Anilao: An Overlooked Gem

21–26 April, 2017

For non-scuba diver, Anilao might not sound so familiar. This place is located in Mabini, Batangas,which is situated in the sourthern part of Luzon island of the Philippines. Easily accessed by car which takes around 3 or 4 hours (depending on the traffic)from Manila, the capital city. For scuba divers, this place should be on the list of the ones that prefer muck diving and small critters. Because this place definitely has it!

There was really not much planning involved in this trip. We (I and my brother) booked this trip maybe 2 weeks beforehand. We were just wanted to go diving and somehow Anilao came up. Asked around for recommendations of the resort and booked it as soon as we got a name. Very simple indeed!

crowded

We flew to Manila via Philippines airline (not a fan) and arrived there precisely at 6pm. We wasted so much time waiting for the luggage but as soon as we got it, we went straight out to the arrival terminal and met up with our driver. He put our luggages into our own huge private van and so the journey began.

BUT because it was a rush hour of Friday, the traffic reminds me of Bangkok. So many cars on the free way heading out of the city. So much traffic. The driver made a stop for us to get dinner. We decided that we want to try Jollibee as we have seen it around the last time we were transitting in Manila to go to Palau. Let’s just say that it was a bad decision. We hurried up and try to eat it quickly so we could be on our way.

NOPE!

I slept the whole way there as I was having a cold and medicine took a toll of me. We arrived at the resort around 11pm! It took us 4 hours! One lady was there waiting for us, she took us to the room and left. We unpacked and went right to bed. What a long day.

steep path to the room
infront of the resort
bird eye view

I’m jealous of divers living in Manila. They can just drive out here and do their divings on the weekend and head back Sunday evening and the dive sites here are nothing short of awesome.

I was surprised that there were not so many people. There were two big groups of Philipino people on the weekend and after they left, there was noone else. And it was high season!! When we go diving, the biggest number of other divers we saw at the same dive site is no more than 4 or 5 divers and that is so frigging amazing!

We dove 4 days straight with Herbert as our dive master. We dove with him 3 dives per day and 1 dive per day on our own at the house reef. Dive sites are spreaded out not too far apart from each other. When we went with him, we are taken out of the resort area with this spider looking wooden boat. The cool thing about Anilao is that they don’t have diving time limit like other places in the world. Here, you dive until you are low on air (50 bar) so we ended up spending 80–90 minutes per dive which is great. As for where to dive, it’s very flexible as we are a private group we can basically tell Herbert where we want to go or what we want to see and he and the boat captain will take us there.

I was surprised on the first day when he asked us if we want to do muck dive OR coral dive. I didn’t even know coral dive exists in Anilao! because everyone I know who has been here could not stop talking about how great the muck dive is here and noone has said anything about the corals. I told him we will do both. And ohhhhh I’m glad I did that because I was taken by surprise when we dove around Sombrero island on our second day. I could never imagine that such complete pristine coral reefs still exist! The vibrant colors and the rich marine life amazed me.

I got to see all the critters I wanted to see on this trip except for the Rhinopias. Herbert wanted us to see it too so we spent 3 dives looking for it but without success. I guess you can’t always get what you want eh? Maybe next time.

This was a very successful trip (would be nicer if the water wasn’t so cold) although I didn’t get to see the Rhinopias. But this trip gave me so much first times. It was my first time seeing bobtail squid, donald duck shrimp, hairy frogfish, and bobbit worm. And I got to see so many types of frog fish, my favorite creature. They come in so many sizes, shapes, and colors. I could not help but giggle everytime I spotted them.

What I learned from this trip is that ‘it’s time to change/ upgrade my camera and the housing. I have been using both of them since 2011. The camera still works fine but the damn housing kept leaking. If I continue using it there will be a day that my camera will drown itside its own housing, no doubt. Also I learned that I need to get a strobe for better photos. FOR REALZ.

you can find my quality photos here