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Dive Review of Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida in
Philippines

Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida: "Visayas - Cabalo", Apr, 2016,

by BOB HUCKABEE, CO, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 8893.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments The resort
The Pura Vida resort is beautiful and sits on a remote, quiet island. The island didnít have electricity until 2015. If you come here I highly recommend getting an upgraded, upper story room for the sunrise views alone. They are so beautiful that I am going to frame one of the many pictures I took from the veranda. Wi-fi is only available in the dining room.

The Cabilao resort is one of my all-time favorites in terms of the views and the room. The upgraded rooms are up on a cliff so youíll be climbing steps to get to your room. Although these rooms are not as convenient as the standard rooms are to the dive center, they are more convenient to the dining hall which is located halfway up the hill. Breakfasts consisted of fresh fruit and juice, mango crepes, bacon, eggs, cheese, etc. You select lunch and dinner from 3 options that change daily. Since there are no other restaurants on the island you must pick from the limited menu.

The dive operation
The dive operation was fine but not 5 star. I asked for a large tank but there were none available and no follow-up from the dive center. You can hang wetsuits on a rack that dries quickly because it is in front of the ocean and the breezes dry everything in short order. The rinse tank was convenient to the drying rack. All gear is put away nightly. 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
Although the resort is fabulous the diving is not. Iím not sure if the 2013 earthquake and tsunami adversely affected the reefs, but none of our dives here were worth a trans-pacific flight. Not only was there little to see, the water was like pea soup. There were numerous dives where all we saw were a couple of nudibranchs. The night dive was a shore entry dive because they require at least 6 divers to take you 3 minutes to a better dive site and there were only 4 of us. On the night dive the tide was fairly strong and shore entry was a bit difficult over broken coral and sea urchins. Unless you want to come here for the peace and quiet, I canít recommend making the effort to get here for the diving. If you transfer from Malapascua it will take an entire day and 5 transfers from ferry to car to ferry to car to small boat.

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 liveaboard. 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.
[None]
Websites Sea Explorers Philippines   

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 international hop from Hong Kong, Singapore, ...

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas
Water Temp 26-28°C / 79-82°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 4-15 M / 13-49 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 30 meters max. 60 min. max. : must follow guide
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Dive guides orientated to cruising not photography. The Visayas are reported to have 10-30 M visibility. Perhaps we arrived at a seasonal change. Mostly wall diving with poor visibility.
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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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