The Philippines is a hot spot for divers from around the world. The accessibility and variety of diving here means that there is something for everyone, as our group was about to experience as we travelled to Magic Oceans Dive Resort. From Australia, there are direct flights to Manila from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. To get to Bohol, a connecting flight to Tagbilaran is needed, there are daily connections so this makes the journey relatively easy. Philippine Airlines are a full-service carrier, so checked in luggage, meals and entertainment are included in the ticket cost. Divers travelling with extra luggage are able to request a higher luggage limit, usually with a fee payable.
When our group arrived at Magic Oceans Dive Resort, we were immediately impressed. The small and intimate resort provides a warm and cosy setting, and we were made to feel extremely welcome. One of the big things to consider when organising a group trip is the rooming. At Magic Oceans, this is made easy as all 16 bungalows are the same standard. Weary travellers that we were, we were all keen to grab our keys and head to our rooms to freshen up. We were delighted to find our bungalows were very comfortable, with air conditioning, fans, and balconies overlooking the fresh water swimming pool. The best part of course was the delicious hot shower!
Another important part of any accommodation experience is of course the food. Magic Oceans did not disappoint! To sit down every night to a superb set menu three course meal, with the option of blackboard specials also, was a real highlight. Every night our whole group went to bed full and satisfied, a welcome feeling after days of activity.
On to the big drawcard here, the diving! The diving from Magic Oceans really turns it on. Generally, a package for this resort will include 3 boat dives per day. The boats the dive operation use are Banca boats, a traditional Philippines style boat with a main canoe shaped hull and outriggers. The water temperature in this region sits around a very comfortable 30dg, and visibility ranges up to 20m or more. A day of diving here with all these conditions is made very easy. The dive crew are experts, and really enjoy a good macro challenge – tell them what you want to see and they will find it for you! Marlon’s skill at this will stand out for our group, and he even threw in a few tunes to boot – dive guide and singer extraordinaire!
So, what can you expect to see under water here? Plenty, is the short answer. The Philippines are renowned for a few things in particular, namely turtles and nudibranchs. These are in abundance in the waters around Bohol. One of the more memorable dives for our group on this trip was Seahorse Point. As the name suggests, this dive, a sandy slope down to 30m, has the potential for keen eyed divers to spot the amazing pygmy seahorse! This is a fantastic macro dive, with nudi’s a-plenty. Another dive site worth mentioning is Wonder Wall. This vertical wall has some of the most spectacular soft coral growth our group of experienced divers had ever seen.
One of the most special things the Philippines can offer water lovers is the experience to have a close encounter with whale sharks. In Bohol, whale shark season is generally from December to May. Our group were thanking our lucky stars however, when we saw one on this trip, in the middle of June! Being in the water with these gentle giants was a very humbling experience, one that none of us are likely to forget in a hurry.
For those guests staying at Magic Oceans who don’t dive, there is still plenty to offer. A few of our group tried out the snorkelling right out the front of the resort. They came back with rave reviews about the clarity of the water and quality of the marine life at such shallow depths, though they definitely recommend wearing booties because of the rocky entry. Another really great treat for divers and non-divers alike is the sunset cruise offered by Magic Oceans. Our group really did love this experience, particularly the dolphins that played with the bow of the boat! This was a really lovely way to wind down at the end of the day.
With exciting things to come, particularly the spa facilities that are scheduled to open at the end of 2019, we found Magic Oceans to be a really fantastic place for a holiday. Divers travelling with non-diving partners, solo travellers, families, groups, and really anyone who is after a relaxing holiday with top quality underwater activity will enjoy their stay here. The staff are extremely friendly and welcoming, and were on a first name basis with all our group by the time we left. This will be a trip to remember for all of us, and we look forward to returning!