Following my review of Kerikite Island Exotic Dive Resort, here is an account of the diving at and around this little island in Samar, Philippines in the last week of April 2015.
I was part of a group of four divers from Hong Kong who were staying at the resort; we were the only guests, and we had the island and the dive sites to ourselves. We stayed for three nights and did eight dives at Kerikite. Most of them were around the island itself, a couple at the rock named on the map as ‘Little Kerikite’, and one across the water at Almagro Island (photo to the right shows Little Kerikite and Almagro beyond).
Sea conditions were good in late April with fairly calm waters and fine weather. However, visibility was generally on the low side by Philippines standards, at around 6–10 metres. There is no reason (i.e. no nearby river mouth) why it would always be like this — it seems we were just unlucky. The water was also relatively cool for the Philippines at around 25 degrees. Of course, these conditions were still very enjoyable for a group of Hong Kong divers who are used to much chillier temperatures and far lower vis!
The dive sites around Kerikite were quite varied in their topography, most of them consisting of a gentle to moderate rocky slope with small walls, crevices and overhangs to explore, rather than dramatic drop-offs. The reefs seemed healthy for the most part, though some sites had an abundance of feather stars and urchins, suggesting an unbalanced or overfished ecosystem; indeed on our very first dive at the dive site named Hatbawan we heard the loud bangs of dynamite fishing taking place at a nearby island (a slightly scary thing to hear underwater). The guides told us that the area in front of the village at Kerikite is a marine reserve, demarcated by buoys, but clearly the other local shorelines are not. Some sites had very few fish, but others were richer; our group caught a fleeting glimpse of a turtle and a couple of blacktip sharks during our dives here.
So many feather stars
Kerikite’s dive sites
The best dive site on Kerikite island itself is the house reef (site name: Puy-aw), slightly to the south of the resort. This was the only dive at Kerikite where we spotted large fish — large healthy snappers, big groupers, and sweetlips in abundance. The site is a very beautiful one with huge sea fans like trees in the 30-25m range, and stunning orange soft corals in the shallows. Given the choice, I would have wanted to revisit this site a second time.
Fire underwater at Kerikite House Reef
The site at the rock that is Little Kerikite (local name: Puro) consisted of a slope made up of giant boulders. We visited this dive site twice, and both times revealed good macro life with tiny whip coral shrimp, urchin shrimp and pipefish amongst other critters.
Porcelain crab at Puro
The most memorable site was Talisayan, over at Almagro island. The dive began on a deep sandy slope until we reached a dramatic, looming vertical wall of undulating rock, dropping away below us and fully carpeted in pastel-coloured soft corals. Here, we spotted a bamboo shark sleeping inside a crevice in the wall. The top of this wall, at around 12 metres depth, had rich hard coral growth and a lot of fish, as well as a pretty brisk current. We had to make a blue-water safety stop for this dive as there was nothing shallower. It was a remarkable and beautiful site; the highlight of our diving at Kerikite.
Vertical coral wall at Talisayan, Almagro Island
Overall, the diving at and around Kerikite Island was interesting and really quite beautiful if slightly marred by low visibility at times. There was no shortage of soft coral and macro life, though only a few sightings of larger creatures. As mentioned in my resort review, the diving here is not too challenging would be suitable for divers of all levels. Our guides from Malapascua, Pusoy and Alfie, had only visited these dive sites a handful of times but did a great job pointing out interesting animals. As the resort establishes itself, the guides will become more familiar with the local sites and their secrets and make visitors’ experiences even better.
In addition, this was my first overseas trip using my Canon SLR for diving, and I still have a lot to learn. The following gallery is a selection of the better photos I managed to take at Kerikite. Click on individual photos to view the gallery.
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