Open water diving in the Philippines

This summer Rob and I achieved our next step diving certificate. As I want to inspire others to go diving and learn to appreciate the underwater world, here are some of our experiences. In this post: part 1. our first dive and getting certified as PADI open water divers in the Philippines.

Yes the Philippines. Lucky us to go there on a holiday. Little did we know that we’d discover one of the best scuba diving spots in the world! 

Drift diving along a coral wall

The first step was to choose a good diving school. On the peninsula of Panglao – Bohol the most popular beach (Alona beach) is scattered with dive schools. As typical Dutchies we wanted to investigate all our options and made a chat with each of them 🙂 Alona divers spoke to us because they employ Philipinos and thus generate an income for the local community. Also they involve in coral conservation and cleanups. (See Alona Divers website – the school is better than their website I promise.)

The Open water diver course commences with three confined water dives and some homework.

Studying the book during breakfast

Figuring out the dive planner

After the pool dives we were ready to start the real deal! Off to Balicasag island

Boat diving

Our gear

DCIM999GOPRO

Rob zwemt dichtbij schildpad

In the Philippines it’s warm enough to wear only a thin wetsuit and no gloves. The current is mild and the water is clear. Perfect conditions to enjoy the first couple of dives. Look how close we were to this sea turtle! What you cannot tell from the picture is that it was huge. We saw quite a lot of them on multiple dives. As well as beautiful hard and soft corals, starfish, snakes and fish in all rainbow colors! I enjoyed the turtles the most because of their calmness. They look wise and confident – they are like the elephants of the sea to me. Also the light is just best at these shallower depths on the grass beds.

On our dives we learned to boat dive, drift dive, recognize fish species, control buoyancy, set up our own gear properly and plan our dives. Some of these things we were unaware of being specialties in diving.

balicasag divesvrij zwemmen met turtle

The thing is, photos don’t do justice to the beauty beneath the water surface. The colourful corals in all shapes and sizes, the fish species clearly marking and protecting their own habitats (commonly a single coral patch), the abundance of turtles. The best thing about diving to me though, is the joy I feel when eyeing something new (which is every other second) and the peace it brings me to only hear yourself breathing and communicate solely by hand gestures. It is a respectful way of entering another species’ living space and it creates a special bond between you and your dive buddy.

We were hooked

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