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Dive Review of Crystal Blue Resort in
Philippines/Anilao

Crystal Blue Resort, Apr, 2014,

by Jeanne Reeder, MO, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 19 Helpful votes). Report 7575 has 3 Helpful votes.

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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Anilao beckoned once more, and I could not resist a return trip to the land of Nudi's and other esoteric critters. No disappointments!

April and May are good times to dive Anilao...the driest and best visibility. There was a slack week in April at Crystal Blue Resort and my dive buddy and I grabbed it, with the help of our go-to agent Katie Stoyka at Reef and Rainforest.

Glenn, my dive guide, is among the best I have ever encountered. We were three divers on his banca who were used to diving our own profiles, and he encouraged it – all the while keeping an eye on each and pointing out the most esoteric of creatures and nudibranchs. He quickly learned each of our favorites and often found them for us. He also took our preferences for dive sites into consideration unless there was too much of a chop or currents too strong. The boat followed us closely when there was current to drift and otherwise remained close-by, helpfully hauling the gear into the boat before we used the ladder. There were two dives in the morning and one or two in the afternoon (including night dive), depending upon divers wishes; hot chocolate and cookies were served during the interval. Water temperature was a constant 79 degrees, air in the mid-80's. Dives ranged in depth from 19'-89' and times from 60 to 90 minutes. I could have stayed down longer, but got a little chilled after consecutive dives.

Dives varied from muck close to shore, to less frequent sites with colorful coral. Currents, some with a washing machine effect, played havoc with some of the dives and prevented others. I had a beautiful dive at Coral Gardens and Arthurs in a 1-2 knot current, drifting past tightly bunched colorful soft corals. On the same dive, it was possible to divert from the current, and be awed by the ¼ – ½” nudi's. (A must have is a large magnifying glass.) Lots of eggs there, too: shrimp carrying theirs, anemone fish guarding and aerating, and deep pink rose-like nudi eggs, most likely from the Spanish Dancer.

Erratic currents at Sunview played havoc with us the entire dive – very unpleasant – a dive we should have aborted....except for spotting two Redline Flabellina, within 3' of each other. I was tempted to match-make. I saw a lot of mating or courting nudi's at Anilao, and at Sombrero I finally clearly saw the physical union of a pair exhibiting their functional simultaneous hermaphrodism. Mating was a pair of Nembrotha lineolata – yellowish with brown lines and light purple rings around rhinophores, gill branch bases and tips of tentacles. Two beautiful dark green Nembrotha Kubaryana with orange foot margin were nearby. This dive site also housed electric scallops, marbled shrimp, and beautiful corals. Finding my first dragon shrimp, orange on an orange coral whip, was my favorite sighting on the dive site Twin Rocks.

The thousands of yellow sea cucumbers, up to 2½”, at Layag-Layag were dazzling in their brilliance. Favorite nudi's at that site were the snoopy-nudi (Red-lined Jorunna) with the over-sized tall rhinophores and rounded snout. The Blue Dragon, with its 5” elongated body covered with many clusters of blue cerata soon became my favorite. My dive buddy found his favorite, too, the white dorid with fuzzy-appearing black circular markings, the Funeral Jorunna. So many nudibranch species were seen in Anilao, that numeration here would be folly. Chamberlain's Nembrotha with its deep purple rhinophores and gill made ID was crystal clear, but there was about 10% I could not locate in any of the ID books. There were flatworms galore which I particularly delight in seeing free-swimming.

The night dive at Anilao pier area revealed some interesting critters, such as the whiteface, bandtail and longfin waspfishes. The pair of striped bumblebee shrimp bopping along caught my attention, as did the bobbit worm, a rather ugly critter a couple feet long with large jaws and teeth. The only thing that made it 'pretty' were the iridescent rainbow colors on its underside. Sea hares made their appearance, too, along with a plethora of stinging worms and lots of shellfish walking about.

I spotted frogfish on several dives, from the 1 ½” black Randalls to the 10” black Painted, adorning a wreck. Most prevalent were the Giant frogfish, white; the 2” dark Ocellated with the orange edging around a black spot was an odd sighting that I at first did not believe existed in Anilao. Various sizes & species of Seahorses made their appearance, too, including the pygmy and the 8” Zebra Snout. A mimic octopus delighted me.

The best sightings at a night dive at Manit Muck-Secret Bay were the Bobtailed Squid and Forskal's Pleurobranch slug – 3 burgundy with white semi-circular markings and one shaded brown.

Crystal Blue Resort (as well as many in the area) hire their dive crew from a consortium of freelance folks. Prices are convoluted, and are based on the number of divers per boat, paid in advance. So, if one is a single diver, the price is considerably higher. On the dive day, even if there are 4 divers, the price has already been paid to the resort as a package. For instance, my dive buddy and I stayed in separate rooms, and paid $1000 more each for our dive/accommodation package, out of a total for one week of $2500, including round trip van transport from Manila. Even though there were three divers in our banca, the manager would not adjust the price. When the third diver booked, the resort knew about my buddy and I, so she paid less. Also, when there I learned that there are four single rooms – which are not advertised. Beware!

I heard from several photographers that the set-up at Blue Crystal resort was at the top of any they have encountered – a large separate room with individual well lit cubbies with power connections, & lint free towels. I met a couple diving there this week who had attended a photo workshop a few weeks prior; they sang its praises and that of the resident manager, diver, & photographer Mike who conducted it.

During my 7 night stay, ten divers dwindled to three on my last two days. As are most resorts in this area, Crystal Blue is built on a hillside, and from shore to my room it was a 65 stone-step climb. The facilities are all on separate tiers: a large staging area with four rinse tubs (water changed at least daily) plus two for cameras and a large airy area for hanging gear; camera room; bar; lounge & restaurant; office, and on the top tiers the rooms, including massage area. Massages are freelance and $10 per hour; Elena was great! The Filipino staff is among the friendliest and most helpful I have ever encountered, ready to help in any way with ready smiles. “Aim to Please” is clearly their motto.

My room held two double beds draped with attractive tying of a decorative but non-functional mosquito net and a wardrobe for storage. Bathroom was of good size with an adequate hot shower once I figured out the handles were backwards. The room was basic and clean. There was always the slight underlying odor of bug repellant. Coincidentally, I encountered no mosquitoes on the property. My dive buddy borrowed my repellant, as they had found him. Outside the door there was a small grassy area with a table and chairs for each room, overlooking the water. Sunsets were lovely from that location.

Breakfast included varying combinations of pancakes, french toast, fresh fruit, eggs, fresh quick breads and rice. Food was largely Filipino, with varying main courses of pork or chicken, and always fish, shrimp or calamari. Two kinds of rice, sauteed vegetables and a salad accompanied each meal. The best were freshly made soups served at lunch and dinner each day. There was a good variety such as carrot with lemon, rice tomato, crab & corn, sweet potato with leeks, and a delicious Nido Soup, the Filipino version of Chinese birds nest soup. I give a 5 out of 5 for the soups, and a good 4 on everything else.

My dive buddy and I took an extra day on our way back to the States to ferry to Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay. A well run tour arranged by Sun Cruises included the 90 minute ferry ride and lunch. It was sobering to view the tunnels, heavy arsenal, and bombed barracks while listening to the history of its strategic battles and the Bataan death march. It is a side-trip well worth taking. For Manila stays, I recommend the upscale Dusit Thani, Traders near the Marina, or the very good basic La Carona Best Western. All have good breakfasts!






Websites Crystal Blue Resort

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Philippines: Anilao and Tubbataha, Japan: Zamami & Yonaguni, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Indonesia: Raja Ampat & Alor Archipelago, Palau Fiji: Nai'a, Turkey: Kas & Fetiye, Caribbean, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 79-79°F / 26-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-100 Ft/ 3-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None -- dive your computer and use common sense.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments There was a separate camera room at the resort with individual cubicles which were well lit and had several outlets. Lint-free towels.
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 3 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Natasha Smithin ON, CA at Feb 19, 2015 11:35 EST  
Thank you for the information about single rooms!
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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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