Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My first snorkeling experience

I am surrounded by divers at the AXA office. Every time I ask them to come surf with me they'd always say that life underwater is much more exciting, and then they'd invite me to come join them. I'd always decline though because I never really thought of diving or snorkeling -- visions of sharks circling me always occupied my mind. Plus diving is an expensive hobby compared to committing to surfing where your main expense would only be a Php 25,000 surfboard. 

Now after my first snorkeling experience in Puerto Princesa, I'm realizing I am missing out on a lot! I must rectify this next year and get certified! A more long-term plan is to learn to free dive, I've seen Lillian of Wanderlass do it when we snorkeled together and I got so envious.  

So anyway, I  mentioned that I went snorkeling as part of a tour last November and this is a more extensive post on that. 


An hour away from the city proper, Honda Bay Wharf is a good area to test-drive your snorkeling skills. We rented our masks, snorkels, Aqua shoes, and fins at Panz Mask & Snorkeling Shop while waiting. You need permits to snorkel so make sure you process those beforehand or tell your tour guide.

Tip: Bring your own dry bag to protect your gadgets from saltwater. 

If you have your own gear, great! But I didn't have any (save for Aqua shoes) so I just rented and didn't ask questions as to how they clean their equipment -- if I survived drinking tap water in India then I'll survive this for sure.

outrigger schedules
Pambato Reef

The usual Honda Bay island hopping tours involve snorkeling in Pambato Reef. A floating Pawikan structure served as our entry point. 

My first apprehension was the snorkel, Would I be able to learn how to breathe through my mouth with ease? Would I panic while on the water? More importantly, are there sharks about?

Thankfully it was also Edmar's first time to snorkel, so we plunged in. At first I clung to the lifesaver along with the other guests and then realized that I won't get anything out of being too scared, so I let go and explored. And explore I did!

We only had an hour to snorkel but I sure maximized it! I went around the area 4 times (first without fins because I was stubborn, and then I eventually wore them because I was getting impatient). The highlights: I spotted a Dory, a Puffer Fish, and other fishes (I don't know what they're called), plus some red corals (and some dead ones, too). I was one of the last people to board the boat because I was so excited with all my sightings. So this is what people have been raving about!

Luli Island

Named after the Filipino phrase "Lulubog, Lilitaw," Luli Island is another island/sandbar a couple of minutes from Pambato Reef. 

Jump from the diving board into the cool blue water or snorkel with your friends. The fishes here are bigger and more curious -- they readily look at you straight in the eye. They're probably used to getting all the attention, haha. 

Another cool thing, the Angel fishes were as big as my head! I was mesmerized, they were so beautiful and I wish someone brought a GoPro. Also, I just found out through this post that you can buy bread and feed the fishes if you wish.

I hurt my leg. I used the VMV Boo Boo Balm to heal it :(
So how did my first snorkeling experience go? Pretty darn well, I must say :)

Tips for newbies and first-timers: 

  • Snorkeling is a jump off point to diving. Some of my companions who were seasoned divers advised that we get used to the feeling of breathing through our mouths first before signing up for our first fun dive.
  • Breathing through your mouth is second nature for some people. I didn't have any problems adjusting but some might take longer to get a hang of it. Don't get pressured! Just clamp your teeth on the mouthpiece and breathe in and out slowly.
  • Don't panic! If in case you find yourself a little off course because of the current, stay calm and swim back to the boat. If in case you swallow water because your mouthpiece came off, then just calmly put in back in place. Never panic!
  • Don't be scared of sharks! While there weren't any sharks about, divers told me that they are in fact scared of humans and you are lucky if you even spot one. 
  • Swim with a buddy, don't go out alone if it's your first time and you're not familiar with the territory. 
  • Wear a life vest if you don't know how to swim. 

And just to make everyone's day a little better, here are photos of the Chocolate Starfish I found in Cowrie Island. 

Happy [almost] weekend, everyone! :)


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