Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines
We stayed for 14 nights in October/November 2013. This resort is an inexpensive, relaxed location for muck and reef diving. Fish are mostly small tropicals with some jacks, trevally, and snapper.
The best time to go to the Philippines is said to be in April/May. November is described as the second best time to go. July to October are rainy. Typhoons come July through December.
The tragic "super-typhoon" just passed by, so we skipped diving yesterday due to heavy intermittant rain for 24-hours. The typhoon went south of us, and we are on the west coast, not the east, where they got a direct hit with 200 mile an hour winds. After our day off, our guide selected spots that would be least likely to have rain-runoff---the tiny offshore islands.
From the Manilla airport to the resort, the drive took 3 hours with a brief stop in Batangas at the "HyperMarket" to pick up snacks and wine. While the resort is not luxurious, it works well because it was designed around dive facilities. The hotel could be categorized as 2.5 to 3 stars. There is no pool or lounge chairs for suntanning after a dive.
The dive facilities: There are unheated 3 showers, two fresh water tanks for cameras, two fresh water tubs for washing wetsuits, 2 toilets and ample space for drying your stuff. There is a large camera room with many stations that is convenient to the dive shop. Nitrox is available.
The dive boats are large, stable outriggers with powerful engines and some overhead shade. They own 3 boats and have access to more identical boats if they have a large group. Each boat has two boatmen who take cameras and gear out to the boats, assist with donning BCs and with getting you out of the water. In addition, there is a dive guide who is very attentive.
For our first week, there were few people at the resort, my husband and I had a dive guide and a boat to ourselves. The second week when our friends arrived, we had four to a boat. If you come with a large group or dive club, the boats may be more crowded. I believe the boats could fit five or six people if need be. The morning dives are two tank dives with a one-hour surface interval.
Diving: Most dives are 75 feet or less. The morning dives were the most interesting and were about 25 minutes away on nearby islands. Afternoon and night dives were on the mainland about 10 minutes away. There is no shore diving off the resort, because the ocean front water is mainly rubble. (although we did see a flamboyant cuttlefish there on our check out dive.) My favorite sites were Skeleton Wreck, Layag-Layag, Beatrice, and west of Sombero island. On our last day diving we saw 6 large frogfish on one dive: 2 black, 2 green, 1 white and 1 gray. Then two huge Spanish Dancers on the night dive at Cathedral.
Water temperature varied from 79 to 81 degrees. On the mainland, where there was muck diving, the bottom was mostly rubble and sand. It is not pretty. The visibility was so-so to poor. On the small islands, where there were tropical fish and soft coral, the visibility improved.
A good variety of muck-diving creatures are here, but it takes a good deal of hunting to find something special. While they have some truly interesting creatures, the muck diving is not as good as Lembeh Straights. And while the reef diving off the islands is good, it is not as good as Raja Ampat.
Rooms: We got one of two "family suites" because they are closer to the restaurant and the dive shop. They are about $25 US dollars more a night. Some repeat guests rent the manager's apartment, when the manager is not here. Don't know price of that. The resort has 6 or 7 levels depending how you count...
Level one is the beach and the boats
Level 2 is the dive shop and dive staging area.
Level 3 camera room & bar
Level 4 the management office
Level 5 are the "family suites" with 2 rooms and an air conditioner in each room, a table with two chairs, and a mini-refrigerator. The manager's apartment is also on this level.
Level 6 is the bottom floor of the bank of small standard rooms. These have a patio with two chairs and a table, a grassy area for sunbathing (but no lounge chairs) and outdoor hooks for hanging wet swimsuits.
Level 7 is the upper floor of the building with standard rooms. These have tiny balconies and a view of the islands across the way. If two minutes before a dive you realize that you forgot something, you will need to climb 6 flights of stairs and then descend 6 flights of irregularly cobbled stairs.
Staff: The staff is very friendly. Our dive guide Edgar, spoke good English. The resort offers massage at low prices.
Food: The food varies from very good to mediocre, but is mostly good. Shrimp, calamari, fish and chicken are very frequently on the menu. Some soups are excellent. Beer is inexpensive. The wine tasted odd. Best to buy some on the way into the resort. It is all buffet; you even get your own coffee, water or ice tea. The staff sitting nearby are there just to clear your plates when you are finished.
- Also Known As:
- Crystal Blue Resort Batangas/Mabini, Philippines
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