Famous for its vast, shape-shifting shoals of sardines, Moalboal has plenty of other underwater surprises for scuba divers. Tony Exall explains.
Sardines, Moalboal © Chris Mitchell
Moalboal Diving – Dive Happy Episode 26 Show Notes
- PhilippineDiveHolidays.com – Tony’s dive travel agency, featuring some of his video footage of the Moalboal sardines
- Diving Moalboal: A Quick Guide – my concise briefing on Moalboal diving, what to see and where to stay
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Moalboal Diving – Dive Happy Episode 26 Transcript
[0:00:34.9] CM: Hello, welcome to Dive Happy, the podcast about finding the best scuba diving in Asia. I’m your host Chris Mitchell, and on this episode I’m joined by Tony Exall, an accomplished underwater videographer, and founder of travel agency Philippinediveholidays.com. Tony, welcome back.
[0:00:23.5] TE: Good morning, good afternoon, I’m not sure what time of day, I’m morning, you’re afternoon.
[0:00:29.9] CM: Tony, this is probably the only time I’ve ever been terribly excited about sardines.
[0:00:36.8] TE: And rightly so.
[0:00:37.8] CM: Yes, can you please explain why sardines in this particular location in the Philippines, why they are so exciting and why people come from all over to see them?
[0:00:50.0] TE: That’s a really good question and actually, there’s not a lot of answers on why the sardines have gone to Moalboal, nobody knows. Every now and then, across the Philippines, you’ll get a collection of sardines that sort of stick around for a while but then unfortunately the fishermen get a bit busy, or they just move on to somewhere else, but in Moalboal, for some reason, for more than probably about 15 years now, there’s been a resident school of sardines, either actually on the mainland where Moalboal or Panagsama Beach.
If you would have googled Moalboal, you’ll hear about this place called Panagsama Beach which is kind of like the tourist centre if you like, of Moalboal. At the moment, the sardines are right literally, you can walk off the beach and snorkel with them. It’s super close to where, not mass tourism is, but right in the thick of it. There’s always been a school there, it’s not just a school, we are talking possibly billions of fish, not millions and I’m serious, billions of fish.
It is immense, absolutely immense. They’ve been there for probably about 15 years or so. Most of the time, they’ve been on Panagsama Beach but from 2009 to 2011, we have no idea why, they relocated themselves from being on Panagsama Beach to the small little island, just off the coast, it’s like a 15 minute boat ride from the mainland to Pescador Islands. It was awesome, absolutely awesome, and the benefit of them being on Pescador was twofold from the diver’s perspective. It’s clear water there than on the mainland.
You can see, I mean, water isn’t necessarily yucky, it’s not like sticking your head in a bucket of muddy water on Panagsama Beach but on Pescador, you regularly get like 20 plus meters horizontal visibility. When you got this enormous school there, it’s just breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. The second benefit of them being in Pescador was the predators would come in and hunted them more so than when they’re on Panagsama Beach.
At the moment, when you’re there, you will see schools of jacks coming in and having a nibble on them, the occasional barracuda coming but back in the 2009, going into 2010, thresher sharks were coming in hunting on them and that was – wow. That was properly wow. I was fortunate to be there during that time. I spent a lot of time underwater, trying to film it. I was successful.
[0:03:17.0] CM: Sorry mate, we should just point out here that it’s remarkably rare to see thresher sharks anywhere, with any regularity, besides Malapascua, which is relatively nearby in the Philippines. I mean, Pescador is very deep walls isn’t it? Very steep and very deep. They were coming up from the depths there presumably?
[0:03:36.1] TE: Yeah, the talon straights which is this fresher water between Cebu where Moalboal is on and Negros going to the west. I think it gets down to about five, 600 meters something like that. Thresher sharks stay in the deep and they come up for cleaning, at Malapascua in the early morning, and come up to the shallows for hunting. It’s an obvious place for thresher sharks to turn up.
[0:03:57.5] CM: Sure, you don’t’ think they migrate between Pescador and Malapascua, do you? It would be fairly easy, I guess, when it’s not that big a distance.
[0:04:05.0] TE: Nobody’s actually managed to tag them to figure out what they do and where they go. We just simply don’t know, maybe some research organisations have managed to do it. There was a few years ago where Discovery Channel, during the shark week, they chartered a live-aboard and stuck around to Malapascua for about three weeks, trying to film the sharks, but also they had free divers that were diving down to the top of Monad Shoal with satellite tags, that they were trying to stick on to the sharks.
With the idea of putting some kind of a tag or signal emitting device onto the shark, stabbing it into the dorsal fin or whatever, and then during the course of the day, they would then go and have these receivers, that would stick in the water, trying to track where the shark was. Track down the shark and then see if they could film it hunting.
They didn’t manage to do any of it in the end from what I k now.
[0:05:03.4] CM: It’s notoriously tricky isn’t it? 10 years ago, it was shark tagging was still very much in its infancy. But besides that, the other thing with the thresher sharks appearing at Pescador and obviously we should emphasise, this is not a regular occurrence, unfortunately anymore. But when you were there, not only did you see them but you had the great fortune and, of course, huge skill to actually capture something very special didn’t you, on video?
[0:05:28.6] TE: Yeah. I saw a lot of the sharks down there and figured out a place where – on the south side of Pescador island, it’s kind of like where you mostly go. It’s really beautiful, it’s a really lovely coral garden that gets down to about 20 meters, and then there’s a vertical wall that goes down to about 40, something like that.
That’s where the majority of the fish are, ignoring the sardines, it’s like the reef fish would be out there and it is stunning, absolutely stunning. Especially when you have a bit of current coming from the south going to the north. It pushes the fish on to the reef and there are thousands and thousands of anthias, and fusiliers, surgeonfish. Hundreds and hundreds, or thousands and thousands of chromis and damsels, and so it’s really breathtaking, especially if you have a little bit of current and clear water there. It’s beautiful.
Around the side, coming around the west side, if anybody’s been to – dived in Pescador, there’s rock formation called Cathedral Cave. Just a little bit beyond there, there’s kind of a natural, I call it an auditorium. A natural kind of like almost cove, sort of, in the wall there. The thing with the thresher sharks is they wouldn’t hunt on solid balls of sardines. They would go to more disparate groups. So actually, what they were doing, when you have the larger group of sardines, bearing in mind, although there were billions of literally billions of sardines there, they were broken up into different groups. You know, the some on the south, some on the west and they never really weren’t around the east side for some reason. But around where I was hanging out, there was a smaller number of them and they would swim out into the blue just off the wall, individually to then feed. That’s when the sharks seem to predate on them more.
I found this lovely little place, not many people would go there and the sharks would then come in. If the sardines were sort of packed in together, thresher sharks was sort of charging in and doing a fake strike on them to break them up. The sardines would sort of be broken into smaller groups, and that’s when they would do the – with the tail, really cool.
I managed to film it, probably about half a dozen different times. I saw it many times but actually, seeing it, and actually getting on camera are two different things.
[0:07:41.6] CM: Well yeah. When the tail comes over the head, and for anyone who hasn’t seen a thresher shark, then the tail is about a third of the whole length of the shark.
[0:07:51.5] TE: Incredible, it’s almost as long as the body itself, yeah.
[0:07:54.0] CM: Right. This is amazing whip-like appendage, and it just comes straight over the head like a scorpion and it’s all over within under a second. It’s hardly traceable with the naked eye, isn’t it?
[0:08:06.4] TE: They’ve actually got two different techniques. The overhead strike is the most common one that I saw, but they also use a side swipe as well. Which is not as effective as the overhead one. But I saw it a few times where they’re just swimming along and there will be something along the side of load of sardines, they put a little bit of pace, slam the anchors on, and then bring the bum or the tail around to the left or to the right, and use the whipping action to try and stun the sardines.
With the overhead one, that’s really effective. What it’s actually doing is it will charge into the – pickup a quite a bit of speed, it really goes quite quick, and then – one of the reasons why the thresher shark, if you look at a picture of thresher, it’s got actually very large pectoral fins. There’s a reason for that. They use it as a brake. When they charge in, they’ll bring that pectoral fins around, instead of having them streamlined, they actually bring them around. There’s a lot of water resistance going on to the front of the fin, if you saw what I mean.
Which then forces the head down, the tail comes up, and then it whips it over the top. They don’t quite go vertical, but they’re not far off it, probably like a 60-degree angle by the time they’re actually – the actual point of the whip actually happens is probably 60 degrees from the horizontal. What’s actually happening is that the very point of the tail, it creates a pressure wave, it’s known as cavitation.
The scientists believes that, actually, the pressure is so great, actually water boils at the very tip of the thing. I didn’t see it in my video but apparently, they’ve seen it previously where there’s small bubbles are created, because the heat that’s generated by the whip.
This pressure wave is so powerful that I’ve seen it a number of times where it’s actually split a sardine in half. It’s not touching it, it’s the pressure wave that does it. It’s quite incredible. I think it’s one of the few examples of a fish using a tool, its tail, to hunt. It’s really special to see it. I think it only really been filmed beforehand by guys – I think some American guy did some research on it, where you put a camera down to like 300 meters, and they put bait on to a line to attract the sharks and they filmed it there. When we started seeing them in Pescador, that was really special because that was the first time that we know of that recreation divers could see this. Amazing.
We weren’t deep as well, hanging out at right about 20 meters. Sometimes you’d see them way above you, really shallow, shallow as five, six meters doing this.
[0:10:50.9] CM: It is quite incredible and it’s interesting because the only other opportunity – I wasn’t at Pescador island with you, so I didn’t see it for myself, but the only thing I have to compare it to is the actual sardine run in South Africa. That’s a similar kind of setup because the sardines become very shallow and the sharks and the dolphins just come in from everywhere.
[0:11:10.0] TE: That’s you know, a whole new league of its own and it’s just – anybody that doesn’t want to go to South Africa and see that, once in their life, is got to be something wrong with them. I really want to go and do it.
[0:11:23.2] CM: Yeah, well, it’s definitely an experience, as they say. With the footage you got, it was so exceptional, that it actually was used by the BBC wasn’t it?
[0:11:30.5] TE: Yeah, the BBC bought some clips off of me. The first time they used it was on this serious Shark. On the first episode, about 30 or so minutes into it, those one of my shots. They got a couple other shots in there as well from another guy that was filming at the same time as me down in Moalboal. Then, on the series Animals Behaving Badly, again on the first episode, again, roughly 30 minutes or so into the first episode, there’s five shots of the sharks actually doing the striking, four of which are mine.
That’s my claim to fame as an underwater videographer.
[0:12:07.1] CM: Which is fantastic. But also, we’ve kind of bigged up the thresher sharks and, unfortunately, they’re more than likely not to be there when people go to see the sardines.
[0:12:16.4] TE: Well, you say that, it is still possible to see them. You need extreme luck now. Back in 2010, if you were there for a week, the chances are, you would have seen the sharks hunting on the sardines, but now, because the sardines are back on the mainland, it’s much less chance, but it is still possible.
Just a friend of mine who runs a dive centre there in Moalboal, Cebu Fun Divers. He was saying that every now and then, they’ll see the thresher sharks actually jumping out of the water right on Panagsama Beach.
[0:12:47.8] CM: Wow.
[0:12:49.2] TE: They’re there every now and then. It’s quite busy with a number of people that go there. Because they don’t have the peace and quiet, I guess, there’s quite a lot of boat traffic around there, there is less chance. I would love it if the sardines have enough of being on Panagsama Beach, with all the noise, to go back to Pescador. It’s great for tourism for them to go over there because people then have to use a dive operator to go there, rather than just jumping in the water and snorkelling with them and go and see them themselves.
They’re literally 30 meters off of the beach. There’s a flat and then there’s a drop off, they’re there, right there. It’s incredible, absolutely incredible.
[0:13:25.7] CM: It is incredible because it gave me real cognitive dissonance when I went there because –
[0:13:30.6] TE: I don’t know what that means, what does that mean?
[0:13:32.5] CM: It means that that I’m thinking one thing but I’m experiencing a different thing. I think it’s because the town is a very backpacker town, it’s kind of like the adventure sport centre of the Philippines, essentially. You – typically a lot of people go there as a base to go off and do other things, typically canyoning, and other trekking, all that kind of stuff. Obviously, the sardines are kind of still the number one attraction and, like you said, you can go snorkelling with them. I was kind of like, “Well, there’s loads of people about,” like you just mentioned, “there’s a lot of boat traffic. Really? Is this really going to be any good? It all seems a bit tourist trap-y to me.”
Then, of course, I got in the water, went down to meet us and it was mind-blowing. I could not believe like – you start to see the sardine, okay. And then suddenly, you see, like you said, just billions of them and then moving like, I don’t know, like a star ship because it’s all in complete unison, and the way they catch the light, and so on and so forth. It is magical
Even when – because I was in South Africa on the sardine run, we never saw anything of that size or group in terms of sardines. The bait balls are much smaller, on the trip I was on. For me, it was kind of that thing of like, even though the sardines are located in kind of the busiest area, it doesn’t seem to have any impact on them being there. It was really surprising.
[0:14:55.2] TE: Yeah, when you get the clear water there, the shapes that – you go down to 10, 15 meters and when all the sardines are above you. It’s quite nice when they break off, there’s so many of them, they kind of break up into groups, which, even just one of those groups is really cool to see. When the whole lot come together, it’s really wow. Sometimes they’ll break off and go out into the blue to feed, you have this massive lump of fish just sort of swirling around in the blue.
The classic shot to get is when you’ve got the sun overhead, roughly about midday. When you’ve got big loads of sardines above you. You’re down at 10, 12, whatever it is, meters, looking up, and your bubbles go up. The sardines will part where your bubbles go up, the sun comes down, you got all the rays coming around, and the sardines swirling around. It’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic. It’s a photographer’s dream down there.
[0:15:50.0] CM: Yeah, I agree. Yes, that’s exactly what I was about to say, I got some really good shots without even particularly trying very hard because at first, this is going to be quite hard work but it was just – I got lucky with the conditions, but it’s wonderful. Of course, the problem is actually remembering to actually look through your view finder rather than just sort of floating there, slack jawed, just watching them.
?For the videographer hat on, did you end up just sort of shooting loads of footage? Did you sort of, a discipline way to go into it?
[0:16:21.2] TE: Terrabytes worth of the –
[0:16:26.6] CM: Pretty.
[0:16:30.4] TE: After a while, I’ve been very fortunate to have dived a lot in Moalboal. With the sardines, you know, 2009 and then 2010, Actually what happened in, going back to the Pescador with the sharks over there, there was a school of big eye trevally there, and they just got too dominant. They are a quite aggressive fish, or territorial, and they don’t like other predators coming in.
In the backend of 2010, what we were seeing was the big eye Ttevally were waiting for the thresher shark to do its thing, do it’s strike, and then there is a number of times where I saw as soon as it done its strike, it can kill, stun, you know 6, 12 fish with one strike and then it would just slowly swim around and gobble them up as they sort of drift in the water. The big eye trevally would then, as soon as the shark would done it’s strike, would then chase off the shark and then get the fish for themselves.
And I guess the thresher shark just have enough of it and they just did plan 2011, you just never saw the threshers there again, because the schools of big eye trevally got bigger, and just more aggressive and territorial, and they could then just chase the sharks off. That was – I mean it was they hadn’t have done that you know? Kind of like there was one time you think, “You know fisherman, could you come and do your job please? And take out these because I want the thresher sharks here rather than the big eye trevally.”
But absolutely it was still really cool with the jack fish there because they would go around and terrorise the sardines. They come and charging in, you know maybe like a 100 big eye trevally, just coming in charging on the sardines, and when the sardines are in panic mode, you’re there and you got this massive pool of sardines in front of you, and all of a sudden, the jacks have a go at the sardines. It’s just like being shot by a million silver bullets.
They are just like whizzing past you. It’s just in absolute panic mode, where there is fish excrement – am I allowed to tell you is the word I want to add there? – and and scales and everything, just floating away with the places there as they go into complete panic mode. It is amazing but you still see that on Panagsama Beach. It is not big eye trevally they have there. There is another, I don’t know the name of the jack fish, but there is a group of them, they go in and have a nibble on the sardines frequently. It is a still a wow experience to see that.
[0:18:51.1] CM: Yes, so I mean that this is basically the point I just wanted to make is that, even if the thresher sharks aren’t around, the sardines in themselves are quite an experience and they’re definitely worth going there just to see those. Obviously ,if the threshers turn up as well, then you are going to be super lucky. I must admit I was also really impressed by the quality of the reef at Pescador Island.
When I was there I only dived there for a couple of days, there were no sardines around at the island. So this was two years ago yeah but again like as you were saying earlier, the vis in incredibly clear. So you could just for about 20 to 30 meters. Some beautiful views down the wall, really healthy corals, pretty good fish life. Again, I sort of thought, “Well, there is a lot of backpackers here, there is a lot of tourists, so there is going to be a lot of pressure on the reefs,” but of course most of them aren’t actually diving. So there wasn’t any people around.
I mean, maybe I just got lucky. I think maybe they send years when it is cold.
[0:19:45.0] TE: No, I mean there are quite a lot of dive centres in Moalboal now, just the tourism is really exploded over the last four or five years there. Even so, it is still not a busy destination to go.
[0:19:57.5] CM: So beyond that I also, just for the sake of having a look, I went out and took a look at – there’s a plane wreck, Cessna, I think that is how you pronounce it. Have you seen it?
[0:20:06.3] TE: Yeah. So on the dive site called Copton Point. So, it probably, it might be useful if I just explain the diving in Moalboal. So Pescador Island is a 15 to 20 minutes boat ride out from there. We already said so – on the south side, the reef is really beautiful, with lots and lots of fish. When you go around the west side, you got the cave kind of thing. It is not so interesting, you don’t get quite so much fish out there but there is still cool things to see just like you’ll see.
One thing about Pescador is you’ll always see frog fish, giant frog fish. Quite often there a tray one just out on the tube sponges, blue, grey tube sponges. It is almost a given that you are going to see those there. On the north side is not so interesting because it never really gets the sun. So it is not a great place to go if you are a photographer. Then on the east side, the coral is less good than the south side. If you were there for a week, and most dive centres will have a schedule to go to Pescador every day.
So if you have been there a few times, you may want to go around the east side, but when I dive there I just stay on the south going around to the west. That is the more interesting part of Pescador. Then on the mainland if you start north, if you can imagine on the map, Moalboal is kind of sort of a blobby peninsula that sticks out, sort of like a kidney shape, sort of, that sticks out from the mainland.
Then on the north is the dive site you were talking about, which is called Copton Point. So just north of there, if you come around the very top end of the Ronda Dive Site or Saavedra Marine Sanctuary, where there is a wall that starts around about 20 meters and drops down to 40, 50 something like that. It is just covered in huge great big pinky orange gorgonian fans, where you’ll find hippocampus, denise’s pygmy seahorse. Every now and then you will see some black tips, some reef sharks around there.
It is a dive that you should do while you are there. In the shallows there is some really quite nice coral. Not so great on fish life but really beautiful coral around there. Then as you come around the corner to come vertically down the west side, if you see what I mean? Then you come to Copton Point, which is kind of like the only horizontal diving, if you see what I mean, that you are doing in Moalboal because there is like a sandy ledge that comes out before the drop off.
In the 90s I think it was they sunk a fibreglass plane down there. Nothing really grows on it because it is fibreglass, but it is kind of a good find or opportunity for less experienced divers to – somebody sit in the cockpit and somebody take your photograph while you’re there. Dived and filmed it a few times for promotional videos for resorts I have done there, but actually the more interesting part, is what’s in the sand around it. You will find Pegasus, seamoths. There are garden eels around there. You see nudis, stuff – there is really interesting stuff around there. You don’t normally see that in Moalboal because almost everything else is wall dives. So it is a different environment, but because of the wall there, the drop off for the wall starts at late 20s.
Not many people go down there and it is beautiful, really, really beautiful. So if you don’t mind dipping beyond 30 meters, going down to 30 to 40 meters and stuff, really, really good condition gorgonian fans and lots of life down there. It is really, really nice.
[0:23:23.5] CM: Awesome.
[0:23:24.1] TE: Then as you come south then it becomes just the wall all the way along. So the wall almost goes onto the beach. It is kind of a very shallow reef top and then the wall starts. So that is all the way down the coast line all the way to when you get that actually around to Moalboal town, which, you know, there is a whole bunch of different dive sites along there.
[0:23:42.9] CM: Yeah because I might have been doing – I did three or four days diving there and I definitely felt like, wow, I could be here a lot longer. It is probably like a solid week’s worth and obviously you repeating a few sites and stuff. I don’t think you’d get bored would you?
[0:23:55.8] TE: No, it kind of depends on your experience level, and how good a biology knowledge you have. So, with my groups, when I take a group over there typically I spend the week in Malapascua, and then a week in Moalboal. That is one of my most popular itineraries and a week, when you have like five or six days diving there, that’s good. That is good enough, longer than that you have to be a nerd, if you know what I mean, because then you start looking at specific things.
Then you really start getting your head stuck in the reef looking for the smaller things or, you know, trying to choose the right time to go and film the sardines. You then become more of a specialist. I have spent a lot of time, I could easily go there, go there diving there for a month, because I just keep on wanting to film. You know, I see one thing, I look in my video, “Oh I can do that better next time.” So you want to go again, but yeah typically six days is enough.
You will see the most of it in that time. You would have to spend a few weeks there to see every single dive site, because every dive site has got a different way of diving it. When you got a reef that starts at, almost in the shallows, down to 40 meters, you can’t cover all of that in one dive. So you know there is different ways of doing it and there’s certainly, you know Pescador is worth – in that time, you want to go to Pescador at least four or five times during the course of that five or six days that you were there.
[0:25:16.0] CM: Yeah absolutely. I mean that is one of the other great things, is that it is such an accessible area of the Philippines, which is not famous for its accessibility. I mean it is only a couple of hours drive from Cebu.
[0:25:28.3] TE: Yeah it is super easy. You can fly, yeah. Well, it depends on the time of day. Cebu City is becoming really congested now. So sometimes it can take you four plus hours – if the roads are clear. If you travel at like 2:00 in the morning, when there is nothing in the road, you can leave the airport, and get to Moalboal in about two hours. If you are going 5:00 in the afternoon where you’ve got all the traffic, especially on a Friday, it is going to take you probably four hours to get there. Because the congestion going through Cebu City is awful.
On the upside they are actually building a bridge. So the airport is on Mactan Island. So there’s two bridges that come onto the mainland, and they are building a third bridge, which will actually – it is going to be a big bridge, that actually connects onto the mainland, south of Cebu City. So Mactan is more of this sort of north of Cebu City. So it is actually going to be a long bridge, like four or five kilometers or something rather.
Maybe even a bit more than that. So once that’s actually constructed, which I guess is going to be another year or so before it is finished. That is going to cut out the whole of Cebu City. So it is going to be super quick to get down there. So probably you have to do in less than maybe an hour and a half to get down to Moalboal.
[0:26:41.1] CM: Well that’s fantastic because also the new Cebu Airport is also really, really great. I love it. I can get there at once.
[0:26:47.7] TE: Yeah, I actually flown in and out of the new international terminal. I have only met people from there, I have not actually gone through it. Typically because I keep all of my video gear and dive gear in Manila. I fly to Manila and then fly domestically down to Cebu, which, when you fly domestically, you arrive and depart from the original terminal there. So I have not seen the swanky new one yet.
[0:27:07.2] CM: The swanky new one is very nice. I have done it a couple of times, straight in from Bangkok, hit night and day to going through Manila but then again, pretty much everything is. So just as we start to sort of wrap up, I was about to ask you are there live-aboards that go to the area, as part of Central Philippines itineraries?
[0:27:23.8] TE: Yeah, there is a number of different companies that offer a Visayas route. So companies like Discovery Fleet, The Philippine Siren, The Atlantis Azures. The Aggressor Fleet are about to launch their new live-aboard, brand new live-aboard to the Philippines. This is all outside of the Tubbataha season. Everybody goes to the Tubbataha from mid-March through mid-June, and then most operators from backend of June, through to – basically for the rest of the year will have different routes around the Visayas, of which Moalboal will – sometimes is part of that itinerary.
So to be honest, your best bet that I have been on a couple of live-aboards that have had Moalboal in their itinerary. I find it quite frustrating actually. You just get a day there. So you go and see Pescador, you go and see the sardines, you don’t see the rest of it. So for me if you actually want to experience a place, there is a benefit of going on a live-aboard because, if you have never been to the Philippines, you can see multiple destinations in one trip.
But I quite like to actually get to know and understand the places and say, “Yeah, I have been there,” and have a conversation like this, where you can share your experiences of that one place with somebody else who’s been there, and get to know it. Because there’s some really special things to see there.
[0:28:40.1] CM: Yeah, absolutely. As I am going to try and get back there as soon as I can, where would you recommend for staying?
[0:28:46.1] TE: It depends on your budget. If you want few creature comforts then the place that I like most is Kasai Village, which is a few kilometers north of Panagsama. The reason I like it they’ve got just quiet, they’ve got a quite large area of the resort. They’ve only got 13 rooms at the moment, so they can only accommodate 26 people to the place. They have got nine sea view rooms and four pool side rooms. Got a lovely pool, perfect for you if you want to go there and do a bit of dive training, fantastic pool for the training in.
It is right on the beach. They don’t really have a beach as such because they’re just like a flat before you they get to the drop off. So they’ve got this long pier that goes out. So you walk out to them, get onto the boat and then go off. Just everything about the resort is good. You know, the food is good, the staff are absolutely fantastic, really happy friendly people. You know, within half an hour of being in the resort, they know your first name. It is just very friendly welcoming, the dive operation is superb.
Michael Pettersson, who is the owner, he is a Swedish guy married to Lydia, a Filipina. They have been there for about 15 years that they’re also there now. He is mad technical diver. So if you wanted to do re-breather, swim, any kind of technical training, he is your man. He just can’t stop buying rebreathers this guy. I think he’s got – you can see where the money goes away the profit. He just keeps on buying rebreathers. I think he’s got like seven or eight different rebreathers there. The dive operation is really excellent. In fact, he’s just recently got GUE dive centre status as well. So if you know anything about the different dive organisations, in my books, GUE is the top one. You got to be on the money if you can get to GUE status. So that is kind of like the – well, not necessarily premium market.
A sea view room is a 150 bucks a night. It is per room rather than per person. That comes with brekkie and then obviously you got any meals and your diving on top of that. So not ridiculously expensive but not cheap. Then on the other end of the market, is a guy called Carl Epp, who owns – he’s got a number of little bits and pieces in Moalboal. The Sevedra Dive Center, which is like a standalone dive centre right in the middle of Pescador – sorry, Panagsama, but he’s also just recently built a resort 10 minutes’ walk south of the main centre of Panagsama called the Cebu Fun Divers.
It’s fantastic. It’s got a lovely pool there, infinity pool. He is building combination. He is halfway through the combination. So he’s got one build, one block open already, which can accommodate like 18 people or something like that. It is not true backpacker but it is slightly above backpacker level. So probably, room, not quite sure maybe about 3,000 pesos a night?Which is like 60 odd dollars a night for a room.
He’s built to a very high standard really good. With super quiet air con, really nice fittings, USB sockets so that kind of stuff. He’s done a really good job down there.
[0:31:36.7] CM: Awesome. I mean that’s always the thing in both of those places. They are obviously being run with love and that’s kind of what makes it all figure out. Tony, thank you so much for talking to me about the glorious sardines and the thresher sharks, that you may or may not see.
[0:31:52.2] TE: Pleasure. I am certainly, if anybody that goes down there, then you are going to have a fantastic dive, and see some really cool stuff down there. The sardines won’t disappoint. Of all the groups that I have sent there, not a single person has come out of the dive and not gone, “Wow.” So it is cool. Very cool.
[0:32:09.8] CM: Yep. You can’t get more re-endorsement on that. All right, thank you very much mate.
[0:32:15.3] TE: A pleasure.
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