really good enough for me already and was more than happy just to be in the waters again. Sometimes just even staying flat on the board pushed by white waves is like an orgasm for a life time-oooops sorry for the word, but you will know it once you tried surfing. The next day we surf again in a secret spot known to locals, only 2-3 houses present nearby. Waves are just everywhere, its like a playground full of lego blocks, and palm trees and blowing winds, what more can you ask for ? ahahaha another pair of bikini maybe 🙂 , after morning surf we head back to the resort to grab our late breakfast and relax a bit, some of the campers went to surf in Dahican beach but I was too tired from the morning session and of course you know already where to find me, in the hammock dreaming mode. Afternoon program is the glider thingy, I was actually dispensing cash before arriving to Mati just to try riding this toy in Mati. But wait , where am I again the last time you saw me? mmmmm of course in my hammock. So when I wake up there is no one in the resort, campers were gone gliding 😦

But someone came back to pick me up yohooooo so I was able to glide too 🙂

glider

Our last day of surfing is everyone’s favorite place -the secret spot.After surfing almost an hr I lend the long board that I use to another camper,then I was cheering other beginners like me when they can catch waves, shouting them ”awesome, great yohoooo”. Then I assisted fellow camper too, pushing him when waves are closer. Ten mins after ,one of the Local community leader Kuya Jun ask me to try on his short board, of course at first I’m hesitant because his short board is for the pro and I’m quite not good in balancing yet so in my mind I cant handle short boards yet, but there’s no harm in trying anyways, for fun you know,hehe. So first I got lessons from Kuya Jun about surfing, then he told me the advantage of being small and having a short board.He also emphasize to me the correct way of paddling(for me this is very useful).I actually was dreaming to learn surfing with short board since its lighter and easy to maneuver and I’m crazily dreaming of doing surf stunts hahaha (5yrs from now) that’s my long term plan.So back to the lesson from Kuya Jun ,first few waves he tried to push me and see if I can stand on the board, of course I failed 3x 😦 then came the next 2 waves where I perfectly stand on the board and was able to catch it omaygasssssssssssshhhhhh it was just the best time of my life my life.Then I was hooked and don’t wanna stop, I tried paddling in my own and yes I catch another 2 waves -something to celebrate, only lacking is the lenses that captures it. But anyways next time will be ready for documentation, I promise.

 

To cap it all, it was super awesome 4days, best food, you wake up everyday with smell of coffee followed by sumptous meal, then the sexy waves calling you out, its something you will wish will be your life everyday. You got to discover also some places in the locality , like waterfalls , museums and eat the local popular fruit buongon- ang maliit na lemonsito awww, d diay reverse lemonsito ang maliit na buongon 😀 😀 😀 super sweet buongon don’t know the english term.

But  you know whats more awesome on this trip, the people around you are just equally crazy and  happy people from different walks of life in all ages we were drawn to a single passion- surfing. Started as strangers to each other but left as friends who shares happy moments, laugh trips and many groupies 🙂 🙂 🙂 see, life is awesome bruh, Live it ,it to the fullest please 🙂

But wait going back to the title, why why why I was awarded as Sleepy Surfer when they dont have evidences 🙂

See this : caught in the act !

12316637_1802238333336565_4627203129978982640_n 12274686_1802239150003150_8961150853077431417_n

But I am truly the awardee,I admit , you can also ask the organizer and fellow campers why 😉 I am a small gecko , so no one caught me sleeping, but i did in many times. Almost miss the glider, the food , the surfing just because moments that I can SLEEP , I immediately do 😉

I wanna grab this opportunity to thank you for RIPPLES the event organizer Mac Co Senora, Cielo, Stacey, Aldrin, Jah and Walter – because you impress me then you did a good job!!! Thank you sponsors for nice surfprising gits 😉 Thanks also everyone for the laugh trips hahahaa..you know who you ares, my new set of friends!

See more pics here

xoxo until the next surf trip )))

What I cant forget about this trip.

  1. The waves
  2. ukelele peoples (darn they’re so talented)I’m impressed.
  3. the laugh trips
  4. #movenpick  😀 😀 😀 ooops its not the hotel you know, ask Stacey :p
  5. nice sleeps