During March Sarah and I spent a month in the Philippines, firstly leading our group tour (Philippines Island Safari) and then venturing to a number of destinations spread throughout the country. Sarah will no doubt tell you all about her experience onboard Atlantis Azores (tiger sharks, mantas and pristine reefs) in another post, I headed out to a region called Anda on the east coast of Bohol and then Cabilao and finally on to check out a new resort in Anilao. It was an exciting tour for both of us – new locations, plenty of amazing diving and lots of quality operators well researched.
My first stop after the tour was Amun Ini Resort and it turned out to be an amazing surprise, I’d met with Birgitte (Amun Ini Sales and Marketing Rep) at a number of dive shows and we’d talked about a visit. I must admit I was a bit dubious to start, the resort was new, at least the dive operation was and I could hardly find any information on the place – no Youtube videos, no reports from pro photographers and although our contacts in the Philippines had heard of the place they couldn’t comment on the diving. In any case I decided to take a punt and go and check it out, the resort looked great and at least I’d could have some down time after the tour if the diving wasn’t up to scratch.
First impressions of the resort we’re very positive – family owned, secluded location – private cove with a white sand beach directly in front and a very pleasant atmosphere. After meeting dive guides Gab and Lito we discussed the next days diving and I settled down for the night still not really sure what to expect. When we got on the boat the next day my guides were pretty excitable – both with CV’s that featured pretty much every top dive operator in the country – seemed I was in good hands. Gab immediately started telling me how pleased he was to get this (very recent) placement and how he and Lito were still discovering new sites, as the boat left the bay I also started to get a good vibe about Anda – the views behind the resort were spectacular and I really got a sense I was somewhere special.
The dive sites around Anda are mainly walls – with a difference. Just 50 meters or so from the shore is a reef crest with (and I mean this) spectacular corals – I can honestly say that I think only Raja Ampat can match this place in terms of the condition of the reef here. Beautiful leather corals, elephant ear and numerous other species of soft corals adorned the reef, a great start. From the crest there’s typically a wall that drops to between 25 and 30 meters before plateauing out to a sandy bottom – often peppered with soft coral gardens, fields of black corals and occasional bommies. This is what I grew to love about Anda, you can dive it at 4 different levels, starting off at the deeper plateau before hitting the wall, then reef crest and finishing on the shallower reef flat for the surface interval. There’s also the odd cavern and overhand making the topography nicely diverse.
I was also enjoying the reefs very much, the good visibility combined with vibrant soft corals really bought out the colours of the reef. Hours pass so quickly in Anda, I surfaced after every dive with a big smile and began to fall in love with the diving. We spent around 5 hrs in the water on that first day, finishing up on the house reef for the dusk dive to see the Mandarin Fish. The next day was just as good – Gab and Lito again showing the diversity of diving on offer – we headed north for a white sand muck dive which delivered numerous ghost pipefish, hairy frogfish and plenty of nudibranchs and explore some caves which lead to sink holes over a kilometer inland from their end location at 26 meters at the reef wall.
Amun Ini is a glorious resort, a little bit luxurious but not pretentious – it’s the kind of place where you want to treat yourself. What’s more all the staff are very friendly but didn’t fuss over you which I think is a great balance to have. Most of the other guests had arrived from word of mouth, friends had tipped them off that this is the next ‘best thing in the Philippines’ but we don’t expect it to be long before the word spreads.
We’re offering a few different ways to experience this new resort – firstly as a combination safari either with another resort on the west coast of Bohol where you’ll dive Cabilao, as part of our newest group tour – Philippines and Palau which will be taking place yearly or just on a individual basis. The best time to visit is between November & May. For more information write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 955 0180.0