There are places that are meant for a return, exactly a year after a quirky trip to this town in the southern tip of Panay Island, I was back to dive once more its unspoiled depths. This town is not known in the diving map but my two deep dives last year inarguably convinced my innate sense that it was worth for more descents. Although I wasn’t in a rush, my beloved dive buddy’s persuasion ended with my ticket bookings for Iloilo and arranging reservations at The Divehouse – my home in Aninni-y.
Getting there on a morning was perfectly better passing the heritage towns and catching glimpse of the wide blue sea as we rolled off on the coastal road. Far from the night trip I had last year, when the dark night hid the rural scenery. Arriving early in our refuge at Siraan Spring Resort gave us ample time to explore the town which includes snorkeling in the turquoise waters of Nogas Island – for over an hour! Just floating, relaxing and watching the marine life silently with my dive buddy, and the mermaid in me was rejoicing. The gleaming white beach, the warm sun and blue waters was a perfect picture of summer, even if it was already end of August.
In our diving day, our unexpected warm-up pumped-up more energy for us, we walked three kilometers to the next barangay to attend the Sunday mass! The morning breeze, mild sunrise and rural scenery were good enough for the hike. The adrenaline prod us rushing to the diveshop, we were expected at 8:00am. DM AJ welcomed us warmly, the smell of the kitchen and the sight of the long, heavy, wooden dining table reminded me of home.
DM AJ arranged our first descent at Mamam, a deep dive with those tricky swim throughs – I can only remember my wonderful sightings last year. So we sailed westward with our dive guide Paldon leading, we were joined with two divers from Iloilo. We dropped anchors after a little detour to Nogas Island dropping off a couple guest, after more than thirty minutes trying to find a favorable spot. We descend to a white sandy slope, the viz was somewhat hazy. In a while we found the rocks with those tunnels just enough for a person to swim. It felt playful like doing some hide and seek over the rocks, but I miss the giant jacks which the others crossed path in the tunnel, including Angel. We found angels, moorish idol, cardinals and wrasses, I noticed clown triggerfish swimming along nearby but wiggled away when it noticed me. There were few nudis too and variety of corals. I was hoping to see again the school of silver barracudas and the leaf frogfish but none appeared. I think early mornings are best to find them as they trouped for early preys! We lingered a bit more circling the area until we slowly hover up for ascent after 41 minutes conscious of my NDL, my deepest at 28.6 meters.
Our surface interval was utilized for checking out from our lodgings and a bit of lounging at the dining area exchanging pleasantries with DM AJ, Owie and RJ while preparing for our next descent with them. DM AJ finally got the chance to guide us tagging with him his Japanese diver guest. We were a bunch, all my companions are guys but after some time I got used to it already, my dive buddy’s company is always comforting.
We sailed off Nogas Island aiming for Malou’s Rock for our last descent after a short briefing from DM AJ, the warm afternoon waters ushered us to a sandy slope with big boulders bringing us to a wall. We tread the waters with the wall on our left shoulder, drifting as we passed the thriving marine life. Colorful juveniles hovering on corals, yellow breams parading in herd alternated with sew whips and colorful crinoids. There were trumpet fish, sand perches, triggers and scorpion fish! Invertebrates also abound, the obscured bivalves of different species silently lurked in corners abruptly closing in a faint shadow or movements. There were few nudis and even flatworms that adorned the reef. We signaled for ascent after 50 minutes, my deepest was 26.5 meters. I guess I feel more comfortable having back my dive computer, Suunto D4i is the great all-rounder indeed! We ended our stay at the resort after we agreed for a diving expedition summer next year in the Sulu seas!
Have you gone to Antique province or Panay Island?
1. Buses going to Anini-y and other Antique towns are stationed at Molo terminal, first trip is at 6:30am. Catching the 5:00pm trip back to Iloilo is ideal, reaching the city about 7:00pm.
2. The only diveshop in Anitque is The Divehouse, a friendly accredited PADI shop, accommodations can be arranged also in this dive facility.
3. This lowly town offers other interesting spots – Nogas Island, Siraan Hotsprings and a heritage church.
4. Direct flight to Iloilo from Cagayan de Oro is now available daily!