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As part of a group of excited, well-travelled divers, I set out in June this year to the Philippines, and Sogod Bay Scuba Resort.  The journey from the eastern Australian ports of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane is quite straight forward, travelling directly with Philippine Airlines to Manila and then connecting to Tacloban.  Philippine Airlines offer an all-inclusive service as part of their tickets, so all the entertainment, checked luggage and meals are included.  Divers can request additional luggage for a fee if needed.

We arrived at Sogod Bay Scuba Resort to find very comfortable rooms, all with air conditioning, as we checked in and started to unwind.  There are various room types on offer at this resort, from apartment rooms to ocean view rooms, and over all we all felt that this was a very well-priced option for mid-range accommodation.  We were all very relieved to know that our expat Aussie host (as Sogod Bay Scuba Resort is Australian owned) understood the value of a cold beer at the end of a big day!  We hit the restaurant for dinner, ordered off the menu, including some blackboard daily specials, pleasantly surprised at the very low cost of the meals!  Our group ended the day excited about what the rest of the trip had to offer, especially the diving.

The dive operation here offers up to three boat dives per day.  Like many destinations in the Philippines, the boats here are banca boats, a traditional Philippines style boat with a canoe shaped hull and outriggers.  The really big benefit of diving here is that, as yet, there really aren’t too many options for dive operations in the region.  This means a lot of underwater space that doesn’t need to be shared!  With warm water and great visibility, the diving here is very easy and comfortable.  On longer dive days, there is even an option to add on a delicious BBQ lunch!

A highlight for divers here is Panoan Island marine sanctuary.  Locals aren’t allowed to fish here, so the marine life is flourishing.  This dive offers a stunning drop off, up to 50m, with some beautiful gorgonian fan coral.  Also, when the current is hammering here divers can expect to see jacks, barracuda and tuna.  Our group really enjoyed this dive and found it to be their most recommended boat dive of the trip.

It’s not only boat diving on offer here, in-fact Sogod Bay Scuba Resort has access to some really impressive short diving.  The house reef here is amazing, home to huge gorgonian fan coral, turtles, schooling jacks and even pygmy seahorses on occasion!  As well as this, and done as a night dive twice a week is the Padre Burgos Jetty, where divers can see seahorses, frog fish, nudis, eels and octopi.  This dive is a must do for visitors here, and divers should be sure to check when it is on during their stay as it is not to be missed.

Overall, our group found this trip to be a fantastic mid-range dive travel option.  It was relatively easy to access, very comfortable accommodation, excellent water conditions, a good dive operation and lots of fantastic things to see underwater.  We were here at the wrong time of year, but if divers plan their trip right, they have an excellent chance at seeing whale sharks between December and May.  These guys recorded an 85% success rate in whale shark sightings last season, so this is a huge drawcard.  Thanks for having us Sogod Bay, we look forward to visiting again!