Dive tours with Harolds Mansions have always been popular going to visit some world class dive sites like Apo, Balicasag and Sumillion Islands. But for some people a day trip is just not enough. MBCA Rosefel – Harolds Mansion purpose build dive boat – is able to accommodate up to 20 divers/snorkelers divers for overnight trips. Which is exactly what we did on the weekend of the 9th and 10th of June, on Harolds Dive Safari to Balicasag and Panglao Islands, with overnight views looking to the beautiful shore of Alona beach.
It’s an early start on the Saturday morning with everyone meeting at reception at 6am! Despite the early hour everyone is in bright spirits and excited about the weekend ahead. Much of the equipment and supplies had been loaded the night before so when we arrived at Silliman beach for the departure there were only a few things to be added. We boarded and after a boat briefing and introductions we set sail for the island of Balicasag, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes journey from Dumaguete.
The journey went quickly with everyone chatting and snacking, and we were soon ready for the first dive.
Balicasag Island is known for its great wall dives and the first one didn’t disappoint with Barracuda, Frog fish, Nudibranches, big Jacks cruising past and a turtle or 2 making an appearance, as the divers explored the nooks and crannies of the wall.
The boat moves to a different dive site after dropping 2 divers at the beach for a Discover scuba diving lesson, showing that dive safari’s are not just for certified divers. Dive courses and experiences can be completed during the safari.
After the second dive lunch is served, a delicious meal cooked in the boats kitchen with rice, kinilao (a local dish made with raw fish cooked in vinegar, garlic, ginger and spices) with plenty of fruit for afters. There is time for lunch to go down as the boat moves to another dive site and the divers gear up for the 3rd dive of the day.
The divers are down for about an hour during which they spot more barracuda, turtles, frog fish, nudibranches and some big black and white snappers.
After this dive the boat moves to its overnight location in front of Alona beach and as the sun sets, dinner is prepared and the discussions for the night dive begin. The night dive is optional and those that decide not to dive relax on the boat watching the beach come alive with lights reflecting off the water. For those that do dive are rewarded with critters coming out to hunt including, big triton shells, basket stars, shrimps and crabs and many fish wearing their night camouflage.
There is a short trip to the beach so that people can get things they want for the evening (beer was a popular choice). The evening is relaxed and people chat about the day, plans for tomorrow and get to know each other better. Slowly people start to tire and head to a quiet spot on the boat and settle down for the night. We were blessed with beautiful weather sleeping out on the deck with the night sky for company was more than we needed.
An early start to Sunday had the first dive at 6.30am as the sun was still low in the sky bringing a great diversity to the dive with night creatures making their disappearance and the day creatures waking to start another day.
Breakfast was a selection of bread with jams, scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions and some chorizo sausages.
The boat moves to another dive location and divers head in for the 6thdive of the trip. After the dive there is some time for snorkelling and water games before the boat heads back to Dumaguete.
The journey back is very relaxed with some people catching up on some sleep, massages going around and enjoying the beautiful weather, there were even some dolphins spotted.
The boat arrives back in Dumaguete around 3pm where there is time for another dive at the newly opened marine sanctuary in Silliman beach. While the divers explore the newly created MPA the boat docks and takes other guests back to the hostel and the equipment that was needed is unloaded too after a great weekend of diving, sunshine and fun on Harolds Dive Safari.