Eat, Sleep, Dive, Philippines Edition
Before I start, I should say a few things about the Philippines in general. You are not in the states. The television service is satellite based. In a rainstorm, you may not have a reliable signal. Take a breath and remind yourself that you didn't travel all that way to watch HBO. Second thing...some things may be beyond the staff's ability to control. Be flexible and enjoy all the things that go well. There will be more thing that go spectacularly well than things that go slightly awry.
The grounds of the hotel and rooms are very clean, quiet, and well maintained. The staff is both helpful and friendly. The only problem that we encountered was a lack of water pressure on our first evening. While the management called maintenance to fix the problem, we asked for and were provided with a bucket and tabo. For those unfamiliar with this, think of a tabo as a sort of oversized plastic measuring cup with about a 1 liter capacity. You fill the bucket from the faucet in the shower and use the tabo to wet/rinse yourself. Not completely ideal, but fairly common in the Philippines, and a perfectly manageable solution while the water pressure was restored. That was the only glitch on the trip. Otherwise things were very smooth.
The resort sits at the end of a long and twisting gravel path. It isn't terribly difficult to call a trike cab to get to town. In the actual town of Moalboal you can get basic foods/soda/etc one of the 2 local western style grocery stores (the closest is located next to the McDonald's). We dd this to pick up snacks and light lunch items. If you are trying to get to a local restaurant or shop for t-shirts and other items, plan to ask for a trike to Panagsama Beach area which is where those can be found. Bear in mind that the cab will cost about 300 Php round trip, so the cost of meals in Panagsama vs the cost at the resort tends to be a wash. The menu doesn't change at the resort, so best reason to eat in town is either looking for alternate choices, a more active bar life, or because you happen to already be there shopping. The food at the restaurant is quite good. Be prepared for a little bit of a wait, but as you're on vacation, just sit back and relax.
The dive staff are helpful and considerate. They also know the reef very, very well and are able to find a variety of animals including very small crabs and shrimp. If you are a macro diver, prepare to be very happy. For those who prefer their animals on the larger side, we saw turtles on nearly every dive, there is a massive shoal of sardines, and for the very large, there are the whale sharks at Oslob. The reef is very healthy and has abundant soft corals and reef fish. June in the Philippines is rainy season and it rained a portion of several days on our trip. The rain and related runoff can create some limited visibility on dives closer to shore. Dives further from shore or deeper on walls were largely unaffected. Pescador Island had the best visibility being small, offshore, and having the least direct impact from runoff/silt. One advantage of diving during this time period was that there we had the boat largely to ourselves. We only dove with other guests a few times and at those times, a second dive guide was provided so that we were still diving as a family of 4.
Another side trip worth considering is Kawasan Falls. This is essentially as series of waterfalls that you can hike up to. The largest are at the top and bottom. Both top and bottom falls offer places where you can safely cliff jump into the water (about 30-35ft or 10m). There are also rope swings at both falls. There are canyoneering tours on offer, but I'm not certain there there's a significant benefit vs just hiking up then back down on your own. Doing it on your own is less expensive and allows you to spend as much time as you want. There will be locals who want to act as your guide. They will just fall in step next to you and start asking what you want to do. Although you can't blame these guys for trying to make money off the tourists, the bottom line is that they aren't necessary, they have their own agenda, and they will quote you prices that are about 4x higher than the posted rates. Just politely brush them off and keep walking. It's pretty much impossible to get lost.
As far as overall ratings. They suffered a bit because of the water pressure issue. The problem was addressed in a way that was perfectly acceptable to us, but you are paying a bit more than you might at another location and generally hope for things to work right off. That being said though, the rooms and grounds were lovely and while we could have saved by staying in Panagsama, I wouldn't have chosen to do so. You're staying at a resort, not a youth hostel, things cost more at resorts. Just a reminder.
Family - Jun 23, 2017