Dauin also offers the biodiversity of nearby Apo Island where turtles and a plethora of schooling reef fish can be seen on every dive. The Philippines is in the heart of the coral triangle – one of the world’s most famous scuba diving regions known for its marine diversity. If you like the small stuff or the big stuff, a trip to Dauin should be on your list.
Diving isn’t just about the dive itself, if you want a fantastic experience, it’s about the professionalism of the dive centre, a competent guide to point out all the rare and unusual creatures, and where you stay. If you like the sound of nature, sleeping in a natural environment, and enjoy a social place to fill in your log book whilst sipping on an after dive beer, Bongo Bongo Divers is the place for you.
Feet Do Travel show you muck diving in the Philippines – Scuba Diving in Dauin.
Province: Negros Oriental
Dauin is a coastal town in Negros, the fourth largest island in the Philippines in the Visayas region. It’s divided into two provinces, Negros Oriental which is where Dauin is located, and Negros Occidental. Dauin is 15km south of the capital, Dumaguete City.
Negros is a volcanic island with black volcanic sand beaches, so not the white paradise you may think of when you mention the Philippines. However, this brings a different type of natural beauty. Due to the volcanic activity in Negros, Dauin is also famous for Baslay Hot Springs located in Barangay Basley.
We thought Dauin was a lovely place to stay. It had a warm, welcoming Filipino vibe, and everyone we spoke to was happy, friendly and chatty.
Dauin is known for its muck diving and this stretch of coastline has 21 dive sites where you can search for the weird and wonderful. Most dive sites are sandy slopes, others have artificial reefs such as car tyres in which critters make their home. “Muck diving” gets its name because of the sediment which lies beneath most dives, which is usually a “mucky” environment.
Experience level: You don’t have to be an experienced diver for muck diving, but you do need to control your buoyancy in sandy terrain so you don’t stir up sediment with your fins or by waving hands. There is nothing worse than looking at a 2mm seahorse, then someone fins a cloud of sand into the air, and the critter becomes invisible. If you dive over-weighted (with your fins pointing downwards instead of being in a horizontal position), if you move your hands a lot or flutter kick instead of frog kick, take a PPB course which will increase your confidence and make you a better diver.
Love colourful coral reefs? If schooling fish and reefs are why you dive, then visit Apo Island. It's a 72 hectare volcanic island and 30 minute boat ride away, and with 9 dive sites to choose from, basically the whole island is a dive site (weather/sea conditions dependent). What can you see diving Apo? Turtles, reef fish, Parrotfish, Bigeyed Jacks, Bumphead Parrotfish, schooling fish, beautiful reefs and much, much more.
Temperature: We visited mid-December and the water temperature was 27°c. We both wore shorties as we don’t like full wetsuits. It can become a little chilly when muck diving as you generally don’t move a lot when searching for the cool critters hidden in the sand so you may wish to wear a rash vest under your wetsuit, or opt for full instead of shortie. Sometimes the temperatures can reach 31°c so ask your dive master for advice if you are unsure.
Conditions: There can be waves, sea swells and currents. If you suffer from sea sickness, take a tablet to be on the safe side. We had a bit of everything on our dives, but that is what makes diving the Coral Triangle so interesting, it’s the underwater equivalent to a land safari – you never know what you will see.
Never forget that as a diver, you are a visitor to the underwater world. BE A CONSIDERATE DIVER TO OTHERS, AND TO MARINE LIFE.
- Do not harass marine life by chasing them or move critters for a better photograph
- Do not take lots of photographs with flash/strobes, you don’t like it when a torch is flashed in your eyes and marine life are the same. Save the critters retinas.
- Maintain excellent buoyancy when diving/photographing – if you are taking a photo of a 5mm frogfish and lay your fins in the sand, you could be resting them on another small critter
- Don’t hold onto coral to take your photo – buoyancy remember!!
- Back away from coral carefully – learn to back fin if you want to do it properly and professionally
- Learn how to frog kick – flutter kicking is not good for macro photography
- There’s no need to touch a sea fan or rush to photograph a pygmy seahorse, it’s not going anywhere!
- Do not push in front of other photographers, wait your turn and give them space. Similarly, don’t photograph a subject for too long when others are waiting, take it in turns
You will get a better diving experience if you research your dive centre and accommodation. We learnt this the hard way in the past and have not always had the best time!
There are many resorts to choose from, but if you want a highly recommended professionally run dive centre, and if you care about the environment and wish to stay in natural surroundings … then we thoroughly recommend Bongo Bongo Divers. They cater for backpackers, solo travellers, people on a budget, friends and couples. For people travelling alone but don’t wish to be on their own, the communal and hammock areas provide a lovely social element. If you are travelling as a couple, there is plenty of space for privacy.
We choose our dive centres carefully. Bongo Bongo are No. 1 on Trip Advisor, but are also highly recommended within the dive community on Cebu, the island west of Negros. When we dived in Moalboal, Cebu, we asked instructors and dive masters who we should dive with in Dauin, everyone recommended Bongo Bongo. Remember that if you do not have your own dive equipment, scuba diving is an equipment based sport so look for a dive centre that looks after its equipment. It is the equipment which allows you to breathe safely underwater.
We did one night dive and two boat dives as we only had a couple of days in this area. We intend to come back for more as there is so much still to see and we never made it to Apo Island. Some of the wonderful critters we saw were barely visible with the naked eye, and their true beauty was only discovered when we looked at the photographs. On this note, let us show you the magical underwater world of Dauin.
All photographs taken with an Olympus TG5 with Olympus PT-058 Underwater Housing
Mabul Island, Malaysian Borneo – It is believed that muck diving as we know it originated here
Lembeh, Sulawesi, Indonesia – Considered by many to be the critter capital of the world
Tulumben, Bali, Indonesia – Famous for the USS Liberty Wreck, macro lovers also love it here
GIli Islands, North West Lombok, Indonesia – There are some amazing macro sites to dive on North Lombok
If you love our underwater photos and want an excellent camera - you can buy the exact same camera we use through us! We have the red Olympus TG5 with underwater housing, however you can buy the black Olympus TG5 with underwater housing.
Bongo Bongo are a Green Fins Registered PADI IDC Centre who have been running since 2014. Not only can they take you fun diving, (Nitrox is an option) but they teach from Discover Scuba all the way up to Instructor. Their next course begins January 2019. It’s locally owned but run by a European and Filipino partnership who complement each other perfectly. Highly professional, excellent customer service, and the Filipino hospitality is ever-present.
They are located around 5 minutes off the main road near the beachfront.
Dive Centre: Large and spacious. Plenty of space to change, separate wash area your gear, separate area to store/dry your equipment if you are diving regularly away from the hired equipment.
Dive equipment: All our hired equipment was in excellent working order by top international brands such as Cressi and Aqua Lung. Choose between a full wetsuit or shortie, they also had a wide range of booties and Mares fins to suit everyone. Regulators breathed freely and smooth, the torch for our night dive worked perfectly well.
Dive Masters: We had two guides during our time here and both were excellent in pointing out the smallest of creatures.
There are 12 different style rooms in total for single travellers, friends, couples, private bathrooms and shared bathrooms, all are simple huts with a fan.
Our Room: We stayed in a spacious double room with a king size super comfortable bed and pillow, mosquito net if we wanted. There were windows both sides of the room which we opened to allow a natural breeze throughout the day and night, but a fan was also provided. From our room we would listen to birds singing, the rustling of leaves in the trees, and jungle sounds could be heard at night. This made us very happy, listening to nature is important to us. Cost: 700 PHP per room
Other Room Options: There are four rooms with private bathrooms plus single rooms with shared facilities.
Bathroom: Shared unisex facilities in a natural environment. All staff showed an exceptional standard of customer service and were very friendly (we both work in the customer service industry and value this above everything else!).
Kitchen: Shared area for self-catering, gas hob, free tea and coffee and a fridge to store your food. Separate fridge to purchase beer and soft drinks.
Communal area: For breakfast, dinner, filling in log books, sharing a beer in the evening and playing various board games or Cards Against Humanity (great for a laugh … if you dare!!)
Payment: Cash is King, the nearest ATM is 5 minutes’ walk away on the main road. PayPal transfers are subject to 4.5% or you can make a bank transfer. No credit card facility.
If this post has inspired you to visit Bongo Bongo Divers, you can book with us via booking.com. Follow Bongo Bongo on Instagram and Facebook.
When is the best time of year to visit Dauin, Negros?
The Philippines are a tropical archipelago of 7,641 islands so the weather varies depending on where you are. Generally there are two seasons, the wettest months are November to April, drier months are May to October, however there isn’t a lot of difference in rainfall between “wet” and “dry”. Typhoons tend to come in September/October. In truth, a tropical climate means it can rain at any time, any day of the year for any length of time and the weather doesn’t adhere to “seasons”.
Cat’s Acacia Café - Breakfast/lunch/dinner – great place to eat serving large, tasty portions of local and western food at reasonable rates (we ate here twice). Located on the main road by the ATM.
Note. The 150 year old Acacia Tree outside is about to be chopped down by the government as well as 5 others along this stretch to make way for a bigger road. Cat (the owner) is understandably very upset as she sees the value in trees and nature, and they are taking part of her land.
Bakery, Local Market & Food Stalls – There is a local market by the ATM selling fresh fruit, veg and a bakery. If you want buffet style dishes, there are a few stalls selling dishes of pork in various sauces, meatballs, rice, sticky rice, veg – around 50 PHP per portion.
Mike’s Dauin Beach Resort – About 10-15 minute walk away from Bongo Bongo on the beach front they serve a delicious English style fish n chips (which is fish in beer batter, chunky chips and home-made coleslaw) for 420 PHP. I ordered the Nachos Grande and that was also delicious.
Supermarket – A few minutes walk from Bongo Bongo is a small supermarket selling eggs, bread, beer etc which you can take back to your accommodation and cook.
Dumaguete City is 15km away from Dauin approximately 20-30 mins on a motorbike (depending on traffic and your speed)/10-15 mins in a car. Local buses are regular, Ceres Line is the main company and it will drop you off outside Cat’s Acacia Café.
Dumaguete Airport by trike cost approximately 500 PHP, depending on the time of day, you may be able to haggle down if it’s not stupid o’clock in the morning.
Dumaguete is one of Negros’ major ports and ferries can take you to/from Cebu, Siquijor, Panay, Mindanao and Bohol.
There are plenty of local transport options. A tricycle (a motorbike with side car), Ceres Line buses and jeepneys (jeep-style buses with crowded seating).
A scooter is a cheap, convenient way of getting around, and can be easily hired in Dumaguete (around 250 – 300 PHP per day). If you do hire a scooter, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. Locals do not always wear them, and you may see tourists without them posting photos on Instagram “no helmet, sorry Mum”. Don’t be an accident statistic, it’s better to arrive at your destination with helmet hair, than not arrive at all.
The roads are excellent. There are a few one way systems in Dumaguete City (which aren’t always shown on GPS), and little/no traffic lights, however this system works. Everyone is respectful and traffic naturally gives way to one another at junctions, despite it initially looking like chaos.
Note: The horn is used as a way of polite communication – to let someone else know you are near, behind or overtaking them – so honk that horn and scooter like a local.
Philippines Travel and Visa information
- Language – English is widely spoken to an excellent standard. In this Visayan region of the Philppines they speak Cebuano.
- Currency – Philippine Peso, £1 = 70 PHP
- Plugs & Electricity – 2-pin plugs (same as US/Canada/China/Japan, flat parallel, also known as Type A). Some places are also Type B (same as UK) and Type C (known as the “Euro” plug) Standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
- Wi-Fi – available everywhere; scuba diving centres, hotels, bars and restaurants
- ATM’s – There is only one ATM in Dauin, but many in nearby Dumagete. NB. There is a 10,000 PHP withdrawal limit per transaction with a mandatory country-wide fee of 250PHP
- Driving – Right hand drive
- Visa - A 29 day visa is given at the time of arrival. You can easily extend at a local immigration office for another 29 days, the nearest is in Dumagete.
- Airport – Dumagete is the nearest domestic airport in Negros, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly here. The nearest International Airport is Cebu City. NB. A Terminal tax is payable when you check in/before boarding on some International flights out of the Philippines. From Cebu the cost is 850 PHP.
- Religion – 80% Catholic
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