Stretched for over 20km at the southern end of Luzon island, Anilao is famous among divers for muck diving. From the Rhinopias to the dragonets to thousands of nudibranch, it is a perfect diving destination within 2.5 hours journey from Manila. After travelling for almost a week in Manila and Leyte, I finally made my way to Buceo Anilao Beach & Dive Resort by way of public transportation. Yes, you hear me right. I did not request a transfer from Belmont Hotel Manila to Buceo Anilao because I wanted to experience the public transportation.
It took me 20 minutes from Belmont Hotel, which is located next to NAIA 3 International Airport to JAM Liner Bus Station with Uber Black (PHP245). I took the 6.00am bus to Batangas for PHP157. The journey was smooth going except that I did not disembark at the Grand Terminal. The bus took me to the last point which was the Batangas Pier. There I had been pressed for ridiculous charges for a transfer to Mabini Jeepney Station. I gave a call to the Buceo Anilao and asked the reasonable fare to Mabini. They directed me to walk outside the pier and get a tricycle to Batangas State University.
I followed the instruction and got a tricycle to send me at the BSU’s Mabini Jeepney Station for PHP50. Due to the bad traffic, the jeepney ride to Mabini Public Market took me almost 1 hour 10 minutes for PHP30. There were a bridge and road constructions that limited the road access to only one lane. From the Public Market, I took another tricycle to San Teodoro, which took me 30 minutes through the hilly terrain and fishing villages.
Although it is famously known as Anilao, the district where the dive resorts are located is Batangas with its municipality Mabini. Anilao is actually the name of two seaside barangays. Despite the popularity since the 1990s, Anilao is still a traditional fishing village with volcanic black sand. I saw less modern infrastructures than I had imagined for a dive tourism that had gained popularity for more than one decade.
* Barangays is the Filipino term equivalent to villages.
Coming back to my final tricycle ride to San Teodoro, I repeatedly asked my tricycle rider whether we were going to the right way since I did not see the typical beachcombing resorts. He laughed it out and told me he knew where the resort was and even knew the manager of the resort. I was dropped at the dead end and dive resort staff was already waiting for me. He carried my luggage and walked me to Buceo Anilao through a maze of a fishing village. Dogs barked as we approached the houses, meanwhile, the children played cheerfully. On the other side of the pathway, a man mended the fishing net.
From the exchange with the staff, I found out that normally there would be a boat pick up from Balai parking area. Since I arrived at the end of typhoon Karen, the waves were rough and it was because of the safety reason that we had to walk instead. I would not mind one bit to walk because it was all worthy when the yellow cottages scattered on the hill facing the sea came to sight. It was secluded, vibrant and huge if compared to the other elongated resorts.
Once arrived, I was greeted by the staff, Melani and filled in the registration form before being ushered to my room, the Harlequin Shrimp.
I stayed at one of the two standard rooms which are suited for a single person. It was of the same level to the infinity swimming pool. So, I got the side view of the infinity pool and the sea once I opened my rom door. The bedsheet, towels and bathroom were clean. There is no TV in the room. But who needs TV in a dive resort, right? The room was air-conditioned with safe box and hot shower. There is no balcony for the standard room. If you need the balcony, go for the sea view deluxe or the new superior rooms.
Upon my request, I got to see the sea view deluxe cabanas which are good for 5 people with 2 double beds and 1 twin bed. The room size is huge and suitable for a group of divers. Another section that I like about the deluxe cabana room is the spacious bathroom. I would definitely take some time to get out of the bathroom. A bathroom like that in a dive resort is definitely a luxury!
I was informed by M’am Paz Maria, that most of the time the resort is fully booked because of the returners and long-term guests. That I could see during my stay in Buceo Anilao as there was a group of yoga diving enthusiasts staying for more than a week and a fellow diver who was there for nearly 2 weeks. So when you have long term guests and returners, it speaks volumes on the hospitable standard of Buceo Anilao Dive and Beach Resort.
Because of the massive demand, Buceo Anilao is in the midst of building more rooms to cater for 2-3 pax.
My favourite is, of course, the infinity pool at the centre of the resort facing the sea. It was surrounded by the thatched roof yellow painted cottages in a landscape garden on the hill. What better place to find peace with the chirp of the birds and the bloom of flowers in the garden, all facing the ocean. I am all praise for the person responsible for designing the landscape. I happen to share a ride back to Manila with the landscape designer herself, Ma’am Paz Maria.
Apart from the photographs of underwater macro creatures hung on the wall, I could not help but notice the creative wood art in a shape of fish and the bangka. I was told they were recycled from the wood washed ashore.
The dive centre is with air and nitrox filling station with dive equipment room where dive gears are stored according to divers. Basically, you have your own space in the room to store your gears and of course with a peace of mind. Next to the filling station, there are gear cleaning stations which separate booties and fins, BCD and masks, and camera.
The water containers were clean, you don’t have to think twice to dip your gears. There was also a spacious camera room, which has 18 individual workstations with airguns and sockets! This is by far the most impressive camera room in my diving history.
There is a shower area and toilet near the dive facilities. No need to wet the floor of your room.
No worries if you don’t have a diving licence as just yet, there is an in-house PADI certified instructor, divemasters and guides available to cater your need. The dive schedules are organised in small groups of 4-5 people. If you don’t come with a group and you cannot be joined with other group, there is no surcharge. This is so solo-diver friendly.
Since Buceo Anilao Beach & Dive Resort is isolated, which is the case for the resorts in Anilao, it is advisable to go for the full board package which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a bar and restaurant which are located close to the beach, which serves local and international cuisine. Since I have a special dietary, I ordered ala-carte food which was really delicious. The staff would get my order for my meals to be served during my preferred time. I love the butter and garlic fish the most! If you are on Halal and Celiac dietary, you can inform the chef in advance so they would be able to prepare the meals for you.
Please feel free to check the website for the price rates.
For more info:-
IG & Twitter: BuceoAnilao
P/S: I will write on my dive experiences with Buceo Anilao’s dive centre next.
My 3D2N stay with Buceo Anilao Beach & Dive Resort was made possible by Buceo Anilao Beach & Dive Resort. All views and opinions are my own.