Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
X
 

Dive Review of Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida in
Philippines

Sea Explorers Philippines/Pura Vida: "Visayas - Alona Beach and Alona Vida Resort", Mar, 2016,

by BOB HUCKABEE, CO, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 8894 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments If partying and the beach scene is the focus of your vacation then this is an okay choice, but if diving is your focus I do not recommend the resort. It is located along a stretch of tattoo places, restaurants, beach massage parlors, and tacky souvenir shops. The resort plays loud music until about midnight and the rooms are very close to all the action, so sleep is elusive. The newer rooms in the back are slightly less noisy, but still the noise can be heard with the windows closed and air conditioner running.

Although wi-fi is supposed to be available in the rooms it is not available in the quieter rooms in the back. Our friends stayed closer to the noise and they could get wi-fi, but we stayed in the back rooms and we could not. After asking twice at the reception desk they finally said someone would reset the back router, but it never happened.

I didnít think the service was friendly but it certainly was slow. Food prices are higher here than in the other Sea-Explorer locations. You have many restaurant choices in Alona Beach. The resort has a restaurant in the front and the free breakfast includes menu choices up to a certain peso amount.

When we were ready to leave they told us to bring our bags up to the front which required a fair amount of toting back and forth. Finally a security guard noticed and offered to help.

Since the diving was poor (see review below) there is no reason to come to Alona Beach unless you want to party.

The dive operation
Julian was the jewel here Ė he was personable, friendly, knowledgeable, and made you feel welcome. But he was the exception. The rest of the staff was indifferent. The rinse tanks are crowded and the space allotted for your wetsuits are small and cramped. The dive guides were average but since there was so little to see they couldnít work hard to show you critters. Divers are required to follow guides in a head-to-tail fashion.

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 diving around Alona Beach was slightly better than in Cabilao it still wasnít good. You might find a seahorse or two, or a nudibranch, but we have had better diving almost everywhere, including in the Caribbean. The pea-soup water didnít help, but even if the water had been clear there just werenít many critters.

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.
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 International hop from Hong Kong, Singapore, ...

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas currents
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 must follow guide; Max dive time 60 minutes


Dive Policy
Dive own profile: must follow guide
Enforced diving restrictions: Max dive time 60 minutes
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments Limited shore facilities with lots of foot traffic. There was always a security guard, but one should keep an eye on equipment until it is secured. 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 moderate to fast current.

Really a shame about the visibility; some of the walls where beautiful.
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 1 Helpful vote
Leave a comment (Subscribers only -- 200 words max)
Subscribers can comment here
 

Subscribe Now
Subscribers can post comments, ask the reviewer questions, as well as getting immediate and complete access to ALL 455 dive reviews of Philippines and all other dive destinations. Complete access to all issues and Chapbooks is also included.

 
Featured Links from Our Sponsors
Interested in becoming a sponsor?
Reef & Rainforest, Let our experience be your guide -- Reef and Rainforest
Reef & Rainforest
is an agency for travelers that scuba dive. We specialize in planning scuba diving adventures to the Philippines.
Island Dreams Travel
Island Dreams Travel
Island Dreams specializes in dive travel to the Philippines. We've dived there ourselves, and stand ready to customize your Philippines scuba diving adventure.

Want to assemble your own collection of Philippines reports in one place?
Use the Mini Chapbook Facility to create your personalized collection.

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.

Undercurrent Home


Get more dive info like these and other important scuba updates sent monthly to your email.
And a FREE Recent Issue of Undercurrent

Free Undercurrent Issue
Get a free
monthly email and
a sample issue!


Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2020 Undercurrent (www.undercurrent.org)
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.

Page computed and displayed in 0.12 seconds