Best places for inexperienced divers in november

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Davetulloch

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My partner and i are going to spend 2 weeks in the philippines in late november, flying to/from manila. It's our honeymoon, we are both keen but fairly inexperienced divers (padi open water + about 10 independent dives), and we'd like a trip that mixes a bit of beach / relaxation / romance vibes, a bit of adventure (eg hiking, climbing), plus great diving.

We chose philippines specifically because the diving sounds world class so it would be good to hit a sweet spot ie best possible diving that is achievable for our level of experience.

Current thoughts are:
1. A few days in el nido for beaches / nature etc
2. Travel to coron (dive safari or sailboat)
3. Diving & exploring coron
4. A few more days diving elsewhere??

Re. (3) Would coron be good for our level? (We would get instruction / course while there so we can do some wreck dives)

Re. (4) i was getting excited about Apo Reef, though unsure its attainable at our level and maybe difficult to get to...but actually i haven't seen much talk about apo reef on this forum - is it not that good after all?? Are there better places to go? Should we go to Anilao / Puerto Galera instead? If we just stick to Coron will we be missing out?

Another alternative is ditching all the above and concentrating on Cebu...but again would the best dive sites around there be suitable for us?
 

KDAD

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I am not an expert on Philippine diving but did find Anilao suitable for beginners as well as being easy to get to from Manila.
 

Freewillow

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The problem with Anilao is that a lot of it is macro muck diving. In order to do this you need a VERY VERY GOOD Buoyancy. I doubd that OW + 10 dives would give you this level .
 

bill22

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I like El Nido. I found the last time I was there it was much more developed than it had been the first time I went there. More and more people are finding out about it and starting to travel there. I reported in 2009 here on scubaboard that I thought it was underrated as a dive destination and I think that turned out to be prophetic :) Just for comparison I'll link it. It's a bit long as it covers Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha, El Nido, and Coron. It's okay to skip to the parts your intersted in :wink: Palawan Trip Report-Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha, El Nido, Coron There are some really great restaurants now and the diving is good also. here's a link to the post I wrote about my last trip to El Nido on my blog El Nido, Philippines

Coron is known for wreck diving and some of them are quite deep. Others are suitable for beginners and have areas that are more shallow. One of the popular things to do there is island hopping. My girlfriend and I did that when we visited there and it was a lot of fun. I generally recommend Coron or Subic Bay if wreck diving is your thing.

Apo Reef is probably not the best option. Best time to dive it is normally December to May.

For my recommendation I would say go to Cebu. Because you're only going to be there for 2 weeks I would recommend keeping it to two places in order to minimize time spent traveling in between. Try very hard not to go through Manila but fly direct to Cebu. This will save you a big headache! My first destination in Cebu would be Malapascua Island which is one of my personal favorites (I once stayed for month). I've been going there since 2007. I'll link one of my visits here which will get you started... there are other blog posts I've made about Malapascua you'll be able to find there... Malapascua-Part One My dive op of choice, as I mention in my blog, is Evolution Diving Resort in Malapascua, Cebu, Philippines If I were going there on my honeymoon, I would stay in the resort right on the beach. They have a great restaurant, beautiful white sand beach, and a world-class dive operation! There are plenty of divesites suitable for beginners with courses available if you would like to advance your training. Since you are already Open Water, I would recommend knocking out Advanced Open Water and Nitrox while you're there. Do e-learning so the academics are done before you're trip. You'll take a test to verify everything and then get right to the fun stuff :)

I'd probably want at least 5-6 days in Malapascua, then transfer back to Cebu City. There I would catch the ferry to Tagbilaran in Bohol. From the ferry terminal will be plenty of transport to take you to Panglao Island and Alona Beach. What I like about Alona Beach is that there is a bit of nightlife there but it's still very laid back. Malapascua Island by comparison is mostly asleep early as one must get up early to see Thresher Sharks :) Alona Beach I see as a smaller and less expensive version of Boracay. There are places with live music, and restaurants that will set up tables outside on the sand in the evening. After a few days of diving there are plenty of other activities.... Here's a pretty good list of things to do... Panglao Island is towards the end, but since you're diving I would start there and do other activities at the end. 25 Best Things to Do in Bohol (the Philippines) - The Crazy Tourist

Congrats on your wedding and enjoy your honeymoon. I love the Philippines and I think no matter where you ultimately decide to go, you are going to have a great time there :coffee:
 

RedFishBlueFish

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If you’re flying into Manila, I would advise seeing if you can catch a flight directly to Coron and starting your trip there. That’s what we did in March 2018. We took our AOW with Reggae Divers in Coron who I recommend. Very affordable. If you do the AOW course, during your required “deep dive” we visited Barracuda Lake which was a very unique experience due to its impressive thermocline. After Coron, you can book the fast ferry to El Nido. We didn’t actually get to dive in El Nido because I got sick but we still had a great time there. El Nido is a great place to experience with a motorbike if you’re a bit adventurous. Head to Duli beach and Nacpan beach if you can. We dove at Tubbataha after that but as a beginner diver I don’t think I would recommend that although it was the best diving in the Philippines we had done.
 

Centrals

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For inexperienced diver I would suggest Moalboal.
For newly wedded I would suggest Southern Leyte. Getting there is a bit time consuming but well worth it..
The wrecks in Coron are NOT really suitable for the inexperienced. The better one, my own rating, are all 30m+.
Malapascua is good but you really need AOW for the thresher shark dive.

With 2 wks to spend, Visayas is my suggestion. Moalboal + Dumaguette. Fly in to Cebu City and out from Dumaguette to Manila or vice versa. Sipalay is another option which is another 6hrs from Dumaguette.

Have a nice one.
 

bill22

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For inexperienced diver I would suggest Moalboal.
For newly wedded I would suggest Southern Leyte. Getting there is a bit time consuming but well worth it..
The wrecks in Coron are NOT really suitable for the inexperienced. The better one, my own rating, are all 30m+.
Malapascua is good but you really need AOW for the thresher shark dive.

With 2 wks to spend, Visayas is my suggestion. Moalboal + Dumaguette. Fly in to Cebu City and out from Dumaguette to Manila or vice versa. Sipalay is another option which is another 6hrs from Dumaguette.

Have a nice one.

Centrals suggestions would also work :) I'd not thought about Southern Leyte, but yes that certainly could be an option. I've visited Southern Leyte and it's quite beautiful and the diving is great too :) There is some sightseeing you can do there too.

I agree with Moalboal + Dumaguete as an option also. I look at Moalboal as 3-4 days max. I really enjoy Pescador Island. It's a morning drift dive. They drop you on one end and pick you up on the other. You'll need 2 days. You'll do one side on the first day and the other on the second. Great wall diving in Moalboal. Lot's of turtles and sardine schools and even an occasional whale shark. For myself they always seem to come around just before I arrive or just after I leave :p Dumaguete I could easily spend a week. There is the Dauin Marine Sanctuary renowned for it's muck diving and the critters you can find there. You can also do day trips from there by boat to Apo Island and Oslob.

Returning to my own recommendation (as you're finding out there are lots of ways to work this :wink:) it's true that you do need AOW for the Thresher Shark dive. You'll want to do AOW eventually anyway. Again my suggestion would be that you do e-learning before you arrive. Then you can knock AOW out in 2 days. You'll do 5 dives in those two days for the course. That's 5 dives with an instructor to guide you as you gain a bit more experience and receive an introduction to other aspects of diving. I'd suggest doing Nitrox also. I wouldn't suggest more than that... you're on your honeymoon... let's not have to much work :D

Most of us have our preferences... It's pretty well known that I love Malapascua... I did stay for a month once and have made 2 more trips since then :wink: Thresher Sharks, nudibranchs, lot's of fish and corals, a trip to Malapascua really has it all as far as diving is concerned. I really like the laidback atmosphere there too. It's a great place to just relax and get away :) Of all the places in the Philippines that I've dived over the years my top two destinations (that I've traveled too most often) have been Puerto Galera and Malapascua with Malapascua being in the number one spot :) Bohol is great too and you would be going there after completing AOW and getting some dives under your belt :) Either plan would work IMHO :coffee:
 

outofofficebrb

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Puerto Galera is low hanging fruit. There is macro and wide angle there and not a dealbreaker for others if buoyancy is not dialed in yet as in muck diving. For Coron, many of the dives are deeper which will be beyond your open water depth restriction. In addition, decent air consumption will be needed for deeper dives. Dive shops will take you to penetrate in which case your buoyancy should also be good in addition to the air aspect. You can tell them to just stay outside, I suppose.
 

Davetulloch

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Thanks for the responses and great advice so far. So many options!!

We are certainly considering doing Advanced Open Water while we're there - if we stick to plan A we can do it during the El Nido to Coron seafari. And all those limestone islands look amazing But the malapascua / moalboal / dumaguete options are really tempting. We are thinking this could work:

1. el nido - coron seafari with submariner dive centre & do advanced OW (not that this instantly makes us able to do 30m wreck dives...)
2. returning to el nido on fast ferry for a couple of days on one of those posh island resorts (we wont have time to explore el nido before the seafari)
3. Play it by ear - we could fly to cebu from el nido and choose 1 of those recommended places, or fly to manilla and go down to PG, or whatever we feel like doing!

(We are flying in / out of manilla by the way)
 
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