Day 50, Wednesday 15 Feb, El Nidoc- Diving !
After the island hopping tours, diving is the number one activity in El Nido. With numerous limestone islands and white sand beaches scattered around the bay there are a vast number of wall, reef and beach dives to be done – and are a number of companies willing to take your money and get you diving. For no specific reason I chose Palawan Divers.
I overslept a little, so up at 7.30 and no breakfast after yesterdays near debacle, grabbed a bottle of water on the way out the door as a bit dehydrated from last night, though not feeling hungover. I got to the dive shop on time for 8 and hung round for thirty pointless minutes before gathering that they had not written my booking up on the board. Luckily there was only a couple of people going today, or I would have been left dry and furious !
Fortunately that was the only dodgy part to the day and the rest of the organisation and dive management practises were good, and the dive masters were fun too. We had three dives scheduled for the day at three different sites, but for good reason we only ended up diving in two of those places.
The first dive was at a place called Populcan forest , as you can see from the location photo it is right near a vertical cliff face, so it was a boat entry. In Borneo we dived off proper dive boats, but here we were diving off the traditional bangka outrigger, which introduced a new set of challenges as they are quite narrow – and there is a lot of gear !
Once in the water we dropped down the wall to the bottom at around 20 metres, slightly deeper than my licence “allowed”, but the sea doesn’t always obey PADI rules! The forest is a reef dive through some interesting coral, the visibility was OK, a lot of plankton in the water – which proved to be an awesome thing ! There was a reasonable amount of sea life, not a huge amount and the coral was Ok.
I was thinking that this was no where near as good as the diving we did in Borneo when AJ our lead dive master started banging on his tank with a metal rod (used for pointing out things of interest) I was right behind him and looked to where he was pointing and approaching us in the gloom was a massive whale shark !! I don’t think awesome can describe how exciting this was – fortunately I knew whale sharks are very safe only eating plankton. The shark passed about 7-8 metres from us and we followed it for as long as we could keep up. It was a real wow moment – and another trip highlight.
The whale sharks can grow up to 20 metres long, so this one, at around 5 metres was a juvenile. They are common in Feb / March in some locations in the Philippines but apparently quite rare in El Nido waters, AJ has logged over 1000 dives here and has never seen one, so we were all extraordinary lucky – and got some major cudos back in the shop at the end of the day !
We carried on with our dive and were heading back to the boat when I spotted the shark coming back our way, I grabbed AJ’s flipper and we all stopped and watched it pass by again. After a few under water hi-fives we surfaced to much excitement and got back on the boat for a very animated hour between dives
The crew proposed we flag dive site two and do the second dive here, but dive the wall rather than the forest, with the hope of seeing the whale shark again, us customers were very happy with this option. After an hours break we donned gear and dived the wall, staying around 10-15 metres where we saw the shark the last time. Alas, though it was a great dive we did not see the shark again.
We motored over to Dilumucad Island (well the dive was called that, no idea what the island was called, assuming the same !) and had a nice lunch on the white sand beach. The sun was so bright I could not see the screen on the back of the camera so missing the front of the boat – I should have brought the GF1 with the view finder! But you get the picture – its pretty nice here !
The dive site was at the end of this point, yeah I know – doing it tough 🙂
After the required number of hours break (and no – I didn’t work it out myself – fun dives with professional dive masters – are supposed to be fun!) we dived a sloping reef. This was definitely the best dive site of the day, some great coral and lots and lots of small fish life, tropical fish tank stuff, but lots of it and all around you ! We had quite a bit of sun on this dive so visibility was very good – and I found a decent size turtle, which we followed for a while.
I think of all the dives I have done I was the best in the water on this dive, my buoyancy was about right for the whole dive – this is quite hard to achieve !!! I also used very little air as well, which meant I moved efficiently in the water, so very pleased. It is so much easier underwater when you have the basics right!
After the dives it was back to the shop to do log books (great thing with tour dives is they clean the gear !) and then to the hostel for beer, dinner and an early night.
Another good day !