Dumaguete - Apo Island
Dumaguete - Apo Island
The second-largest archipelago in the world with 7,107 tropical islands, the Philippines is one of the treasures of Southeast Asia. Only 7% of the islands are larger than a square mile, and one third have names. As it is located in the Pacific ring of fire - the most volcanic region on Earth - the country has 49 active or potentially active volcanoes.
First and foremost, the Philippines is a place of natural wonders. Above sea level, the Philippines has a fantastic landscape with wonders enough to stagger even the most jaded traveler: numerous palm-fringed and white-sanded beaches, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, and forests hosting 13,500 plant species and 170,000 animal species of which many are endemic to the country. Among the many rare species are the Philippine Tarsier, the world’s smallest primate, the White-Winged Flying Fox, the Philippine Eagle and the Pygmy Goby.
Dumaguete and Apo Island
Below sea level, the Philippines boast some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling with 488 species of corals and even more of fishes, all in warm waters! The country has a well deserved reputation as one of the best locations for macro diving, with numerous species of shrimps, nudibranchs, ghost-pipefishes, seahorses etc, although pelagic visitors occasionally visit the area.
Your resort is situated in Dauin, Negros Island, to the east of the Visayas, a cluster of islands in the middle of the Philippines archipelago, and one of the country’s capitals for scuba diving. Clearly, the destination is off the beaten path and its world-class muck dive sites are not crowded, just the way we like! From Dumaguete airport, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the resort. Apo Island, with its colorful coral gardens and stunning drop-offs is less than 45 minutes away by boat.
Diving Dumaguete and Apo Island
Dumaguete(/Dauin)’s and Apo Island’s 25+ dive sites range in depth from 3 to 30m. Dives can be conducted all year round and the visibility is usually between 15 and 30m, with an average of approximately 20m. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes to reach dive spots around Dauin, and about 45 minutes to reach Apo Island. Because of their depth and reasonable currents, most dive sites are accessible to Open Water certified divers.
Dumaguete/Dauin features some of the best sites in the Philippines for macro and muck diving, and is a heaven for u/w photographers. Sandy bottoms and artificial reefs are home to many strange-looking and rare critters: ornate and robust ghost pipe-fishes, frogfish, seahorses and porcelain crabs are commonly seen. Encounters with the beautiful Mandarin fish are pretty much guaranteed on one dive site. The lucky ones will also have good chances to spot seamoth/Pegasus, flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus and Coleman and/or Harlequin shrimps!
Apo Island is the place for “aquarium diving”. Most dives start on stunning walls and end on colorful coral gardens. The visibility is usually excellent and the area features some of the nicest corals in the country. Turtles, sea snakes, many different species of nudibranchs, schooling jack-fishes, shrimp/razor fishes and ribbon eels are commonly spotted. Leaf scorpion-fishes, batfishes and their juveniles, as well as bumphead parrotfishes also populate the area.
Day trips to Siquijor (1 hour away), another local capital for muck and critter diving, are occasionally organized (or upon request, if a minimum of 4 divers sign up).
For detailed information about what we have seen while diving Dumaguete and Apo Island, you can review our logbook.
Some of the Most Famous Dive Sites
Dauin Sanctuary (Dumaguete/Dauin):
A combination of the famous Dauin Norte and Dauin Sur dive sites, this popular dives start on a sandy slope with mooring blocks that host ghost pipe-fishes, frogfish, crustaceans, sea slugs and nudibranchs. Yellow tail barracudas are occasionally spotted and turtles are common on Dauin Norte, which also offers chances to observe blue-ringed octopus and leaf scorpion fishes in the shallows. Dauin Sur is the area for ribbon eels, tons of garden eels, pipe-fishes, squat lobsters, razor and jaw fishes.
Chapel (Apo Island):
A sandy slope that leads to a drop-off with lots of small caves and overhangs. The flat reef on top of the wall is a prefect spot to explore during your safety stop. Corals are well preserved and the concentration of reef fishes is impressive. Good coral heads, whip corals, soft corals, basket sponges, and gorgonian sea fans are among the coral treasures. Meanwhile, aquatic creatures like turtles, the black and white snappers, the vlaming’s unicorn fish and the trumpet fish swim around.
A typical muck dive with a sandy bottom and artificial reefs, the sites named “The Cars” and “Shallow Cars” make the CarWreck. The Cars goes to 30m deep, while Shallow Cars takes you to 20m. The wrecks are home to many species of reef fishes, a high concentration of Durban Dancing shrimps and other crustaceans. The upper slope is populated with critters of all kinds, including dragonettes, frogfish, seahorses, seamoth/Pegasus, waspfishes and pipe-fishes that will please u/w photographers!
Please note that, although our partners are all professional dive centers with strong commitments to dive safety and all affiliated to international diving organizations, some of their dive guides are not certified divemasters. Due to the cost of a Divemaster certification compared to local salaries and standard of living, some dive guides are PADI Rescue Divers (or equivalent), with thousands of dives in the Visayas.
The Dive Center
Sea Explorers, a Gold Palm 5 Star Training and CDC Facility run by German management, is located right on the resort’s beach. It operates 3 bangkas (native outrigger boats) that comfortably accommodate 10 to 12 divers, and are powered by Mitsubishi 160 to 280hp engines. A speedboat powered by a 75hp engine is used for short trips and can accommodate up to 8 divers. All boats are fitted with medical oxygen and first aid kits. The maximum ratio of divers on a dive guide is 4.
Please note that, for their own safety, all guests’ first dive will be an orientation dive to ensure that the dive center knows your abilities and can put similar experienced divers together in a group.
Technical and Admin Information
- rental equipment: Mares and Scubapro wetsuits, Mares, Scubapro and Aqualung BCDs, Scubapro regulators, Suunto and Mares dive computers
- 10, 12, and a few 15 liter aluminum tanks, mostly INT cylinder valves, some combined INT/DIN valves available. Divers can also borrow DIN adaptors but it is appreciated if you bring your own. Tanks, weights and weight belts are provided.
- night dives possible every night, no extra charge, torches can be rented
- Nitrox available, with extra charge
- logbook - dive certification card
- medical clearance for scuba diving from a physician, issued within the last 12 months
- evidence of repatriation insurance
- no need to bring gloves, as a no-glove policy is applied around the Dumaguete and Apo Island areas
Recommended diving equipment and documents: dive computer, safety sausage, 3 or 5mm wetsuit, torch, magnifying glass, insurance covering dive-related injuries (DAN or equivalent)
The closest hyperbaric chamber is located in Cebu, all dives are within no-decompression limits.
Other Activities and Excursions
Dumaguete is a non-diver-friendly destination where many activities and attractions are available.
A typical day for a diver at Dumaguete goes as follows:
- two dives, from 9:00 AM till 1:00 PM
- optional third dive in the afternoon
- Mandarin or night dive possible every night
Day trips to further locations usually start at 8:30am and end at 4:30pm. On these occasions, lunch is taken on the boat or on an island.
Apart from lounging around the pool and enjoying cocktails at the beach bar, activities for non-divers and for divers’ dry days are the following:
• The Balinsasayao Twin Lakes National Park: another highlight of Oriental Negros, this 1/2 day trip to the lakes offers stunning views over the Tanon Strait, the Bohol Sea and some of its islands. Once there, you can rent a small boat to cross the lake, have a swim, or go for a walk in the jungle.
• Malatapay (Wednesday) Market and Dumaguete City tours
- Spa: the Vida Spa offers a wide range of experiences, including Swedish and Tai massages, as well as cosmetic beauty treatments such as manicure and pedicure. It also features a sauna and a steam bath.
The Kids' Corner
Baby sitting service can be arranged, so divers can feel comfortable while enjoying their passion.
Most of the excursions and activities available to adults are also suitable to children.
Pura Vida Beach and Dive Resort
The resort opened in 2004, and is located right on the beach of Dauin, less than 30 minutes away from Dumaguete City. It features a beautiful swimming pool, 12 Deluxe rooms, 3 Family rooms, and 2 Suites, all with sea and/or pool view, a nice terrace, and equipped with A/C, ceiling fan, cable TV, mini bar, and private bathroom with hot shower. Another 11 Standard Bungalows made out of native materials are located on a coconut grove, less than 100 meters away from the beach, and boast ceiling fan, a terrace, and a private bathroom with hot shower. Rooms are services daily and towels are provided.
The restaurant is located on the beach, and serves à la carte Western and Asian food (buffet style on special occasions, such as BBQs on the beach). Complementary fruits are provided between dives. Other facilities include a beach bar, a spa, and a small shop. Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort.
Required and Recommended Equipment and Documents
In addition to your documents related to your repatriation insurance (and for divers: your logbook, dive certification card and a medical clearance for scuba diving), you will need:
- your passport, which must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond intended date of return
- a visa is required for stays longer than 21 days
We also recommend you bring with you:
- sun cream
- mosquito repellent
How to get there / Flight information
From Manila airport, fly directly to Dumaguete airport, where our local partner will be waiting for you. From there, it takes less than 30 minutes to reach your resort.
Although we recommend you carefully compare airfares, Cebu Pacific's airfares are usually competitive. The information provided below is non exhaustive and for information purpose only. For more details, please visit www.cebupacificair.com
From Shanghai: overnight flights to Manila
From Beijing: overnight flights to Manila
From Guangzhou: overnight flights to Manila
From Hong Kong: direct overnight flights to Manila and Cebu
From Macau: direct overnight flights to Manila
From Singapore: direct overnight flights to Manila and Cebu
From Osaka (Kansai): evening flights to Manila
From Kuala Lumpur: overnight flights to Manila
From Taipei: overnight flights to Manila
From Saigon: overnight flights to Manila
From Jakarta: overnight flights to Manila
From Seoul/Incheon: direct overnight flights to Manila and Cebu
From Busan: late night direct flights to Cebu
Health and Safety
Dumaguete is located outside of malaria-endemic areas. The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Southeast Asia. Travelers to Southeast Asia should be up to date with vaccinations against polio, tetanus and diphtheria. You may also consider a hepatitis A shot.
Full medical insurance, including medical evacuation outside of your country of residence, is mandatory. We also recommend scuba divers to ensure their personal insurance covers dive related injuries. Should you consider becoming a member of DAN Asia-Pacific, please click here
The Philippines is generally safe. However, the normal precautions apply, and in particular be wary of any overly friendly stranger offering you food or drinks, as the most common scam involves drugging and then robbing tourists.
History and Culture
The Philippines has a long history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, and the Spanish colonization which began in 1565 with the first permanent settlement of Spaniards on the island of Cebu, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese, the Indians, and the Japanese. During the Spanish period, numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestocks introduced, and trade flourished. Spanish missionaries converted most of the population to Christianity and founded schools, universities and hospitals across the islands. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos succeeded in winning their independence. However, the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish-American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States, making the country the first and only colony of the United States. The treaty was not recognized by the Philippine Government, which proclaimed a declaration of war against the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, officially won by the United States in 1902, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946. Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions in 1972 and 1986 against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The country is now a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and approximately 2,000 radio stations.
The Filipino is of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. From a long history of Western colonial rules, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend and the Filipino character is a mix of all these influences put together. The bayanihan or spirit of kindship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for is said to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness comes from the Spaniards. Filipinos are probably one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people today.
The Filipinos are divided geographically and culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable by distinct traits and dialects. Tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago, where more than 111 dialects are spoken. The Spaniards converted the overwhelming majority of Filipinos to Christianity. The Muslim community represents approximately 15% of the population and can be found primarily in Mindanao. The rest of the population is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.
Filipinos are out for fun where-ever possible. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes. Hospitality, a common denominator in the Filipino character, makes them legendary in Southeast Asia. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.
Country Facts and Practical Information
- Climate: due to its proximity to the equator, the Philippines enjoy a tropical climate, with a relatively constant temperature year-round. The country has two main seasons: the dry season, from November to May, and the rainy season, from June to October.
- Population: 91 million
- Language: Tagalog and English are the official national languages. The Philippines is the 3rd largest English speaking country in the world. There are also 8 other major dialects.
- Religions: Christian (over 85%), Muslim and others
- Electricity: electric current is 220 V, 60 Hz, and uses the American shaped plugs
- Time difference: GMT +8 hours (excluding daylight saving time considerations)
- Telephone: international access code 00, country code 63. Mobile phone can be used throughout the Dauin/Dumaguete area. Local prepaid SIM-Cards can be purchased.
- Internet: it can be accessed from the resort (Wi-Fi)
Currency: the official currency is the Peso. USD, EUR and HKD can be changed at local banks. It is recommended not to rely on local moneychangers.
ATM & cash: there are banks and ATM machines in Dauin/Dumaguete