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Dive Review of Crystal Blue Resort in
Philippines/Anilao

Crystal Blue Resort: "A well-kept secret that offers many types of diving", Nov, 2014,

by Greg White, IL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 7938 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 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 When a planned trip to Africa was postponed a year, we were left with non-refundable airline tickets that we needed to use before the end of this year. We started looking at places served by the airline, and for which the tickets would be about the same cost as our original flight. The Philippines fit the bill nicely since we had already been diving there twice before and were very happy with both trips. However, this time we wanted to try somewhere new in the Philippines, so we began a web search for dive resorts (our other two trips were liveaboards) that got good reviews, and Crystal Blue Resort showed up as very highly rated on TripAdvisor, so we decided to give it a try.

We could not have been happier with our choice. As a dive resort, Crystal Blue is outstanding. Even though my wife and I are not serious photographers, we do have cameras and we found the facilities for photographers the best we have ever seen. This is probably because the resort manager is Mike Bartick, a well-respected professional photographer. Even though we are nowhere near that level, nor as serious about photography as others at the resort, everyone still treated us and our equipment with the same respect as the serious photographers.

When we arrived at the resort there were already several groups there. We thought that we might be added to one of the groups, as has happened at other resorts, but instead we had our own boat and our own guide for the entire 12 days we were there. Even when a single diver came later, instead of putting him on our boat, he also got his own boat and guide. That is just amazing service and something that really made our trip special.

Our dive guide, Glenn, is a local from the Anilao area, and knew the dive sites extremely well. He was definitely the best dive guide we have ever had. During our stay there we did a total of 28 dives, and on every single one we saw something new that we had never seen before. Although Anilao is apparently best know for muck diving, it also offers excellent drift dives, pinnacles, and coral gardens teeming with fish. There's even a wreck with at least three of the most gigantic frogfish we've ever seen. On other dives, we also saw the usual muck dive subjects such as ghost pipefish, pygmy filefish, and flying gurnards, but we also saw a huge cuttlefish laying eggs, many turtles, and even some kraits. At every dive site Glenn found something for us to photograph, and while we were doing that, he was off finding the next interesting thing. Nearly every dive was at least 75 minutes long, yet in spite of this extended time Glenn managed our profiles so well that even when dives went to 80 feet or beyond, we still spent enough time in shallow water to keep our computers well within the safe range.

One claim to fame for Anilao is the large number and variety of nudibranchs, and we certainly saw many of them, most of which we had never seen before. However, I'm also a big fan of crinoids and this place has got to be the crinoid capital of the world. There were huge numbers of them just about everywhere and in more colors and combinations of colors than I ever thought possible.

While there's a lot to savor underwater, Crystal Blue's kitchen also provided many topside pleasures. When the other groups were present, meals were served buffet style, but with many different options available for vegetables, meat, and fish. Because I'm vegetarian, the cook also usually made a special plate for me, generally based on the buffet offerings, but without meat or fish. All of it was outstanding and varied. Breakfast, in addition to the buffet table, which included fresh fruit, also provided french toast, waffles, or eggs cooked to order. At lunch and dinner we always had fantastic desserts such as chocolate mousse or bananas foster. Even when the groups left and my wife and I were the only two at the resort, the kitchen still provided different and interesting dishes at every meal, making meat and fish for my wife and providing me with outstanding vegetarian fare.

The one thing that Anilao does not offer is big fish. Many people in this area still apparently make a living through fishing, so there are very few big fish. We saw no sharks at all. However, the coral reefs that we dove were extremely healthy, with profuse populations of reef fish.

Considering the excellent and varied diving we found in Anilao, we're surprised it is not better known outside the Philippines. We've been diving for more than 20 years and have hit many of the well-known dive destinations, but overall the diving in Anilao has to rank either at the top or second to the top of our list of best places we've been. We recommend Anilao, and especially Crystal Blue Resort, very highly.

Websites Crystal Blue Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Most places in the Caribbean, some Florida keys, some California, some Hawaii, Wakatobi, Palau, Yap.
Closest Airport Manila Getting There Quite a few options to Manila via U.S. or other carriers, then 2-3 hour ride to resort.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 79-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 25-100 Ft/ 8-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Nobody gave us any restrictions, but we did stay with our guide. Deepest he took us was 100 feet. Most dives ended because we were low on air.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 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 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Dedicated climate controlled camera room with individual workstations for each photographer. Large, dedicated rinse tanks for cameras on shore. None available on boats, but cameras were placed in a protected area on the boat.
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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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