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Dive Ticao – The Bowl Where the Manta Is

We took the land trip from Manila to Legazpi. Until now, I’m still wondering why we took the land trip instead of flying to Legazpi. Surprisingly, a few minutes after I adjusted my lazy boy seat, the next thing I knew, we were in Legazpi.

The van which we commissioned to bring us to Donsol was waiting for us in the Legazpi Bus Terminal. We had a quick stop at Bigg’s Diner for breakfast.

We were in a hurry to go to Donsol so we can still catch the last trip going to Ticao. We opted to skip San Miguel dive site since the only mission we have is to ride the current of Ticao Strait and of course glide with the mantas!

dive-ticao-2011


We were caught in a not so ideal weather. Choppy waters. Windy. Cloudy skies. Not sure why the forces of nature are not on our side. It’s supposed to be Philippine Summer , it’s April!

After 2 hours of gruelling and punishing boat ride, we arrived at the Fun Dive Asia resort in Masbate. We were asked if we wanted to have lunch first since it’s around 11:30am. We’re ready to skip lunch and continue our mission of riding the current and gliding with the manta. We proceeded with the dive briefing c/o of Marco, Jess and Rico Calleja (dive instructor).

And off we go to another 20 minute ride from the resort to the Manta Bowl. We relied to the GPS to hit where the Manta Bowl is.

No natural markers or anything. We’re in the middle of nowhere. And what lies beneath us were Mantas!

We hit the water and held to the outrigger until everyone was ready to descend.  The water was cold! Around 79F. Current could be in the 3-4 knots at the start of the dive. We drifted with the current. When we hit 50ft, we started traversing and cutting the direction of the current until we hit R.A.C point where we can take shelter. Waited for a couple of minutes, maybe around 5 minutes (which felt forever) and there we saw this giant! A 3-meter gliding effortlessly against/with the current. I can see remoras cleaning the gills – reason why these creatures frequent the area – to get cleaned!

We got really closer, maybe 5 ft and it stayed for about 12 minutes hovering above, beside and behind us. It was indeed an interaction!

Then we left R.A.C point hoping to see sharks at the Shark Apartment. In the Shark’s absence, we saw mating Jacks! I didn’t realize they were mating. I just noticed that I see a lot of jacks in pair but the odd thing is one is silver and the other is black. Clueless until I got to the surface. Apparently, the jacks were mating. The black one was the male. That’s how the male jacks are, they change color when in heat.

Then there we had our SIT at the boat. Yes, at the boat where it had to go up and down with the 4-6 ft waves. At the point in time, I was fine to call it a day after that interaction with the Manta.

Mission accomplished I would say after the first dive! But no, the diver in me pushed me back to the water for my second attempt to interact with the manta. But maybe mother nature told us that we’ve had enough. We were delighted though with a school of barracuda and those mating jacks again and of course the 5 knots of Ticao Strait.

We were back at the resort by about 4pm to have our lunch. We had to do it quickly so we can get back to Donsol before it gets dark.

After the late lunch, we can still imagine the manta hovering around us, but little by little we are reminded of the gruelling travel back to Donsol.

It is by far the ride of my life – both underwater and the surface – the drift and the choppy waters of Ticao Strait.

I recommend to either dive the next day after taking the land trip or maybe fly to Legazpi. The rigors of the land trip plus the boat ride will eventually take its toll on you.

We were back to Donsol around 7PM – then it’s lights off for us. Early night it is.

Making the most of our trip was the swimming with the whale sharks (Butanding) then we head back to CamSur Watersports Complex for some wakeboarding before taking the land trip back to Manila for our Monday work.

All these activities were done in 3 days. Try the itinerary we’ve had at your own risk.

Dive Site: Manta Bowl / R.A.C. Point
Location: Ticao, Masbate
Dive Operator: Fun Dive Asia
Getting There:

  1. Go to Legazpi

Option  1: Fly (~1 hour) to Legaspi via Cebu Pacific, PAL
Option 2: Land Trip going to Legaspi via Penafrancia (02-913-1528) or Isarog (02-913-3551)
– Cost: Php 900 (lazy boy)
– Travel Time: 11 hours

  1. Hire a van going to Donsol

–          cost could be around Php 1,500 – 2,000

  1. Go to Dive Center – Fun Dive Asia
  2. Prepare to have another 2 hour boat ride from Donsol to Ticao

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150143768559072.286903.88066009071

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