Our Philippine Adventure

Our Philippine Adventure

Atlantis Resort, Dumaguete, Negros Island, Philippines
April 23, 2006 – May 3, 2006

In 2006 Randy and I and our friend Chris went to the Philippines. After recommendation of our travel agent, Reef & Rainforest Dive & Adventure Travel we decided to go to Atlantis Resort in Dumaguete on the island of Negros. Atlantis has two resorts in the Philippines. One is in Puerta Galera and the other in Dauin. We decided to go to Atlantis Dumaguete (which is really near the village of Dauin) because they claimed to have a good home  reef and we could dive off the beach.

 

Getting to Dumaguete
To get to Atlantis, we flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong on United, then Hong Kong to Manila on Cathay Pacific. We spent the night and most of the next day in Manila then on to the island of Negros on Air Philippines. Upon showing our SCUBA cerification card and international air ticket stub to the Air Philippines ticket agent, the weight allowance of 20 kg was increased and we did not have to pay overweight charges. Very important when you have two suitcases each; full of heavy dive and underwater photography gear.

Mother and Child disembark from a Jeepney

Mother and Child disembark from a Jeepney

While we were in Manila we stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati. Upon arrival our cab was checked by guards and sniffed by bomb sniffing dogs before being allowed up the driveway. The room was beautiful and had two queen sized beds (there was three of us on that trip). The next day we had until 4:00 p.m. before our flight to Dumaguete so we decided to explore the city a bit. We went downtown past a huge mall and through some parks with nice statues and gardens, and even explored a museum. The most fun though was seeing all the jeepneys! They are everywhere carrying passengers here and there. Jeepneys in Manila are very creatively painted and decorated. The other thing we noticed was how nice everyone was to us. People we ran into on the streets went out of their way to say hello and talk to us. We were really hot after all that wandering and we were very happy to find a McDonalds and have a cold milkshake!

When we first went past the mall we noticed that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of people entering the mall. Later as we went past back to our hotel we heard singing and went inside where it was packed with people! There were several levels in the mall with all of them open to the center. On a section that stuck out into the open area a woman was singing! We stayed a minute and asked someone what was going on and they said it was church. We realized then that it was Sunday (jetlag) and they were holding a church service in the mall! We had never heard of such a thing and were totally amazed at how many people were there.

On our way home we also stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel. This time when we went to check in they didn’t have any non-smoking rooms available due to other large group events going on. While Randy and I were talking to the desk clerk, Chris was talking to the guard with the dog and another gentleman in a suit. Turns out he was the manager and after finding out what was going on upgraded us to a non-smoking suite on the top floor of the hotel! It was very plush and very nice of him to upgrade us, no charge. Later on we found out that one of the events in the hotel included the vice-president of the Philippines who was staying on the same floor we were! This explains all the VERY well-dressed people we ran into in the hotel on that stay (and us in shorts and sandals). :-)

 

The Intercontinental Hotel Makati, Manila, the Philippines.

The Intercontinental Hotel Makati, Manila, the Philippines.

On our way to Atlantis, from Manila we fought the traffic out to the airport and caught our flight to Negros Island and Dumaguete. At the Dumaguete airport a driver was waiting to take us to the resort, in an air-conditioned vehicle, with bottles of cold drinking water. The drive to the resort was approximately ½ hour with the driver answering our questions and pointing out items of interest.

Atlantis Resort
At the resort, we were greeted with smiles by the staff, who presented us with a fresh, cold coconut with a straw in it. The resort grounds were immaculate, groomed daily by a small army of gardners to keep the landscaping healthy and beautiful. Our suite had a private patio with a view of the waterfall that fell into the fresh-water pool. The patio also had a hammock for lounging and racks for drying towels, bathing suits etc…

There were three of us, sharing a suite. Randy and I took the larger room with a king bed and Chris got the smaller room with two twin beds. The beds were foam, ours must have been brand new because it was as hard as a rock! The rooms were nicely decorated, immaculate, and our room included a mini-refridgerator (fully stocked with pay-by-the-item goodies) with a television on top of it which we promptly unplugged and put on the floor in the closet to clear up an electric outlet and space for battery chargers.

The room was not truly adequate for two persons and those two persons underwater photography gear, but we made do, working sometimes on the floor or the bed. At that time, Atlantis did not have a camera room but I have heard that since then they have added one. There also was a small desk that we used to work on the cameras, and to hold the laptop. The bathroom was…a bathroom. Chris’ bathroom was an all-in-one, which meant when she took a shower she had to first put her toilet paper somewhere else where it wouldn’t get soaked.

Food at Atlantis
After unpacking we headed for the dive shop to find out what the routine was and then to the restaurant for our first dinner. The chef was American and was trained at one of the culinary institutes. We had full-board, which meant we ordered off the menu for breakfast, then from the board for our lunch and dinner meals. There was always the choice of at least two items for a starter (usually a scrumptious soup or salad), then three or four main courses, then the dessert of the day.

One of the delicious desserts at Atlantis Resort.

One of the delicious desserts at Atlantis Resort.

All the meals were delicious and were beautifully presented. Most of the food was in a style popular a few years ago in the states called Asian Fusion. We especially liked the tuna (any recipe) and the mushroom soup. Sometimes an entrée would come on top of a rice dish similar to risotto. It was VERY good. Often the food was spicy. And try the table top BBQ, we had lot’s of fun cooking our BBQ, with Thomas and Connie, a couple we dove with frequently.

Some of the desserts we passed on due to caloric content or not having any room left for them, but with a little help we ate all the chocolate cake Jake (chef) made especially for Chris’ birthday. The fresh fruits were wonderful. Breakfasts from the menu were good but most of the time we ate muesli with fruit, avoiding eating too heavily before diving. Chris and I got up before sunrise almost every day trying to get a good sunrise photo. After we were done we would head for our table in the dining area and have a cup of tea or coffee. Since we were the only ones there at that time we were able to talk to some of the ladies that worked there, learning a little about the customs in that area of the Philippines.

In Closing
We really enjoyed the Philippines and Atlantis resort. We wished we had gone out exploring the island more. Chris and I went into town (Dumaguete) to go souvenir shopping with one of the kitchen staff which was fun. We rode in the back of a big truck with benches up the sides part of the way and then when we got into town where the streets are too narrow for the truck we switched to a motorcycle with a covered side car. There were six of us and the driver on that motorcycle. And I was too tall to truly fit and so my knees had to stick out the door. Chris sat next to me, three Philippina ladies sat across from us (giggling at huge Americans in tiny motorcycles) and the girl from the kitchen sat on the outside behind the driver! We went to a couple of shops, then rode back to the resort in a real bus, which was more expensive and more crowded than the truck. It was a lot of fun and neither one of us sillies thought to bring a camera to record any of this adventure.

We were a bit disappointed about the diving. There were limited dives sites that you don’t have to pay extra for, and by the end of nine days of diving we had become tired of the limitation. Although after I got home and started looking through my pictures I found that I got some really good images of some unusual creatures. However, if we had to do it over again, we would spread our trip between two or maybe three resorts all over the Philippines, making Atlantis or another resort in Dauin a stop on the journey. We did have a good time and hope go back someday…during a multi-location diving tour of the Philippines.

Underwater images from the Philippines

I hope you enjoy our images. If you have any questions please email me at kathy@divermaiden.com.

 

Websites for:

Atlantis Dive Resort, Philippines
Reef & Rainforest Dive & Adventure Travel
Intercontinental Hotel Makati, Philippines