Manta Bowl Diving & other (mis)adventures
Ticao Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
April 6th, 2008 – by: wanderlass
Manta Bowl is a submerged reef located in Ticao Pass, about 2 hours boat ride from the resort. It was discovered a few years back that large pelagic are brought in by the strong current. However, most people come here to dive with large pacific manta rays (according to the internet). Current here is known to be really strong and we were all advised to bring own reef hook and balloon. And also, to expect that most entry is done negative. This makes me very excited, but a bit nervous.
We were 6 divers who took this option while the others either did the whaleshark encounter again or went snorkeling. The divers whom I will spend many hours on the boat with are Zara (dived with all the time), Beth (dived together once, but party with many times), Kat (who I became good friends with), Stephen (who inspired my Canon G9), and Neil (the instructor who I hope to dive with again). We were led by Ray, a seasoned dive master of Ticao and Anilao.
On our first dive, the swell and current at the surface wasn't that strong that we didn't even have to do negative entry. But wow, when we get to the bottom (about 70ft), the current was so strong that we have to use reef hooks. The current also threatened to wash away my mask and regulator mouth piece. We were crawling almost kissing the ground againts the current hoping to have the manta rays washed towards our direction.
The water was a plankton soup and murky as hell. We have to be still and keep wide eyes so as not to miss anything. No luck again on the 2nd dive but Neil saw a small stingray. We ate our packed lunch at the boat and had a little siesta.
So Ellen of Diver's Point was right that manta rays sighting is not guaranteed here. After 2 dives, we were all kind of tired and a little discouraged. Kat said she wants to skip the 3rd (and last) dive. I was very tempted as well but I know I wont. Finally all of us went in anyway, because none of us want to be the only one who didn't see the manta rays. Lol.
The 3rd dive current was as strong as the 1st one, and as soupy as well.
Everyone was ecstatic coming out, except Stephen who experienced vertigo and had to ascend accompanied by Neil ahead of us, but fortunately not before having a good look at the manta ray, and even taking a photo from a few feet away. So that leaves 4 of us ladies and DM Ray who took a billion of photos of us. He he.
Coming back to the boat we realized a new dilemna. We finished the dive around 3:30 pm but we have a bus to catch at 6:30 pm! Remember the boat ride takes 2 hrs plus the winding, scenic 1.5 hr drive to the bus terminal? Yes, Amazing Race, Donsol Edition! We got to the resort at 5:30 pm but we were all mentally packing during the 2 hour ride.
Once arrived at the resort, we ran like hell. Took off my wetsuit in a 5 second shower. Found our bags packed (thanks to Riva). Changed into dry clothes (underwear and all) at the dining bench beside the van. Run to get my gears and had the presence of mind to have my dive log stamped. Ha ha. The non-divers are already on their way to Legaspi.
Very, very, very impressively, 10 minutes later, we were all in the van, Kat & Beth, still in wetsuits as they were staying in a different hotel, holding on to our dear lives, as the crazy F1 driver sold his soul (and ours) to the devil, to get us to our bus!
You think it's the end? Hell, no! Not without another mishap, bien sur! As both mine and Zara's bag were packed neatly by Riva (our room mate), Beth & Kat assumed Denise (their room mate) did the same.
In the end, Beth & Kat had no choice but to stay another night for it's impossible for them to go back to the resort in Donsol and back to Legaspi to catch any bus the same day. As for us with bags but no tickets, Ging was able to negotiate the purchase of new tickets allowing them to refund the unused ones. Ging's really cool and compose despite all this mishaps. I said that already no? :-)
The next day, Beth & Kat will have the greatest whaleshark encounter ever! They will swim with the gentle giant for 1 - 1/2 hours straight.
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