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Published: January 12th 2018
Here we are, the last blog of the year! We actually did another stop of 4 nights in Dubai on our way back before spending Christmas and New Year Eve at home, but I won't write a blog about Dubai, done this multiple times before.
Busuanga is a short hour propeller trip from Manila. Due to connections time, we spent the night in Manila, this time as the Sofitel as the new number two of the hotel is a friend. Once in Busuanga, it's another 45 minutes 4 by 4 drive to the Cashew Grove resort. The first part is a little cute countryside road, than it simply turn into a dirt track. No shopping around here, if you don't have it with you, you will not find it here!
I heard about this place while diving Gili Trawanggan out of Bali few years ago with the kids. Let put it simply, I want to see dugongs. These gentle giants are also known as sea cows. They are pretty territorial. I went two years ago to Bangka in North Sulawesi with Leslie. We went twice for them, but never found them. This time I knew
the chance of a spot was 80%. Priority was the dugong, and we were here for 6 nights, five full days.
The issue with a good viewing is not only to find the dugong, it's actually to have a decent visibility. Here, Agathe, the gentle dugong, live in a 7 meters water deep bay. The floor is sandy. So the big issues are the waves...if it's shaking, visibility drop...big time. The day I arrived, they saw them, with only over a meter visibility. Next day was a trip to Apo reef for me, but those who went for the dugong didn't find her.
I was hoping it would improve....next day nobody went...and I was schedule on my fourth day....only option...we had to hope! I have to admit, just look at the picture, I'm a lucky diver....or let put it simple, a rather patient one when it comes to dugong spotting! The sun was out...the water was warm and 7 meters deep...and the visibility, a good 10 meters...perfect!
Here, they rule pretty well the interaction with the dugong. It's a group of four at a time maximum, this for 25 minutes. So
yes, it is a short dive! The dugong comes to breath for few seconds every 5-6 minutes...so if you snorkel, you better swim fast...and be at ease in the water if you want a good experience. We were the last group on our boat. They had a boat ahead of us, and two after us...so busy morning for Agathe!
I was "paired" with a german couple with who I had dived 2 days ago in Apo reef. Great news, he is a dive instructor, his wife a dive master...so we know what to do, and specially not to move too much send around...Agathe moves enough send by herself to blur the water! That was an amazing experience. She moves pretty fast...so it is some kind of a chase...especially when you want to make sure you are not in her way, as she is pretty blind! Dugong, done...and in a tremendous and amazing way!
As I wrote already, two days before, we made our way to Apo Reef. This is one of the most remote dive site in the Philippines. Whichever way, it will take you a full day travel out of Manila...except if you
rent a sea plane! This is top Philippines dive. Wall diving with crystal clear warm water. I did dive Tubbataha on a liveaboard over 10 years ago. Tubbataha is the top dives in Philippines...Apo comes second. Well, after showing the pictures and videos of my house reef in South Africa....the DM told me not to put my expectation too high!
It was truly beautiful....peaceful relax drift dive by the wall. We all dive 57 minutes on our first dive, and I came back with over 80 bars....going down to 28 meters with my newly repaired Nikon camera. If you are an experienced diver, you will smile at those comments. This is truly relax diving, a world apart from the effort we have to put in at home. Only issue, for 3 dives that day, we left at 4.30am...and were back just after 7pm...long day!
The Cashew Grove resort was a pretty simple affair. They may accommodate just over 20 guests. There it's fix menu, you eat what they give you....no other options. The place is relax and simple, not the luxury we had in our last blog, but budget is obviously different too. I
did 6 dives, but this over 2 days...and we stay the remaining time doing not much around our bungalow, on the beach or by the little swimming pool.
The local dives seems to be just average...so I decided to pass on most of them. But what a trip...dugong...done, Apo reef...done!
Next entry, I need to do a little blog about home and the wonderful little paradise we live in. It's nearly a year with have moved to South Africa...only one regret, is that we didn't do it earlier!
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