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Dive Review of Crystal Blue Dive Resort in
Philippines/Anilao

Crystal Blue Dive Resort, Nov, 2013,

by linda rutherford, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 17 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 7440.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines

We stayed for 14 nights in October/November 2013. This resort is an inexpensive, relaxed location for muck diving and small critter diving. We saw trevally and a small school of jacks, otherwise few big fish. Diving the offshore islands is the reason to go there.

The tragic "super-typhoon" just passed by yesterday, so we skipped diving yesterday and but not today. The typhoon went south of us, and we are on the west coast, not the east, where they got a direct hit with 200 mile an hour winds. Due to heavy rain for 24-hours yesterday, we skipped diving. After which, our guide selected spots that would be least likely to have rain-runoff---the tiny offshore islands.

The best time to go to the Philippines is said to be in April/May. November is described as the second best time to go. July to October are rainy. Typhoons come July through December. Based on this November, you should avoid early November here.

From the Manilla airport to the resort, the drive took 3 hours with a brief stop in Batangas at the "HyperMarket" to pick up snacks and wine. While the resort is not luxurious, it works well because it was designed around dive facilities.

The hotel could be categorized as 2.5 to 3 stars. There is no pool or even lounge chairs for suntanning after a dive. I am not a sun worshipper, but I could have enjoyed 15 minutes a day in a chaise lounge after a dive for some vitamin D and the very slightest of a tan.

The dive facilities: There are 3 unheated showers, two fresh water tanks for cameras, two fresh water tubs for washing wetsuits, 2 toilets and ample space for drying your stuff. There is a large camera room with many stations that is convenient to the dive shop. Nitrox is available. The dive boats are large, stable outriggers with powerful engines and some overhead shade. They own 3 boats and have access to more identical boats if they have a large group. Each boat has two boatmen who take cameras and gear out to the boats, assist with donning BCs and with getting you out of the water. In addition, there is a dive guide who is very attentive.

For our first week, there were few people at the resort, my husband and I had a dive guide and a boat to ourselves. The second week when our friends arrived, we had four to a boat. If you come with a large group or dive club, the boats will be more crowded. I believe the boats could fit five or six people if need be. The morning dives are two tank dives with a one-hour surface interval. So the boat must accommodate 2 tanks for each diver.

Diving: Most dives are 75 feet or less. The morning dives were the most interesting and were about 25 minutes away on nearby islands. Afternoon and night dives were on the mainland about 10 minutes away. There is no shore diving off the resort, because the ocean front water is mainly rubble from wind and waves and boat anchoring. (although we did see a flamboyant cuttlefish there on our check out dive.) My favorite sites were Skeleton Wreck, Layag-Layag, Beatrice, and west of Sombero island. On our last day diving, we saw 6 large frogfish on one dive: 2 black, 2 green, 1 white and 1 gray. On our last night dive at Cathedral, we saw 2 very large Spanish Dancers.

Water temperature varied from 79 to 81 degrees. On the mainland, where there was muck diving, the bottom was mostly rubble and sand. It is not pretty. The visibility was so-so to poor. On the small off-shore islands, there were more tropical fish and soft coral, and the visibility improved.

A good variety of muck-diving creatures are here, but it takes a good deal of hunting to find something special. Our dive guide showed us numerous flea-size creatures. While they have some truly interesting creatures, the muck diving is not as good as Lembeh Straits. And while the reef diving off the islands is good, it is not as good as Raja Ampat.

Rooms: We got one of two "family suites" because they are closer to the restaurant and the dive shop. They are about $25 US dollars more a night. Some repeat guests rent the manager's apartment, when the manager is not here. Don't know price of that. The resort has 6 or 7 levels depending how you count...
Level one is the beach and the boats
Level 2 is the dive shop and dive staging area.
Level 3  camera room & bar
Level 4  the management office
Level 5 are the "family suites" with 2 rooms and an air conditioner in each room, a table with two chairs, and a mini-refrigerator. The manager's apartment is also on this level.
Level 6 is the bottom floor of the bank of small standard rooms. These have a patio with two chairs and a table, a grassy area for sunbathing (but no lounge chairs) and outdoor hooks for hanging wet swimsuits.
Level 7 is the upper floor of the building with standard rooms. These have tiny balconies and a view of the islands across the way. If two minutes before a dive you realize that you forgot something, you will need to climb 6 flights of stairs and then descend 6 flights of irregularly cobbled stairs.

Staff: The staff is very friendly. Our excellent dive guide Edgar, spoke good English. The resort offers massage at low prices.

Food: The food varies from good to mediocre, but is mostly good. Shrimp and chicken are very frequently on the menu. Some soups are excellent. Beer is inexpensive. The wine is not stored correctly, so it tastes odd. Best to buy some on the way into the resort. It is all buffet; you even get your own coffee, water or ice tea. The staff sitting nearby are there just to clear your plates when you are finished. Perhaps due to lack of training, they don't do what they easily could do.

The resort could make some simple inexpensive changes that would make the experience more normal. For one, they could have put a pitcher of purified water at our table for our group of 6 people. Instead, we each had to get up and fill our own water glass from a unit across the room. Likewise, they could have put a thermos of coffee on our table of 6 people. Instead we each had to get up and get our own coffee and refills. I eat eggs, but for those who are vegan, the only choice is "Coco Puffs" cereal and white bread toast. Apparently they have never heard of "granola" or "whole grain bread.

Overall, from a scuba diving standpoint, this is a reasonable choice for a stay in Anilao. Even though, meals are basic and "do-it-yourself," that does not effect the diving.

Be aggressive in asking to be taken out to the offshore islands, because the diving is much better there. We were not impressed by the diving a the nearby site of "Secret Bay." I suspect we were taken there numerous times because of the threat of the oncoming Super-Typhoon and the guide's desire to get us back to the resort quickly. Otherwise, mainland shore diving can be a disappointment even though the occasional wonderful creature shows up.
Websites Crystal Blue Dive Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving 750+ dives worldwide, primarily Indonesia, Micronesia, Fiji, Malaysia, and the Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-10 Ft/ 9-3 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions the dive guide followed us as we took photographs and assisted us in seeing more in the areas that we were, as opposed to making us follow him.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments towels cover cameras on boats; fresh water rinse back at dock; nice camera room near to dive center. helpful dive guides. nitrox. roomy dive boats. no overcrowding when dive clubs not there.
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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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