Published: 12/15/2007

Author: Fredy Brauchli


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Geographic data

Latitude: 9.1865 / N 9° 11.19'
Longitude: 123.267998 / E 123° 16.08'


Trächtiges männliches (!) Seepferdchen mit prall gefüllter Bauchtasche (Masaplod).

Weichkorallen-Dekorationskrabbe. (Dauin).

Junkerfische beim Paarungsritual. (Lipayo, El Dorado Hausriff).

Harlekin-Geisterpfeifenfisch. (Lipayo, El Dorado Hausriff).

Pegasusfisch. (Dauin).

Mandarin-Leierfische beim Paarungsritual. (Lipayo, Sarah’s Place).

Springkrabbe „Lauriea siagiani“. (Masaplod).

Seltene Färbung eines Fangschreckenkrebses. (Lipayo, Sarah’s Place).


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Sea Slug “Thecacera picta”. (Dauin, Car Wreck).

Sea Slug “Thecacera picta”. (Dauin, Car Wreck).

The Magic of the Visayas (Philippines) – Risk of Addiction for Macro Photographers

The Visayas are one of the best diving grounds worldwide. Mainly due to their extremely diverse marine wildlife they enjoy an increasing popularity.

After 15 to 20 hours by air from Europe, depending on the route, either via Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong – you will reach the pulsing city of Dumaguete in the South East of Negros Oriental. The last leg of the journey is done by land or by sea to one of the six Sea-Explorer’s dive stations. Since 1986, Swiss national Chris Heim – one of the most experienced diving school owners - is responsible for six extremely well managed destinations. The resort in Lipayo, Dauin, South of Dumaguete has been named a PADI 5* GOLD PALM IDC Center and is the heart of the diving empire of Chris Heim. The head office is located in Cebu City and managed by another dedicated Swiss national, Martin Nussbaumer.

Brown Sand and Rarities Galore

The crystal-clear turquoise waters are a nice contrast to the beautiful brown sandy beaches of Negros. The shoreline is marked by dense tropical vegetation. When this report is posted the new comfortable resort in Lipayo will be finished. You will find luxurious cabanas built from precious materials grouped around a fresh water pool ready to move in. Value and service during your vacation are guaranteed. Rolf Mühlemann, another long-time Philippines expert, manages the resort, located directly on the endless sandy beach with its well equipped diving station. Thanks to him and his diving guides, visitors from far away places are able to see the numerous rare creatures “frolicking” right in front of the resort. Sea horses, several different species of Ghost Pipefish, Pegasus Fish, Frogfish and Dragonets are a common sight while exploring the underwater world at the house reef or at one of the diving sites minutes away with names like “Sarah’s Place“, “Dauin“ or “Masaplod”. And let’s not forget the variety of sea slugs!

Apo and Sumilon Island

A longer trip in the speedy and comfortable catamaran takes more experienced divers to Apo Island and Sumilon Island, small islands surrounded by fine white sand that offer very different diving experiences. Drift diving in front of “Coconut Plantation”, drop-off thrill at “Chappel”, thousands of clownfish at “Clownfish City”, or giant schools of mackerels at “Rock Point”. At Apo Island and around Sumilon Island there is something for everyone’s taste.

Island Hopping for the Total Diving Experience

The six bases of the Sea-Explorers in the Southern Visayas guarantee a unique island hopping experience during your vacation. The Sea-Explorer ‘s diving stations have been acknowledged twice as the best diving stations in South Eastern Asia. You can book your vacation at several diving bases without losing time during the transfers by boat, as you will stop on your way at spectacular sites to take a dive. Five of the six destinations are scattered within only a few square miles: Dumaguete, Siquijor, Alona Beach, Cabiloa, and Malboal. Malapascua, located off the coast of the Northern tip of Cebu, is the only site, which is about a day’s trip away. If you are in the mood and have enough time you can customize your own island hopping. For those who just like to go with the flow there is a 15 day standard program on offer. Whatever your decision, an individual diving program customized to each diver’s needs and level of experience is guaranteed.

Insights of a “Repeat Addict”

With every diving vacation in the Southern Visayas my personal expectations rose. And they have never been unfulfilled and often surpassed! Who can say that they were able to see 80% of their wish list of rarities during their first dive alone? The author was lucky enough to accomplish this in Dumaguete in the spring. At the two diving sites closest to the resort I was able to spot and photograph sea horses, sea grass, and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, a Pegasus Fish, a Frogfish, rare slugs, Decoration Crabs, Sea Needles, one Blackfoot Firefish and one Devilfish. One of the highlights was the encounter of a Mandarin Dragonet during a sunset dive. Admittedly, you need to be really lucky to be able to not only spot these colorful fish, which usually will hide away in mere seconds, but also be able to photograph them. The icing on the cake, however, was the picture I took of two mating Mandarin Dragonets – a photo that was only possible thanks to my knowledgeable lighting expert, my daughter Simone. This destination can only be recommended with reservations for lovers of big fish. Of course, you can be lucky enough to encounter manta rays and whale sharks. But this is more an exception than the rule. For me, the encounter with a fascinating Fox Shark at the drop-off near the coast of Apo Island was yet another highlight. I could go on and on about the numerous tiny and rare sea dwellers. Finger Dragonets, Moyer’s Dragonets, sea snakes, Peacock Lionfish, Orange Colored Mantis Shrimp etc. - all received an entry in my diving log during my 15-day vacation. Almost too many species to be able to enjoy and appreciate each one of them. Those divers looking for an alternative to the legendary Lembeth Straits should give the Southern Viscayas a try without hesitation. Risk of addiction included!