Nov 13-17, 2012
Scuba Diving in Romblon Island and Alad Island with The 3P Divers
Blue Hole Here I Come
After 4 days in Romblon Plaza Hotel, I moved to The Three P Holiday & Dive Resort to finally do my scuba dives. I thought this was it - my chance to dive the Blue Hole. That was the reason for my coming to Romblon in the first place. Back in Dumaguete, an acquiantance told me about his dive in the Blue Hole - a vertical hole that goes down 30 meters and opens up to the sea! Whoa! From then on, Romblon wasn't about marble anymore...it was about the Blue Hole. So when my mountain bike charity ride finished in Busuanga, Palawan, I braved the Amihan wind with 10 hours of nauseating choppy boat ride to San Jose, Mindoro, then a road trip to Roxas to catch the boat that would take me to Romblon. Yes, this is it! We would do nearly 2 dives daily for the next 4 days.
3P accommodation and meals
My accommodation at 3P was a bamboo cottage with a veranda facing the beach. It had tv, ensuite bathroom, fridge (which I always keep unplugged, whatever hotel). It was comfy with that unmistakeable tropical feel. Food was equally fab. The salads were was quite unique and interesting. I was served German meat that I can't even pronounce or spell. The resort is family-owned and run. As a guest, your're not a number - you're an extra member of the family.
Alad Marine Sanctuary
3P House Reef
House Reef - dive #18
They wanted to find out first how my diving was before they take me 'out there'. They cautioned me that the Blue Hole dive is not for beginners as panic might set in going down the deep hole. Furthermore, once we exit on the open sea 30 meters down, a strong current may be present. My first dive was a shore entry at their house reef. It was a shallow dive mostly on sparsely sprinkled rock corals. Mostly, it was muck diving. Katie, fondly referred to as the 4th P, was divemaster. Joining us was Zack - a US Peace Corps volunteer. I actually had more control of my bouyancy this time despite the long dive interval since my last.
Mapula Dive - dive #19
Not too far away north of the resort is the Mapula Barangay. Its coastal front is the Mapula dive spot. This time, Philipp, one of the 3Ps, was divemaster. We were joined by a German couple. With over 4000 dives between them, this couple had a ton of experience under their belts. The initial spot we came down to is best described as 'dusty'. A thick sediment covered nearly everything. But as we progressed, the seascape gradually changed for the better and clearer. Even though it was a coral reef, nearly everyone was looking for the small stuff - stuff you see with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. This was the beginning for me to see this invisible world patiently with a watchful eye. The big stuff? I saw a turtle.
Alad Marine Sanctuary Dive Left Shoulder and Right Shoulder - dive #20 and #21
So far, despite the hype about the diving in Romblon, I haven't really seen anything that would blow my socks off. I thought perhaps this is the best Romblon can offer. I was thinking perhaps I was simply spoiled doing most of my dive in Dumaguete / Apo Island where diving can only be described along superlative terms. Therefore, I should lower down my expectation outside of those places. I was to be proven wrong. Alad Marine Reserve was WOW! The coral reef system was intense and colorful. I would put it at the same level as Apo Island except that Apo Island has more and bigger fishes. Even the shallow section is ideal for snorkelling. I saw 2 moral eels, big lobsters, and more turtles. Yes, I'm still into the big stuff. Perhaps as I log more dives, I get more challenged with the small and nearly invisible world of muck diving.
Alad Island South and East - dive #22 and #23
Still around Alad Island, we did a rock coral dive. It wasn't as good as yesterday's marine sanctuary dive. The rock corals were sparse with sandy bottom. For the big stuff, I saw a blue spotted manta ray. I was waving and waving to Frank, one of the divers and pointed to him my find. He gave me a polite smile and swam away - I guess if you've done over 2000 dives, a manta ray is not exactly a euphoric moment you go gaga for. I amused myself by doing crazy positions to get the most out of a coral outcropping. Often, I would go inverted, getting my head very close to the sand to see the underside of an overhang.
Lunas Muck Dive - dive #24 and #25
Katie and Peter had only good words about this location - a heavy favorite muck dive spot. Lunas is nearly on the southern tip of Romblon Island - maybe an hour's boat ride from 3P. As a diver looking for 'big stuff', I was warned already - that Lunas, to the unsuspecting diver, would seem nothing more like a sandy bottom. But if you keep still with a watchful eye, the invisible world of the macro creatures come alive. We did 2 dives in Lunas. True, it seemed like a sandy bottom except for a few small rocky outcropping. The current was challenging. My bamboo dive stick broke into 3 pieces after the dives. With muck dives, when you need to keep still, the slightest current can present challenges. I was impressed by the way the 2 German divers, Frank and Andrea, can manage to stay in one spot on neutral bouyancy without a stick despite the current. Interestingly, when I mentioned about the current, he asked, "What current?" Apparently, current to him is when he hooks to a rock and hang tight on the rope to stay on the same spot. After 2000+ dives, they were simply on a different level.
Time flew and I had to shift gears into something more subdued - the isolated beach resort of Punta Corazon. The big irony is, I came to 3P in the hopes that there would be a Blue Hole dive - my whole reason for going to Romblon in the first place. After 4 days and many dives, I left 3P without doing the Blue Dive. It remained elusive. However, it wasn't all in vain. I had fun! I had a great introduction to muck diving. Next time I see a sandy bottom, it's not empty anymore. I'd be curious about the invisible world that lurks within.
- from Manila
- by air - ZestAir flies to Tugdan Airport in Tablas Island Tue/Thur/Sat. SeaAir no longer flies to Romblon.
- by boat - the only boat from Manila, the M/V Mary (?) the Queen stopped its operations. Currently, there is no boat to Romblon from Manila
- from Batangas
- by boat - take Montenegro Shipping Lines from Batangas Seaport, 13 hours to Odiongan, Tablas (daily except Tuesdays). If taking the Batangas-Romblon Town ship, it's Mon/Thur/Sat. Try to get the Reina del Rosario ship instead of the crummy Xenia (comfort room and aircon issues as of this writitng)
muck dive pictures provided by The Three P Holiday & Dive Resort
|Contact:||Peter, Philipp, Patrick (3Ps)
|Location:||Barangay Lonos, Romblon Island, Romblon, Philippines 5500
|GPS Waypoint:||N12 33.375 E122 15.088
|Mobile:||Peter : +(63)919.4470.713 / Philipp: +(63)929.4407.135 / Patrick: +(63)939.3689.841
|Coconut Insider Website: ||The Three P Holiday & Dive Resort
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