Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dive the Philippines - February 10 - 24, 2018

This flyer is being posted to the Sarasota Scuba Club website.  If you are interested in doing either segment of the trip with us let me know.

February 10 – 24, 2018

Have you fantasized about diving in an exotic tropical locale?  Does the thought of swimming with Whale Sharks, the largest fish on earth, give you an adrenaline rush?  Would you invest a little more time to become a PADI certified Thresher Shark Diver?  If you answered yes to any of those questions then we have the trip for you!

Photo by Thresher Shark Divers

Sarasota Scuba Club member Cathy Hayslett is reaching a “milestone” birthday on February 22, 2018, and to celebrate it we are traveling to the Philippine island of Cebu on a hotel/dive package.  First we will be at the Turtle Bay Dive Resort for 7 nights, all-inclusive including 15 dives for $1070 p/p double.  From there we transfer to Malaspacua Island for 4 nights all-inclusive including 10 dives at the Tepanee Beach Resort for $717 p/p double.  This is the Thresher Shark site.

This is not a Scuba Club trip per se, just an opportunity to dive the Philippines at a remarkably cheap rate.  You are welcome to come along to both resorts, or only one if you choose.  Also, if 15 dives are too many there is a 10 dive package at Turtle Bay for $948 all-inclusive.

The most logistically easy routing is to take Emirates Airlines from Orlando via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, then nonstop to Cebu.  Roundtrip is $1187.  It’s an arm and a leg in Business Class.  Of course you are welcome to make your own flight arrangements using a favored airline or departure airport.

If any of this whets your appetite for dive adventure contact Craig Faanes.  Our arrangements are being made by a tour operator in Orlando and also one in the Philippines.  I can put you in touch with either or both if you desire.

Cathy and I look forward to hearing from you and also descending to the bottom of the Philippine Sea with you!

The Dive Resorts

The first seven nights we will stay at the Turtle Bay Dive Resort near Moalboal on the west coast of Cebu Island.  Not only is Turtle Bay a great dive site but here is where we have a chance of swimming among Whale Sharks.  And, if we are lucky, we will see those humongous sardine balls you've no doubt watched on National Geographic Wild channel programs.  Turtle Bay consistently receives rave reviews on Trip Advisor from its past guests and the setting looks stunning.  You can make your own reservations for Turtle Bay by contacting:

Kim Mackey
Senior Dive Specialist
Caradonna Worldwide Dive Adventures
Longwood, Florida
Phone: 800-328-2288 x 109

The specifics of our dive package include the following:

Hotel package is $948 per person, which includes:  Round trip airport transfers from Cebu, 7 nights accommodations in a deluxe sea view room based on double occupancy, 3 meals daily, 10 dive package (9 guided boat dives + 1 guided shore dive),  use of tanks, weights and belt, hotel taxes and service charges.  There is also the option to upgrade to a 15 dive package, if you want to do more diving?   Would increase your price by $122 per person (13 guided boat dives + 2 guided shore dives).

The second part of our journey will stay at the Tepanee Beach Resort on Malapascua Island, a short ferry ride from the north tip of Cebu Island.  Here we will be diving with Thresher Shark Divers   Its here, appropriately enough, that we can dive with Thresher Sharks and if you are interested (like Cathy and I are) you can obtain PADI specialty certification as a Thresher Shark Diver. This is the only dive shop in the world where that distinctive specialty can be earned.

Our arrangements are being made through Andrea at Thresher Shark Divers on the island.  You can reach her at to make your own travel arrangements.

The dive package we are using includes the following:
Package details

· Resort:  standard AC room, see below*
· Meals: Breakfast
· Transfers: round trip from airport/ Cebu city; private road and boat trip; shuttle boat and porter fees in Maya and Malapascua
· Dives:  per person (tanks, weight, boat, DM; free tea, coffee and drinking water on the boats)
· Thresher Shark Tshirt, mask strap or log book with all dive packages of 10 or more dives
Package price
Per person, in PHP (approx. USD = 49, EUR = 53, GBP = 63, check for current bank rate)
· Slams/Blue Coral/Cocobana: 
o    7 nights/16 dives: 38,100
o    10 nights/20 dives: 48,500
· Tepanee upgrades  (highly recommended) +P400/700/1200 per person per night, for standard/superior/deluxe
· Free
· Wi-fi at the dive shop and restaurant for all our customers (subject to island connection)
· Tea, coffee and drinking water on the boats
· Thresher Shark Tshirt, mask strap or log book with all dive packages of 10 or more dives

Want something different?

· We offer 4-5 dives a day (including a dusk or night dive), so you can add on more diving if you wish! You can choose your dives from our daily schedule which usually includes several sites in each time slot. 
· Want to change your package?  No problem, just let us know your requirements. We also offer diving only packages if you prefer to book your own resort.

Exclusions (depending on dive)

· Marine park fee/tax: P150 per day
· Monad Shoal marine protection fee: P50 per dive (shark dive only)
· Equipment rental: P350 per dive / 700 per day
· Night/dusk dive surcharge: +P250
· Torch (light) rental: P300
· Computer rental P500 per day
· Dona Marilyn Trip: +P350 (fuel surcharge) per person
· Calangaman Trip: +P850 (350 fuel surcharge, 500 marine fee) per person (Surcharge may be more if we do not reach minimum numbers)
· Kimud Shoal Trip: +P250 (fuel surcharge) per person
· Gato: We do not charge extra for Gato :-)
· Nitrox: +P350 (package rates available)
· 15 litre or 10 litre tanks: +P100/500 for air/nitrox

Additional exclusions

· Night boat transfer: +P1000
· Full board meals (lunch and dinner): P900 per person, per day


· Packages quoted are for standard AC rooms or cottages with AC, en suite bathroom with hot water shower, wi-fi, most come with balcony, based on twin occupancy.  Priced for:
o     Slams - very close, 100m back from the beach but some seaview rooms, pool.
o    Cocobana - very close, some beachfront and seaview rooms. Pool. Upgrades available. 
o    Blue Coral - very close, package rooms with amazing seaviews. They also have a great deal on their garden view fan rooms.  
· Tepanee Resort -we highly recommend Tepanee, it costs a little more, but is well worth the difference. It is 3-5 minutes walk from the dive shop. Some seaview rooms, private beach. Price is +P400/700/1200 per person per night, for standard/superior/deluxe, based on twin share.  Deluxe rooms are very private and have an amazing seaview, great value :) 
· Other possible resorts include:
o    Blanco - more expensive, really nice resort with great sea views, worth the extra
o    Ocean Vida and Legend - more expensive, a few minutes walk, a pool at Legend
o    Malapascua Garden Resort, Celtis and Hilteys - a few minutes walk, less expensive rooms off the main beach
· Included meals may be provided at Oscar's Restaurant at the dive center depending on the resort. 
· We are upfront about charges and inclusions. If comparing, beware that online booking sites do not always accurately portray the original price, their discounts, room type, taxes, fees and meals. Our prices are inclusive and should match any price offered online. If you find any difference, please ask! 
· Thresher Cove - they are a new resort that are not affiliated with us and are located in a remote area on the other side of the island. We advise against staying here if you are diving and want to be near the main area. 
· Cheaper options: you can save if you prefer a fan room, even more if you want backpacker. This backpacker/dorm place has great reviews and you can book directly online:

Why TSD?

TSD is British owned and run; one of the country's top PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centers and a multiple award-winning dive shop. We consistently win PADI's top annual award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Dive Industry" and have many customers who return again and again. Our DMs are highly trained, each with thousands of dives around Malapascua and laser eyes to find all that hidden macro!  And our instructor team is the most experienced on the island. So you can be assured that with us, you will have only the best: top quality service, unrivalled professionalism and a safe and most of all fun diving vacation from start to finish!  

About our thresher sharks!

You are very lucky - there has never been a better time to come for thresher sharks :-) TSD has been diving a new site and the sightings have been amazing, the best in the 14 years we have been here!  You can catch regular updates and photos on Facebook 
Including an incredible video.

TSD has a very special spot where we dive for threshers and we believe it is the best shark experience you will get on Malapascua! Let me tell you why!  
o    Most other shops go to one of two very small cleaning stations to see  the sharks. Here the divers stay in the same spot and kneel behind a rope waiting for a shark to appear. There are usually 4-8 boats at each spot so you will see a lot of other divers and there is not much to see if you do not see a shark.  
o    TSD dives in a different area, where there are rarely any other boats and it has many cleaning stations. So it’s never too busy.  We have spectacular, often close up sightings almost every day, in a much more private setting. It’s is also more interesting as it’s a “swimming” dive with the chance to see many other creatures like frogfish and ghost pipefish as well as other pelagics like rays and other sharks!

Getting There

There are a zillion different options for traveling from the Sarasota-Bradenton area to Cebu Island.  We spent about 5 hours researching those options and found that traveling on Emirates Airlines from Orlando via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, is the most logistically easy option.  Emirates is consistently ranked among the top three airlines in the world (right up there with Qatar Airlines and Singapore Airlines) so it should be a treat to fly with them. The roundtrip airfare, depending on the day of departure, is about $1200.00 USD.  Its about $5,500 in Business Class, and its astronomical in First Class.  Travel to Cebu from Orlando involves a 14 hour lay over in Dubai which will give you a brief opportunity to savor a little Arabic culture.  The Dubai Airport is ultra-ultra modern and a real treat to occupy.  

It is possible to fly from either Tampa or Sarasota on Delta or United or American Airlines to Cebu and a couple of the options are slightly cheaper.  However each involves LONG layovers in Tokyo or Manila, and excruciatingly long (40 some hours) travel time on the return.  Plus there is the issue of using multiple airlines which greatly increases opportunities for lost luggage and missed connections.  For those reasons we are going with the Emirates option.

If you want to make a reservation with them click here 

Other airlines that are reasonable options include Delta which will require connections in Atlanta (of course), and Tokyo and Manila. In the latter you'll connect to Philippines Airlines or Cebu Pacific Airlines for the hour long segment to Cebu.

You can also travel on United Airlines which will take you via Chicago and either Tokyo or Hong Kong and Manila for your segment to Cebu.  

A third option is American Airlines via Charlotte, Los Angeles and either Tokyo or Hong Kong and Manila for the final segment to Cebu.  

Finally, if you have lots of time and want to explore all sorts of options try booking a flight using   There the routings and prices are almost endless.  

Our Proposed Itinerary

The currently planned itinerary for the trip Cathy and I are taking follows.  We hope you can join us for some or all of this adventure!

Day 1     February 10        Saturday
Leave    Orlando                                                1:30 p.m.             Emirates Airlines
Day 2     February 11        Sunday                                                 (13 hours 50 minutes)
Arrive    Dubai, United Arab Emirates              12: 20 pm
14 hours 25 minutes between flights. 
Day 3     February 12        Monday
Leave    Dubai                                                    2:45 a.m.              Emirates Airlines
Arrive    Cebu, Philippines                                 3:25 p.m.             (8 hours 50 minutes)
Transfer to Turtle Bay Beach Resort $1070.           All-inclusive rate includes 15 dives
Day 4     February 13        Tuesday             Dive
Day 6     February 14         Wednesday       Dive
Day 7     February 15        Thursday           Dive
Day 8     February 16        Friday                Dive
Day 9     February 17        Saturday             Dive
Day 10  February 18        Sunday               Dive
Day 11 February 19        Monday
Transfer to Thresher Shark Divers and Tepanee Beach Resort on Malapascua Island 
$717.   All-inclusive rate includes 10 dives and transfers  
Day 12 February 20        Tuesday               Dive with Thresher Sharks
Day 13 February 21        Wednesday        Dive
Day 14 February 22        Thursday           Dive
Day 15 February 23        Friday                 Transfer from Malaspascua Island to Cebu City airport
Leave    Cebu                                               5:05 p.m.             Emirates Airlines
Day 16   February 24        Saturday            (12 hours 5 minutes with stop in Manila)
Arrive    Dubai                                             1:10 a.m.
Leave    Dubai                                              2:50 a.m.              Emirates
Arrive    Orlando                                          9:55 a.m.              (16 hours 5 minutes)

Airfare $1233 round trip from Orlando
Total travel time Orlando to Cebu 37 hours 5 minutes (includes 14 hours 25 minutes in Dubai)
Total travel time Cebu to Orlando 29 hours 50 minutes
Total roundtrip travel distance is 24,646 air miles