When we arrived in Cebu we were supposed to be picked up at the pier by the liveaboard (Seadoors). But when we arrived we could not find anyone picking us up. Because of fear for terrorism during a festival in Cebu, the government had turned off all cell phone services, so we had no way of contacting the liveaboard. We waited for two hours, before we decided to take a taxi to where Fredrik thought he had read the boat were leaving from. We were very happy when we saw the boat in the harbor. Phew!
We boarded the boat and were welcomed by a French divemaster that had been on the boat for 4 months. He was the only one of the crew that were decent in English. On the boat we were only 9 guests, 4 French (that did not speak much English), two Australians, one guy from the UK and the two of us. We had a short briefing and were told that we would not leave the dock until 8 or 9 PM. The trip to the first dive site did take longer than planned because we had had more head wind than expected, so we got in the water just before 8 AM. This spot should be one of the highlights on the trip, because it was famous for it’s rare thresher sharks. The two dives we had here were kind of useless, since we arrived after the day boats arriving from the nearby island Malapascua and all the sharks were scared off. Luckily we went back a few days later.
We had a cabin in the bow of the boat below deck. We had two problems there, a leaking air condition that resulted in a lot of wet belongings. Fortunately we noticed before anything was ruined. The other problem was that we were very close to the anchor, so we were often woken up (almost jumping out of the bed) at all hours. The rest of the boat was ok, but quite small, so we couldn’t really stay up late without bothering people who was trying to sleep. That was probably a good thing though, since they managed to run out of beer half way through the trip, even with a half-full boat and not very social people.
It was quite obvious that the divemaster was not used to run the boat on his own. We hardly got any information, often arrived late to dive sites, didn’t know when to get up in the morning and how much time we had to relax between dives. The rest of the crew was very shy and didn’t speak much English, so except from when we were getting in and out of the water, we didn’t see them much. We did see them dumping trash in the water though. Not good! Originally 20 dives was planned, but because of some bad weather, but mainly very bad planning, we ended up doing just 15-17. A lot of the dives were very deep, and on most of them we didn’t really see very much. Even the OW divers were going much deeper than they were certified for.
We had a few days a bit further north before we were supposed to go southeast to Southern Leyte and search for whale sharks. but because of bad seamanship and and an anchor stuck on 60 meters, we were not able to go. After a vote between the passengers, we ended up going to Cabilao island between Bohol and Cebu instead. The diving there was good, but this was not what we had planned for so we were disappointed, and the mood on the boat was not the best. The highlight of the trip was definitely the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal. On our third dive there, we stayed at 30 meters for most of the dive, laying still and hardly breathing, to not scare them off. A few of them got really close, and it was quite spectacular.
On Gato Island we went through a cave, and saw lots of sharks and moray eels. We also did a night dive there where we saw a cat shark, frog fish, flamboyant cuttlefish and a sea horse. At Bullshark reef (Maripipi) we saw 2 Pygmy seahorses, which was pretty cool. We looked for hammerheads around Cabilao island, but had no luck (which means another short, deep dive with not much too see). The rest of the dives there were pretty great though. We saw 2 frog fish opening their mouths, and had an awesome night dive where we saw 2 squids, 1 small octopus, 1 big octopus, lots of different crabs, shrimps, stone fish, lion fish, scorpion fish, shaded batfish, nudibranchs, moray eels and catfish.
When we got back to Cebu we were taken to a hotel close to the airport (Park Hill Hotel). We took a taxi to Cebu city to find some craft beer. We had done a lot of research, but couldn’t find most of the places on the list. We had lunch and a couple of boring beers, and finally went to Turning wheels brewery when they opened at 6 pm. That saved the day! Awesome people and great beer. We tasted all the different types they had, and enjoyed a few more while talking to great people from all over the world. When they closed we went back to the hotel to pack for the flight to Kuala Lumpur early the next morning.