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Dive Review of Sea Explorers/Alona Vida Hotel in
Philippines/Alona Beach, Bohol

October, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Judd, OR, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 3834
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Palau, Maldives, Thailand, Truk, Cocos, Fiji, Caribbean
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy  
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
80   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
General rule was to stay with guide, but people could wander off with a
buddy.  Come up when you're out of air.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
3 stars    
Alona Beach is on Bohol Island, about 300 miles south of Manila.  It's
turning into a dive resort, but fortunately isn't all the way there yet. 
Along the beach are quite a few dive operators, restaurants and hotels, but
it's not too "touristy".  Very few touts and hawkers, and I
didn't see a single strip joint.  The main street is a path along the
beach.  In a week of diving, didn't run into a single American (whether you
consider that a plus or a minus).  All in all, a very comfortable place. 
For low-key entertainment, Philippine TV is fun, including the karaoke
channel, the model channel, and ads for fighting cock and pig feed.
Stayed at the Alona Vida, a new place right on the beach with the dive shop
build in.  $60 per night, including a mediocre breakfast.  The room was
large and cleaned well every day, but no amenities such as soap or coffee;
a little refrigerator would have been an improvement.  The restaurant isn't
much, other than being right on the sand; I had breakfast there because it
was part of the package, but usually ate other meals elsewhere.  The hotel
has an open air bar, which is convenient for a beer but not so good if
you're a light sleeper.
The diving can be summarized as lots of small stuff, no big stuff.  If you
like anemonae fish, this is the place for you - they're everywhere.  Also
saw a few of the more uncommon types such as scorpionfish, frogfish,
cuttlefish and leaf fish.  Lots of nudibranchs.  I even got my first
sightings of the famous harlequin ghost pipefish (not as impressive live as
in the photos in the magazines!).  Some of the areas close to Alona are
just sandy slopes, but other areas have a good range of both hard and soft
corals.  The only place we saw larger fish (a few tuna and jacks) was at
Balicasag Island, a 40 minute boat ride from Alona.  It has better diving
than the sites close to Alona, including a bit of a wall, and usually
better viz.  There is a "resort" on the island, which was much
less attractive in person that it appeared in advertisements and on the
I dove with Sea Explorers, whose shop is attached to the Alona Vida.  No
complaints.  Your equipment, including wetsuits, is kept in a locked area
in the shop.  The staff assembles it before the dive and carries it to the
boat on the beach; the diver is only responsible for cleaning his or her
equipment after the dive and hanging it in the shop.  My BC and reg were
always put on the tank properly. There is no firm schedule for dives.  The
whole operation is relaxed almost to the point of disorganization, but it
works fine if you don't mind that sort of atmosphere.  The boats are a
"banca" (in essence a large outrigger canoe fitted with a deck)
and a small speedboat, both of which do the job, although not particularly
comfortably.  The guides weren't much for briefings, but maintained a good
pace on the dives and worked at pointing things out.  The employees as a
group were friendly and helpful.  
Overall, I would rate both the diving and the operation "good but not
great".  Better than that if you like the little guys.  The price is
right (about $20 per tank), the diving is easy, and the people are
pleasant.  Worth doing.
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