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Dive Review of Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida in
Philippines/Visayas

Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida: "Visayas with Sea Explores at Malapascua and Ocean Vida Resort", Mar, 2016,

by BOB HUCKABEE, CO, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 8885.

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 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The resort
We stayed 5 nights in an upgraded ocean view room in March 2016. I recommend the upgrade, especially if you can get an upper story room. The verandas are a great place to relax and enjoy the beach view and a nice place to hang your wet gear after a dive. The standard rooms also looked okay but are farther back and have no beach view.

The internet worked well from our room (room #7) and we had sufficient room to store our gear. Although we didnít use it the room has a mini fridge. Room #7 is next to the dining room but noise wasnít a problem. The air conditioner had a couple of hiccups but management fixed them right away. I wouldnít call the hotel high end but it was certainly lovely and we didnít want to leave.

The food was good. Breakfast was the best of all the locations and you select lunch and dinner from a menu. Also note that you can walk about 10 minutes to town where there are a few restaurants if you want variety.

The dive operation
The dive center is well organized and the scheduling allows you to do a (very) early morning thresher shark dive, then come back for breakfast and still have time to do the morning dives on the boat. If you use nitrox you must analyze your tank the night before for the shark dives; otherwise you can analyze them before your day dives. However, see my comment below regarding safety - be sure to verify your tank if you use nitrox. The dive guides are excellent, especially Marten and T. Rex. Vanessa helped me fix the settings on my new computer and everyone in the dive center is helpful. They have a maximum guide to diver ratio of 1:4 and the guides go out of their way to understand what you want to see and try to find the critters. You are responsible to rinse out your gear and either put it in your bin or bring it to the boat.

Safety Ė in general, I think Sea-Explorers is a safety minded dive operation. We did their Island Hopping package in their 4 locations (Malapascua, Cabilao, Alona Beach, and Dauin) so we were exposed to all of their dive centers. On our trip we had two incidents that should be mentioned. The first happened in Malapascua - my nitrox tank had been replaced with an oxygen tank for one of the thresher shark dives without informing me. Since the thresher shark dives are deep (90+ feet for a long time) this could have been quite a serious mix-up if I hadnít noticed that the tank on my BC didnít have my name on it. The mistake was twofold: one, someone switched out the fitting on my tank after I analyzed it, and two, when the fitting on my nitrox tank didnít fit my regulator someone just put an oxygen tank on my BC instead of asking me. The second incident happened in Cabilao - our friendís tankís o-ring blew underwater on a shore entry night dive. Fortunately the guide (Kevin) noticed immediately and got our friend safely back to shore.

The unlimited dive package is a bad deal price-wise. We bought 10 days of unlimited dives and were told prior to the trip that we could pay for the entire trip at the final destination. We had planned on using the unlimited dive days on the days when we dove at least 3 times and planned on paying for additional dive days using the per-dive price. Instead, Sea-Explorers forced us to use our unlimited days in sequential order, so we ended up paying a much higher price per dive overall. This included the days we could only dive twice because of the transfer to another Sea-Explorer location. You are far better off buying the amount that gives you the best price because you can always buy more on location.

The diving
The probability of seeing thresher sharks was the reason we went to Malapascua and we were able to see many of them. The sharks come to one of two cleaning stations early in the morning, so your chances of spotting at least one is pretty good if you are there during the right time of year. However, the water column wasnít very clear when we were there so pictures may be cloudy. The Gato Island dive was fun and we were able to see many white tips (but, the water was so occluded no pictures were feasible.) The wall dives were poor and I wouldnít recommend coming to Malapascua for those. The boat trip to Clangaman Island is fun for the BBQ on the pretty island, but the diving there was poor as well. We didnít see any mandarin mating rituals on the dusk dive because there were too many divers hovering directly over the site. The night dives can be spectacular and we had one of the best night dives ever here, including a blue ring octopus siting. But since Malapascua is in an inconvenient location for divers who donít live near the Philippines I wouldnít make the effort to come here unless thresher sharks are on your bucket list. The time it takes to get here is not worth the rewards for the casual vacation diver.

The island hopping experience
We wanted to try the island hopping adventure because it is rare to see pelagic fish, macro, and muck in the same trip unless youíre on a live-aboard. And though it sounds great in theory it did not work out well in practice. I wish I could recommend island hopping but you use too many days and go through too many hassles for this to be recommended.

You can put together a dive package that includes any or all 4 locations: Malapascua in the north for the thresher sharks, Cabilao for wall diving on a remote and quiet island, Alona Beach for more wall diving on a busy island, and Dauin in the south for diving with whale sharks and muck diving. We dove all four locations from north to south. The trip from Cebu airport to Malapascua is a hectic 5 hour car trip followed by a small boat ferry to the resort. The transfer from Malapascua to Cabilao is by small ferry, then car, then a big ferry, then another car, and finally a small ferry. This took the entire day and no diving is possible. The transfer from Cabilao to Alona Beach is done entirely by ferry, and if youíre lucky you can dive en route. However, the ability to dive en route is not guaranteed and if the dive transfer boat is busy in the morning you wonít be able to dive. The transfer from Alona Beach to Dauin is also done entirely by ferry, and though you might get the chance to dive en route we couldnít because the boat wasnít available to take us until the afternoon. (See my review of Alona Beach diving to see why we chose not to dive from the resort in the morning while waiting for the boat.) And finally, the transfer from Dauin back to Cebu is done by car, then by a small speedboat, then a long car ride to the airport.

We used two vacation days to transfer to the various locations if you exclude the day to get to the first resort and the day to return to the airport at the end of the trip. On those two days we only did 2 dives. (And we had to pay the unlimited dive price so it turned out to be pretty expensive.) Because of all the modes of transportation youíll be paying quite a bit in porter fees to haul your stuff from car to boat to ferry and back to car. Tips are required on each end of the transfers. On the transfer from Dauin to Cebu we almost missed our flight because of traffic problems on the road. Our driver told us the couple he transferred the day before also almost missed their flight. Recommendation to Sea-Explorers is to leave one hour earlier for the ride to the airport. We arrived at the Cebu airport barely in time to board our flight and made an already hectic trip more so.

The unlimited dive package is a bad deal price-wise. We bought 10 days of unlimited dives and were told prior to the trip that we could pay for the entire trip at the final destination. We had planned on using the unlimited dive days on the days when we dove at least 3 times and planned on paying for additional dive days using the per-dive price. Instead, Sea-Explorers forced us to use our unlimited days in sequential order, so we ended up paying a much higher price per dive overall. This included the days we could only dive twice because of the transfer to another Sea-Explorer location. You are far better off buying the amount that gives you the best price because you can always buy more on location.


Websites Sea Explorers Philippines   Pura Vida

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Komodo, Lembeh, Bali, Solomon Islands, Anilao, Fiji, Hawaii, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize, Honduras, San Salvador, Turks & Caicos, St. Vincent, Dominica
Closest Airport Cebu City, Cebu Getting There Direct hop from Hong Kong or Singapore. The trip from Cebu airport to Malapascua is a hectic 5 hour car trip followed by a small boat ferry to the resort.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas
Water Temp 27-29°C / 81-84°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 4-15 M / 13-49 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Must follow guide. Max dive time 60 minutes. 30 m max.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Only one small container from mask and camera. Masks first; soap and housing donít mix. Good facilities on shore for dive equipment and cameras. The Visayas are reported to have 10-30 M visibility. Perhaps we arrived at a seasonal change. Good night dive, but the mandarin fish dive was a wash.

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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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