Philippine Siren Dive Report
Cruising the Best of the Visayas

S/Y Philippine Siren live-aboard dive boat

Story and Photos by Sue Goodman - for Island Dreams Travel
Copyright 2013

About the Author -- Sue Goodman was living a typical life in the USA, working hard, and taking as many dive trips as vacation time and budget would allow. That all changed radically a few years back, when she joined an Island Dreams group tour to El Galleon Resort, Puerto Galera, the Philippines. Near the end of the trip, surrounded by new friends, Sue celebrated a milestone birthday at The Point Bar. She realized that she loved the country, its climate, food, people, more relaxed pace, and above all the great Philippines diving.

To make a long story short, Sue Goodman made a major change in her life and now lives in the Philippines full time. Her pace may not have slowed much, though, as she's getting to dive more than ever. The following report is from Sue's recent cruise aboard the new Sailing Yacht (S/Y) Philippine Siren live-aboard. Thanks Sue...and keep it up!

Shutter-Struck Scuba Junkies -- Recently, I was one of 16 shutter-struck scuba junkies fortunate enough to board the lovely S/Y Philippine Siren for five days of photo madness worthy of any diver's dreams. We did it all, from seeking out the tiniest of critters in the chocolate brown sand of Dauin, to blowing bubbles with gentle giants... the whale sharks at Oslob! A debt of gratitude is surely owed to Mike Bartick, Blue Water Photo/Underwater Photography Guide, and the incredible Philippine Siren crew for providing this tremendous chance to enjoy world class diving and unparalleled photo opportunities.

Map of the Visayas, Philippines

Jam-Packed Dive Schedule -- After getting acquainted, finding our assigned cabins, and assembling our scuba gear and camera equipment, we set sail, waking the following morning to warm sun and calm seas. That day, and every day, was jam-packed, diving, learning, and fun. We did a pre-breakfast dive, a mid-morning dive, an afternoon dive, and finally a night dive. The time between dives was filled with presentations and lessons with Mike, question and answer time, and the most helpful daily “photo review” where we were all asked to share photos depicting issues we were struggling with. Strobe angles, shutter speed versus f-stop, composition, you name it, we all joined in the critique, identifying properties of the photo we liked, as well as how we felt the photo could have been made better. It was wonderful to bounce ideas around amongst ourselves, helping each other as Mike assisted us all as a group.

Red Reef Scene - copyright Sue Goodman

Prizes Were Awarded -- All cameras, from the smallest compact to the biggest of DSLRs were offered equal billing. The last day of the trip we each submitted four of our best shots, two macro images, and two wide-angle shots. Prizes were awarded for the best three in each category, with divisions for both compact and DSLR or mirror-less cameras.

In Ascending Order of Wow! -- We spent time at several renowned Philippines dive destinations - Cabilao, Balicasag, Dauin, Apo Island, and last but not least, Pescador Island. While they all have merit, the highlights for me were, in third place, the stunning walls at Balicasag and Apo Island. Second place would go to the whale shark snorkel experience at Oslob, and top billing awarded to renowned Pescador Island and the huge school of sardines! WOW, wow, and more wow. I’m overwhelmed by all that we dived and photographed in five short days.

Whale Shark at Oslob - copyright Sue Goodman

Practicing and Perfecting -- The final morning aboard ship was spent packing up gear and enjoying photo time with the whole group, and the crew. We all departed satisfied that we had seen the best the Visayas has to offer, and eager to continue practicing and perfecting all that we had learned.

Flambouyant Cuttlefish - copyright Sue Goodman

Kudos to the Crew -- I must take one last paragraph to underscore the big job that faced the Philippine Siren and its crew each day. We were a group of 16 divers, all with too much photo equipment. Yet we all managed to find ample room to work on our cameras, means to keep batteries charged, and miscellaneous items from overflowing. The dive crew quickly learned what camera system belonged to what guest, in what group they were diving. Most importantly, they got divers, together with cameras, on and off the dive dingys four times a day without a single incident. On top of all that, Chef Jimmy's meals really hit the spot. He kept us fueled for every activity, and did so with quite flair and some good Siren Fleet humor. My hat is off to this competent and hard-working bunch. They performed flawlessly, and always with a smile.

Macro - copyright Sue Goodman

What Are You Waiting For? -- Well as our trip leader, Mike Bartick, would say, "Get out there!!" And as the crew would say, "What are you waiting for?" I know for certain that I'll be back one day for more great diving aboard the excellent Philippine Siren. Hope you get to do the same, for the boat, the crew, and the myriad marine life of the underwater world await you.

Report and Photos by Sue Goodman
Copyright 2013


Island Dreams Dive Travel

S/Y Philippine Siren:   Superb live-aboard with four Philippine itineraries

Dive It!:   Anilao Group Tour, April 2014

More Info:   Pricing for Crystal Blue Resort, Anilao

Learn more about Philippines Diving:   Philippines Dive Report

Book a dive trip to the Philippines:   Philippines Scuba Diving Packages

Dive the world from your desk. Explore Island Dreams' other:   Destination Photo Galleries

Make some pictures of your own:   Join Ken Knezick on an upcoming Conducted Group Tour


Reef Scene with Sunball - copyright Sue Goodman


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