Anilao, Philippines is the world’s macro haven. A few years ago, when I met my fellow blogger friend, Edgar in Cebu, he encouraged me to dive in Anilao if the nudibranchs were what I was after. It was said that there are more than 600 nudibranchs in Anilao out of 800 over nudibranch in the world. It is unbelievable to have such a diverse underwater life just 2-3 hours’ drive from Manila. I made it to Anilao to fulfil the wish of scuba diving in Anilao. I managed to dive at few dive sites in Anilao during my stay with Buceo Anilao. (click on the link to read more on the accommodation and facilities).
Since I arrived later than expected, I had to miss the first dive scheduled at 11am on the first day. I did not expect the public transportation would take me double the time for the transfer from Manila. I was not comfortable to dive in a hurry.
In Buceo Anilao, one can do a maximum of 4 dives a day, with one condition. You do your safety stop for each dive. The 4 dives may consist of 4 dives during the day or 3 dives during the day plus a night dive. Since I was travelling alone, I shared a dive boat with an experienced diver from Canada, Sherry Tibbert. The daily dive time are 8.00am, 11 am, 3 pm and 5 pm.
I was not lucky with the first dive because I had a mask leak when I was at 12m. Again! So much of a new mask. I called off the dive before possible narcosis because there was a point when I felt like I was drowning. It was the end of the first day of diving for me as Sherry opted to go for a night dive at 5.00pm. In Anilao, 5.30pm was already dark. If I were to do the 5.00pm dive, I’ve got to be prepared to do the night dive, which I was not qualified for the time being. Plus, the darkness gave me a creep.
In all honesty, I was nervous as to whether I would be able to redeem the lost day because my objectives were to explore as much as I could. Also, my biggest worry was my ability to traverse the murky water in search for macro creatures which could be as small as an inch. Oh well, I am used to seeing pelagics.
Despite unsuccessful dive on the first day, the second day gave me the satisfaction of muck diving. Instead of gliding through the water, I learned to take it easy and always on the look out for macro creatures. I had many first times diving in Anilao with Buceo Anilao.
The next morning, after having a quick breakfast and placing my lunch order at the restaurant, I joined Sherrie again for another day’s dive with our new dive guide, Ericson. We dived at Koala Point, a dive site for novices with a gentle slope from 9-24m. There were huge boulders with small reef fishes, anemones and soft corals. It has medium currents.
Picture courtesy of Sherrie Thibert
White Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus Triacanthus) – Courtesy of Sherrie Thibert
I remember chasing after the blue boxfish. Such a cutie.
Diving in Anilao: Sun View
While waiting for the second dive, we were given hot drinks, snacks and mangoes. We took this opportunity to ask about creatures we just saw during the first dive. We did not get back to Buceo Diving as we stay put in the boat for the surface time. I voiced my desire to see the pygmy sea horses. The boat crew and the dive guide heard it and they were very attentive to my request that they decided to bring us to dive in Sun View, where the sighting of the pygmy sea horses are rampant.
Fingered dragonet. Courtesy of Sherrie Thibert
Pygmy seahorse – courtesy of Sherrie Thibert
Coleman shrimp, a crustacean usually found hiding in fire urchin; picture courtesy of Sherrie Thibert.
The Anilao House Reef is one of the best reefs for macro diving. However, as my dive was right after the typhoon, the seabed was very murky and that we saw very little underwater life than any normal day. I was told that recently, a purple rhinopias was spotted between 25m-30m. Below is the picture of the purple rhinopias as captured by Sherrie Thibert during one of her dives.
Courtesy of Sherrie Tibert
Picture from Flickr
On the fourth dive of the day, we went on diving at sunset to watch one of the most beautiful fishes ie the mandarin fishes. The stunning creature is an extremely small and brightly coloured member of the dragonet family. It can be a daunting task to photograph the mandarin fishes, commonly captured when appearing only briefly at dusk to mate and shying away at the flash of any bright light.
We descended down to a patch of branchy corals equipped with red light, as the usage of white light would scare the mandarin fish away. All happening during a beautiful sunset.
I waited for more than 30 minutes in dark struggling to maintain my buoyancy on the surface of the coral branches. Once in awhile, a pair of mandarin fishes perched out on the coral branches and swam away in such a scurry.
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.