Advice on Philippines Itinerary

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Centrals

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What is the chance of changing the date of your booking with El Galleon?
Return to MNL from Tacloban right after Sogod Bay and then proceed to PG on 13 Feb. You have about 9-10 days to spend until 22 Feb for the return to Moalboal. Therefore couple of days in Anilao is a distinct possibility. Ask El Galleon if they can arrange direct boat transfer to anilao?
 
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jd62

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What is the chance of changing the date of your booking with El Galleon?
Return to MNL from Tacloban right after Sogod Bay and then proceed to PG on 13 Feb. You have about 9-10 days to spend until 22 Feb for the return to Moalboal. Therefore couple of days in Anilao is a distinct possibility. Ask El Galleon if they can arrange direct boat transfer to anilao?
El Galleon was very flexible 7 months ago. I doubt that has changed. Centrals, your splendid stubbornness is very helpful. I also shot an email to DDivers in Coron about what they'll be offering. There are no prices mentioned, but you have strongly recommended them in the past.
 

Centrals

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LOL!
Gunther at DDivers knows those wrecks in Coron inside out. Another suggestion is Sangat Island.

Good luck.
 

Sevenrider860

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Because of your disbelief regarding Magic Island (which is indeed a place that has refused a refund), I went to their web site. While one cannot make a reservation automatically via their system, one can indeed look for availability. I examined rolling 4-night periods for the duration of my stay, starting after Sogod. 2/13 through 2/16, departing on 2/17, is the ONLY 4-night period that would not work.

I have just contacted Bluewater travel. As things could have changed in the past 6.5 months, I am hopeful that I will not get a runaround. If I can rearrange things, I can have a more rational itinerary, like the ones you have suggested.

Thanks so much!
Magic Island is usually heavily booked by foreign dive travel groups. Our local LDS was scheduled from 1/29/22 to 2/5/22 (3rd reschedule since 2020) and the reservations were held up until they were at risk of not being able to be refunded on group airfare (about a month ago). They are now confirmed for February 2023 and have all rooms at the resort booked. You could be seeing these rolling group travel bookings being held up to the last moment hoping the country will open in time for the trip.

I agree with Centrals and don't believe they can be fully booked with local tourism or the small amount of foreign tourism that is coming into the country. I do believe they are keeping the existing reservations until last minute cancelations as they are making big $$$ from these foreign travel groups. The cost for a week at Magic Island (excluding airfare) is many, many times higher than what I would personally book for diving and lodging in Moalboal.
 
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jd62

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Magic Island is usually heavily booked by foreign dive travel groups. Our local LDS was scheduled from 1/29/22 to 2/5/22 (3rd reschedule since 2020) and the reservations were held up until they were at risk of not being able to be refunded on group airfare (about a month ago). They are now confirmed for February 2023 and have all rooms at the resort booked. You could be seeing these rolling group travel bookings being held up to the last moment hoping the country will open in time for the trip.

I agree with Centrals and don't believe they can be fully booked with local tourism or the small amount of foreign tourism that is coming into the country. I do believe they are keeping the existing reservations until last minute cancelations as they are making big $$$ from these foreign travel groups. The cost for a week at Magic Island (excluding airfare) is many, many times higher than what I would personally book for diving and lodging in Moalboal.
Thanks for this information. Your analysis and experience make sense and square with my own. I was a novice regarding Philippines generally and diving in Philippines specifically when I started this planning. I agree in retrospect that Magic Island's prices are way too high for Moalboal. But they have my money.

I have more flexibility than most with my flights, as they can be cancelled for about $50, with the points going back to my Flying Blue account. The person I just worked with at FB was wonderful, managing a way around a suddenly cancelled Air Japan flight. While I was flying business class, I suspect she would have worked as hard for economy class.
 
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jd62

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All right, assuming I can move the resort reservations around, I have a new & improved itinerary. This should come as a relief to Centrals, who has been particularly dogged in his efforts.

2/7-2/12 Sogod Bay (probably Peter's)
2/13 fly TAC to MNL & transfer to El Galleon in Puerto Galera (prepaid)
2/13-2-17 Puerto Galera
2/18 Transfer to Anilao (I will see if I could get a direct boat ride from El Galleon)
2/18-2/21 Anilao (probably stay at Blue Ribbon Divers)
2/22 Transfer from Anilao to MNL, fly to Coron (USU). Get transfer to resort (I hope this will be DDivers).
2/22-2/25 Coron
2/26 Fly Coron to CEB, transfer to Magic Island in Moalboal (prepaid)
2/26-3/1 Moalboal
3/2 Transfer to Malapascua, probably stay at Evolution.
3/2-3/4 Malapascua
3/5 A big day: transfer from Malapascua to CEB (maybe 5h, with the private transfer);
then CEB to MNL (Terminal 3). Then transit to Terminal 1 (yikes!). Depart at 11:45pm.

I usually like to be in the city from which I will depart the night before, often near the airport if a morning departure. But this departure is so late in the day, and the flights from CEB to MNL are so plentiful during the day, that this *should* work.

How does this look?
 

Centrals

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A lot better than the original plan.
May be even better if you can afford one day to buffer any unforeseen travel delay.
Weather can be unpredictable and if the sea is rough then you might find yourself stranded on Malapascua. Please pay close attention to the local weather.
Baggage allowance can be problematic to Coron depend on the plane being used. At the moment only PAL has flight.

Have a nice trip.
 
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jd62

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A lot better than the original plan.
May be even better if you can afford one day to buffer any unforeseen travel delay.
Weather can be unpredictable and if the sea is rough then you might find yourself stranded on Malapascua. Please pay close attention to the local weather.
Baggage allowance can be problematic to Coron depend on the plane being used. At the moment only PAL has flight.

Have a nice trip.
Very good. Now let's see if I can implement this.

Regarding weather delay, the most logical thing to do would be to transfer from Malapascua to Cebu City the night before, after diving, so only two nights in Malapascua. To make this feasible, I would need to depart Moalboal early on 3/2 so that I could have maybe a couple of dives later in the day (or maybe a night dive, or maybe nothing that day). This would leave 3/3 & 3/4 for early diving days, but then transfer late on 3/4 to Cebu City. Or I could do this conditionally, relying on the weather predictions on my penultimate day. How predictable is the weather at this time of year?

Regarding baggage, I can FINALLY claim that I have special knowledge: Cebu Pacific (and Cebgo) go to Coron, and they will sell 32 kilos for a checked bag. I just set up mock flights, and this is consistently the case. This is despite the Coron flight being a propeller plane.
 

Centrals

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All the private transfers would really add the cost of this trip substantially.
Night dive is possible on Malapascua especially looking for the Mandarin fish.
In the old days Cebu Pacific only allowed max of 20kg and you need to buy a new ticket if over that limited to Coron.
Generally speaking weather in Mar is usually very good but.......
 

gkis

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I truly hope Philippines will open it's borders in February, but travel will be very hectic, most likely there will be some form of quarantine required, hope your plan will work though, good luck.
 
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