Besides spotting the dragons, another highlight during my stay on Flores was supposed to be the diving. A lot of people i met on the way had recommended diving Komodo so I was pretty excited to go. Komodo is supposed to be one of the richest marine environments in the world and at the same time one of the most challenging dive destinations. I heard rumors of huge schools of fish, large pelagic fish and an abundance of colorful coral. At the same time strong currents were supposed to make the diving the mentioned challenge. Hence a good dive shop with properly educated personnel and good equipment was needed. After shopping around a bit in Labuan Bajo I found Wicked Diving. The shop made a very good impression and after getting to know the team and discussing some details, I was convinced and ready to go. True to the shops motto “No rest for the wicked!”. Continue reading
After my memorable stay on Bunaken, it took a very long journey to make it to the Togean Islands in Sulawesi. On the way down, this trip seemed like a legit option which literally everyone here does. The islands also promised some nice diving and easy chilling on nice beaches. But first I had to take an 8 hour car ride from Manado to Gorontalo and straight after that another 10 hour ferry ride. I finally arrived in Wakai, the main city of the Togeans, at about 7 in the morning and was greeted by grey skies, rain and comparably low temperatures. Pretty unusual for this time of the year and not what I really expected but I was too tired to really worry about it. What I did expect though was a rather uncrowded place with less tourists but that didn’t go as planned either.
After surfing in Bali, I decided it was time to leave and go exploring some more remote regions again. In the end, venturing off the beaten path is where my heart is. I remembered that I always wanted to see Sulawesi, a huge island situated right between the Malucas and Borneo. I had heard of remote islands, unspoiled and rugged regions without a lot of tourists, great diving at untouched reefs and difficult transportation. Exactly the adventure I needed after three weeks spent in a rather blissful manner. I had booked the flight to Manado, Sulawesi’s Northern capital and gateway to my final destination Bunaken Island, just a few days before. And that flight was already an odyssey itself with a delay of six hours, arriving at 5 am instead of 10:30 pm, a change of planes and a whole lot of chaos at the airport. A good start of this adventure but what I didn’t know at this point was, that there were other, way more nerve-wracking challenges waiting for me.
A little bit belated, I want to share two awesome encounters I had during my recent stay in Donsol. The sleepy town of Donsol is located in Sorsogon, Southern Luzon and is world famous for being regularly visited by whale sharks. The biggest fish of the world are known to come here between November and June with January until May being the peak season. The encounters with these gentle giants used to be very regular but lately encounters have become scarce. It seems like the whalesharks have found a new feeding ground which they prefer over Donsol. Since I have missed swimming with them while I was travelling in Australia, I definitely wanted to take my chances, even though it was already very late in the season. Continue reading
Our last stop before returning to Manila was the Island of Busuanga and its main town of Coron. The perspective of some more island hopping but especially some of the world’s best wreck diving made us take the long boat journey from El Nido upon ourselves. What was supposed to be a trip of about 8 hours, turned into a 12 hour odyssey. After 4 hours Dolf and I got sick – not because of the rough sea or the boat being to shaky. No, we figured that we both had something bad for breakfast and it felt terrible. Anxious to arrive in Coron, we noticed that the boat turned around all of a sudden. Apparently another boat of the same company had engine problems and needed to be towed into Coron Harbor. The timing for a maneuver like that could not have been worse.
Coming back from beautiful Siquijor, our plan was to head straight to the island of Camiguin. It is part of the region of Mindanao and supposedly the island with the most volcanoes per square kilometer. Camiguin would be our last stop before going to Palawan which would also be our last leg of our shared journey through the Philippines. We hence planned to spend a few quality days with a mix of relaxation and adventure.
Once again we traveled by ferry including yet another stopover in Bohol. The ride on an old and rusty ship but over-friendly crew took about 4 hours. The weather was fine which made the ride enjoyable and diverting. We were even able to spot some dolphins and lots of flying fish accompanying our boat for a bit. Continue reading
After our full dose of tropical relaxation on Biri Island, we wanted to keep going and explore some more of the Philippines’ island life. Crossing Samar into Leyte, our plan was to make it over to Biliran Island. Recommended by friends again, the island is supposed to be non-touristy, very beautiful and more importantly, a good jump-off point to some of the smaller islands around.
Biliran Island – Our scenic base for island hopping
After a long journey we arrived on Biliran and went straight to the coastal town of Naval. We decided to live it up a little and got ourselves a nice room with aircon, tv and sea view. Every once in a while you just have to treat yourself. Being pretty exhausted from the long journey and having plans for the following day, we passed the remainder of the relaxing and walking around town for a bit.