The Bahura Scuba Diving Site Resort

Nemo can be found in Bahura

Nemo can be found in Bahura

Let’s pretend that you have yet to see such elegant beauties such as The Aurora Borealis or Taylor Swift or The Dark Knight. And then I tried to describe them to you in this article. Would you fall to the ground and seize in amazement? Surely, you would not. Such a situation is the challenge that I face today as I try to promote Bahura. Words may not be enough to justify its pure awesomeness. But what choice do I have? This is a blog. A blog without words is a blog that is very sad.

Words- I will use few of them in this post. It is because the more words I use, the more you will read. The more you read, the longer I am keeping you from actually going to the place that this post is trying to describe to you. And so we move on. For starters, Bahura is not Tubbataha’s favorite Filipino cousin. It is, however, a premier beach resort and an aqua sports center located in the town of Dauin in the island of Negros that is one of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. These inventions called, “Maps”, they say, are very useful.

Bahura has a 5-hectare beach-side coconut plantation. There, you will see things such as house reefs. Take a few steps, and you will notice crinoids-filled coral bommies that are accompanied by sea grasses. The last two sentences might have just harassed your imagination. I apologize. That is why I am trying to keep this short. Why spend time reading about them when you could go scuba diving beside them? The coral bommies await your arrival.

Here is a paragraph that is a bit friendlier to comprehension skills. You arrive at Bahura, and suddenly, you decide you don’t wanna go a dive on that day because a non scuba diving friend has no one to spend the day with. Fret not; Bahura’s awesomeness is here, ready to make you fall on the ground and seize in amazement. Did you know that Bahura also offers spa treatments, massages, caving and rappelling, ATV rides, dolphin watching, and much more? Well, no seizing will occur until you actually try it.

Bahura resortTo top it all off, Apo island is just 25 minutes away from Bahura. It has white sands, attractive rock formations, a protected marine ecosystem and hundreds of species of corals. I think I just heard Tubbataha and Palau gasp in jealousy.

So what now? Are you just going to let these beauties pass you by? Time is of the essence and you’ll never know what can happen with global warming. I’m already sweating buckets here in the Philippines. It’s time to go scuba diving!

You can get to The Bahura Resort & SPA through a Flight from Manila to Dumaguete City (Negros), then a 30 minute car ride to the Resort, which is in Dauin.

Manila Booking Office:

Address:
Unit 3 Southway Condominium, Mayapis St.
San Antonio Village, Makati City
Philippines
Telephone: +63 (02) 892.34.77
Fax: +63 (02) 813.29.70

Resort Address:

Address:
Km 19/20 Maayong Tubig, Dauin 6217 Negros Oriental
Philippines
Telephone: +63 (035) 425-2054/53
Fax: +63 (035) 425-2057

Getting to Bahura Resort and Spa

Prior to arrival at Bahura Resort and Spa, you’ll be landing in Dumaguete City, capital of the province, easily reached by four direct flights daily from Metro Manila as well as by fast crafts and inter-island ferries from Cebu and other ports. A twenty-five minute drive then follows south to Dauin. And another way is the new flight from Cebu to Dumaguete (vv) flying every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Best Beginner Diving Site

There are Diving sites for noobs

There are Diving sites for noobs

Before the Oscar-nominated, inglorious basterd named Quentin Tarantino “killed Bill”, he was a video store clerk watching movies in his spare time. Before Steve Nash won back-to-back MVP’s, he was a bench-warmer who drank free Gatorade. Before Justin Beiber shared his voice to the whole world, he just kept it to himself (where it belonged). What I’m saying is, everyone needs to start from somewhere, and that includes the scuba diver.
Today, my goal in this article is to provide useful tips, helpful advices, and inevitable promotions that will guide those who are “beginners”, or as 13-year-old video gamer would say it, “noobs”, in the art of scuba diving. By the end of this article, I hope all the “beginners” who read this will be able to enjoy the fun of scuba diving without worrying about the price of a coffin.

First impressions: They are very important. If your first encounter with vampires is through the movie, Twilight, I am pretty confident that you will think of vampires as sparkly, girl-stalking moaners of the day instead of fearful, blood-sucking creatures of the night. Same principle applies with scuba diving. If you’re first ever dive happened within the waters contaminated by the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, the chance of a second dive does not look very good.

So with the point that I made in the above paragraph, it is good for the beginner scuba diver to start happy and satisfied, joyful, and fulfilled. I offer you the best, I offer you, Palau. Why Palau, you may ask? Read article about Palau below, I shall answer. Here’s the thing, if you do decide to go for Palau in your beginner scuba dive, and ended up leaving it with an unfulfilled heart, then I suggest you try rock-climbing.

Do not worry. I did not recommend Palau to you just for its visual awesomeness, I am sure that you want something that is relevant with the beginner’s necessities: safety and experience. And this is why I love Palau even more. It is because diving in Palau will also contribute to the beginner’s needed knowledge concerning safety and experience in scuba diving.

Beginner scuba divingBeing one of the best and most popular dive spots on the planet, Palau is visited by an average of 50,000 divers each year. This is good news for beginners. I am certain that a large portion of those 50,000 are advanced divers. When you want to be good at something, it is advised to surround yourselves with people who are great at it. When you are a beginner diver, it is wise to surround yourself with advanced divers. Palau has lots of advanced divers. Watch, ask, and observe, so that you will learn.

To those who are shy, lessons are available. How do I know that lessons are available? Do you believe that there is a gas station present at every highway? Well, there are diving lessons present at every great dive spot. And how can the beginner scuba diver reach that great dive spot? Remember when I mentioned “inevitable promotion” earlier in this article? It is the answer to the question. To get to Palau, one must ride the liveaboard cruise ships of Expedition Fleet; it is a company that takes great care of scuba divers.

Did I achieve my goal today? In the “promotion” part, yes I have. But how about the part about the “useful tips” and “helpful advices”? Well, that part is up to the beginner scuba diver. In time, we shall find out. Who knows? Maybe one day, it is you that will be watched and observed so that others will learn.

Why the Philippines is one of the best dive spots

The Philippines is a country located in Southeast Asia. This country has enough islands to shoot 7,107 seasons of Lost. That’s right- the Philippines have a total of 7,107 islands. I didn’t need to count them all one by one because the guys from Wikipedia already did.

Philippines scuba diving mapThis next paragraph, however, does not need the assistance of dear old, Wiki. What we need is logic and imagination. Think about it- islands equals beaches, beaches equals water, water equals diving, and diving equals happiness. Divers from all over the globe, join me as I give more reasons why you should include the Philippines in your “Places to Dive” list. And if the charisma of the great Tubbataha isn’t enough for you, then maybe my next few points will be.

The People

Have you ever met a guy, whose skin color is a bit brownish, whose height is probably not that high, whose smile is almost always present, whose jokes are never-ending, and whose eyebrows always raise when greeting someone? Well, chances are, that guy was a Filipino. Filipinos are known for the increasing amount of hospitality they give to the people they encounter.

If you’re a foreigner whose planning to dive in the Philippines for the first time, you’re gonna need people to take you where you need to be and tell you things that you need to know about. Here, people won’t be a problem. In most Filipino homes, when you ask for a glass of water, they’ll include some snack. Let’s say kindness is a common or boring reason for you to visit the Philippines. I’m not done yet. Did you know that the Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world?  Effective communication is important especially to those who are unaware of their surroundings.

The Product

You’ve finally landed in the Philippines and have decided which one of the 7,107 islands you wanna visit. You’ve met a kind English-speaking Filipino to give you useful information and advice. You can feel the splash of the dive spot of your choice, but you’re not quite there yet. Now you’re trying to figure out how to reach your destination.

Before I continue, I must remind everyone that this is a blog by Expedition Fleet. Have you ever seen Kenny Rogers eat a Big Mac at a TV commercial? I assume not. So, with that said, the scuba diver can get to his diving destination through the one-of-a-kind liveaboards of Expedition Fleet. Here, I’ll say it again: EXPEDITION FLEET.

But seriously, Expedition Fleet is the largest privately owned live-aboard scuba diving fleet in the Philippines. The explorer ships that they own were manufactured for the purpose of transporting divers to the places that they intend to be. And boy, they sure do get transported in style. These cruise vessels are all air-conditioned, blessed with great service, and has a bar ready to replace your uncomfortable sea-sickness with mild drunkenness.

Now you’re closer to the water and can’t wait to get wet. Before you jump in, look around. Most, if not all, of the popular dive sites in the Philippines have a dive shop nearby that offers some quality diving equipment. Remember, your dollar is more valuable in Philippines soil. So, if you wanna save some cash before you head on home, check if you are in need of something that the store has for you. Also, if you brought someone with you who is diving for the first time, fear not, for diving lessons are also available.

The Philippines is simply one of the best dive sites

The Philippines is simply one of the best dive sites

The Place

You’re there! Congratulate yourself! “Thanks, Expedition Fleet!” The only left for you to decide is to what kind of diving you would do: Shore diving or Deep/Drift diving? Both maybe? Why not! Each of them has their own highlights, and to not explore them both would be a waste of trip.

Let’s pretend you first tried out shore diving. This would mean that the beach is just a few strokes away. The beach is a wonderful place. I’m sure Baywatch agrees with me. After a fulfilling dive, you will discover an absence of boredom at the beaches of the country’s most popular dive sights. Restaurants are open to feed you, discos are loud to entertain you, and bars are spilling to “fill” you, if you will.

A night of diving, dining, dancing, and drinking has passed, and you go farther into the ocean for some deep diving. Here, you will learn why the Philippines has one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. From corals to crustaceans, from star fish to sharks, from many to much more, the exact amount of marine life in Philippine water is beyond calculators, and Wikipedia. Bringing a camera underwater is about as important as bringing an oxygen tank when diving in the Philippines.

I think I’ve mentioned just about everything I can think of on why the scuba diver should not let the Philippines left ignored in his scuba diving lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Those kind, English-speaking Filipinos are dying to meet you.

Tubbataha: What the heck is it?

The Tubbataha Reef

The Tubbataha Reef

Tubbataha. Dear reader, the first word of this article is not a typo error. Even though Microsoft Word disagrees with me as I type it every single time, I assure you that it is not. Tubbataha is, in fact, an atoll coral reef that’s located in the Sulu Sea of Southeast Philippines. I’ve been told by many wise people that research will do you good before you start your article. I followed their advice, and the results scared me.

I was doing some research about Tubbataha Reef. Everything was pretty standard until… until I saw two sites that gave different measurements of how much water the Tubbataha Reef actually comprise. One site claimed that it has 33,000 hectares worth of water. The other site responded, “Nah! Are you kidding me?! Our calculator indicated 95,000 hectares of water!”

Who to believe? Did my good friend, Google, betray me? Does Tubbataha Reef warp its size depending on the temperature? Are you expecting me to go all the way to Tubbataha Reef with a ruler just to find out? You know what, forget it. Let’s just conclude that even math cannot comprehend the beauty of Tubbataha Reef. Everything about this place exemplifies wonder, poetry and art. Well, except for its name. But don’t be sad, Tubb! I once met a person named Kwanza’cha. And that’s only her nickname.

“Sounds great! How do I get there?!”

Well, it’s not that simple. To get to Tubbataha Reef, you must first get to Puerto Princessa. Don’t worry, that’s still located in the Philippines.  There, you will find the only liveaboard dive boats that will take you to Tubbataha Reef.  It’s a 180 km travel so make sure to bring something that will keep you from getting bored. Bring a PSP, a Rubik’s Cube, your wife… something… anything.

Are you cheap? Because if you are, don’t even think of saving some cash by swimming your way to Tubbataha Reef instead of taking the liveaboard boats. Remember, that’s 33,000 (or 95,000) hectares worth of salty water!

Once there, take long deep breaths and savor the air of your accomplishment. Tubbataha Reef is composed of two atolls. The north atoll is called Bird Island while the south atoll is known as Lighthouse. Getting tired of all the names? If you are, then prepare to be blown away. Twenty-six kilometers from Tubbataha lay… wait for it… Jessie Beazley Reef. “Oh yeahhhhh…”  If “Tubbataha” was a turn-off at first, “Mr. Beazly” here is love at first sight. But if a reef named Jessie Beazly won’t convince you to visit it, I don’t know what will.

“Now that I’m here… Now what?!”

Enjoy yourself! Look around! Take some pictures with your family or friends! Dive! Take some more pictures! You have 95,000 (or 33,000) hectares of water to explore! Go crazy!

Okay. Since there are so many things to see here in Tubbataha, I am going to divide this section of the article into two parts: Those with no life and those with life.

First, the lifeless…  There are sandy lagoons, steep walls, and continuous reef platforms. Photographs near these beauties are a must, especially during the nighttime where the currents are calm. By the way, divers are only allowed to dive in Tubbataha Reef from the months of March to June due to unpredictable weather conditions.

Next, we’ve got those tiny little critters that kids always wanna take home as pets. You will see different types of pipe fish and shrimps and all other creatures that are far more colorful than your Rubik’s Cube. Also, you will encounter nudibranches. Wow! That’s a fun word to say! Nudibranches! Nudibranches! Enough of that. Now where was I? Oh yeah. Nudibranches! And yes, of course, you’ve got sharks, mantas, rays, tunas and barracudas. But in the world of Tubbataha, everything is bigger! Because the place is so clean, marine life here lives longer, thus, they grow bigger.

Tubbataha, Jessie Beazly, nudibranches- You gotta admit, the place is indeed unique. So divers of all origins, shapes, sizes and names (Kwanza’cha!), I invite you to this place of constant relaxation and attempts at pronunciations. Treat yourselves to some scuba diving fun here and familiarize yourself with the name that is Tubbataha. Yes, even you, Microsoft Word.

A paradise for divers: Palau

Athletes have the Olympics. Climbers have Mt. Everest. Donald Trump has a wig (or does he?). Scuba divers have PALAU. It is the ecstasy of the diving community. If a movie fan cannot “officially” call himself a movie fan without watching The Dark Knight, then a diver cannot “officially” call himself a diver without diving in Palau. It is an archipelago of 343 islands that’s located southwest of Micronesia.

The beautiful islands of Palau

The beautiful islands of Palau

To say that Palau has a clean environment is like saying that Michael Jordan is pretty good at basketball. It is an understatement. That place is so clean; your nose pickings would be considered as “a hazardous waste to the area”. Observing the scenery of Palau will give you the impression that it remains untouched by both Mother Nature and littering, irresponsible, human beings. Just imagine, the water has a visibility of 200 feet!

Underwater Heaven

Warm water- Doesn’t that sound awesome? Imagine a tub full of water that’s heated to the perfect temperature. Palau ain’t no tub, but it contains that temperature of water, and apparently some salt as well.

You’re in that perfect water, minding your own business, and then you start gliding. You are gently swept by the ocean’s currents. The influence of the current on your body acts as your own personal tour to Palau’s wonders. It is an enjoyable tour because (1) you don’t have to walk all the way and (2) you don’t have to hear that annoying old man with the map who asks all the obvious questions. “Yes Sir, that is, indeed, a shark. No Sir, it will not swallow you alive.”

Now, you’re out there, living the diver’s dream, enjoying your current and warm water. Asking for more would make you selfish, right? Well, you don’t have to, because “more” is everywhere. Throw a giant net on the waters of Palau, hoist it up a minute later, place your catch on a giant glass tank, and you’ve got enough fish to open Marine World. If you’re net is lucky enough, you might hear Zeus one day, screaming, “Where’s the Kraken?!”

A rich variety of a multitude of underwater creatures

A rich variety of a multitude of underwater creatures

Places to Go. Sights to See.

Pretty much everything about Palau is worth mentioning, but there are some that are the favorites of divers. The most requested dive site in all of Palau is the Blue Corner. I’m not sure which corner exactly it can be found. The name suggests, “Blue”, but the ocean is blue, and Palau is mostly ocean. I’m sure they have tour guides for that. Yes, those tours that do involve that annoying old man with the questions.

To those who are looking for more adventures, I give you Chandelier Cave. It is a cave system that’s located near the Rock Islands. It extends a few hundred meters under the islands of Palau. Why is it called Chandelier Cave, you may ask? You see, the stalactite formations are very unique. When observed closely, their shapes represent that of, guess what, a chandelier! My common sense applauds me.

And by the way, while you’re diving; the 200 feet visibility range might cause you to notice some moss-ridden vehicles on the bottom of the ocean. No, Palau doesn’t have underwater parking spaces. They are actually some of the wrecks from World War 2.

So there you have it: Palau! Indeed, it is quite and extraordinary and mandatory place for scuba divers worldwide. An experienced diver is sure to get my point. Those who do not should head for Palau immediately and go get it.

Expedition Fleet has a promo for it’s next live aboard diving cruise in Palau.

Interested parties can check out the Palau promo HERE

Tubba… what?

Tubbataha is a word I definitely had to repeat twice, before I could remember it. But now, after I have seen all these breathtaking pictures of marine life and underwater environment, I’ll never forget neither this place nor its name and it’s definitely on top of my “dive sites-to-visit list”!

A nudibranch - you can see this in the Tubbataha reefs

A nudibranch - you can see this in the Tubbataha reefs

But what is Tubbataha?

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world made up of 2 atolls rising in the middle of the Sulu Sea in the western Philippines.

The Tubbataha Reef is the Philippines’ only marine natural park and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place of global importance being preserved for future generations of humankind. A few factors are responsible for the almost virgin conditions of this underwater jewel. The convergence of currents constantly brings in a barrage of the nutrients and clean water a healthy reef and its inhabitants demand. Being the largest and almost lone structure in the middle of a vast expanse of ocean guarantees a healthy influx of pelagic visitors looking for a meal and other services an underwater community provides.

I also read, that it is nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature. However, it’s definitely one of the most wonderful dive regions – and I hope to explore all the dive sites as soon as possible, most probably on one of Expedition Fleets Boats.

You can only get to Tubbataha through a live aboard vessel

You can only get to Tubbataha through a live aboard vessel

Being almost a hundred nautical miles from the nearest port, access is only through Live-aboard vessels and voyages to the park are determined by the weather. A small window-from late March to early June, when the seas are calm and the skies are clear, offers the only chance for divers to visit. That means I don’t have a lot of time if I want to dive on the Tubbataha Reef this season!

And which will be my next destinations? Apo Reef, Coron, Visayas…? I don’t know yet, but for sure some in the Philippines as here is so much more to see!
Follow Karin Timmel on Twitter @karintimmel123

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