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Negros offers some excellent diving. You can choose between steep walls and large fish on Apo island and several marine sanctuaries (Dauin reef, Masaplot and Apo) and muck diving of the best in Dauin. For great night dives choose the house reefs of your dive operator - you will surely find some very special animals there! In western Negros there is also a dive area around Sipalay with nice walls and a few wrecks .
In 1998 I was also diving in the Philippines, but I stayed at Berhard Jackenrolls "Dive Sibulan". Berhard now has 5 rooms (2 beds each, TV, music, hot showers) and a fast boat. Pick-up service from ferry or airport possible.
Bernhard does not only know a lot about the animals under water, but he is also an excellent cook. He cooks all the meals at Dive Sibulan and serves every evening a meal with several courses. Try his filled crabs or the chicken with lemongrass-sauce. He also has a collection of recipes (now as a book). I spent most of my time lying around in the garden and reading and doing nightdives at his excellent housereef.
The 2 dives are always done in the morning and with 10l tanks
(although he has some larger tanks also) which regrettably limits the dives
1. Polo I and II: there are 2 underwater mounts, starting
at 5m to 30m. Nice cover with hard and soft corals, gorgonians and tablecorals.
Visibility sometimes not so good because of plankton, but on these occasions
you usually see some large schools of fish.
2. Broccoli Reef: this is a sandy / rocky area with coral blocks
and many soft corals (Dendronephthya, they look like broccoli). Many featherstars,
snakes, mantis shrimp.
3. Sibulan house reef: lies just outside Dive Sibulan. Sandy
area with seagrass and coral blocks and a slope down to 20m. This place is not
so special during the day, but an amazing place for night
dives. I did one every other night, after we had found everything there,
from groups of squids to giant slugs (Spanish dancer and Pleurobranchus), baskets
stars, brittle stars, beautiful shells, spider crabs and many hermit crabs with
their shells overgrown with anemones.
4. Calong I to III: this is a reef with a sandy area. Large gorgonians, sponges, soft corals, rays, pufferfish and other coral reef fishes.
Dauin lies about 30 min. by car south of Dumaguete. This is a place I love to go because of all the
rare and unusual animals that can be found. Other dive areas for the divers
who like to go critter hunting: Secret Bay in Bali, Lembeh strait in Sulawesi,
Indonesia and Cabilao in Bohol, Philippines and Mabul in Borneo. Look at my
favorite dive sites in the Visaya area.
5. Coconut plant
Jetty: This dive site is muck-diving pure. Under the jetty of the
large coconut processing plant you will find nudibranchs a plenty, rare scorpionfish
and if lucky a frogfish, but also quite a lot of garbage. You can only dive
here, if they are not loading or unloading any container ships.
6. House reef El
Dorado: this is a small but exquisite reef, right in
front of El Dorado Resort. It slopes down to 20m, sandy bottom (black sand).
One of my favorite dive sites and one of the best places for a night
dive, that I know! I did one of my 90-minute-dives on this small reef
and I could have stayed longer easily, but I was on my third lamp and no photos
left. It is all black sand (the name negros means black in Spanish) with some
coralblocks, a large staghorncoral field and a seagrass area. They put some
tires down - something I usually don't like so much - but I found some amazing
animals hidden there. On one nightdive I found ten frogfish, most of them coinbearing
frogfish (A. nummifer) and two Clown frogfish (A. maculatus) and one painted
frogfish (A. pictus)! But also huge nudibranchs like Pleurobranchus and then
crabs, shrimps, lobsters, cuttlefish, crocodile snake eels and much more.
7. Dauin sandy area: This is a great place to do so called muck diving. That's searching
for the rare and unusual critters that live hidden and well camouflaged. This
dive site consists of a slight slope (to 27 meter) and a sandy area with seagrass.
This dive site doesn't look like a lot. Actually on the sandy part there is
even some garbage lying around. But if you dive here a lot, you realize what
a special place this is. I don't know, why seahorses love it here, but we always
found some, yellowish and brown, hanging on to a branch of seagrass or sponge.
In spring 2000 we found at one place seven harlekin ghostpipefish living in
a featherstar and among some corals. There were seagrass ghostpipefish in different
shapes, flamboyant cuttlefish, pegasus fish, sandeels, waspfish, stonefish and
a special lionfish as well as and some white anemone pipefish (they live in
7a. Dauin sanctuary: The reef next
to Dauin was declared a sanctuary in the year 2000. It consists of 4 smaller
reefs divided by sandy channels. Very nice corals, schools of yellow tail barracudas,
a small group of bumphead parrotfish, garden eels etc.
8. Masaplot: this is a marine sanctuary. Slight slope down to 20m. I like this dive site very much. Go there with a small group and take your time. There is always a large school of mackerels and snappers there. These two school hover over the reef, move, circle and mix with each other. Beautiful! Last time I was there we saw a small bamboo shark hiding under some corals and a huge turtle. Then there are a lot of small critters around. We found leaffish, nudibranchs, blennies, gobies, flatworms and even a beautifully spotted leopard blenny.
Apo island lies in the southeast part of Negros, 30 min. by boat from Dauin. There are several bungalows and a dive operator on the island. Please look at this page about the marine sanctuary and the coastal resources management of Silliman university or this text about the Apo and Sumilon Marine Sanctuaries.
9. Coconut point: this is usually a deep dive, there is a slope then a very
steep wall which goes down to 60m or more. This is quite a challenging dive
site. Sometimes there are strong currents, some of them tend to be down-currents
in the sandy channels, so be careful. At this dive site you can see schools
of mackerels (some large like the Spanish mackerel), jackfish, barracudas
and if you are lucky sharks. The corals are very nice also, mostly tubecorals.
10. Marine Sanctuary: This is a shallow dive (max. 25m). The reef top is a field
of corals with small fish. We did a long dive at this place, starting on the
wall and ending at the flat part of the reef where several huge boulders are
entirely covered with anemones. On the wall I found a black giant frogfish on
a coralhead - Jesse the diveguide said, it was the first frogfish he had seen
in this area (for frogfishes there are some excellent dive sites on the coast).
The reef flat is very nice, go and have a look at the three boulders ( at 5
meter) with all the anemones and clown fish on them - just amazing.
11. Mansa point: Deep dive on a slope. Currents. This is a place for mantas, eagle rays and sharks. Jackfish, tuna and barracuda schools can be seen up close.
A friend of mine recommended the dive sites around Sipalay to me. He has visited this dive area several times and he showed me some nice photos taken underwater. There is only one dive operator in the area, Artistic diving. Dive sites are only 5 to 25 minutes by banca away from the resort. Artistic diving is building a liveaboard boat, the Mia Maria, which will be doing dive trips in March to May to the Cagayan Islands and perhaps to the Tubbataha reefs (Sulu Sea).
Dive sites are very varied (The dive resort lists 33 dive sites, see these short descriptions by Artistic diving). Two ship wrecks from world war II and two smaller wrecks, several wall dives, then of course the house reef and two sunken islands. There is also the possibility to do day trips to the small Islands of Danjugan, Agutayan and Turtle Island which offer excellent dive spots with canyons, caves and drop-offs. My friend also told me that the house reef is very nice and night dives are fantastic.