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Dive Review of Aqua Ventura Divers/White Chocolate Hills Beach Resort in
Philippines/Negro Oriental

Aqua Ventura Divers/White Chocolate Hills Beach Resort: "Great Resort and Dive Operation", Dec, 2016,

by Henry O Ziller, CO, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 31 reports with 14 Helpful votes). Report 9461 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was our second trip to the Philippines, both times to the southern region of Negro Oriental Island. We arranged the trip ourselves and while we were quite happy with our previous resort and dive outfit we thought we would experience a different location.
We flew from Denver to Narita, Japan on United, then ANA from Japan to Manila and Philippine Airlines from Manila to Dumaguete with an overnight in Manila. We reversed the route going back.
Total airfare round trip Denver to Manila was $1,017.06 USD per person. Dumaguete round trip was 5,101 PHP ($114.69 USD) per person. That price includes the extra 200 PHP we paid for the extra 10 kilos of checked luggage. The allowable checked luggage on Philippine Airlines for Budget Economy Class was 10 kilos. All our dive gear and most clothing needed for 10 days weighs 20 kilos (44lbs.). Carry-on is limited to 7 kilos (15 lbs.). Pay for Regular Economy Class and you get 20 kilos free.
Since our flight arrived at 9:30 PM we needed to overnight in Manila. We stayed at Remington Hotel across the street NE from the airport. You can see most of the hotels from the airport, but you probably cannot walk to them. There is a free shuttle every half hour near Bay 12 at Terminal 3, Bay 15 Terminal 2, and for Terminal 1 the RWM Kiosk near the hotel lounges.
Although the lobby was quite impressive, we did not like the Remington Hotel ($83.00USD) for several reasons:
• The A/C could not be changed and it was set at 21 degrees Celsius (69 0 F) but it felt much colder. If you turn it off the floor and walls will sweat and make the floor slippery.
• The bathroom was really small.
• We did not have any towels so we requested them at 3 PM and received them at 10 PM.
• There was a hot water pot for instant coffee, but the coffee already had a mix of creamer and sugar and there was no tea.
• Breakfast was complimentary but there were only four choices. The menu in the restaurant for other meals was very limited.
• There is no parking
• There is no internet.
A better choice might be the Marriot or Hyatt. A Sheraton and a Hilton are under construction. There is the Belmont Hotel that you could possibly walk to from the airport.
There is a mall across the street from the hotels with numerous good restaurants plus fast food, convenience store, theaters, shops and a casino. There are also several ATM’s in the mall. I suggest using the PDO bank’s ATM since some of the others will not take cards from other countries. Cash is king in the Philippines.
When returning to the US the staff at the hotel told us we would need 3 hours prior to the flight to get through check-in and security. And they were right except our airline status allowed us to use the business class lines so it only took us about 30 minutes.
Upon returning to the Manila airport: when getting off the shuttle there will be bag boys in uniform that will grab your bags and load them on a cart. This is not a free service; you will need to stop with them and your bags at the bag station and pay 50 PHP ($1.00 USD) per bag. Then the bag boys will take you to inside the airport by-passing the long lines. One time they were happy with 200 PHP for a tip and the next time expected 500 PHP tip. It is probably worth it.
Upon arriving at Dumaguete airport we easily found a car to take us to our resort for 1000 PHP ($20 USD). It takes about 45 minutes to reach the resort at the southern tip of the island. The White Chocolate Hills Resort (www.whitechocolatehillsresort.com) in the little town of Zamboanguita offers10 nights lodging for 2 including breakfast for $644 USD.
Upon arrival at WCH we were taken to the pool bar for the customary welcome drink. There is also a new beach bar near the dive shop. The beach bar opened the Saturday before we arrived with a huge birthday party for Eve. The resort, opened in 2014, is set on several acres with great landscaping that resembles the White Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Philippines. There is a nice large partially shaded pool with a deep end for dive training.
Resort amenities include beach towels, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, ceiling fan, in-room safe, and mini-bar. Drinks from the mini-bar are the same price as at the bar, 70 PHP ($1.60 USD) for a local San Miguel beer, mixed drinks were 90 PHP $2.00 USD.
Rooms vary but ours was a bungalow. Every room is at ground level. There is room for hanging clothes and ample shelves but no drawers for clothes. The modern bathroom consists of a great very large shower, sink and toilet and is supplied with all the toiletries. Electrical outlets are two flat prongs just like in the USA, but voltage is 220.
The owner’s Guenther and Eve are always around and always willing to engage in conversation. Eve just finished getting certified our last day at the resort. We can’t wait to go back and dive with her!
During our welcome drink we met up with Mark McMillan from the onsite dive shop, Aqua Ventura Divers (www.aquaventuradivers.com) and signed up for diving. There is a 10 dive package for 13,000 PHP ($292.31 USD). We did 15 dives each. In December 2016 they were not yet set up for credit card use so bring cash. Mark and Maria McMillan and Gary Finney are partners and each led some of our dives. Mark’s wife Maria accompanied us on a several dives and has amazing ability to find the little creatures.
Aqua Ventura Divers did not yet have a boat, although Marks boat should be arriving soon and Gary’s is being finished. Day trips are also available to Apo Island, Siquijor, Sibulan, Siaton, and Oslob/Sumilon Island in Southern Cebu. During our stay they rented a boat or rented space on another boat to go diving. We also did some shore diving. The house reef has a lot of sand before you get to the coral. The coral is in very shallow water less than 20-feet but we found some amazing critters.
We were privileged to be the first two divers not associated with the local dive association to dive The Pinnacle. It is about 1,000 yards SW from the resort. It is deep dive with the top at about 110-feet. We went down 124 feet and spent 8 minutes before heading north over sand. The plan was to finish the dive on the reef but we ran low on air and surfaced just shy of the reef. On this dive we saw an amazing number and types of critters from nudis and jellies to the very large turtles, scorpion fish and grouper.
We made two trips out to APO Island and the trip is definitely worth it. The reef on the west side of the island was affected by the recent typhoon, but the east side is still great.
We saw mantis shrimp, groupers, turtles, porcelain crabs, blue ribbon eel, white tip shark, black and white striped sea snakes and lots of nudis.
It was refreshing for us to be diving with a dive shop concerned with human impact on the ocean. Mark is instrumental in creating more marine sanctuary’s in the area while respecting the local community needs.
We can’t say enough good things about White Chocolate Hills Resort or Aqua Ventura Dive. This was a good match for us and we will definitely make a return visit.
Websites Aqua Ventura Divers   White Chocolate Hills Beach Resort

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Throughout the Caribbean and Central America, Micronesia, Indonesia, Philippines, Maldives, Tanzania, Australia, and Fiji.
Closest Airport Dumaguete Getting There Denver thru Narita Japan to Manila to Dumaguete, Philippines We had to overnight in Manila. Abundant hotels across the freeway from Manila's airport

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 82-83°F / 28-28°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30-80 Ft/ 9-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth and time although we had some dives nearly 90 minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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