In these times of international lock down we are all finding time to reflect on things past and present, while looking forward with a positive mind i'm finding my self reminiscing, last spring along with the wife and some friends I took a live aboard boat trip to Tubbataha reefs Unesco world heritage site, found in the heart of the Zulu sea southern Philippines. The main purpose was to see plenty of sharks but also the trip coincided with my birthday so hey why not treat yourself I thought.
So to get things going a short flight from my current home on Cebu island to Puerto Princessa on Palawan, here we spent the night and met up with our friends who had traveled from Bohol island. the following day we got together with our boat operator "Sakura charter" had a pre-trip briefing with Tubbataha officials who explained all the do's and don'ts of our trip. Later that afternoon we joined our boat for a orientation prior to sailing over night. Sakura is a small budget live aboard with only 11 guests 2 divemasters (guides) and 5 boat staff one being Let who is the owner along with her husband Dino, Let also acts as a third divemaster if required. Right off to sea with us and we won't see dry land for next six days this will be our home for now.
So after a night sailing to the middle of the Zulu sea we wake up on this Trimaran boat, the crew already have a superb breakfast ready for us and we all tuck in full of expectation of what day one may bring. After filling ourselves and a little time for food to settle we prepare our diving equipment and load it onto one of the two zodiac boats to go for our first dive. We will be diving in two groups one from each tender. Our group is made up of very experienced divers all instructors divemasters or veteran divers. Together with Rainier our guide out of shot we have our friends, Vanessa, Tom and Ernesto with his happy face on (he is happy he just forgets to let his face know sometimes) and second shot Mitch camera shy with his mask on and the wife Koz i'm behind the camera, boat boy gets in both photos.
Five minutes later we arrive on the dive site, for me the hope being plenty of sharks, Tubbataha is believed to have the largest concentration of White tip sharks on the planet. Here we go then, get into our diving gear quick briefing from Rainier and a buddy check (final check of equipment) and we all roll off the boat and descend. What will we see?
As we hit the top of the reef we can see its in amazing condition, limiting the amount of divers and only allowing access for three months of the year clearly works.
Shoals of barracuda, giant Puffer fish, enormous Dog tooth Tuna and our first reef shark
Off to a great start saw loads more on that dive just a few highlights to wet your appetite. Four dives a day one being a night dive plenty more to come, dive two and more sharks along with many other sightings.
And more stunning corals.
And then when you thought things couldn't get any better this happened on dive three.
My favorite beast in the ocean the majestic Whale shark.
After a great night dive to round out the day we chilled on deck recounting our first days experience, while consuming a few birthday beers. Off to bed at a reasonable time as the same was ahead of us in the morning.
Over the next few days the routine of, dive eat sleep repeat was our mantra, we had more shark encounters than I can remember and saw so many species of fish and coral I could be here for days writing about it. We all had a amazing trip and can't thank the staff and crew of Sakura enough, although a budget live aboard they give a five star service. I'll finish off with a couple more shots two foot lobster from one of the night dives and a some sharks in on photo there are 20 grey reef sharks. Brilliant trip would love to go again hopefully in better times in near future.
Be safe everyone we will get through this!!!!
Night dive lobster.
White tip shark.
20 Grey reef sharks.
Hope you all enjoyed my trip as much as I did, if you are interested in this live aboard check out MY Sakura charter online and if anyone is wanting to know I use a Canon 60d camera, Tokina 10/17 fisheye lens and ikelite housing and