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skin diving

Apr 20, 2011

A Walk on Dauin's Coastline

A Wednesday and the sun was out. Malatapay Market...then dive! As my head was racing, my heart was tentative. My head was on auto-pilot for a Wednesday routine - my heart wanted to do something else but clueless what it was. It's tough when the head drags the heart along.

Punta Marine Reserve
Even before reaching Malatapay, I got off the jeep on impulse at the Dauin Poblacion for the Punta Marine Reserve (just before the more popular Poblacion 1 Marine Reserve). It is one of a few marine reserves I thought I haven't explored. It turned out to be a sandy bottom with small but colorful organism well suited for underwater photography. Award-winning photographs have been taken there. Hardly the place though for a skin diver in search of corals and big fish. I remember being there before.

The Walk
Fins and gear in hand, I started walking towards the northern part of the coast not knowing what I really wanted to do.

Lipayo Marine Reserve
It didn't take too long a walk before I reached another marine reserve - Lipayo Marine Reserve, right in front of the El Dorado Beach Resort. There were few and small coral patches. But even on sandy bottoms, there was abundant marine life. It felt like being inside a big salt-water aquarium. I wasn't really up for a dive and soon went back to shore. The caretakers were telling me to walk further north for better corals.

Luca-Lipayo Marine Reserve
I continued my walk until I reached the Atlantis Dive Resort, a pricey place but reputed to be the finest service and accommodation in the area. I was now at the Luca-Lipayo Marine Reserve. I took a plunge and true enough, the corals were more abundant with the drop-off offering more to see. With the Amihan wind however, the surface was a little choppy resulting in poor visibility. I tried scaling the drop-off but couldn't. I guess I wasn't 100%. I didn't stay in the water too long.

Beach Camping
After my Anawangin Beach camping experience - pitching a tent on the beach, tying up the hammock and cooking your own meals on a camp stove, I became a convert. Equally satisfying as camping on a mountain top was beach camping. I've wondered what places in Dumaguete/Dauin can provide the same experience - beach front suited for pitching a tent, good coral reef in front, perhaps close to a village water pump for rinsing, etc. I don't mind paying a token fee. Walking the coast provided me excellent places to do just that. In fact, there were so many undeveloped beachfronts. One of these days, I'll find myself walking this same coastline but with full camp gear on my backpack.

Beach and Dive Resorts
From the highway, the big and established resorts are prominently advertised. I thought they were the only resorts available. However, walking along the coastline provided me a more extensive insight. There were many lesser known or even unknown resorts dotting the coastline - from the high-zoot Atlantis to the homey native shack. The strip has a wide range of accommodation catering to the well-heeled, to the budget backpacker, and to the homeless, for that matter.

Village Life
Interspersed with the beach resorts, dive centers, and marine reserves are the local fishing villages. Chickens are free-range by default, kids play on the sand and the boats are parked on the beachfront like you would a motorbike on a parking area. The men are either out fishing or repairing a boat. Life is simple for them.

Also on the marine reserves are families (not the beach resort patrons) mostly from the city and nearby towns who came out for a day at the beach. Bringing their own home-cooked meals, a few bottles of rum and huge tire inner tubes for the kids' floatation fun, it's a party. The guys gather amongst themselves for drinks and macho-talk, the women preparing the meals and looking out for the kids, the kids just having a good time on the sand and water. Yeah, it's a typical family outing.

The Haves and the Have Nots
I was fondly setting side-by-side the high-zoot beach resort patrons with their piña coladas and the local picnickers out on the public beach with their rum and tagay glass. No one seems to be happier than the other. I thought so. They're both happy with what they have. I think it only gets miserable when you start craving for what the other guy has.

Ending Thoughts
I came out to do some diving but actually had more fun walking the coastline of Dauin and being treated to the many slices of inter-connected lives that thrive on the strip - the resort staff and guests, the marine reserve caretakers, the local villages, the out-of-town picnickers, and yes, the free-range chickens that'll end up as a flavorful stew. Yeah, there's more to Dauin than its spectacular coral reef.

--- TheLoneRider

Dauin Poblacion 1 Marine Sanctuary Links on

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 Dauin's Poblacion District 1 Marine Sanctuary. P15, 40 minutes.
  • upon disembarking at the highway (almost immediately after Dauin's Poblacion), walk towards the beach...5 mins.
  • pay P50 (snorkeling, all day) or P150/scuba dive to the caretaker and dive!
punta marine reserve dauin church lipayo marine reserve dive
no beachfront coconut trees beach cottage residential cottage
beach walk cabana beach outing local beachcombers
atlantis dive resort private residence private beach house local village
Masalantha Cottages fisherman boat repair a passing dive boat
old fish traps Coco Grande or Coco Grove Pura Vida Beach Resort Buglas bamboo cottage in Pura Vida

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