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Dive Review of Atlantis Dive Resorts/Atlantis Azores Liveaboard in
Philippines/Tubbataha Reef

Atlantis Dive Resorts/Atlantis Azores Liveaboard, Apr, 2013,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 62 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 6960.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This was a trip with Duane Silverstein of Seacology to dive as well as visit a Seacology village site where Seacology was providing solar power systems in exchange for reef preservation.

Tubbataha Reef is in the Sulu Sea and has been in the news a lot lately. First, a US Navy ship ran aground a short time ago and very recently a Chinese "fishing" vessel ran aground within sight of the ranger station. The Chinese were actually smuggling endangered Philippine anteaters for the Chinese "medicinal" market. The Chinese boat was still there when we passed by. The Navy ship was gone and we were not allowed to dive in the area of its grounding so it was impossible to judge how bad either event impacted the reef.

Atlantis Azores is a former Aggressor boat that has recently been totally refitted and is in great shape. Everything worked and the crew was fantastic. The food was good and there was more than plenty of it. Captain Randy ran a great ship. A typical day had at least 4 meals, 2 snacks, and 5 dives of 60 minutes each. The crew is small and the divemasters did double duty as waiters in the dining room. The dive deck is well organized with plenty of room under your seat to store stuff and plenty of room to hang up wetsuits. The greatest thing is 2 warm water showers on the back of the dive deck with an essentially unlimited supply of warm water. It was wonderful to come up from a dive, take your wetsuit off and then stand under the warm, fresh water to rinse the salt off. Diving is done from 2 RHIB's that are carried in racks welded in the area that used to be the dive platform at the back of the boat. As a result, you climb down a vertical ladder attached to the side of the Azores and step into the RHIB's. While the seas were relatively calm for this trip this process might get a bit dicey if the seas were higher. Rather than taking your gear back to the mother boat to refill the tanks after a dive the crew swapped tanks in the inflatables and only brought the empty tanks back aboard. One of the guests got the purge cover on his 2nd stage crushed in this process. If they are going to continue to do changes in the RHIB's I would suggest that they install longer fill lines for the air and nitrox and just hand the fill lines over the side. That would eliminate the crush hazard. I would also suggest that they look at any one of a number of the Indonesian boats as an example and put in a more gently sloping set of stairs instead of the vertical ladder down the side of the boat. It would make things much safer and easier to get into the RHIB's. Cabins were tiny. It has been a number of years since I was last on an Aggressor and I had forgotten how small the cabins were. After being used to the liveaboards in Indonesia it took me a couple of days to get things organized so that I did not constantly have to pull my suitcases out from under the bunk to get to things I needed. Once I got organized the rest of the week was without a lot of hassle. This is a truly "all inclusive" operation. All drinks, including alcohol, were available at no extra charge. However, once you took the first drink there was no more diving that day, which is a very good rule.

Diving was generally very good. There were lots of white-tip reef sharks as well as the random black-tip and gray. With the exception of the night dives there was only 1 dive that we did not see a single shark and a couple where there were 5 or 6 sharks in sight most of the time. Some of our group saw a hammerhead on one dive and a whale shark on another. I saw neither. We also saw the random large tuna come passing by. One actually swung around and came back to check us out. In a lot of places there were lush hard and soft coral gardens with areas of coral rubble from dynamite fishing before the establishment of the marine park (slowly recovering). Most of the coral and the abundant fish life was in shades of tan and brown. Almost all dives were drift dives of some description. The current being the reason for the health of the reef and the big fish that we saw. There were only a couple of the dives where the current was fast enough to be unpleasant. Most were gentle drifts. Generally speaking it was a very good week.
Websites Atlantis Dive Resorts   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Caymans, Curacao, Galapagos, Indonesia (Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Lembeh), Philippines, Red Sea, SouthernBahamas, St. Thomas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 85-87°F / 29-31°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-90 Ft/ 18-27 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes, stay with divemaster
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large camera table to work at, but it was out on the dive deck. Reasonably sized rinse tank for cameras and the water was changed daily. Cameras handled carefully by the crew.
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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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