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Dive Review of Atmosphere Resort & Spa in
Philippines/Negros Orientales

Atmosphere Resort & Spa: "Great Muck & Wall Diving", Sep, 2015,

by Bradley William Bowen, UT, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 8373 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Atmosphere Resort & Spa, September 11-18, 2015

A van prearranged with Atmosphere picked us up at the ferry terminal from Cebu Island, where we dove for 5 days prior to taking a 30 minute ferry to the island of Negros Orientales.

Atmosphere Resort is very upscale. Our package included unlimited diving, ground transportation, a trip to Apo Island, and food. After arriving and “interviewing” many different people I learned this is an expensive resort, and I strongly recommend having your travel agent make prior arrangements to include everything to minimize cost. Because everything was prearranged, the additional trip to Apo Island my wife and I booked was at minimal cost, and an extra night dive I did was charged at lower cost than posted.

Great muck diving in both directions with only a 5 minute or less boat ride from the resort where we saw all kinds of crazy critters, many different types of rare pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, squid, orangutan crabs, schools of snapper, mating grouper, several rays, a dozen seahorses, octopus in a cleaning station, sea snakes, etc. This isn't for beginners because you will be in a cloud of silt if you do not know how to control your buoyancy very well.

Apo Island provided fabulous wall diving with incredible hard and soft corals, many differently colored frog fish, big schools of horse-eye jacks, barracuda, many different jacks and trevally, batfish, many different scorpion fish, a Giant Trevally larger than a man in a cleaning station, Bluefin Trevally, many turtles on every dive, and lots of sea snakes on every dive. We did the current portion of the island on both days we visited where the diving is even better due to clouds of small fish, schools of large fish, and solitary large fish hunting. A beginner on day two opted out of further diving after the first dive, but had the best snorkeling of her life seeing 30 or more huge turtles in shallow water with lots of fabulous coral and reef fish.

For all diving a dive master is assigned to every pair of divers and they were knowledgeable, helpful, good critter finders, etc. Three dives per day from the boat, with the night dive on the house reef, which is one of the best dive sites on all of Negros, boasting many rare critters too numerous to list. A few I remember were robust pipefish, leaf fish, harlequin ghost pipefish, very rare harlequin shrimp and babies, finger dragonet, giant cuttlefish, reef cuttlefish, squid, orangutan crabs, etc.

A liveaboard stopped to dive the house reef early one morning, and I made an early morning dive arranged the night before at no additional charge on one of my unlimited diving days. There isn’t a pier, but dive staff will carry your gear to the boat. For all dives you need to walk to the boat, and the bottom is quite rocky, so just be careful not to twist an ankle.

The dining area looks out on the ocean and is very nice. Despite several very heavy downpours, one which turned paths into creeks for about half an hour, we were able to dine in comfort. Food is quite expensive and the restaurant strictly adheres to a policy of two menu items for breakfast and lunch, and three menu items for dinner. Because we were “all inclusive”, I specifically asked whether there was any additional charge for dessert at lunch, was told they were checking with the manager, and was told there was no extra charge. We ended up with $50 in additional charges from the restaurant upon checkout. However, the brownie alamode is 5 star quality, as is the BTS dessert which was recommended to me by Denver, the Executive Chef who was recruited from another resort – you’ll want to order them sometime during your stay.

Massages were 2,995 pesos, just over $70 and I only got one massage after being spoiled with 4 massages in 5 days at $17 each at Kasai Village Resort. From interviewing various staff I learned that the administration takes 15% of tips left in envelopes, and that distribution to employees is only made on a monthly basis. However, there are so many dive staff that it is impossible to tip all of them individually (There were always at least 8 guys when we took the large boat, plus a dive master for every two divers.) Most employees are paid the Negros minimum wage of 310 pesos per day, which is a little under $7. I directly tipped dive masters who guided us, massage therapist, and the maid that cared for our room, which were much appreciated.

You should know that the airport in Dumaguette is exceedingly small, and that the check in area is about the size of a normal US living room. You DO NOT want to arrive too early. We were a bit nervous as we arrived at the airport only 50 minutes before our flight was supposed to depart, there was a long line that was not moving quickly, and we had lots of bags with dive gear and photographic equipment to be checked. Relax. The resort knows when to deliver you to the airport, and there is no place for you to be if you arrive too early. You will have to pay a departure tax in pesos before you can go through security. (Please note that the Manilla Airport departure tax has been rescinded and was being refunded to those who had paid it as part of their ticket price.) Once through security you can buy water and a variety of other snacks, and there is plenty of seating. You'll want a spot where one of the fans blows on you as it is hot and very humid.

The Cebu Pacific flight scheduled to depart 20 minutes before our Philippines Airlines flight was delayed, and our flight was delayed well over an hour. I cross-examined airline staff about the delay and learned that the plane could not take off until they received permission from the Manilla airport, and that permission was being withheld due to “heavy traffic” in Manilla. Our flight didn’t depart until the Cebu Pacific flight had landed. Our flight to the US was delayed from a 10 pm departure on Wednesday to a 1 pm departure on Thursday due to mechanical problems. Philippine Airlines bussed everyone to a 5 star hotel in Manilla, provided a nice buffet dinner upon arrival even though it was 1:30 am, and provided an excellent buffet breakfast prior to boarding buses back to the airport. They even arranged for everyone to receive wakeup calls to allow for breakfast before departure. There were no connecting flights Wednesday night when our flight was supposed to land, and we had planned to spend Thursday in San Francisco with a flight home at 9:18 that evening, which still worked out as the flight from Manilla landed at 11 am Thursday morning rather than 7:30 pm Wednesday night. Those who had planned to fly out Thursday morning incurred significant expense finding replacement flights on short notice.

I don't normally use travel agents, but my cousins’ travel agent, Marjanna Helwig (mj@GreatExpeditionsTravel.com), arranged everything except paying for the $2 ferry tickets from Cebu to Negos. US type ground transportation is NOT available unless prearranged, and it would be IMPOSSIBLE to find ground transportation for all of our dive gear and photography equipment if it hadn’t been prearranged. We had no problems or issues of any kind getting to and from both dive resorts, and we will be using Marjanna in the future.
Websites Atmosphere Resort & Spa   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Maldives, Indonesia, Cozumel, Galapagos, Hawaii, California, Florida, Socorro Islands, Palau, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, Philippines, etc.
Closest Airport Dumaguette Getting There We took a 30 minute ferry from Cebu, and it was only a short trip from the ferry terminal to the resort.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 78-86°F / 26-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 30-200 Ft/ 9-61 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Divemasters never got upset that we didn't stay right with them, or went deeper than briefing. They did not want to dive more than an hour, and were sure to arrange return to the boat on muck dives after we stayed down an extra 10 minutes a few times. At Apo Island air supply dictated dive time.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Large camera room with large individual stations that have towels, compressed air, shelf above, storage below - everything photographers need.
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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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