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

Sea Explorers/Pura Vida Beach and Dive Resort, Apr, 2011,

by Henry O Ziller, CO, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 25 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6028.

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

Weather sunny Seas 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 no
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).
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments 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, (seaexplorers.com) 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 uncomfortable.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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