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skin diving

pic courtesy of Maria May 12, 2010

Skin Diving at Masaplod Norte's Marine Sanctuary

Marine Sancturies
I asked the caretakers of Dauin's Poblacion 1 Marine Sanctuary where else I might go skin diving along Dauin's coastal strip. While the strip is practically littered with marine sanctuaries, not all of them are really ideal for diving or snorkeling. The more I ask around on what makes a coastal area a marine sanctuary, the more varying answers I get - from biological imperatives to plain politics. Anyway, the caretaker pointed me, about 1.5 kms south, to an adjacent marine reserve, Masaplod Norte.

Masaplod Norte

Good Old Google
I Googled the place and gathered that some dive resorts even bring their guests to Masaplod Norte - that's a good sign. With that green light, I packed-up and was off. Surprisingly, the jeep driver of course knows Masaplod Norte, but didn't know where the marine sancturary is. I had to be vigilant on the road to watch for signs. We found it anyway...about 1.5 kms after Dauin's Poblacion.

Max and Maria
The beach was practically empty except for a dive instructor and his student. I got into a little conversation with him - Max. He runs the Our Place dive/resto/guest house in Dumaguete. The little conversation morphed into an extended conversation as we were joined by his student, Maria.

Easter Egg Hunt
On my first dive, I just went about my way exploring the reef area. Unlike say in Siquijor where the reef is one massive system to explore, Dauin's reef system occurs in patches, separated by sandy sections...sometimes big sandy sections and you don't know where the next reef patch is. That's how it was for me. The reef is about 8 hectares. With poor visibility due to the Amihan wind (wind coming from the northeast), it was an easter egg hunt for me searching for the next patch.

Rainbow Colors
But when you see the patch, it's really gorgeous. It's like being put inside a giant aquarium with all sort of fishes - an array of rainbow colors, assorted shapes, varying sizes (but no huge ones, unlike Dauin's Poblacion 1), different behaviors (some are aggressive, some curious, some shy, etc.).

Divers Do It Deeper
Later, I went diving with Max and Maria hoping to see the best part of the reef. At one point I went down as deep as I could to join them. It was entertaining to be there with company until I realized, "Oh shit! What am I doing deep down here? I still have to go back up for air!" But at some point they went too deep until they disappeared.

There Was a Sign?
Back at the beach, I noticed there was an obscure posting about the marine sanctuary with suggested route for divers. time!

Ending Thoughts
Max gave me a ride back to his cottage and we hung out with Maria as well over beer. Before I left, I got an invite for Max's birthday on Monday. I was also offered by Maria to join a ride to KooKoo's Nest Beach Resort, after mentioning I wanted to see the place as well. As Max said, "...just a while ago, I didn't know you. Now, you're at my place and the three of us are having beer. Life offers many surprises." I couldn't agree with him more.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - no pictures? My Olympus 1030 SW, a digicam good for underwater photography up to 10m...took water inside! Read up on what it's like to claim warranty on Olympus digicams in the Philippines.

    How to get there from Dumaguete:
  • take a tricycle and ask to be dropped-off the jeep terminal going to Dauin (the terminal is near Robinson's Place) - P8.
  • at the terminal, board the next jeep for Zamboanguita or Siaton or Dauin. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Masaplod Norte's Marine Sanctuary. P15, 40 minutes. (if he's not familiar [maybe they call it another name], it's only 1.5 kms further south from Dauin's Poblacion)
  • upon disembarking at the highway, walk towards the beach...5 mins.
  • pay P50 to the caretaker and dive!

Reader Comments:

Debra Burnsworth
(Apr 7, 2011) Thanks again for the info!

Snoopy Montenegro
(May 14, 2010) Masaplod Norte was the first sanctuary in Dauin but it's more of patches of coral, school of fishes, but most of them are a little deeper like 10 meters to 18 meters.

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