It’s allowed again! Magic Resorts can once again welcome foreign guests at the two dive resorts in the Visayas (Central Philippines).
Both resorts, Magic Island Dive Resort in Moalboal, Cebu and Magic Oceans Dive Resort in Anda, Bohol, are fully operational and have survived the 2-year lockdown in the Philippines. When the Philippines reopening was announced in February, both resorts underwent a major renovation and restoration to provide the same quality of service as before.
Ultimate Magic Experience!
With the same employees who offer world-renowned Filipino hospitality with a smile on their face, Magic Island and Magic Oceans are still able to provide guests with an unforgettable vacation. Dive Masters Manuel (aka Mani) and Jason have not lost their eye for detail and can still find the tiniest critters around Moalboal and of course the famed mating mandarin fish on Magic Islands house reef. All about diving Camotes Island is found online. Of course, the tasty mocktails at Magic Oceans are served by the lovely Esther, while the popular singing chef prepares the most delicious food to complete a perfect vacation. Great diving, great service – that’s the ultimate Magic experience!
All diving enthusiasts from America and Europe who took advantage of the reopening of the Philippines and spent their diving vacation at (one of the) Magic Resorts are warmly welcomed not only by the staff, but also by the marine life around Moalboal and Anda. The first passing whale sharks, jumping thresher sharks, mating mandarin fish and even mating flamboyant squids are spotted! Everyone is excited to see happy divers again for such a long time!
Entering the Philippines
On February 11, the first day of the reopening, the first hundreds of foreign tourists entered the Philippines. Since then, hundreds of thousands of tourists have entered the country to enjoy a tropical vacation, a long-awaited trip for most. You can enter the country if you bring your valid passport, return ticket, proof of covid vaccination, negative test (PCR/antigen) and insurance cover for covid treatment costs. A continuous smooth flow of the tourist flow may soon lead to some requirements being lifted!
A wonderful destination for a family and diving holiday! René Weterings and his family soon find out in Curaçao. The underwater photographer made a triptych – this is the first part!
Landed! Two years ago we called that with our family for the last time. For the summer of 2021 we have chosen the Caribbean island of Curaçao. We left Schiphol without any problems and our luggage arrived safely. We are picked up neatly and taken to our accommodation. Waterside Apartments are centrally located on the island in the small town of Boka Sami (Saint Michael). In the apartment we receive practical instructions and in the meantime our children are busy outside with the small hermit crabs that crawl between the plants in the dark. We go to sleep on time to get into the rhythm.
Waking up on Curaçao is wonderful. While having breakfast on our spacious terrace, we enjoy the view of the Caribbean Sea. Small iguanas and anoles rustle in the bushes, the most colorful birds are in the trees and bushes. The beautiful view of the sea attracts us, in the afternoon we plan a first dive. First we do our shopping in a large supermarket, not far from our apartment, and we get a lot of recognizable products from the Netherlands there. Freediving in Croatia is the best.
Our children can quickly be found in the water in the afternoon and enjoy the tiny child-friendly beach (‘Playa Wachi’) together with our Dutch neighbors.
House reef ‘Snake Bay’
We make our first dive in the Caribbean Sea on the house reef, the Slangenbaai (‘Snake Bay’). The blue water is overwhelmingly warm, up to 29 degrees Celsius, the visibility is great! Our daughter Isis snorkels with us until we signal her to go back to the beach. We dive over the sandy plain towards the drop-off. That’s where the real reef begins and gradually goes obliquely into the depths. The corals and fish are in abundance. We can turn left or right, but we are guided by our feelings and the very mild current. Everything is beautiful and we make a beautiful first dive. The colorful sponges and corals shape the reef, each one bigger than the other.
The house reef is really lovely and we do quite a few dives here this holiday, including a night dive. During all dives on the house reef we see a striking number of fish species, such as spotted and green moray eels, French emperors, bluefish, knightfish, trumpet fish, porcupine fish and many damselflies. There is also no shortage of macro life. We find flamingo tongues, different kinds of shrimp and crabs, super small blennies in the hard coral or dwarf file fish in the soft coral. But we also often see tube worms, numerous Christmas tree worms and the occasional small octopus hiding in a cave and actually every dive a group of squids that float in formation above the reef. One time I go snorkelling with our daughter Isis. Pines swim right below the surface of the water and almost bump into us. There are still a remarkable number of fish that can be viewed well with our diving lights, which was great fun to do together.
Of course you haven’t been to Curaçao without a visit to Willemstad, so that’s what we’re going to do today. First I fill up the pick-up, we will go on the road more often this holiday. Refueling is slightly different than we are used to in the Netherlands, because you have to pay in advance here and that feels a bit awkward. When we drive on the Willemstad ring road, we see the Queen Emma Bridge (the ‘Pontjesbrug’) and the beautifully colored houses on the water in the distance. None of us are city lovers, so we’ll skip a walk in the heat. We visit Daan in the dive center of Rebel Diving Curaçao to plan some dives.
Then we have a nice quick bite at the KFC and we drive on to Mambo beach to take a walk in the dark on the small boulevard. It is not much, but it is nicely decorated. We are not really the target group, but you can certainly have very pleasant evenings here with a nice drink.
Caves of Hato
One of our trips is a visit to the caves of Hato. While waiting for our guide we take a walk through the garden, the ‘Indian trail’. We see the 1500 year old rock paintings, special snails, a wasp nest with large wasps and the iguanas and anoles rustle through the foliage. Today it is oppressively warm again, the clouds are thick. In the caves it turns out to be just as warm as outside, we have a bit of trouble with that stuffiness. Our jolly Antillean guide laughs the most about his actually funny jokes, he’s used to this. We rename these caves to the ‘Caves of Zweeto’.
After freshening up in the sea with us In the evening we eat at restaurant Hemingway at the LionsDive Beach Resort in Willemstad. With our feet in the sand we enjoy the sea, the iguanas that almost eat from your plate and the setting sun. On the other side of the bay we see a submarine from U-boat Worx. Everything here breathes sun, sea and beach, wonderful!
Of course we don’t just dive on the house reef. After all, we rented a pick-up truck at Waterside Apartments. From time to time we also load our beach and diving gear for a visit to one of the beautiful beaches that Curaçao has to offer. First we visit the Vaersenbaai at Kokomo Beach. We have planned a guided dive with Rebel Diving Curaçao and an introductory dive for Isis.
“I can see Isis really enjoying her first dive in the Caribbean Sea. She points out all kinds of things on the seabed.”
On the way we pass Saliña Sint Michiel, a salt pan where we see a large group of flamingos. Mangroves grow at the water’s edges and our son Rowan spots tiny beckoned crabs in the salty mud. He is happy that he finally sees them in the wild, because yes…”I have already seen flamingos in the Grevelingenmeer.” It is possible to take a walk around this salt pan, but we didn’t come for that so we drive on.
We park the pick-up close to the entrance and our stuff on a rented beach bed. On the beach we have shade from the large trees and we overlook the famous swing in the water, a nice attraction for both tourists and pelicans. They plop down here without mercy between the people in the water to catch their fish. The snorkeling and diving here is beautiful, the colorful reef is interspersed with sand, many sponges and again many schooling fish.
I can see Isis enjoying her first dive in the Caribbean Sea very much. She is my model together with guide Daan, but she also points out all kinds of things on the seabed. Nothing escapes her and I make grateful use of it. After the dive we have a nice dinner in the restaurant. In the background we see the iguanas feasting on the food that is thrown at them, the evening sun slowly sinks. It was another beautiful day.