Come Dive with Us hosted trip - 3 March 2018
Here at The Scuba Place, we build diving holidays across the globe, but focus primarily on promoting those destinations that we have experienced ourselves – a long term client and friend of ours recommended that we should pop on over to Magic Oceans in the Philippines, and who were we to argue?!
In early March, we hopped on board a flight with Emirates to Dubai, and then a connecting flight on to Cebu. 30kgs of baggage allowance was ample to take all of our kit and cameras, and although it was a 7 hour flight followed by another 9 hour flight, the connections were simple and straightforward and with only 2 hours on the ground in Dubai. There wasn’t even time for shopping – well, not enough time!
A short mini-bus ride from Cebu to the port for the 2 hours ferry crossing to Bohol, and the Business Class seats on board were so comfortable, we slept through the movie!
We arrived at Magic Oceans some 30 hours after leaving London to a very easy check in, a great dinner, and then slept the deepest of sleeps in a beautiful thatched bungalow, waking up to the sounds of the jungle and sea.
Magic Oceans has only 17 thatched cottages, wrapped around a lovely swimming pool and fringing either the jungle or the sea – the whole resort is only as big as a football pitch, so the journey for meals or diving take no more than a minute – if indeed that long!
Each room is fully air-conditioned, has a large en-suite shower room with walk in shower, and can either be set up with a super king size bed, or two large singles. There is also an additional single bed in each room that makes a perfect couch, room for a third person, or the perfect space for your camera gear! Each room has (free) Wi-Fi, a refrigerator stocked with snacks, mineral water, soft drinks, juices and a beer or three (chargeable). A kettle with tea and coffee is provided in the room. Filtered water is available from any member of the kitchen staff and there is a self serve dispenser at the bar - bring your water bottle! There is plenty of bag storage room, a wardrobe and shelving; and a hairdryer, towels, beach towels, soaps and shampoos.
And to top off the very spacious rooms, each bungalow, covered in bamboo and thatch, has a covered seating area overlooking the pool with comfy chairs and a drying rack. A perfect place to grab an early morning coffee, watch the sun come up, and listen to the birds and wildlife of the jungle surrounding the resort.
Meals are served in an open air restaurant, and the food is both plentiful and very well prepared. I will confess to being a food-snob, and can happily say that flavours, variety, quantity and choice were all excellent. We were on a full board basis, and a set menu was provided each lunch and dinnertime, but a la carte choices were also provided if the set meals weren’t appealing. Breakfast was cooked to order, and as with all meals, accompanied by freshly squeezed juices, water and soft drinks – the Frappuccinos are highly recommended!
So, to the diving: As we mentioned above, Magic Oceans is right on the waters edge – literally a stones throw from your room. The dive centre has been well planned and delivers a set space per person for your whole stay – hanging pegs and gear boxes below, plus showers, rinse tanks, camera benches with power, and an equipment workshop just in case… The dive centre sits at the top of the jetty, and the dive boats (3) are big, with plenty of space for kitting up. Toilets can be found on board, and fruit, snacks with both hot and cold drinks offered on board.
The diving itself is very very special – it goes without saying that the muck dives deliver everything that a great muck dive should, but the reef dives are breathtaking!! Indeed, in all of our travels across the globe, we have never encountered such healthy reefs, with corals covering every square inch of space there is, and full of marine life too! Currents are few and far between, and the colours are amazing – this is an underwater photographer’s paradise if there ever was one.
The Law of Sod meant that we didn’t see anything big, but the whale sharks turned up within 24 hours of us departing so we are reliably informed by some of our group who stayed longer, and Magic Oceans has had schooling pilot whales coming by in the last year!
What we did see was everything we had on our bucket list – flamboyant cuttlefish, mantis shrimps, mandarin fish (and yes – showing off their mating rituals on the dusk dives!). Add to this squid, pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish and 30+ species of nudibranchs, and you get the picture. But there is more – giant trevallies, barracuda, morays galore, banded coral snakes, snake eels, bobtail squid, frogfish (4+ species seen in a week) and every type of anemone fish you can think of – the list goes on and on. Dresser crabs, porcelain crabs, anemone crabs, turtles, and incredibly healthy hard and soft corals too. Magic Oceans – absolutely!
In a nutshell, this was undoubtedly the best reef diving we have ever done in all of our travels to date, and with 3 to 4 boat dives per day plus house reef diving on the ‘dive all you can’ package available, there is only just time for surface intervals!
Well – the bar of course! A cocktail of the day is offered at the full service bar that sits next to the pool, complete with a hammock. A small gift shop with some shiny scuba stuff is on site, and then there is the opportunity to venture out and explore the Chocolate Hills, the jungle by quad-bike, zip lining across the immense valleys, visit the phosphorescent coves, or take a rafting tour – Magic Oceans isn’t just about diving! There is also a small ‘beach’ area – raised above the sea level and complete with loungers and shades – the perfect place for sundowners.
Would we go back?
Given we get to travel a lot, we are spoiled with choices, but hand on heart, we will go back here, and time and time again – leaving there was emotional at the end of our all too short week, and the staff are just so lovely that it is a place that we can call a home from home. September 2019 is our next planned trip here (and to Malapascua for the thresher sharks too) – Come Dive With Us!
Getting there: Our route was London to Dubai (7 hours) 2 hour layover then Dubai to Cebu (9 hours). Once we landed it was an easy queue through Immigration and out to meet our Magic Oceans transport. A 30 minute taxi to the ferry port, 2 hours ferry transfer (huge reclining business class seats with air con and a movie!) and then 2 hours mini-bus to the resort. Alternative flight routings via Hong Kong or Manila are also available.
Temperatures in March: 32-34° air and 28-29° in the water.
No Visa or Vaccinations needed
Currency: PHP (Philippine Peso) or Euros/GBP Sterling/USD and all major debit and credit cards are accepted in resort.
Diving : Macro life and amazing coral gardens, turtles of all sizes. 3 to 4 dives per day with night dives available every evening. NITROX available for extra charge. Diving from jetty or boat (panga style).
Price Guide : Flights, transfers, 7 nights full board accommodation with 5 days diving from £1895 based on two sharing. Book as early in advance as you can to get the best flight prices, as they can increase dramatically based on demand.
Our advice? Find a date in your diary to book a trip here, and soon – you will love it!
Check out our website for more information
See you underwater!
John and Mona
The Scuba Place
images courtesy of Rob Andrews, Magic Resorts and The Scuba Place