Kasai Village Beach Resort, Tuble, Moalboal, The Philippines
April 12-19, 2011
My husband and I traveled to Kasai Village Beach Resort (www.kasaivillage.com
) in February of 2009 and left hoping that we would return. We just returned from our second visit and are as pleased with our trip as we were the first time we visited.
Kasai Village is a beautiful and well-maintained resort. Owners Michael Petterson and his wife Lydia are constantly making improvements to the resort, as well as making sure guests have everything they need. Guest rooms are very clean (as is everything at Kasai), large, and include a desk with chair and refrigerator. Each room has a covered porch with small table and two comfortable, cushioned chairs – just right for watching the morning boats or the evening sunset. The hospitality was wonderful; we loved being welcomed back by Nancy who adorned us with floral leis just before we were served mango smoothies. Within hours of our arrival we were begin greeted by name by all the staff; several of whom had been at Kasai during our first visit. We loved seeing Rachel, Edna, Kharene, and Rhanze again and getting to know Hermes. It was a joy to experience their wonderful Filipino hospitality in the dining room and at the bar. The restaurant was very good and a nice variety of foods is available. I loved having the fresh fish and mangoes; but the Filipino dishes were excellent (chicken or pork adobo, noodles soup). The last night we had a small side of humba, a traditional Cebuano pork stew. It was excellent!
I always find it easier to evaluate someone’s travel advice if I know a bit about them. We are experienced divers and this was our fifth trip to the Tropical Pacific; the others were Thailand/Andaman Sea, Yap/Palau, Chuuk/Palau, and the Philippines. We also travel frequently to the Caribbean. We are not young; early sixties to early seventies. Our travel agent for this, and our other Tropical Pacific travel, was Ultimate Dive Travel. Once again, we were very satisfied with their service.
We arrived at Kasai Village around 2:30 p.m. where we were greeted fondly by staff who we knew from our first visit. Travel time, with layovers, was nearly 36 hours from our home in Arizona to Kasai Village: Phoenix to Los Angeles (1 hour), Los Angeles to Manila (13 hours), Manila to Cebu (1.5 hours), and van from Cebu City to Tuble (2.5 hours), plus layovers between legs. (The Philippines is 15 hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time so we left on a Sunday and arrived on Tuesday; coming home we left on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in LA Tuesday evening – we spent the night in LA as we could not get a late night connection back to Phoenix). The excitement of being back at Kasai Village and the opportunity for great diving kept us from feeling jet-lagged when we arrived. We knew from experience that the shore dive at Kasai Wall is incredible and we could hardly wait to get in the water. We geared up and were diving by 3:45 p.m.
Kasai Wall (right in front of the resort) is a buoyed dive site that is used daily by other dive operators in the area. It is a beautiful wall with lots of nooks and crannies for wonderful creatures to hide. I love the incredible coral on top of the wall in about 16 feet of water. The small fish (dascyllus, damsels, anemone fish, anthias, etc.) swimming in and out with the sunlight shining through the water is one of the most beautiful sights on earth (in my humble opinion). 60 minute dive with a maximum depth of 84 feet.
The Kasai jetty is under construction, but should be finished within a couple of months. We were pleased to be able to walk out on the jetty to stairs for an easy entry and exit for shore diving. The stairs, as everything else at Kasai Village, were constructed to be easy for divers with gear to use. When complete, the jetty will extend out far enough to allow boat entry without getting in the water no matter what the tide conditions. Unlimited shore diving is part of the Kasai Village package. However, after three boat dives a day, we were too tired to consider a fourth dive.
Every dive was sixty minutes and there was at least a sixty minute surface interval between dives. So even though we were diving three times a day, we never came close to our “no decompression” limits. One of the things I loved about the diving on our first trip and was glad to experience again was that after about fifty minutes on the wall, we came up over the top to the most amazing coral gardens in 15-20 feet of water with dancing sunlight. Every dive ended with this prolonged, relaxed, gorgeous safety stop. Visibility was typically 50-60 feet and water temperatures were 81-82 degrees Fahrenheit. I get chilled easily and was happy to be diving with my 3mm wetsuit.
We did a total of 19 dives; the first shore dive and 18 boat dives. Dives were generally drifts along a wall with gentle current and that wonderful safety stop on top of the wall.
Pescador East (three times)
Pescador West (three times)
Saavedra Marine Sanctuary: GIANT sea fans
Tuble Marine Sanctuary
Copton Point: sunken (intentionally) airplane; the plane isn’t that great, but the sandy area around the plane has lots of coral bommies
Tongo Point Sanctuary
White House to Kasai Wall
The coral was pristine and the smaller fish and critters were plentiful. We again saw some of the largest, healthiest looking sea turtles that I have ever seen. We saw several ornate ghost pipefish, banded pipefish, frogfish, and a pigmy seahorse. There are five types of anemone fish (false clown, tomato, pink, skunk, Clark’s) in this area and we saw them all on most dives. We saw a ribbon eel and lots of nudibranchs; Felix pointed most of them out. The sardines were at Pescador for 4 of our 6 dives. This sardine run is huge and wonderful to watch (our still photographs do not do it justice but there is a nice video on YouTube). Of course, even the most common fish, e.g. Moorish Idol or purple anthias, are exotic to us, so every moment of every dive was awe-inspiring.
The dive staff were professional, competent, and fun. They transported our gear to the banca boat each morning and brought it in and cleaned it each afternoon. Felix was our dive guide and he COULD spot the critters. He has been diving in Moalboal for about 5 years and really knows the dive sites. Allan ran the compressor room and helped with gear. He was always alert to giving a helping hand. Tata, the dive director, and the other guides Michael G and Alex, were available to help out as well.
Even though banca boats (traditional Philippine boats) were designed for ocean travel and fishing, they make excellent dive boats as well. The crew helped us gear up and we entered the water with a backroll (preferred) or a giant stride. The boat had ropes strong along the outriggers so even when there was surface current we could easily wait for everyone to get in the water. A nice ladder made getting back on board easy. It was obvious that our captain knew the sea and we felt very safe being in open water with him.
The dive staging area is the best designed that I have ever seen. Each diver has a three foot section with two hanging rods, hangers for wetsuits and BCs, area for booties, etc. There are benches with rubberized coating for donning gear, many hoses for rinsing, and four rinse tanks: one for cameras, one for regulators and masks, one for BCs, and one for wetsuits, booties, fins, etc.
We’ve been twice and are eager to return for a third visit. Why? The diving is a wonderful mix of walls with shallow coral and amazing critters and the resort is set up for divers with the right diving logistics, great staff, and great food.
It was hard to choose only one picture for this report - I choose the frog fish.