Manta Bowl Diving & other (mis)adventures

Ticao Travel Blog

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ready, get set, back roll
The other thing that made this trip special is because we're diving Manta Bowl.  I've been addicted to diving since I started about 6 months ago.  I used to jumped at every opportunity to dive. But 30 dives later, it has taken it's toll on my pocket, so I now I'm a bit choosy (not much but I try, he he).

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.
the sea crawlers


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.
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  Ray claimed to have seen a manta but said it was so fast. I was behind him but didn't see anything. 

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.
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  My regulator mouth piece finally gave way and broke, so I had to switch to the octopus underwater.  The 1st 2 dives, we spend a lot of time parked and waiting, but this time, the DM was more determined so we were moving more.  This time the scene is more interesting, there were some nice corals and fishes.  We saw a white sting ray and then shortly we saw an eagle ray but some of them didn't see it as it was very fast and poor visibility.  I was quite happy with that already but as we were coming to the end of our dive, few minutes before our computer will start beeping, I saw it.  We saw it.  A huge manta ray, maybe over 12 feet length and like 15 feet away. It was flapping it's flap gracefully above the reef, not moving forward.  I was in front with Beth a few fins away and then Neil overtook trying to get a picture, but we all didn't wanna go too near fearing of scaring it away before the rest of the gang see it.
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  I was again mesmerized by a huge sea creature, very tempted to fin forward but afraid that it will go away but eventually it did, of course. :)

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.
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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.
happy divers
She didn't. Lol.  Beth is our group leader and holds all our tickets and were left at the resort together with her bag. LOL. I laugh now, but at that time, it was not very funny. :)

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? :-)

Epilogue:

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.
Neil on phone, coordinating. Lol
  They will get tired before the whaleshark.  SO I guess all's well that ends well. Stay tuned for our group's next (mis)adventure this August in  Davao City for the Kadayawan Festival with a side trip to the alluring Camiguin Island. Cheers! :-)











Isabetlog says:
Nice! What camera do you use for your underwater shots?
Posted on: Jun 09, 2008
ice9van says:
Goodluck on your Davao trip! :D
Posted on: May 15, 2008
wanderlass says:
hahaha! in more ways than one yes! :)
Posted on: May 15, 2008
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ready, get set, back roll
ready, get set, back roll
the sea crawlers
the sea crawlers
click
click
click
click
click
click
click
click
happy divers
happy divers
Neil on phone, coordinating. Lol
Neil on phone, coordinating. Lol
click 1
click 1
uw storm
uw storm
crawlers
crawlers
underwater storm
underwater storm
major cam ho :)
major cam ho :)
safety stop
safety stop
SIT
SIT
SIT
SIT
surface interval
surface interval
zara
zara
stephen
stephen
boatmen
boatmen
neil
neil
promise rainbow
promise rainbow
treasure hunters
treasure hunters
cam hos me et kat
cam ho's me et kat
flipped
flipped
the money shot
the money shot
happy jump shot
happy jump shot
happy
happy
diver babes :p
diver babes :p
babe divers
babe divers
sunset
sunset
hi
hi
Ticao
photo by: wanderlass