Two dives at one of the loveliest places I have ever visited in my many trips to the Philippines — Sambawan Island — on 31 March 2015.
After three nights at Kerikite Island, our group set out on Exotic’s boat number 1 to Malapascua, a four-hour journey in good conditions. On the way, our original plan was to stop at two separate islands (Sambawan and Carnasa) and dive at each. Upon reaching Sambawan, however, we soon changed our plan.
In the shadow of the (extinct) Maripipi volcano, tiny Sambawan is a crescent-moon shaped strip of land in Biliran province, a scribble on the map roughly halfway between Kerikite and Malapascua.
The skinny little island has one main beach with a very simple local resort and ‘dive camp’ consisting of a row of wooden huts, overlooked by a small hill with a viewing platform. We did a first dive here and loved it so much that we decided to stay for a second dive, after a lunch picnic.
There are a few dive sites around the island but my group members were looking for some adventure so we decided to try a sunken seamount to the south-west of Sambawan. Our guides had not dived this spot before either, so none of us knew quite what to expect. We jumped in and descended to three or four large rocky outcrops, the shallowest point at around 10 metres, rising up from a valley-like area between them at 20 metres. The bottom then sloped away further into the depths. With good visibility and great topography to explore, everyone was excited. There was some very healthy fish life here with schools of fusiliers and unicornfish, sweetlips being nibbled by cleaner wrasse a couple of hefty golden trevally zooming around in the midst of it all.
I focussed on macro photography for the first of the two dives here and followed our guide around who pointed out one nudibranch after another — the rocks were covered in them. I also tried and mostly failed to take photos of the colourful and constantly moving anthias that were everywhere. On the second dive, I had switched to wide-angle and concentrated on trying to do justice to the great coral scenes.
Below is a selection of photos that I took. Click on individual photos to view the gallery.
I would highly recommend an excursion to Sambawan if you are in this part of the Philippines. The island is a 3-hour boat ride from Malapascua. For this trip, we were using Exotic dive resort. It is also possible to reach Sambawan from nearby Biliran which is a shorter 1.5-hour boat ride. Please note the local resort charges an additional fee for outside dive boats.
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