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Dive Review of Crystal Blue Resort in
Philippines/Anilao

Crystal Blue Resort: "photo course and fine diving", May, 2019,

by Frederick R. Turoff, PA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 34 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 10977 has 1 Helpful vote.

Photos Submitted with this Report


Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I attended a May 20-30 photo workshop hosted by Mike Bartick and Brook Peterson to get new ideas and improve my photography. The course gave me plenty to think about and put to use. Both Mike and Brook were easily accessible outside of the lectures, photo reviews and workshops. Anilao is known for its macro opportunities, and anyone interested in that aspect of diving and photography will be well satisfied with a trip to Anilao.

Crystal Blue Resort is built on a hillside as are many in this area. That means if your room is on the top floor as mine was, you’ll do plenty of climbing up and down each day.The well-equipped camera room is one level above the dive deck. The classroom and dining are one level up from the camera room. All dive gear except cameras was kept in bins or hanging on the dive deck, where each boat had a section of hangers and pegs. Tanks, BCs and cameras were all waiting for us on board each boat.

The dining area is open and offers a nice view of the shoreline. Food was excellent and varied, with several entrees offered at each meal. Breakfast offered fruit, custom egg dishes, pancackes, crepes, oatmeal, cereals and various meats. Lunch and dinner each had a different soup along with a variety of vegetables, fruit and protein sources. Desserts were home-made and delicious. Alcohol was extra for those who wanted wine or beer (which ended diving that day). On the final evening we were offered a sumptuous feast of local dishes, too much to try everything although I made an attempt. Rooms are plain and quite adequate. An interesting thing I noticed is that the one-lever faucet in the shower was opposite of the one in the sink, so it took a while to learn how to get a warm shower that lasted as one had to let the sink run while the shower was going to get adequate flow to keep the heater activated. I didn’t have a desk near an outlet in my room, which I would have liked.

Breakfast was offered starting at 6:30a, and most ate early so we could attend the morning review and lecture before heading to the dive deck for our two morning dives, starting around 8:30a, that stayed out before returning for lunch. Following lunch we had a workshop and then an afternoon dive. After that, one could do a twilight-night dive and eat dinner after or eat first then do a black water dive (these cost extra). I opted to try black water diving four times as I had never done it. Mike gave us all an introductory lecture on how to manage and the challenges involved. Except for black water, dives generally began around 20m and worked upward from there. Black water diving presents a unique challenge as one doesn’t have a depth reference point except for the down line with lights every 5 m or so. And photo subjects aren’t guaranteed, as they may appear and disappear quickly.

Once groups of four were determined, they stayed together with the same dive leader and boat all week. My leader Edgar had eagle eyes, spotting so many critters for us. Although overall visibility was only fair, since we focused on macro it didn’t bother us much. Edgar found several hairy shrimp, only 3-4 mm tall, along with “Shawn the Sheep” nudis that were as small or smaller. A variety of frogfish populate the bay, with hairy frogfish on many dives. Nudis abound. Evening dives had octopi galore. I was able to see and photograph several critters I hadn’t seen before. Some of the participants were able to borrow a snoot to try out that type of photography, but Mike didn’t have a snoot that fit my Ikelite strobes so I missed out on that aspect. I was impressed with the quality of photography and videography that our participants produced. The classroom was usually filled with folks editing away between dives and meals. Some of our group were repeat customers.

Anyone looking to improve photo skills and see an amazing variety of macro critters should consider attending a course or just getting to Anilao more than once. The friendly staff at Crystal Blue made us all feel welcome and important. I took advantage of massage service 6 nights – at US$12 and hour, how can one resist?
Websites Crystal Blue Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving USVI, BVI, lesser Antilles, Bonaire, all three Caymans , Coco Island,
Revillagigedos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines,
Micronesia, Red Sea
Closest Airport Manila Getting There fly to Manila, take shuttle provided by dive resort to Anilao 2-4 hours depending on traffic.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 78-85°F / 26-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 25-60 Ft/ 8-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive times determined by dive leader, but once they knew us, were flexible. Many dives went over an hour.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 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 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Well equipped camera room one level above dive deck with many individual stalls, multi power supplies, towels. Dedicated rinse tanks for cameras only, air hoses and towels close by. This is a macro photography area with so many subjects. Photo course was comprehensive, discussing techniques, providing review of pix and instruction for both Lightroom and Photoshop. Intro to black water diving/photography also offered.
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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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