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Dive Review of Activentures/Aquaventure Reef Club in

April, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Jason Marks, CA, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 6545
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Indonesia, Thailand, Micronesia, Cozumel, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
81   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Max depth and time were planned for each dive, but these were in the spirit
of suggestion rather than rigid rule.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Diving is from small boats with room for a camera or two in a safe place. 
No rinse bucket on board, but rides were short.  Resort had dedicated rinse
tanks.  Tables for set-up and charging available in the lodge's dining
area.  Plenty of towels.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
This trip to Anilao (my first to the Philippines) was just plain fun. 
Activentures, a tour company based in San Francisco, set our group of four
divers up with a good local boat and two (count 'em two) experienced and
super competent divemasters, John D. and Padoy F.  They met us at the
Manila airport and drove us the 2-3 hours down to the Anilao area, where
they also stayed for the week. Their personalized attention, both during
the diving and before and after, really made our experience special.

We stayed at a well located lodge popular with Manila divers, Aquaventure
Reef Club.  A nice layout, great casual atmosphere and the friendly staff
almost outbalanced the unexciting food and the rather old, spartan and in
some cases smelly rooms.  If (no, when!) I return to Anilao I will probably
try another of the small lodges that line the shorefront (Activentures also
works with other hotels.)

Our eight days of diving (late April) were during the Philippine summer and
before the typhoon season, meaning the weather was hot and dry with mild
winds and mostly flat seas.  Rides to the dive sites (5-30 mins) were easy,
and there was no surge underwater.  Vis varied but was quite good in
general.  Currents came and went with the tides; they were fairly strong at
some of the best "wide angle" sites, like Beatrice, Bahura, and
Mainit Pt. -- creating the conditions for lively aggregations of tropicals,
including thousands of anthias, and (at Twin Rocks, a marine sanctuary) a
huge school of bigeye jacks. We did three dives a day, usually two morning
and one afternoon, but also including a great dusk dive in front of the
Anilao town wharf.

Macro critter and small fish photo opportunities were excellent, comparable
to some better known areas in Indonesia.  Many pipefish (ringed, lined,
ornate ghost-, and others) and seahorses (pygmy and thorny), frogfish
(three giants swimming around at a site called Aphols, several painted and
warty), weird scorpions and dragonets, big marbled shrimp and commensal
shrimps on the crinoids, whip corals and sea cucumbers.  And don't get me
started on the nudibranchs -- they probably averaged five or more per dive,
and that's only the ones I saw. 

There are not a lot of large fish here, presumably due to sustained
fishing.  No signs of dynamite fishing, though, and the corals appeared in
good shape.  Diversity of hardcorals and small softcorals is impressive,
and there are plentiful anemones, sponges (including some big barrels),
gorgonians (though not many big fans) and more crinoids than could ever be
counted.  Some small dendronepthya (sp) softcorals at certain sites, but
none of the big colorful trees.

For excellent, varied diving in a relaxed atmosphere, quicker to get to and
less expensive than Lembeh, Wakitobi, etc., Anilao is a great option.
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