Tabbataha Reef Part 3

May 01

I think I can mention this without jinxing it. We have been diving for four days now with 20 divers and 22 staff. They all seem to be quite easy to get along with. After the last couple of boat experiences we were worried. One of the deck hand guys has done up the zipper on the back of my wetsuit about ½ the time. The guests are from all over the world. Three from Shanghai, China, two ladies from Germany, a couple from the U.S., two guys from Belgium, a Vietnamese lady living in Singapore, one local fellow from Manila, a couple from Chile living in Panama, another couple from Singapore, three French Canadians and us. Almost everyone interacts and switches up seats at meals so we all get to know each other. Meal time is always fun.

The current today was behaving and the dive are much more manageable. We still glance out into the blue but we don’t spend a lot of time hanging in the water flying along with the current looking for the ever-elusive hammerheads or whale sharks. We spent time scouring the wall and traversing the flatter parts of the reef keeping our eyes peeled for some of the animals more familiar to us. As I mentioned before the coral is in extremely good shape and there are a ton of fish, mostly in ones and twos but there are some very large schools.

Debbie writes:

Murray mentioned the past boat experiences and I was feeling the same way. After our last liveaboard, I was not sure I ever wanted to go on a liveaboard again. This liveaboard, boat, crew and guests, has restored my faith in liveaboards.

Tabbataha Natural Park

May 02

Last day to dive Tabbataha. People leave tomorrow and some have early flights so in order that they get 24 hours of non dive time in we are up at 5.30am and diving at 6.15am. Roll back into the water and it is the first cold water we have got into right off the boat. It warms up as we dive but the early morning shock wakes us.

The goal is to go deep and see what is out there. Today is the day we are all short a bit of air and that does not coincide with deep diving. We use more air at depth. We motor along at about 60ft and then the dive master heads out into the blue to see if it is worth a trip to the deep. Nope. A school of jackfish is all he can see so we stay higher. More of a reef dive. There were a lot of sharks enroute but mostly small ones, less than a meter. I did find an octopus which is always ego boosting. I don’t find many. He was tucked in a hole and keeping an eye on us as we passed. Considering they were the one animal I was afraid of when I first started diving, I now find then super interesting and fun to watch.

The last dive of the trip the current was again very mild. We spent ½ the dive swimming into it. A lot of work after floating with the current for so many days.

Tabbataha Natural Park

Overall Impressions

The Solitude One is a great boat. It is a converted ocean going Japanese built ship and it is so stable. Even in moderately rough seas I didn’t even feel the rocking. It is laid out for divers. There is a big camera room, a lounge, dining area and a sun deck. The dive deck has ample room to get dressed and ready to dive and loading onto the pangas is easy. The cabins are small but definitely big enough to accommodate all of a divers’ needs. There is even a small desk to type the blog post on.

The crew was completely accommodating. They were there to help and help they did. Food was good. They say the people make the country and these folks made the boat. The guests were all great. To a person they were nice. They were all willing to chat and tell stories of where they had been and where they had dove. This liveaboard with crew and guests restored my faith in dive boats.

The diving was good but, in my view, unot spectacular. There was the opportunity to see some pelagics, big stuff, manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, but nature does what nature does and we didn’t see any. Considering the amount of time we spent looking we had a good chance if anything had been there to see but nope. The reef is in very good shape and there are tons of fish. With the strong current on most of the dives we could not stop and enjoy a lot of it. The movie went by and we had to be satisfied with that. Still fun though. I am not sure this would be one of the places I would come back to but not disappointed we came.

Debbie writes:

My overall impressions agree with Murray’s on the boat, crew and guests. I do disagree slightly with the diving. Although, maybe not spectacular, the diving was pretty darn great. Yeah, there was current. We didn’t see a lot of small stuff, which we like, but sometimes diving is like that. During many of the dives, I just marveled at the health of the reef, the large schools of fish and enjoyed being in the moment with the reef.

Tabbataha Natural Park
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