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Dive Review of Sea Explorers/Pura Vida Beach and Dive Resort in
Philippines/Dauin, Negros Island

April, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Henry O Ziller, CO, US
Sr. Contributor   (23 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6028
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Belize, Florida, Caymans, Dominica, Bahamas, Tobago, Honduras, St.
Kitts, Curacao, Indonesia, Palau, Pohnpei, Hawaii, and Thailand
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, choppy, surge, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dive briefings were given and included depth limit and time. Time limit was
one hour. Buddy diving was encouraged, but not really enforced. Inform dive
master when at half tank (100 bar) and 750 psi(50 bar).  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
If you like small critters photography was pretty good, otherwise it was so
so. Boats only have a small bucket for cameras so big rigs would have to be
placed on the table (engine cover area). The dive shop had a camera area
and computers were available for viewing, etc. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
3 stars    
This was our first trip to the Philippines and chose Dumaguete City area
over Galera because of what we read in the Chap Book. We were pleased with
our choice.
We read a lot about weight restrictions, but we had no issues. Since we
were flying Philippine Airlines from LAX to Manila with onward tickets to
Dumaguete City, our flights were considered International and we were
allowed two bags 50 lb (23 kilo) each, they did not weigh our carry on, but
we only carried back packs. Domestic only flights allow 44 lbs checked and
15 lbs carry on, but the charge for excess is $1.06 per pound. They also
have a sports gear program you can sign up for that allows all dive gear
for $60.00 per year with no limit on the number of flights. Philippine
Airlines are not partnered with any other airline so you may want to sign
up for their frequent flyer program (Mabuhay).  Immigration and customs in
Manila was a breeze, as was transferring bags to our flight onward to
Dumaguete City. The only part that was a bit confusing was rechecking the
bags, which you do next to the baggage carousel, you do not take your bags
through the regular customs area. There is a departure fee of $4.75 to
Dumaguete City and can be paid with USD. The only ATM we saw did not work
and the money exchange in the baggage area only exchanges Philippine Pesos
(PNP) into foreign currency. It takes two security checks before you reach
the departure gates. There are separate lines for men and women because
everyone gets a pat down. The flight from Manila to Dumaguete City takes 1
hour and 20 minutes.
There are no sit down style restaurants after security in either airport,
only snacks and some sandwiches. Of course LAX International Terminal is no
better!  Food on the airplane was typical, nothing special but drinks were
free. Entertainment on the Airbus 340 consists of movies on overhead
monitors, not on seat backs, so there was no choice in what you watched.
The 747 coming back had seat back screens.
The Pura Vida Beach Dive Resort is Swiss run. Staff met us with a sign at
the airport and drove us about 40 minutes south of Dumaguete City to the
resort in the little town of Dauin. The resort has a 24 hour lobby with a
small gift shop, a spa, two restaurant areas, one over the dive shop, and
one at the beach, a dive shop, and 28 cabanas. Cabanas are from a single up
to family size. We had a single cabana deluxe unit with A/C, but never
turned it on. We did run the ceiling fan and had a screened window open.
There was a large walk-in shower, but no bath tub in our unit. There were
drawers, some with locks, hangers, and shelving for storage. We had a TV
with cable, and a mini-bar, love seat and chair along with a queen size bed
with a really nice firm mattress.  We had full board and were happy with
it. There are other resorts that can be reached walking along the beach
that have restaurants and may be a little cheaper but we are only talking a
couple pesos. The menu was extensive and the food was good except beef and
pork were a little tough. With the full board package you are allowed to
order anything on the menu up to 500 pesos and pay the extra when you
exceed that amount. All beverages were extra including water (40 PNP for
1000 ml), except at breakfast where coffee, teas, and juice were included.
We were told water from the tap was not safe to drink. (The exchange rate
was 40 PNP per USD) San Miguel beer was 60-70 PNP except big red, 1000 ml
was 120, mixed drinks and wine averaged 175 PNP. 
The dive shop, Sea Explorers, ( had good rental gear
although we had our own. They also had some items to purchase if necessary.
There were separate areas to hang gear for walk-in guests and stay-in
guests, both of these areas were locked at night. The rinse areas consisted
of two separate areas with four separate tanks each labeled, one for
cameras and computers, one for regulators and masks, one for wet suits and
boots, and one for fins and BCDs. There were also two showers with a lower
faucet that worked great for us since those tanks can get nasty even though
these were emptied and refilled frequently.
There was an orientation of the resort and the dive operation and although
the resort did a great job, the dive operation, not so much. The diving
operation was great though. You were assigned to a boat and for the most
part were with that boat the entire time. However big groups were treated
better than singles or couples and carried more clout. We had to speak up
once because we were left without a boat, but they rented a boat from a
neighboring resort. Otherwise we would have been doing three shore dives on
the house reef that day or taken the Jeepney to do shore dives nearby. We
did have the same dive master the entire time.
The boats are about 50-feet long with outriggers that make the rides very
smooth. There is seating provided inside or outside whichever you want. 
The ladders for getting back on the boat run parallel to the boat on the
inside of the outriggers and are great. Just make sure you know where the
outriggers are so they dont come down on your head. There are ropes
attached to the outriggers to hang on to while waiting your turn. The crew
will take your fins and weight belt and you climb up. If you ask, they will
also take your BC and tank. They are very accommodating!  Entry is a giant
stride.  There is an open top head on the deck.  Oxygen, life preservers,
first aid kit, radio and gps are all provided. A spare regulator is
maintained on board as well.  Coffee (Instant of course), tea, hot
chocolate and water are always available. They have a propane stove to make
more hot water on the longer trips like to Apo Island.  Fruit is also
served after the dive. We had fresh ripe mango every day and I never got
tired of that it was so good.  They also put out fresh fruit at the rinse
tank area upon your return to the resort. They use a smaller outboard boat
for some areas depending on the size of the group. We did a couple dives
off the small boat, once on the mandarin fish dive.
Diving is either close-in (10 minutes) muck, or further out (40 minutes) to
Apo Island for pristine reef diving, where there are some of the healthiest
hard and soft coral we have seen. There are some artificial reefs in close
that are made from truck tires or old vehicles, boats, etc.  It was the
unique critters that made the diving in this area interesting. We saw
ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish flat tail red banded pipefish,
seahorses regular and thorny, flying gurnard, blue spotted ribbon tail
stingray, turtles, frog fish from very small babies to dinner plate size
and many colors, juvenile circular spadefish that looked much like an
ordinary leaf, sea snakes,  many kinds of nudibranchs, and some others saw
blue ring octopus. Of course on the mandarin fish dive we saw lots of
mandarin fish. 
We had a package deal with ten nights lodging and eight days of unlimited
diving including two three tank trips to Apo Island. There are nine marked
sites at Apo Island.  We stuck with 3 dives per day for most of the time
and that was enough to complete all of the close marked dive sites with
repeat dives at about six sites. I think five days here would be optimum at
this location. Sea Explorers has dive operations on four other islands and
can arrange excursions and lodging to them, it may be better to dive some
of those islands too. 
The ferry is also a good economical way to travel to other islands and not
worry about being overweight for the domestic flights.  
Tank fills were almost always under 3,000 psi but we managed the one hour
time limit on most dives. Restrictions were depth and time and we only went
deeper than 80 feet on one dive.  Inform the dive master at half a tank and
750-psi (50 bar). You could go off a bit on your own but visibility was
usually 20 to 40 feet so you would go out of site quickly and force the
divemaster to locate you. Divemasters are limited to four divers each.
Public transportation is easy to use and economical. From the resort you
can take a large bus or the easy ride bus. They both pick you up at the
main highway. The big bus charges 45 PNP for the ride into Dumagette City.
The easy ride bus is 18 PNP. The big bus drops you off at the main bus
station and the easy ride bus drops you off closer to the main downtown
area. From the main bus station you will find many pedi-cabs (motorcycles
with an enclosed side car where between 6 to 8 passengers ride) that will
take you anywhere you want to go in the city. Just tell the driver where
you want to go. The cost is 6 to 8 PNP. When you are ready to go back to
the resort just tell a pedi-cab driver you want the easy ride bus to Dauin.
He will take you to an easy ride station. The easy ride bus is a pickup
truck with a cover with benches on both sides;  when full (about 12) you
will head down the main hwy to Dauin, stopping along the way to drop off
and pick up passengers. It is a cozy ride of about one hour. Make sure you
know where you need to get off to walk back to the resort from the main
hwy. The drivers are helpful. The walk from the hwy to the resort takes
about 10 minutes.
April was a great month to go. We had sunny days with only a couple of
brief showers. Daytime temperatures ranged from 85ºF to 93ºF but
with the steady breeze plus three dives a day we never felt warm or
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