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Dive Review of Cooper's Beach Resort in
Philippines/Honda Bay, Palawan

Cooper's Beach Resort: "Pretty Good Diving in Honda Bay!", May, 2016,

by Angela Richards Dona, HI, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 9417.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We liked many things about Cooper's. The transfers from the airport and to the hotel in Puerto Princesa were nice, in an A/C van. They have comfortable rooms, quite good diving, and a pool table we had pretty much to ourselves. We played a LOT of pool! We wanted to do a lot of diving here before we got on the Philippine Siren bound for Tubbataha, but we only got to dive twice on our first day (election day so workers needed time to vote), three times our second day and once on the day of embarkation for Tubbataha. We were disappointed that only morning dives were offered, but we made the best of it with some beers, the pool, and the pool table. The pool water was quite warm and not very refreshing but we went in anyway.

Our second night at Cooper's Beach Resort was the same night as the presidential election when Duterte was elected. That was a little scary. The owners of the resort were intensely involved and while understandable, it put us on edge and made me worry for our own safety. Discussions with the owners brought up lots of interesting details about the resort, their stake in the politics, and the understanding that the owner had angered a few of the locals. He did so, sadly, trying to protect the environment and the bay.

About the bay and diving: the coral diversity is staggering. As a coral biologist, I have seen a lot of diverse reefs, but this is a special place. The water quality at times is poor but the variety of coral was always quite impressive. There were a few sites within the bay where the coral was highly degraded but the further out we went, the better the water and coral quality. At one site, an outbreak of COTS was in effect and the DM, Kevin, brought down a large sack and began culling them. I believe we saw him remove over 30 COTS from our two dives at Big Gorgonian. The dives were to a max of about 25 meters and we spent just over an hour in the water on each. The topography varied from a Bonaire-like sloping reef to a garden-like scenario. Calaparan Reef was really beautiful although we did see a lot of COTS damage on the Acropora tables. Our final dive at Big Rocks was disappointing due to extensive COTS damage but there is a LOT of coral there and hopefully, it will survive. We didn't see a lot of fish, sadly, however, the nudibranchs were cool and we saw a blue-ribbon eel. Checked that one off my list!

The diving was from a nice, large, comfortable boat that we had to ourselves. Just three of us and our divemaster and crew. To get to the boat we had to walk out on a long jetty (roughly 100 meters), but once we got to the end of the jetty, we still had to walk in goopy water with loads of jellies (mostly harmless) to the shuttle boat that then took us out deeper to the outrigger-type boat for diving. We were so puzzled by this system but chocked it up to just one of those things. When discussing the local politics with the owner later, we learned that just five years prior, the water line was about 100 meters further from shore than it currently was and that the goopy bottom was once beautiful sandy beach. The white sand is now gone replaced by sticky muck under a few feet of water and the jetty is practically useless. Sad. These people do not question the validity of global climate change. It is also why the owner is so keen to anger other locals as he is desperately trying to save his home and investment by doing what little he can. Apparently he calls the authorities on his neighbors to report illegal fishing and such. But I digress...Once onboard the diving boat, you can kit up and get your gear ready in good comfort. The boat is steady and the bay gets windy but we didn't experience much chop. Overall, good diving experience.

Now for the food. Having been to the Philippines before, we knew that getting vegetarian food would be a challenge. Getting ANY vegetarian food has been difficult in the past so we inquired before coming here as to the possibility and were assured it would be no problem. I have to say, they DID try. But I had some of the most bizarre meals I have ever had in my life at this place. One of the dishes was so odd I can not find ways to best describe it. But imagine you were eating fried fish without the actual fish. Just the fried part. And they smothered it in a salad cream (blech!) It was like a large cake of fried batter but with many layers as though they scrawled into the pan. See, really hard to describe. On one occasion, when I asked the waitress (a very sweet young girl who smiled constantly) if she could omit the meat in one of the dishes she actually laughed! Genuine laughter at me not wanting to eat meat. She was relieved when my friend ordered the dish WITH the meat.

Cooper's Beach Resort was a mostly good experience and I would recommend it for a few days before getting on to somewhere else. Just as we did. And vegetarians be warned. They will try and that is so appreciated, but you have to bring your sense of adventure to the table or you will not be happy.
Websites Cooper's Beach Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Raja Ampat, Philippines: Southern Visayas and Tubbataha, Micronesia, Fiji, Egyptian Red Sea, Hawaii, Bonaire, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Cozumel, etc.
Closest Airport Puerto Princesa Getting There Philippines Airlines Honolulu to Manila, smaller flight to Puerto Princesa. Good flights!

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 29-30°C / 84-86°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 5-20 M / 16-66 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Dive times were to be 1 hour.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments The set up for photographers was very basic. A dedicated rinse tank and that was pretty much all. We chose not to bring out the big camera rig while at Cooper's.
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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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