A Day Out in the Sea

A visit to the underwater world.  I went with my husband, Yohann for his full day scuba dive in the Bacuit Archipelago via Adventure Scuba.  I basically tagged along with no intention of diving at all. In an earlier post, he completed an advanced open water diving course in Dubai, IDEA certified.  He seized the opportunity to explore the hidden gems underwater while diving deep under the sea remains my biggest fear yet. 

First Dive Site - 24 meters deep
It was a sunny morning, aboard the boat of Adventure Scuba, we sailed out to the azure waters of North Rock. A boat captain, a boat helper, a dive master, a fellow diver from Italy who just earned his PADI certification in El Nido and Yohann were quiet. I was happy to visit the other side of the archipelago that we have never been to yet. Oxygen tanks lined up at the end of the boat while the rest of them were already suited up waiting for the boat to reach its destination.  

The boat captain cut the engine as the other dive boats pulled ours closer. It was interesting to know that they protect the corals by using mooring buoys. It is also not allowed to catch fish in these areas. I found some jumping out of the water, chased by a bigger fish, while the busy guys got ready for their first dive. 

The Boat Captain
Briefing Instructions before the first dive
Left: See how clear the water is
SCUBA acronym apparently means Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. It was a full day Fun Dive for certified divers with a total of three (3) dives. Two in the morning before lunch with intervals and one in the afternoon. This Fun Dive includes:
  • Diving equipment, 
  • Boat, 
  • Lunch
  • and a dive master. 
Fun Dive Full Day Price: Php 3,300 ( US$ 80 / Eur 62) per person
To tag along, with free snorkeling, including lunch, it was Php 500   (US$ 13  /Eur 10) per person

Adventure Scuba
Serena Street (Near pier
Further along the same street as El Nido Boutique & ArtCafe )
Brgy. Buena Suerte
El Nido, Palawan 5313
Email: info@elnidoadventurescuba.com
          athan_lualhati@yahoo.com
Office  Phone: +63-9499108460
              
 +63-9283220958
Instructor +63-9209830740

Excited divers, Andre and Yohann
Reading on the boat while the rest were underwater. I fell asleep in between.
Here's a video footage I found online what you might expect from a dive in El Nido.  

The  Banded Sea  Snake (Walo-Walo)
When the guys returned on the boat, Yohann and the rest had this weird expression on their faces. Andre had a close encounter with a striped black and white (sometimes yellow) sea snake. It's considered one of the most venomous and most dangerous creatures on earth.  We call this "Walo-Walo" meaning 8 - 8 because it could take 8 seconds or 8 minutes or 8 hours to kill you.  It's amphibious, living mostly in the sea, but it sometimes slithers on land to lay eggs or rest.  To see what a banded sea snake looks like, click here

Andre  had no idea it was poisonous and both divers did not really understand the warning hand gesture the dive master gave out.  Curious, he came close to it and took photos. When he retreated, the snake followed him and started circling around his legs towards his upper body.  

Yohann couldn't believe it and thought, "Oh sh--t!" Pardon my language. This comes out in these types of situations. The dive master calmly moved closer.  With a metal rod, he slowly removed the sea snake away from Andre. The banded sea snake gracefully swam away and lived happily ever after. 


After a long period of decompression, Yohann went for his second dive with the the dive master at South Miniloc Area.  Andre sat this one out.  Here they saw a big patch of cabbage corals with yellow big eye snappers. 

South Miniloc (Second Dive Site)
Second Dive -18 meters deep
Lunch Next to a Beach Paradise
We had lunch on the boat around this area We had cucumber and tomato salad, grilled seafood, chicken adobo, and rice over scintillating conversations about Dubai and life in Palawan.

I had lots of conversations with the guys on the boat about their lives in the sea, where they are from, what life was like growing up and  living around this paradise day in day out. I was enthralled by their stories. So different from mine growing up in the urban jungle. They spent their childhoods in the water, protected and unspoiled by the material driven world outside of these islands.


Awakening
One of the most memorable moments of this Palawan trip for me was during the third dive. I was left alone with Alecon, the boat captain who persistently wanted me to explore the sea by snorkeling. He grew up in these islands and was one of the first divers who discovered the dive sites in this hidden paradise. His eyes lit up whenever he talked about the water.  His love for the sea was engraved in his words and was visible in  the way he freely jumps off the boat to swim  every now and then. He often disappeared underwater for a brief period and I watched him resurface later with a gigantic smile on his face.

Clockwise L to R:  3rd Dive Site  12 meters deep and Alecon the boat captain
What touched me in this moment was his passion for what he does. He decided to stay in the archipelago, while his other companions and former colleagues flew to United Arab Emirates to work.  He spoke of his friends overseas without a hint of regret for not pursuing a different life.

His simplicity yet profound adoration of the sea inspired me to see everything in a different light.

Perhaps, a life in the islands is not as scary as it appears to be.
Maybe, it's not so scary to go back and stay there for good after all.

I stayed by the boat ladder and dipped my feet in the water.

The life vest was too big for me and the only floating device was an orange life buoy along with an old mask without the snorkel tube.  To be honest, I was afraid. I knew how to swim but always feel vulnerable when at sea. It was deep, however clear the water was.  I already passed two opportunities offered to me and I kicked myself for not trying.

He threw the life buoy on the water and jumped, fetching the rope. He urged me to lean my arms on it and promised that he'd be there to pull it. Without thinking, I did. With the goggles on, I peeked into the water as we swam away from the boat. The water was clear and the colorful corals and different types of fish including some little Nemos were peaceful in their own world. The discovery of this marine life down there made me forget about my fear.

A sea turtle swam right before my eyes.  I could hardly believe it!  

Alecon let go of the rope. He occasionally dived below to point at something. Enthusiastically sharing what it was, he was so happy to make me discover the sea.


What was your memorable encounter with life underwater?
Happy Wednesday!
XOXO,
Arni

{This is not a sponsored post. I'm just happy to promote them}

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10 comments

  1. Wow! Breathtaking experience! Your description of the encounter with the sea snake was nail biting! Eep! And I loved how you spent time with people on the boat to get to know them more. I love doing that as well :) I have always been terrified of the sea and what is underneath it! And to think that I once wanted to swim with dolphins and become a dolphin trainer when I was a kid!

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  2. Lovely post, Arni! It sounds like a wonderful day sailing, enjoying seafood by the sea and having the chance to see so many beautiful creatures underwater! And an inspiring day as well!
    Just like you, I have an irrational fear of water, which is funny considering I come from a small island. I also know how to swim but I'm no fish in the water so I guess I feel really vulnerable and hardly ever venture myself far from the shore, and actually I sometimes prefer to swim in swimming-pools than in the ocean.

    Have a nice evening.
    xoxo Irene

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    1. p.s. Just watched the video of the snake, scary! Thank God nothing bad happened!

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  3. What a beautiful place to dive! Glad you saw the sea turtle - but that must've been pretty scary for those guys encountering the sea snake!

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  4. This post is amazing!!! Such beautiful pictures...and what a fun discovery! Way to embrace the moment and appreciate someone else's passion! The sea snake scenario is crazy...glad everyone is okay! Thanks for yet more beautiful pictures and travel suggestions!

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  5. What a wonderful story to start the day with! I didn't think the Philippines could get any more incredible but I was wrong. I got goosebumps over the story of the snake(I couldn't bring myself to click on the link to see what it looks like)! I guess it's these kinds of experiences that make it even more special. I felt inspired by Alecon's story too, he might just have the best job in the world!

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  6. I was going to write that I would love to dive in those beautiful waters until I read about the snake, how scary! I'm glad nothing happened.
    I'm glad you faced your fears and got into the sea, so brave Arni!
    I love swimming and diving and even if I almost get trapped into the current once I still love the feeling.
    Kisses and thanks for sharing those beautiful pics!

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  7. Wow, that sounds like quite the adventure. I've never gone even snorkeling and would love to go (minus the poisonous snake)

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  8. What a stunningly beautiful area and the sea is so incredibly clear and such a beautiful colour too. Diving most be such a rewarding experience (apart from encountering sea snakes!) but I'm just not condident enough and I prefer my head above the water! I always enjoy reading about people who are passionate about their work too. Great post.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. hi Arni!

    I just came across to your blog through a common friend. it's so nice to see your posts and pictures of Philippines... i really miss our home!!!

    take care and hope to keep in touch with you!

    xoxo,Meg of Sweet Gala's

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