Mysterious Mabua

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A clownfish furtively swam between the anemones polyps.

The fleeting trip to Surigao City late last year was full-packed yet our plan was amply covered.   We have been planning to explore the city for diving and finding Mabua Divers more than a year ago was a blessing.  It was unexpected to chance upon a dive operator, I was rejoicing I found one.  So, my dive buddy just gave in to my whims. On a November weekend, we met up in Butuan terminal to catch up a bus to Surigao.  Our hosts were too excited to have us for our dives.

We arrived past 8am already with Dirk & Doris eagerly waiting for us, with almost everything ready – the rubber boat, boatman, gears and other needs.  Our hosts warned us not to rush, it was comforting as Angel and I both had short naps during the night trip.  Dirk showed us around their property that has on-going works for the the additional two floors of the building.

Deep in Mabua

Our boat sped off west ward as Dirk wanted to show us the neighboring shores and the lighthouse, and got back for our first descent in Looc. I went first but  was carried away by the current, what did took them long to get off?  A local fisherman helped and tow me to our boat until I was picked up.  The slope was decorated with a small reef – corals, anemones, feather stars , juvenile fishes and hard corals. There were groupers, barramundi, puffers and nudis. The black leaf fish was a great find!

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A sea cucumber crawling on the white sands!

We had a long surface interval, our hosts graciously entertained us with travel stories! Our next descent was at Mabua Rock, we dismissed it in  the morning after Dirk failed to locate it. 🙂  It’s a big rock among white sandy area, covered with corals, anemones, crinoids, hydroids – with juvenile fishes swarming around. It has more active fish life, it was uniquely situated as if separated from other forms of life.  The rock served as reef and shelter to variety of species. We found yellow leaf fish, lots of puffers, banded pipefish, dotted barramundi, nudis and a herd of striped eelfish.  We noticed a seastar with its fingers deformed, like it has a disease! We made rounds again and again until Dirk signaled for our ascent. It was reviving to be in the depths again after almost nine weeks!

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Relaxing with my friends in the depths!

Should you do a round trip Cdeo – Surigao – Cdeo in less than 36 hours?  Quirky and rash but we had quiet moments to relax and savor life’s surprises. Indeed Mabua  is more than just a pebbles beach as it was known, it has its own secrets beyond its unique shoreline and blue waters. It has its own mystery, just waiting for curious spirits.

Disclosures

After the dives, we rushed to Butuan City and had dinner in our fave cafe, Margie’s Kitchen,  lingered and waited until it closed at 1am, then proceed to the bus terminal. We took the 2am aircon bus to CdeO, and arrived past 6am. Leisurely sat on a park bench in Divisoria, then had a sumptuous breakfast at another favorite, Vienna Cafe which opened at 8am.  Just savoring precious moments in our favorite homey restos!  🙂

NB. Underwater photos courtesy of Angel using iPhone 4S with iPix.

Diveshop Discoveries

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The iconic dive flag

My passion for diving and the underwater life had given me that keen sense for the red flag with the diagonal line, it seemed I am drawn to it even in the midst of other travel agenda. I have promised myself to be productive in every trip, learn and discover especially marine issues and activities and possibility for diving trips in the future. I always believe that many places are worthy for diving, this country has 7,107 islands and literally surrounded by waters. Indeed, many interesting spots are not in the diving map but some brave souls just establish dive shops in rural areas even if scuba diving is unpopular in the locality. Recently I unexpectedly found dive operators in the least popular setting, new discoveries that sent flutter in my heart!

Surigao City

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Mabua Peeble Beach is just 10 minutes away from Surigao City

We went to this popularly unique pebble beach in Mabua to fulfill my promise to the kids – my nephews and nieces, it was long overdue and have to squeeze schedules for a two-hour travel from Butuan to Mabua and another two hours for the return trip. We drove to the tip of the cove for the beach cottages, and somewhere halfway I caught sight of a cottage painted white with the dive sign, it was a surprise! I thought there was only Punta Bilar Dive Center in the city. It is operated by Dirk/Doris, a friendly couple who just started the shop few months back. Mabua Divers (www.mabuadivers.com) can be reached at 09166439982. The site is a good prospect as it is in the nearby Caraga region and can be reached by land, there’s no need to fly!

Legazpi City

Recently visited the city through a work trip, at the airport while waiting for my luggage I hastily approached the tourist info booth and asked about diving, it was again surprising as the attendant handed me a calling card. I mentally noted Pacific Blue (www.pacificblueasia.com) not sure to find or visit the shop. Later that afternoon, a friend’s friend showed us around and drove us to Embarcadero and further to Legazpi Boulevard. There tucked in between with newly constructed establishments is a lowly but with large ground space is the shop. I asked our host for a short stop to inquire which he politely obliged. A Japanese which looked like a Filipino to me, attended to my inquiries – a casual conversation about the divesites and its marine life. There were damages from dynamite fishing and currently they are working on coral transplantation to revive the coral reefs in the surrounding Albay Gulf. It was interesting to note their effort to restore the marine environment, in coordination with BFAR.

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As expected diving in Misibis Bay is in dollars!

The luxurious Misibis Bay offers diving but I cringed as I inquired for the rates, the bay is still reviving from dynamite fishing damages.  A sanctuary is maintained by the resort, giant clams transported from Bolinao, Pangasinan were planted and adapting well, tropical fishes which includes over-sized groupers are decorating the nearby resort waters.

Butuan City

Right in this city where I grew up, I wasn’t expecting that diving will come right at home. In my own opinion, hardly would anybody set up a dive shop in Butuan, it was unbelievable. The notable body of water in the city is the Agusan River, with its murky waters it is not feasible for diving. The decent beaches worthy for the usual weekend outings are in Nasipit and Carmen, which is more than 25 kilometers away. Most likely, diveshops will open in the coastal towns with obvious reasons. JJ Dive Center started operations just few months back this summer, with the vision that Butuanons will embrace Scuba Diving as a sport, hobby and passion.

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Punta Diwata Reef is offshore of Punta Diwata Cave (Photo credits of wikipedia.org)

I found their announcement online through a diver Mexican contact and noticed that their dive spots include those located in Surigao City and Carmen, Agusan del Norte. These localities have notable marine environment and have existing partnership with government agencies for marine preservation and protection. I’m looking forward to discover and explore the mysterious depths in Caraga, and again there’s no need to fly!