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Philippines

Philippines- the country of 7000+ beautiful islands. Impossible to see even the highlights within a two week visit. Especially as there is lots to discover on land and underwater too. 

It started with a 13 hour flight to Manila, followed by a 1.5h domestic flight to Cebu City, taxi from the airport to the bus station, 4h bus journey to the north end of the island.  All that to end up in the middle of the tropical storm (with very little shelter) and find out there are no boats in the nearest future to get us to Malapascua Island, the diving heaven we were so waiting for:)

We had a rocky start to our travels, but after that everything went smoothly and we could truly enjoy the diving, beaches, nature and beer. Food not so much:) The biggest problem we had was where to go and how we are going to get there. Moving from one place to another does take time in the Philippines as we found out!

Our first stop was Malapascua Island- an idyllic, tiny island that didn’t disappoint with its gorgeous white sand beaches and world class diving. Monad Shoal was were we were very lucky to see some congregating thresher sharks. I did get some snaps of them, but not good enough quality…I think it’s the high time to change my underwater set up:)

Next on our agenda was Moalboal. According to The Lonely Planet your daily routine encompasses diving, drinking and dining in this exact order. And we did just that!:) 

While there, we dived with schooling sardines that surrounded us and reacted to every move we made. Very cool indeed. We also explored Pescador Island- an island, just off the shore of Moalboal with superb water clarity and amazing wall dives dotted with variety of my favourite frog fish!

When our gear was drying out we hired a tricycle and Mario, our lovely driver, was waiting for us at 5am to take us to Oslob for some snorkelling with whale sharks locally known as butanding. You have to go there and see in with your own eyes to make up your mind about it. I was rather disturbed watching a baby whale shark being hand fed  by the boat man and a couple hundred of snorkelers trying to make a selfie with it…. Not sure…

After much needed coffee and Philippino breakfast we climbed 5 levels of Aguinid falls finishing the day at the Mainit hot springs. The hottest spring was 43 degrees Celsius! I skipped that one:)

2h ferry took us from Cebu to Negros, an island we used as a base to dive the marine reserve, Apo Island, famous for it’s turtles and nudibranchs. 

We stayed at the superb, family run Aqua Dive Resort in Zamboanguita. It was definitely the highlight of our trip and a bit of luxury. We felt really welcome there and almost like at home! We looooved diving Apo Island. The only regret we have is that we didn’t have enough time to do so more muck diving around Duain. 

Our last stop before heading home was Bohol, a kingdom of nature, wildlife and stunning landscapes. To tick it all off, first we dived Balicasag Island, just off Alona Beach. The diving lived up to expectations with lots of turtles and good corals too.

Once out of the water, the best way to see the island is by scooter.   Our little beast took us through the man made forest, through the jungle to the very picturesque Chocolate Hills. We also stopped to see the Tarsier (a tiny, tiny, primate) and butterfly sanctuaries. 

We did get lost at some stage, off the beaten track, but it meant that we found ourselves at the bottom of a huge waterfall, where we could stop to cool down. Just awesome! 

One thing really surprised me was the absolute insane amount of basketball courts everywhere. And I do mean everywhere….in the middle of the town, on the mountain, on the beach, just randomly by the road… Sometimes they were used to dry rice, but that’s beside the point:)

I have one confession to make …  I always have only local food while travelling, but this time I did have pizza! We got caught in a massive tropical storm and the closest shelter was a pizzeria! Is it a good enough excuse?! The pizza was good and I ordered a local beer to wash it down!:)

I hope you enjoy the pics!!!

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