Casa Munda Articles

A Day of Sun and Sea in Samal Island

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DAVAO CITY. I arrived at the Santa Ana Wharf after a 20 minute taxi ride from Casa Munda Bed and Breakfast. It was 7am on a Monday morning. I got off at Pier 2, found my way to the boat for the divers and island hoppers.

When I got on board there were already a few passengers on-board, a family, a group of friends, and a number of more experienced divers. I had signed up for the trip along with a friend of mine, Kat, I was waiting for her to arrive.

We were diving with Pro Dive Davao, a Davao City Dive shop that does intro dives, and diver training and certification. Of course, not everyone on board that day was going diving. Many of the passengers did the island hopping tour without the intro dive. That’s entirely fine. But me? I was there for the diving.

While I was waiting for Kat, I met the Owners-slash-Operators of Pro Dive Davao: Andrew and Paul, two guys out of Britain who’d taken their passion for, and expertise in, diving to start a quaint business in bringing people closer to the ocean, literally and figuratively.

Kat had arrived by that point, along with all the other passengers. We left at around 8am.

The day’s events were to include our first stop, where the intro dives were to be conducted, followed by an island stopover for lunch, and then a final stop, for the experienced divers; for intro divers, this last stop is great for winding down, swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking.

Into the Deep

It took us about an hour to arrive at the first stop, which was somewhere on the northern portion of Talicud Island. The waves were high, and occasionally splashed over the boat; I found this fun, the sea spray was refreshing and clean, but you’re still going to want to make sure your gadgets and spare clothes don’t get wet.

There were 10 of us, intro divers, that day, 5 young men and, along with Kat, 5 young women. We were given a brief but detailed briefing on common hand signals for use underwater, equipment and safety information, tips, tricks, and techniques. In addition to safety, we also received a briefing on the importance of protecting and preserving coral reefs, which are one of the Philippines’ most valuable natural assets

At this point, I was excited, and maybe a little impatient, to get into the water. Some of my fellow intro divers looked closer to nervous, or terrified. It was kinda funny.

While we were getting suited up in the diving equipment Pro Dive had provided us, Kat and I talked with our fellow intro divers, conversation is very good for easing the edges of hesitation and anticipation, and fear and excitement tend to make us friendlier.

Kat and I were the first to go down, we were to be instructed by Andrew, who was going to be right there with us the whole time, swimming along above us, holding onto our air tanks, making sure we’re okay, and pointing out all the cool stuff so we wouldn’t miss it.

Cue Under The Sea from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The dive took us down to about 20 feet, which is roughly 6 meters, which is about 2 stories. Underwater. I make it sound a bit frightening, but it really isn’t. I felt very safe under Andrew’s watchful instruction, and was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the reef that any and all fear or hesitation I felt was almost instantly washed away. We even ran into a few of the experienced divers underwater, assuring me that I was perfectly safe and well taken care of.

We got to see schools of fish, star fish, and a varied array of fragile, wonderful coral. The Mansud Wall is a diverse ecosystem, teaming with aquatic life.

In total we spent about an hour exploring under the waves. It was enchanting.

After Kat and I surfaced from our dive we swam around the boat, and helped ourselves to more snacks and unlimited coffee while we waited for the other intro divers to finish. There’s something about the sea that makes even 3 in 1 taste magical. Pro Dive also offers snorkel and kayak rentals.

High Seas and Home Cooking

After all the intro divers and experienced divers returned, our boat made a short 15 minute trip to our second destination for lunch. We arrived around 12 noon.

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Lunch was served on the boat. There was more than enough rice for everyone on board, and we were treated to chicken curry and beef caldereta, freshly prepared by Paul. There was also juice. After eating, Kat and I decided to explore the beach a little.

Dayang beach resort is peaceful and uncrowded. Our entrance fee had been paid for and was included in the price of the intro dive. The place was very scenic, I took a lot of great photos of the beach, and Pro Dive also offers their photography services free of charge, on land and underwater; these guys are dedicated.

Along the beach I found many bright shells, a number of which were still occupied. I found a couple of sea snails and hermit crabs enjoying the shallows by the shore. I left them there to enjoy.

We left dayang around 1pm.

One for the Road

Our day wasn’t over yet.

After lunch we travelled for around 15 to 30 minutes to the 2nd dive spot at Angel’s Cove. Only the experienced divers would be diving here, so Kat and I contented ourselves with swimming around the boat. The water was refreshingly cool, clear and very very deep. While all-together shallower than the steep drop-off at Mansud Wall, the area directly beneath the boat was deeper, open, and almost free of coral.

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I took the opportunity to skin dive, going down, and taking a look around on single lungfuls of air. I could only manage a minute underwater at most, I never admitted to being good at holding my breath. But 2 meters underwater without fins or an air tank is thrilling and liberating, and was just as much fun as the earlier intro dive had been.

Saying Goodbye

After all the divers had returned from their second dive, and all the swimmers returned aboard the boat, we set off on the return trip to Santa Ana Wharf. We set off around 3pm, the ride back takes something like 1 hour and 30 minutes. The sea was calmer during our return trip, and the sky was just starting to dim as with the sun set.

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During the ride, Kat and I had the chance to talk with Christine, the general manager at Pro Dive, and one of the dive instructors along with Andrew and Paul, she told us about their training programs, and scheduled trips. Can you believe you can get certified to dive, anywhere in the world, in only 4 days?

We arrived and docked at Santa Ana, Paul, Andrew and Christine waiting at the stern to bid each of us a warm farwell. They were equally pleasant with us intro divers, their experience divers (many of whom got their certifications with Pro Dive), and the others who’d gone along for the ride.

I got the feeling then that it wasn’t really good bye; I’d be back, underneath the waves exploring the ocean, or riding above them and finding myself. I didn’t say goodbye, only “see you next time.”

[caption id="attachment_148" align="alignleft" width="1024"]Kat and I Kat and I[/caption]
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