We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“highlight of our Philippine vacation” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Dive Cal

Dive Cal
National Highway, Palawan Island 5316, Philippines
+63 (0)91 8285 2060
Improve this listing
Ranked #15 of 21 attractions in Coron
Type: Water sports
Attraction Details
Everett, Washington, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“highlight of our Philippine vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2012

We joined Dive Cal's Apo Reef Trip in mid-April and had a positive experience all around, starting with my initial contact with John several months ago when we were looking for a way to dive Apo Reef. At that time, Dive Cal had no live aboard trips planned, but John said he'd let me know if one was scheduled during the time we were planning to be in Coron, and he did just that. He was very responsive and helpful. The trip itself exceeded my expectations in every way.  The boat, while basic, was quite comfortable - there were 10 people in our group, which was close to the maximum of 11, but it never felt overly crowded.  2 bunk rooms slept 6 people in each, and some of us slept outside under the stars.  The reef was a kaleidoscope of colors and fish - we were told that we were guaranteed to see sharks and turtles, and we saw more sharks than I could count...also schools of barracuda, wrasse, grouper, jack.  Incredible diving experience.  Great visibility, fun drift dives with gentle current.  Martha, our dive guide, made everyone feel comfortable from the start and, as others have mentioned, is part fish.  She is an exceptional guide and seemed to know everyone's dive profile after the first dive, then gave us freedom to explore on our own, while staying close at the same time.  All the crew were friendly and helpful, assisting with equipment, providing buckets of water for daily showers, etc.  Food was great and plentiful.  Many of us brought snacks, but they weren't really necessary, though they disappeared quickly.

I would definitely dive Apo Reef again and wouldn't hesitate to go with Dive Cal.  It was one of the best diving experiences I've ever had.  Note: we dove with another operator in Coron (wrecks) and without question Dive Cal provided superior service.

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

38 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“One of the best safari in Philippines!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2012

I did the 4 night / 3 days safari last april and it was really one of my best diving experience.
This Atoll is really like a big and beautifull aquarium perfect to watch thousand and thousand of tropical fish, shark, turtle, tuna, morena, barracuda...
On top of that the Dive Call Crew was awesome. Very helpfull and friendly, specially Martha the dive instructor and captain Toto, thanks to everybody. Food was great and enought for all of them on the boat.
You will remember this experience for ever.

A french diver who want to renew this experience

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“You'll remember this for the rest of your life”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2012

I had a really fantastic time diving Apo with this dive shop and am bothering to write this as I want to counter what the last two reviews have stated as I think they're an unfair portrayal. DiveCal give you the opportunity to dive a reef for an absolute steal, ordinarily you'd be paying at least a thousand bucks for a trip like this. Yes the bathrooms are rustic, but they're clean and the crew ensure there is fresh water for your end of day bucket shower. The food is delicious and plentiful and cooked with great care, some of the best food I had in the Philippines was on this boat.

The dive guide Martha is more fun than a box of frogs, very knowledgable, about more things than fish; talking to her is really fascinating and she'll give you a wonderful insight to the Philippines. She is a very good guide and extraordinarily patient and kind.The crew are very helpful and very charming, and the captain considers the safety of his passengers above everything.

After all the hard work done by the crew for me on my trip and after all the great meals, I'm offended by the fact people could have a whinge about it, but you get people who are out to see the bad in everything. I don't think the dive gear is as bad as they've said, and frankly if you want to go finning about in a trendy new wetsuit, obviously, bring your own! The goal of a wetsuit is to provide protection and mine did this very adequately, all my equipment was in full working order.This is the Philippines and you are getting a bargain to be able to get on a liveaboard for this price. Honestly I could throttle people who complain like the two below (who clearly know each other, miserable gits).

Diving Apo is awesome and I'm grateful for the brilliant staff who took care of me and the brilliant price of this trip which enabled me to go. If you want to have your own room, flushing toilets and hot showers, pay the thousand dollars other operators charge. If you're a happy soul who can appreciate that the finer things in live that make you smile aren't necessarily private bathrooms and gold taps, dive with Divecal, because you'll have the time of your life; unforgettable.

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“very poor equipment, boat and food”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2012

i did the 4 nights liveaboard to apo reef wuth divecal. From my experience, this operatiin is probably on the cheap end and that is exactly what you get.
... A very tired boat in appaling condition with ants in the beds, no proper bathrooms
... Never enough food. The food served is very basic and even slices of fruit are served in the basis of one piece for each guest
... The condition of the equipment is horrible. Wetsuits torn and ripped, leaky regulators....
... They do not even carry a basic first aid kit with them. Boat has no radio to call for help in emergency. This speaks for itself.
There are many other operators in coron, my advise is to stay away from divecal.

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
John H, Owner at Dive Cal, responded to this review, April 16, 2012
Regards the radio it is off the boat as it has been sent to Manila for repairs.
Regards everything else look at the previous & future reviews
Make up your minds based on what you find.
First aid box should have been on the boat.
Our Instructor Martha also carries her own comprehensive first aid box.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Not another time with Divecal...”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2012

Hi there,

want to share my experiences with you, because the overall rating of Divecal was very surprising to me, when I checked it after the Apo Reef trip I have joined April 1st, 2012.

Well, the good things first: The divemaster Martha is a good guide, helpful, nice person, tries to get in contact with every person....diving with her again...yes, of course. Anytime again!!! ;-)

Now about the rest: if you like it very basic it is not too bad...the boat is old, some railings need a repair, but all in all, ok. Bathroom is very basic...just a toilet. Nothing else.
The "dormitory" basic as well...2 bedrooms....in each are 6 beds. If it is fully booked you need to know, that your luggage has to fit in your bed. The windows only can be closed from outside. As we had a thunderstorm in the middle of the night with heavy rain, we were not able to close the windows exactly....so, 3/4 of my bed was wet the rest of the night....hmmm.

Equipment: wetsuits are totally old, jackets alright, regulators often had to be repaired.

There is no first-aid-box on board...even if you have a scratch or something, they do not have a plaster.

Now about the food: I have never had such small portions on a liveaboard. The pieces of meat or fish were counted...for every person one....the slice of pork they served was half fat, 1/4 bones/gristle and just 1/4 you could eat - - - no salad at all, only sometimes some vegetables. Also the fruit for dessert was exactly for every person one slice/small part. Pancakes in the morning....one for every person. If you asked for more cheese...not possible.

Also such easy things like hot water for tea or coffee after the dive was not available.
Water bottles had to be bought on board, were not included.

So...need to go on my next flight. Hope, this is a bit helpful for your decision.

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Dive Cal also viewed

Coron, Palawan Island
Coron, Palawan Island
Coron, Palawan Island

Been to Dive Cal? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Dive Cal, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.

Bookmark for later
Save Saved
You added Dive Cal to your Saves list