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Dive Review of Activentures/Aquaventure Reef Club in
Philippines/Anilao

Activentures/Aquaventure Reef Club, Apr, 2012,

by Jason Marks, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 6545.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Thailand, Micronesia, Cozumel, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 81 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth and time were planned for each dive, but these were in the spirit of suggestion rather than rigid rule.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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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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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