I was lucky enough to lead a group of 36 divers and snorkellers to Atmosphere last July. This was to be our third expedition to Atmosphere Resort, in the Central Visayan Islands of The Philippines, and after the success of 2011’s July and September trips, we knew what to expect – superb diving with great biodiversity and gourmet cuisine at one of the best dive resorts in Asia. We were welcomed warmly by Matt, Gabby and the staff and soon settled into our luxurious home on the beach, looking across to Apo Island glistening in the warm sunshine. Open Water Course candidates soon found themselves in the pool, while more experienced divers checked their gear in readiness for the first dive at the resort house reef. Snorkellers acquainted themselves with the thriving fish life off the beach, playing with Clown Fish, pointing at Snowflake Moray Eels or being buzzed by a territorial Titan Triggerfish with a bad attitude and a mean set of teeth! Less energetic expeditioners relaxed by the superb infinity pool or organised tours of local lakes and waterfalls, while photographers charged batteries and checked o-rings, anticipating the dives to come out at Apo Island, home to Green Turtles and spiralling schools of Trevally.
We soon got used to glassy calm seas and hot sunshine day after day – the perfect escape from Melbourne’s dreary winter weather. This is a brilliant resort. Highlights of the trip were many – the Filipino people themselves who were universally friendly, kind and generous with their smiles. Often we remarked how they could just not do enough to help us! The diving at Apo was again, wonderful and the house reef despite some coral damage (from Typhoon Sendong) still hums with fish life.
But one of the most amazing experiences of this trip (and any trip) was to be found at the nearby fishing village of Oslob, on the island of Cebu. Since last October, local fishermen have developed an amazing relationship with a number of harmless Whale Sharks (or “Butanding” in the local dialect). The Whale Sharks feed on krill over the local reefs, and had started to follow the fishermen catching juvenile shrimp during the evenings. A few handfuls of shrimp offered to the Whale sharks established a pattern of behaviour which has continued since and we had the pleasure of watching these huge but gentle giants trailing after dugout canoes only one hundred metres off the beach. Our group enjoyed this experience over four mornings, as we had broken into small groups of nine. Snorkelling only is permitted (which suited me fine as I was restricted by a broken arm in cast). Each group found at least three Whale sharks up close and personal. A five metre distance rule was mandatory, but the Whale Sharks often came in closer and one risked backing into the path of one whilst moving away from another. It was inspiring. Beautiful. Unique. Athough we were only allowed 30 minutes in the water, this was thirty minutes immersed in their presence, closer than I had expected with the Whale Sharks coming to us rather than we to them.
It must be recognised that this is a fairly artificial experience, as the Whale Sharks are ‘held’ in the area by the intermittent feeding from the local fishermen. But, there are now some good management controls in place, and the feeding of a few handfuls only supplements rather than replaces their natural feeding patterns. The biggest step forward has been controlling the number of visitors and directing their behaviour. While this may not be a perfect relationship, it certainly is preferable to what happened only a few years ago, when these Whale Sharks would have been captured and butchered for village consumption. Once known as the “Tofu Shark” this is certainly a more sustainable approach, though the impacts on their migrations needs to be considered.
We returned to a freezing cold three degree Melbourne winter morning amazed by what we had witnessed. In short - Atmosphere is a sure bet. Just a wonderful resort, well trained sincere staff and a great location.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beautifully situated within an old coconut plantation on Negros Island, Atmosphere enjoys a spectacular beach front location alongside the warm waters of the Philippine Sea.Our welcoming staff, infinity pool, fine dining restaurant and tasteful, well equipped accommodation provides a melting pot of delightful experiences, making your stay with us unforgettable.Step into our breathtaking underwater world, surrender to the Spa, appreciate your mind and body by joining a yoga class - or simply relax by the pool. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda, Despegar.com, Odigeo and Tingo so you can book your Atmosphere Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Atmosphere Hotel Dauin
- Atmosphere Hotel Negros
- Atmosphere Resort Negros
- Atmosphere Resort Dauin, Dumaguete City, Philippines