Report by Tom Collier - Houston Underwater Photo Society
This report is the result of a a group of six divers from the Houston Underwater Photographic Society sailing aboard M/V Atlantis Azores. Tom Collier, the trip leader, is Presdident of HUPS and very active dve traveler. Once you've considered Tom's report, you may wish to check out some of the links provided below.
M/V Atlantis Azores Details
Philippines Photo Gallery
Island Dreams' Philippines Dive Travel Packages
Houston Underwater Photographic Society (HUPS)
In addition to our stay at El Galleon Resort, Puerto Galera, six of our group extended their stay in the Philippines for a seven-day charter on the M/V Atlantis Azores live-aboard to Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. The M/V Atlantis Azores is operated by the Atlantis Dive Resorts, Philippines which from my brief encounter with their staff could very easily rival and possibly exceed the level of service of the El Galleon staff.
The M/V Atlantis Azores was exceptional in all regards, from the dive operations to the food served by the super attentive staff. All the individuals in our group agreed that the quality of the meals served were the best that we have ever experienced on any live-aboard any of us have ever booked, and that is not an exaggeration!
We were equally impressed with the Azores' staff. They too went above and beyond to make our voyage a pleasant experience. The ship was prepared for u/w photographers and facilities were present for all things associated with u/w cameras: camera tables, dedicated rinse tanks, blow off air lines, charging stations, computer stations and secure storage areas.
Diving Tubbataha Reef was very good but not spectacular when taken in the content that it is purported to be a world-class dive location. The seas were calm and the diving was easy so we were able to freely dive all the premier dive sites. The fish life was fairly abundant and we enjoyed many great dives with marvelous wide angle photography opportunities. Most of our dives consisted of sheer walls gradually tapering to coral slopes and flat sandy plateaus, my personal favorite type of diving.
Many types of schooling fish were encountered: barracuda, jacks, and mackerel. Some tuna, white tip reef sharks and Napoleon Wrasse were also seen. Huge barrel sponges and sea fans were on the walls and large numbers of sweet lips were seen on most dives. However, not much in the way of small critters and nudibranches were hard to come by. This place is a wide-angle photographer's paradise.
The only negative to this dive location is that a fair amount of the coral cover has not fully recovered from past destructive fishing methods and a 1998 El Nino event which resulted in extensive coral bleaching. Not to say that the diving wasn't impressive because much of the reef was healthy and it is hard to beat the experience of hanging in the blue next to a sheer wall in the middle of the ocean.
New Images: Philippines Photo Gallery
What the guests are saying: El Galleon Guest Comments
Learn more about Philippines Diving: Philippines Dive Report
Book a dive trip to the Philippines: Philippines Scuba Diving Packages
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