The Scuba GOAT Podcast

Roni Ben-Aharon - Diving the Philippines with Atlantis Resorts & Liveaboard

June 27, 2023 Matt Waters / Roni Ben-Aharon Season 4 Episode 11
The Scuba GOAT Podcast
Roni Ben-Aharon - Diving the Philippines with Atlantis Resorts & Liveaboard
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Roni Ben-Aharon
If you've ever visited a dive show in the last few years you may have seen this lady representing Atlantis on stands or even on stage providing presentations about the amazing diving on offer in the Philippines. Roni is super vibrant and just as passionate about our sport and what she doesn't know about diving in the Philippines could probably be written on the back of a postage stamp with an oversized marker. Talking with me during this episode we take an audible trip through the various locations on offer and what makes them so unique. So, take a seat, strap yourself in, and let Roni put your imagination into overdrive!

Nomadic Scuba (me in my other role)
I'm pleased to say that I represent Atlantis through my scuba booking agency Nomadic Scuba, so if this episode whets your appetite and you would like more info or simply want a seamless and easy booking process... get in touch, and let's get planning your adventure.  (info@nomadicscuba.com or Whatsapp +61499021920)

Puerto Galera
Situated amidst the scenic hills of Sabang Beach, Atlantis Puerto Galera is a magnificent resort that provides easy access to over forty captivating dive spots. Nestled within lush vegetation, our dedicated beachfront resort boasts 40 well-appointed rooms and a comprehensive range of amenities, promising an unforgettable diving vacation.

Puerto Galera is widely recognized for its abundance of scuba diving sites and has gained UNESCO recognition as a Man and Biosphere Reserve since 1973. Positioned at the heart of the "Coral Triangle," it boasts some of Asia's most diverse coral reef diving experiences.

Dumaguete
Dauin (pronounced Da-win), adorned with its distinctive black volcanic sand, is renowned as the Frogfish capital of the Philippines, offering a unique haven for critter diving enthusiasts. Atlantis Dumaguete, strategically positioned just minutes away from over 20 local dive spots, the majority of which are protected marine areas, also provides day trips to nearby attractions such as Apo Island, and Siquijor.

Azores Liveaboard
From January to early March, the itinerary includes exploring the captivating wrecks of Coron, coupled with the vibrant and colorful walls of Apo Reef along the way.

The Underwater Club with Nicolas Remy
10% discount on the annual subscription to The Underwater Club with promo code SCUBAGOAT

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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SPEAKERS

Roni Ben-Aharon, Matt Waters
 

I'll tell you why. No pressure, but you are the first person to be on the show in almost three years that's going to talk about the Philippines in any particular detail. Here you've got an AC lady, the bosses are going to be watching this.

 

How exciting How exciting. Yeah. Exciting. I'm super happy to be here and to chat to everybody about the Philippines diving in the Philippines and anything else?

 

Happy days. Hey, now let's, let's start where we usually start with all the guests that come on the show. And why don't you give us a rundown on where you got involved in dive into start with? What's your background.

 

So I got certified in 96. In high school, this is just as fun diver. I'm originally from Israel, which is still where diving is considered cool activity for young people. It doesn't happen everywhere around the world. But it still is in Israel, people do get certified people to consider it cool. So I got certified in high school I was a recreational diver for about 13 years you know kind of like diving once or twice a year on a dive trip somewhere went to the States did my bachelor and my master worked in corporate America and did my my stints in the Caribbean for diving you know those summer tones of Mexico. Playa Del Carmen Belize, you know, the once a year kind of trips. And then I had a very early midlife crisis at 30 where I realised I'm stuck in a place or I don't want to be and kind of left all of it, all of it. The corporate life, definitely the business that I've started the US everything all together. And I don't quite remember how it happened. But I do remember that I was at the time looking at things that made me happy. And that was obviously white sand and sunny weather living in the east coast for nine years. That that would do that to you. So when I did my divemaster in Honduras. And I remember I remember when I quit, everybody thought I was going to be a freelance consultant in the field of healthcare IT which is what I was doing before working in hospital implementing clinical software for physicians and pharmacists. And then everybody said oh, yeah, you'll you know, you'll be bad. Your job will wait for you after this short stint. Obviously went to Roatan Honduras never turned back. That was 1314 years ago.

 

So is that what you did?

 

That's where I did my divemaster. So I have a CMS two stars. Yeah. So that's, that's my initial certification in Israel as a recreational diver and then I did my dive master in row 10.

 

Nice. I'm actually going to Roatan in August for the first time.

 

I love it. I spent almost a year there. It's an awesome I wouldn't say a rock because it's kind of a big island. But yeah, great diving. Excellent. People just Yeah, yeah, exactly their life I thought I would want so. Yeah, I did that and then guided around the world for about two and a half years. Rota and Mexico Dominican Republic back to Roatan, Philippines, Palau and at some point and Palau is where things kind of came together where Ooh, there's a business background there. And that's when I stopped guiding and kind of went into this. Mixing the love and passion for diving with a business background.

 

Yeah, so like sales management doing that ever since Yeah. You've had, what kind of a span of a career was that then from from actually going into, you know, going to chucks and fins on and start guiding to actually doing what you're doing now? What kind of time period are we looking at?

 

Oh, so two and a half years where I was guiding, or, and and after that. I landed in Palau. And then I did kind of a consulting project for a while about processes around reservations. I think one of the one of the issues in the dive industry there's there's a lot of people who grew in this industry and were instructors that said, Hey, I'm gonna start my centre and start working and when you're on small scale that can be very manageable, especially with high involvement and knowledge of the industry. But when you start looking at larger operations, I think processes are often being missed. So we kind of mapped out a process of where a guest or an agent goes through from the initial inquiry through Do the reservation process? And how do we make that process better also, including automation. Obviously, this industry, you would go into a dive centre almost anywhere, and you'd find people still working either on paper or on Excel. And if they're super sophisticated on Google Sheets, you know, so, yeah, there's that. And of course, there are some certain companies right now that are coming in and fixing that, but I think we're a bit of late bloomers here in this industry, when it comes to technology. So yeah, that's kind of when it started. And then there was a bit of a pause there, I work for an NGO that was doing projects in Africa, around community centres and technology education, and did that for about a year, spent some time in Africa. And then went back to the dive industry to do exactly what I do today. Did that for three years, two years, and then when to run a resort and a restaurant in Costa Rica, and a place with no diving. That was kind of more of the hospitality background of it. And then seven years ago, almost seven years ago, six and a half joined, Atlantis resorts and Liveaboards in the Philippines, which says reservations manager,

 

this is where we're at now.

 

Yep, exactly. So first is the reservations manager for the tour resorts and liveaboard. And full time sales and marketing since 2019.

 

Nice, nice. Congratulations. I mean, it's a it's a nice run of alternative events going through that career process that you've got there, because so many people say they get stuck at the guiding pit or the instructing bit and get stuck in one location. And I think being able to show that you can move on and you can progress to where a lot of professionals would say, Oh, well, that location is better than this one. And how do you get to work in this location? And, you know, just by getting on the getting on the boat and getting your fins wet and, and cracking on and striving forward, I suppose.

 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think well, when I was guiding everything that led my decision was at least back then it was not about money or which Island is better. It was what were the diving was better. So I got a great job offer in Vietnam. And then I went and looked at diving and Vietnam, and I said crap, I don't want to dive there. I wouldn't want to dive there. I definitely wouldn't want to guide there. So that's kind of where I think I made my decisions. And ended up for example, Dominican Republic. I was working in Soma and semana Bay, which was I didn't find I didn't fancy very well, very much. So. Yeah,

 

what was it like in Costa Rica?

 

Costa Rica was amazing. It's definitely one of the countries that I that I love. I didn't do anything related to diving at the time. We were running a resort on a restaurant in a place called Santa Teresa on the Pacific coast. So surfing Yoga very virgin beaches and

 

then you didn't you didn't do any dive in at all.

 

No, so I came there pregnant. So I've got two little ones to future divers. And when we moved there I was three months pregnant. So went through the pregnancy there gave birth there. And then we left to go to the Philippines when our oldest was one.

 

That's a fine excuse. I was gonna give you so much abuse for going to Costa Rica. I'll let you off with that one.

 

I was gonna die. But obviously, you know, as my partner said, there's half of me and that too. So I do get a set

 

brilliant, brilliant. Okay, hey, I've just realised as well actually, you're talking to me from home in Israel and you? Yeah, I'm gonna be almost on your doorstep next month. Oh, superb. Egypt. Jordan. Hi. I'm over. Go to Aqaba. And they got the ice. We got the first underwater international photography competition going on. so I'm going for a couple of weeks.

 

Cool. It's a it's a joint venture actually with Israeli government. That was the first underwater underwater photography exhibition, which actually happened underwater in a lot which is right where that tip is so Aqaba here and Ilyatt is here on the tip of the Red Sea. Very, very interesting efforts there. The King is a diver. Yeah, so I really huge. Yeah, he's a diver and his wife's a diver. So he's the one who created also the amazing underwater scenery that they have. They're not because they drowned a Royal Jordanian 747 You can dive in and some tanks and all that stuff. Yeah. Great, great, great diving.

 

Well, I'm actually I'm actually going to support diver for Nicolas Remy who's arguably much better at photography than anything I'm going to ever be able to achieve. So I'm the lighting bitch, I get to put the strobe lights out and then possibly be the diver in the shot when he needs when he needs it for those, those big aircraft and tanks and whatnot, so it's gonna be gonna be a lot of fun.

 

Amazing. And we definitely go down to power station.

 

Oh, really? That's the one is it? Yeah, I'm gonna write that down that power

 

station. Yeah, it's so so about 20 probably way more than that. 3550 years ago. They needed to run a line for electricity between Jordan and Egypt. And of course, what would be the best way then take massive metal pipes and just lay them on the roof. That's would be right the best way to do that. I mean, they blew up a bunch of the reef and then put the power station then you've got the the

 

like the pole, like the foundations and stuff, I guess. Let's circle.

 

Yeah, exactly. That's underwater, right. And then you've got these massive, massive, massive metal tubes. Now obviously, as we all know, corals really like current. So that made that dive site also.

 

Awesome. I've definitely got to look at that one then. We've got a few extra days before the competition itself to get out there and do a bit of mooching and exploring so yes. Good. Power Station. I've got it written down. Right. Let's let's bring it back round to the Philippines, shall we? Now you did mention very briefly that you are one once were better phrase Mrs. Atlantis, Philippines. Part of the reason that we've not been married definitely married to that partner. Yeah, so he's still in bed. Oh, god, she's still doing my work on that Atlantis stuff. Yeah. So, I mean, one of the main reasons that we've not been able to get this top done, or this chat done, and a few cancellations is because you're zipping around all over the place going to dive events and dive shows and, and promoting Atlantis. So I think I think it's over to you. What's the best? Oh, where do you want to start with Atlantis? Because there's quite a bit about it.

 

Yeah, well, first of all, it's been around for a while. So 33 years. Yeah. And, you know, I think if it's alright with you, I'd like to start with the Philippines. Hell yeah. You go for it. Yeah, exactly. So I first came to the Philippines 13 years ago, maybe 12. I don't know, it's blurry, a long time ago as a dive guide. And I came from the Caribbean. And a lot of people said, oh, when you go to Asia, you'll see when you go to Asia, you'll see when you go to Asia, it was like yeah, you know, cuz diving, the Caribbean is good. You can't you know, you got a great variety of corals. It's warm, which is very important. For lots of us diverse except for you guys, people down there. That is so great visibility, you know, just generally good conditions, right. And a good really good variety of, of marine life. Lots of sharks, you can see in different various places, reefs, etc, etc. So, I remember was a bit sceptic, I really was because you know, you're coming from good diving and thinking. And then I went there, I was a dive guide. And behold, that was the first place I worked in a small dive shop. And I remember going into the water that one of the owners, there were two partners, one of the owners was a marine biologist, a German guy, and we went in there and I was mind blown by the colours by the variety, by the number of species, I couldn't even recognise what they were. Yeah. So that kind of goes to okay, I guess this is Asia for you. And it was incredible. It was incredible. And it was, I think, very, very rich in macro life, which is kind of a different way of looking at diving. A lot of people would say when they ask about dive certs and kind of the experience of a diver that you need to be people talk about the conditions in the water. I think it also relates to how many times you have because nope, newer divers generally would not appreciate macro. And of course, it's like a child right? You need your colours and the reefs and all the schools of fish and big stuff to get super excited. And then after you've done about I don't know a few hundreds of those you go, Ooh, interesting. The frog fish. Get out that tiny thing can change its colour completely between 10 and 18 hours. How cool is that? You know, things that you don't even think about and then you start focusing more about, you know, on animal behaviour on different traits and how species on them from our backyard critters actually need to adapt that I think was a little bit blew my mind of course there's big stuff as well I mean it was my first time ever seeing a mother and a cup Whaleshark just swimming together which is unreal I mean because that's massive

 

yeah

 

yeah it's pretty big already it's like five or something six metres or something i five metres so yeah, it was very very interesting variety. So that was the Philippines for me then I went and lived and worked on Cadigan which is quite a small island in the north of Mindanao and really well Megan coming in was that can begin or as we call it come again amazing amazing place tiny tiny tiny the highest ratio of peaks per square kilometres in the world more than Hawaii. It's got seven peaks. The road around the island is 64 kilometres so it's you know, you go around it in an hour maybe on a to an hour and a half on a motorbike. Really, really really interesting place to be in terms of nature. It's the north part of Mindanao so you write it yes see a mi GUINC a

 

I just probably G u is

 

u i n which is probably not shift Fridays you spelled it and so yes, I was pretty pretty nice diving as well. Yeah, pretty nice IV but a lot of nature and serenity. And that's the other thing in the Philippines that you know, obviously this is a Scuba diving podcast, and we talk about everything about Scuba diving, but the the nature in the Philippines is astounding. Yeah. We're not just talking about nature in terms of beaches, right? I mean, there are volcanoes with mineral like can can begin there is a mineral water pool. You swimming there hotsprings all over the place, you know, waterfalls. It's just very, very untouched wild nature. Yes, it's mostly tropical climates. And there's not things that elevation other than in Luzon, which is the main island in an area called Baguio they grow strawberries. Okay, so it actually does get cold. You know, it's just such a great variety of top side and underwater. And I think that's what really got me hooked on the Philippines. Since then, so when the opportunity came, and we were living in Costa Rica, and the opportunity came to go back to the Philippines was like, Ooh, yes. Because I think also

 

advertised or something like that.

 

Actually, yes. So we were kind of looking at options at the time that I wanted to get back in the diving world. And an opportunity arose with Atlantis.

 

So yep. And you applied literally looking at

 

swiftly on an ad for yay. Not that swiftly. When you've got a one year old takes a while to you don't move as quickly then it's just you and your Scuba gear, right? Yeah. Yeah, but it was a really, it was a really good chance. And I actually applied for a position to Ronda resort, which I'm really happy I didn't get and didn't end up in because the operational side is less, where my passion lies. And yeah, and then we went back to the Philippines, we lived into a ghetto which is on the island of negros for about four years, which is where one of the resorts is located. Excellent. It's called the it's the mecca of crater diving in the Philippines, it's black volcanic sand. So it's darker sand. So we get different kinds of critters, to mixed area of Sandy slopes, small patches of hardcore reefs and artificial reefs, which brings crazy critters are seven different species of frog fish, for example, including the hairy frogfish. And then, of course, you know, we had there's Apple Island, which is 45 minutes from the resort, which has a really, really interesting story. It's the first and longest lasting community led marine protected area in the Philippines. So it's got it's got one of the fastest growing corals in the world, as studied by the California Academy of Science. And it's got over 150 species of coral and 300 species of

 

fish. So small, we're just looking on the map here.

 

And it's Yeah, it is it is and you've got a wall, a wall and a coral garden and it's tiny. It's got about 1000 people living there with no running water and no electricity. Yeah, so it's quite an interesting community. That's a community that was heavily relying on fishing. But with off this could be a topic for a totally different podcast, but in the 70s there was a national scientist called Uncle alkali, which actually passed away last year, or earlier this year. He is He studied their relationship, which of course seem very obvious to us these days, the relationship between devastating fishing methods like dynamite, fishing, marami, you know, nets and all that to the population of fish in the surrounding areas. So, of course, what he was able to prove, literally, scientifically, is that fish in stress reproduce less today. I mean, obviously, this also applies to us people, right? If you're laying at home and their missiles over your heads, you know, you're less likely wanting to have sex and to have more kids. It's just a kind of a inter internal defence mechanism, I guess. And so when he was able to prove that he was able to go to the island community and say, Look, guys, we're depleting the ocean, the people who are gonna get heard of it the most are you because you are solely dependent on fishing? So slowly, slowly, 10 10% of the water round up island became a no take zone to let fish actually reproduce and grow. Basically, and then slowly now 100% of the water around it is obviously there's no dynamite fishing and none of that it's a line fishing, there's no net fishing. And it took 40 years, less than 40 years and the reefs are incredible.

 

Yeah, it might be completely wrong here, as I often am, but is it APO island where they word, you've got to be Filipino to be able to fish there. Although there's somewhere there's somewhere I'm not sure. There's somewhere that you cannot fish. As a foreigner. You have to be a local and I'm not sure whether it's Philippines or Malaysia to be honest.

 

I think on coastal diving, you wouldn't see a lot of commercial fishing. There's no commercial fishing licence, performed our own coastal diving. So the boats the go close to shore. But I think in the Philippines, you got to remember that most of the fishing not in terms of catch quantity, but in terms of the number of people engaging in that industry. So about a million Filipinos per day just go on their little bunker, which is basically a wood in our fibreglass or bamboo boat with the two wood bamboo outriggers on the side no motor, no anything just pushed himself to shore and and pushed himself a little bit into the ocean and fish. So that's about a million people a day that do that. So in terms of numbers, yeah, I mean, those are obviously not licenced or anything. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Well, I think the I think they're entitled to go fishing out there to living off.

 

Yes, yeah, I think that yeah, they are. The one place for example, like Palau is very interesting being a shark sanctuary. But technically, if you're Palauan, you are allowed to fish a shark. Really? Yes, Palau wins and belongs only. To the best of my knowledge. It may have changed. I haven't lived there in about eight years.

 

Yeah, yeah. Okay. All right. I'm starting to build a little path through the Philippines from where I need to be. London and there you go. Let's flick back. Oh, my God, we got it for a moment because you've got the result.

 

Yeah, absolutely. So So Atlantis actually has two Scuba diving, dedicated Scuba diving resorts. That makes it a really big difference in some other operations in the Philippines because we are a dedicated divers or we're not a resort that offers diving and yoga and tree hugging and activities and all that kind of stuff. It's a Scuba diving resort. Yeah, which is good. We just got we like trees, I think the trees above and underwater. Yeah. So it's basically it's a very different kind of operation. And I do remember that from so used to work for Sam's tourism, Palau, Sam's tours, obviously it doesn't have a resort attached to it, but it's a massive dive shop. where of course there's some other tours like snorkelling and kayaking and land tours. But that moment at like 430 When all the boats get back and dozens of divers spill from the boats and sit down in the bar and everybody talks about diving and it's like people are are your living the experience way beyond the tiny spent underwater like think about that for a minute? Really? I mean, diving in Palau for example, or most other destinations where you do two tanks day, okay, you start your day probably around 6am To get ready to break first so you know you don't go horizontal when your breakfast bowl coming up, right? So you kind of like start your day super early and then five you know by the time you get to the dive shop, get set your gear anything go on the boat travel whatever long that takes, come back edited. And you just chunk like, I don't know 12 hour days and all you spend on the water is two hours.

 

Yeah. That's right. So

 

there's everything everything that arounds it makes a difference it makes a difference the people you spend on the boat, how long are the boat rides? Are they comfortable? Are they in a place where there is some some nice scenery? Or are you just suffering for whatever long from rain and wind? You know, the all that thing makes a big, big, big difference? What would they think you know,

 

a typical day then let's say I was staying at Dumaguete and I wanted to go dive in through the day and have a beer have a nighttime with a whiskey nightcap.

 

Your mind's gonna be blown. Yeah, get

 

up in the morning. So when I get back to that bar, what's what's it what's the schedule generally looked like?

 

So we offer in both resorts we've got one resort in Dumaguete city and one in Puerto Galera which is on Subang beach. One of the in my opinion one of the best diving destinations in the Philippines. Not because I work for Atlantis because I know the Philippines I can't even say I've been to 10% of it right it's 7641 islands. But um you know, I did dive to the main areas both for work and for fun. So I'm still one of those that when I have a vacation I take a diving in other locations and where we operate. Yeah, so it's definitely one of the best diver stations for me in the Philippines just in terms of variety of of topography walls and swim throughs and canyons and Sandy slopes and heaps of corals and just wow. So we both resorts, we offer five guided boat dives per day. So the idea is like liveaboard been a lamb so you wake up in the morning, you have an amazing breakfast. No buffet style, everything is ala carte food is a very important thing at Atlantis. And thank God for that because as you know the army and divers march in their stomach naturally

 

takes a lot of fuel to get this tank moving you know

 

so and so I think it's a very important aspect because you can have a great vacation. I've seen that when I went on vacation. And you know, I've got my special dietary requirements I don't like to eat. You know, we're vegetarian, pretty strict vegetarians, no seafood, none of that. So don't like things to be super fried. So they're places where you go where you're challenged, you're challenged. So that's very, very important to have a good base of diet because that affects your mood, obviously during the day, so you've got a really nice breakfast 22 menu items including stone cut oatmeal, and things like that. So anything you know, for any sort of flavour don't cut oatmeal.

 

What the hell is that?

 

Oatmeal. It's like when you take the oatmeal and you crack the shield of it with actual stones. Yeah, okay. Keeps the keeps the shell on it and supposed to be more nutritional. Knows cooking a lot with coconut oil. A lot of local produce. starting your morning with an amazing fruit platter because the Philippines has definitely the best pineapples in the world on debating li the best pineapples in the world. And I've tested them and, and definitely incredible mangoes. Yeah, so there's a fruit platter you start with and then after that, you know we do two dives in the morning. So 830 and 1030. And then two dives in the afternoon two and four and six o'clock for a night dive because it does get dark between 530 and six every day, year round.

 

So the the dives through the day Sorry, I'm going to chip in every now and then just to get the questions. So is there any kind of time limits on on the dives and they don't from shore or do go out on a boat or

 

they're all guided boat dives and a few reasons for that. Number one, first and foremost the safety of course, which we take very seriously. And second is because there's a lot of macro life and if you dive there for the first time and you don't know where to look because as you know when you're looking at critters, you need to know their habitat you need to know where to look for stuff. So if you don't know where to look, you won't necessarily find all this all these incredible creatures. So we do have all of our guides are local Filipinos and homegrown so from whatever role they do with the resort from restaurant to driver to tank boy if you want to pursue a career in diving, that is an option for you at Atlantis we don't hire what we used to be me you know that foreign to structure that comes in on a two year contract and Scuba tips and off they go and leave the low When paying job the low paying jobs to the locals, so there's none of that. Everybody is local and so they're guided bow dive so yes there's 60 minutes limit because you've got five of those a day. And the biggest difference also is that we don't die from bunker boats so we don't take the big outrigger boats we normally die from small speedboats so the travel time to the dive sites is one to five minutes. It's really, yeah. Yeah. So for people who don't like the rocking See, that's perfect. Yeah,

 

yeah. Oh, Ronnie out at spice Island divers in Ambani does something very similar. I mean, the travel terms are a little bit more extended, but definitely a speedboat and then drop in. And I just want to pick up on that point. You said about the dive guys being local. You can't get better. In my opinion, you cannot get better. You know, any any foreigner any international dive guide that comes in and reckons that they're better than the locals is talking right out of their article?

 

It's yeah, I think. Absolutely, absolutely. I think knowing the water when you grow there is totally different. I think some of the you'd see sometimes the advantage to having a foreign dive guide that you'd get, you could get your marine biologists right to come in. And they have an extensive knowledge on the on the background of the scenery. Right. So there's a bit more of an education point to it. But you get that with staff retention. Yeah. I mean, we've got people working at Atlantis for 10 years. Right as in Dumaguete, for example, which is where I was based, there's three couples who met in the resort married and our family. Right. So still, both of them work at that resort. So you know, you get that when you get people who dive those beaches each and every day and year round, then you have that knowledge being built. Yeah, and I think that's a very important point other than the fact that even outside of the dive guides, you know, management level, everybody, there's 154 People at Atlantis and I think we're seven foreigners, including the owners.

 

154. That's over the three elements we're talking about here are the two results, the liveaboard or

 

that's the tourism liveaboard. Yeah, yep. So the resorts are medium size, there's 40 room and portable 144 and humidity and 16 passengers and eight cabins on the boat. So

 

that's a shit tonne of tanks.

 

Different sizes to all being inspected and cleaned and serviced regularly. Yes, that is a shutdown of tanks.

 

Yeah, yeah. Okay, so do we get the is there any? what's the, what's the go to macro? Because I know, I'm a bit of a macro head. And I think I mean, you mentioned it earlier on. As people progress in their diving, you kind of get used to seeing the shark again, there's a big cuttlefish there's a whole same same and then you start to see, you know, that extra new world that's in the, in the tiny little crevices of the corals. So I found in the locations that I've gotten so far on my macro hunts, is that each destination as its own kind of celebrities who's the who would you say is the most sought after doing the Getty when you've got photographers and macro heads coming in?

 

The different species of octopus first of all blurring octopus is on everybody's list, right? You've got that's what I want to see. What is the blue ring octopus? And it's really funny when they say that because you go oh, okay, put your head in the water. Not to not to. Yeah, I mean, look, obviously, you know, you don't make promises. It's the ocean. But most people stay with us for about a week and then it is it is likely and hopeful that they'll see one. So definitely, the blue ring, the Moto T is also one of them wonder plus. Wonder plus and mimic octopus are also the F antastic. Not just for photographers for anyone just to watch and either mind blowing the floodway we get a lot of different coin cuttlefish and we do get a lot of fish behaviour in the Philippines in general because if you don't have strong currents, then it's you know, you can spend some time and go really, really slow and kind of look at the different critters as you go along. So, for example, you can see the flamboyant cuttlefish hunting which is quite amazing. And they walk in they get that check out which is which is really really cool. So you know, there's a lot of that going on. So I think yeah, I think blue ring octopus pygmy seahorse is another one people are fanatic about. And important Galera, actually, we've got a really good shot going back to photographers, because we've got these massive sea fans, you know, dive side called canyons and it's about 16 metres and you get them which is pretty shallow and then you can get that shot. out on a sunny day blue, kind of like really bright blue in the background. So that's pretty rare. I don't shoot myself at all. But you know, I that people get really excited over that.

 

It's those little buggers that I think I think it was done that mentioned that a few episodes ago, you you get so focused on getting photos of those little buggers the prime cause for going into decompression the amount of times oh my god. Yeah. And he's the same

 

as you because you're chasing after you're just chasing after that photo, you know of a pygmy seahorse or of of a frog fish and fluffy chicken easier to photograph or I don't know, different just different kinds of stuff. The mantis shrimp with the eggs, peacock mantis shrimp and if you're lucky with the eggs on the belly, you know, it's that kind of stuff. mandarin fish, so, yeah, there's a lot of really good variety. And I think to me, the reason Puerto Galera is so amazing is you've got that plus the reefs Okay, and that's that creates a very, very special destination, because mostly people kind of like have to choose you know, macro will reef right of course where there is reef there is macro Assam, you know, there is but it's not necessarily the focus, like I just got back from tuba, where people were trying to, you know, people were pointing nudie Bronx to each other. And I'm just like, show me the reason I'm here, but um, people get excited over those, right? So they're over 700 species of nudie Bronx and Puerto Galera. Really, really, really interesting. And then you've got the amazing topography, the role the swim, throughs canyons, big boulders that go down completely covered in corals. It's just very, very interesting mix of dive sites.

 

And this is Portugal area.

 

Yeah, yeah. Which is off the coast of Maduro and northern part of Maduro, which is the next island south from Luzon, the main island where Manila is, so you take a van for about an hour and a half to a place called Batangas. And then either take a public ferry or a private speedboat, which is 30 minutes, and you're at the resort.

 

Oh, yep. Just found it.

 

Yep. So that was one of the areas in the Philippines where Philippines started becoming a Scuba diving destination in the 90s. This is one of the places where everybody went to and actually it's really interesting, because Aussies went there a lot. And when you talk to people about Puerto Galera, when you were down in Australia, people would be like, Oh, haven't been there in ages, you know, people know it, it is because it is that and then I think there was some sort of a shift towards other destinations like like the VCOs region where Dumaguete is part of like the whole Cebu, negros kind of that area, you know, with the threshers and Malapascua, and the sardines and Millwall and kind of everything started coming down a little bit of courses to the Taha right. Those are the famous destination for their, you know, they're way more. They're way, way more.

 

Well then give us a lowdown on on particular then what's the you say? It's about an hour on a bus did you say to get to Batangas?

 

So it's an hour? Yeah, it's an hour and a half to two depending on traffic. But normally, it's about 100. And how or and a half. We do private vans from Manila. And then you can either hop on a public ferry, which is about 90 minutes 60 to 90 Depending on the boat. And or you take the private water taxi, which takes you to the resort in 30 minutes. Yeah. So, so run down about three hours, which is perfect. Depending on arrival time, people either spend the night in Manila and go early in the morning or land, you know, in the morning, and then off to the resort in

 

a personal way you go. Yep, that makes sense.

 

Yeah, and then same thing there. Like it's, we've got 27 dive spots that are one to five minutes away. Crazy, it's like ridiculous. Sometimes you get on a boat. And it's really funny because, you know, you'd get on a boat and then they would drive. And people said, seriously, I could just like yeah, you know. So everything is just there. Like one of my best night dives was just in front of the resort and we saw I'm not exaggerating a Spanish dancer this big really was ridiculous. Like all of us were just staring at it. I didn't think it was a Spanish dancer. I was like This can't be it can't be she's way too big. But yeah,

 

and then we'll go on

 

possibly, I think somebody did, I think I don't know I definitely have it in my very VIP Widley in my mind going What are you What is this? Must Have you know must have been fed well at Atlantis

 

awesomesauce now we have we do have a link don't we? We have we have the boat. The liveaboard Yeah,

 

the liveaboard so yes Atlantis is Oris built in the 80s in Louisiana for the oil rig or industry turned into a dive buoyed by aggressor Atlantis bought it in 2012 Put it back in the water in 2014. She's She carries 16 passengers and eight cabins. We do four routes a year, depending on the timing year to batalha is one of them and then we spend six months in the besides which we leave from from Atlantis Duma Getty. So that's pretty easy for in terms of combination like you stay up at night to the resort and you get on the boat and you know, there's zero transfers there. And then we do there besides route we go to either kind of like Southern resize or including Malapascua to go die with the threshers.

 

Which I which makes let me just have a look at my map again, what's the size on the map?

 

So if you look at the chunk of islands that are negros, Cebu borehole, Sikhi whore. Now there's no yellow, but that's kind of a, you know, not a touristy destination. So those are called that beside us. Okay. beside us region. Yeah. And that's really famous and popular for diving. So, just because you get a really good variety from thresher sharks, to Whale sharks, to sardines, to macro to walls, to be others, everything, everything. And the movement between islands is quite easy, because they're all kind of like, you know, an hour ferry away from each other. makes it really simple. It's kind of like combining on a dive trip is kind of like combining Annie Lau and Puerto Galera, right? Because they're close to each other. Yeah. So yeah, so we do different routes there including up to Malapascua, which makes quite a big difference when he died at all for live aboard. It's early morning dive on a cleaning station. When you do it from land base shops, it's going to be you and 20 other boats. Large it's a very popular destination or you do it on Flipboard you know, half an hour before everyone else's you wake up and roll over. So

 

yeah, I do. I obviously remember, you know, the dives and seeing the sharks, which was awesome. However, the one thing I do remember most of Malapascua was the amount of fucking cockerels in the morning 3:34am or something like that. It's No one warned me about it. It was a

 

that's Philippines for you. Yeah, they're everywhere. They're everywhere. The Filipinos love their chickens. And of course, they love their cooks and their cockfights and all that stuff. So yes, there is. Yeah, there is a lot of that. It's funny, like when you live there, you kind of get oblivious to it. But then, yeah, obviously, a lot of people talk about it when they, when they go there on vacation. They're like, Oh my God, there's so many roosters, I were like, Yeah, that's true. Yes.

 

But not so many on the boat, which is a good thing.

 

No, no restores on boats.

 

So, just those routes again, that you do so you got four routes. Yes, you do. Tickets.

 

Yeah, so we do two batalha between. So we start last week of February through mid June. And then we move to go to the resize. And then there's a transition trip between from Tipitaka to macginty. Gotcha. And then we do the routes around the visa either like a seven night kind of the whole area. So do michetti or slob for the Whaleshark Sumilon mobile Actually, no, we don't do mobile. We do cubby Lau and other islands around that area. Just from the typhoon couple of years ago.

 

I think it's fair to say that having a Liverpool how many of the Liveaboards are in in that region?

 

Very interesting question. You know, and it's I just had that talk with a bunch of people. On the last show I've been to you would think that Philippines would have hundreds of books 7000 islands now there's about 20 Liveaboards Jesus How weird is that? Right and there's only not at all and there's only six of us all metal boats. Right so when you go out to open sea that's a bit more stable and safer. Yeah, just so yeah, just a tad so yeah, there's there's there's that. So there's really not that many boats in the Philippines, which is surprising. Incredible. I think because especially in places like to Fatah, ha you get a very exquisite experience. The park is huge and you cannot end occur. So you have two more, right. And this also same same in the besides, like in a lot of these places we try not to throw anchor we try to more if it's a if it's a route that we, you know, we normally go to, and other, you know, different boats, different mooring lines into batalha Park does but in different areas, we put more lines out to put me out of boats put more airlines and we really try not to be two boats in the same area at the same time. Right. Okay. And so that creates a pretty exquisite experience. Yeah,

 

yeah, that was that was gonna be my follow up question to see if see if all the boats follow the same kind of routes and the same kind of schedule throughout the year.

 

I think they do. I think most boats do, however, because it's such a huge region. I mean, honestly, like other than tuba, which is one Marine Park, the rest of it is just massive. Yeah. So you don't have to be in the same place where other boats are. Yeah. And that's, that's really a big, you know, my husband just got back from Russia on pot. And he also said, they haven't seen that many boats, because that area is also really big. Yeah, and the boats do coordinate. But there's 120 Liveaboards in Indonesia. That's a lot and like 160 in the Maldives.

 

I mean, it's, you know, the, you know, the Indonesian ones that do Komodo, they do Komodo through the Komodo season. And then they all push off over to Raja Ampat. And the role there as well.

 

It's the same for us, except for like, less than 20 votes. So just a very, very different very different experience. I think. I think I think you know, the the being being able to have those moments when you dive that's and again going back to being an experienced divers you know, I went to the Red Sea last year after I haven't been there in 20 years. Dove you know, daily boats did from shot I'm did. Buddy we do Ciaran streets one day and is Mohammed another day. There were 44 Day boats, each of them were like between 20 and 40 divers. We I literally went in the water and they grouped us together that was us. You know, my partner and I my dad, and they grouped us with this group of four Portuguese who actually work at dive centre because they figured oh shoot, you know, let's put the dive professionals together. And you know, our guide looked at us and said, Look, we're going to do you know, we're going to jump here. Are you guys okay with swimming a little bit, because then we kind of get off the crowds. And when we would meet the crowds, I was shocked. There were like, dozens of divers in the water and there's bubbles everywhere. And there's people everywhere. I just kind of went Ooh, just swam off to the blue. You know, this is not, especially as you become more experienced in your diving not as a career just as a diver. These are the kind of experiences you're looking for. Right?

 

Correct. Correct. You need that. That feel of getting away from the madding crowd.

 

And to be able to see the critters and the big stuff, because they normally don't like the big crowds.

 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was generally first in the water and you get to see the good stuff and elbow goes off before the last group gets in. So it's, yeah.

 

That's the secret. Don't tell anyone

 

I did notice. And I think anyone who's listening to this will know already, but to Metallica is extremely popular. And as Ron has already said, it's very limited on when you can go and dive it. What's the lead time on people wanting to get on board of the boat for two bits? Moment?

 

Oh, my we're sold out this season. And then next year, we only have a few spaces and one week left.

 

Yeah. So literally two years in advance kind of thing.

 

A year to two at minimum unless you want to wait last this is for the good boats. This is for the good boats. Okay, unless you want to wait for last minute cancellations, which, you know, there's a space here. There's a space there. But I think lots of people are like, look, I gotta take my leave. It's a week. We also do seven nights versus versus six knights which most other boats do. To get out of the tripping. So we do 22 dives into the TA and yeah, so you know, I think yeah, definitely a year or two.

 

Yeah, yeah. Start getting your name down. No, I think

 

this is really that, you know, people would contact me and be like, hey, you know, we want to take we want to do a full charter. Next year. I'm like, Okay, we're taking bookings for 2026 now for full charters.

 

Yeah. Are you really? Yeah, shit.

 

Mm hmm. They said the good boats. It's very, very different. It's a very different world and granted that it's a 14 week 15 week season. Half of that season is filled with our repeaters. Um, so people come back every year, for example, dive shops would be would do it to batata trip every year, not necessarily with the same people but because people want to go then they would book that in advance.

 

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And it holds 16 People

 

16 People Yep.

 

Eight cabins on a nail something down,

 

which is quite an exquisite. Yeah, it's fairly liquid again, going back to the fact that there are two boats are in the same place. If you have a boat with 24 people or a boat with 16 people, it makes a big difference, right?

 

Well, I mean, I kind of know what you're talking about with Jupiter. But for those people that are listening, do you want to nail down? Why it is so popular? I'm just sitting there thinking Oh, hold on a minute, there will be people who are not sure what that location is. What's so popular about Jupiter?

 

Right so it's there to atolls in the middle of the Sulu Sea there 90 nautical miles away from any land. They're the largest marine park in Southeast Asia. I think yes, size wise, size wise. And they're very very well protected there the atolls are have dropped off. So the plateau depending on the current on the tides would be anywhere from you know 10 To 18 metres on the plateau. And then it drops to walls of like 900,000 metres. So very, very deep, very, very blue currents, you know, so everything that comes through the Philippines if you if you open the map of the Philippines that kind of takes us back to why the Philippines is so special. If you open the map of the Philippines, you will notice that it's situated between the Pacific Ocean and basically for large bodies of water so the Pacific Ocean on the east, salut celibacy and Sulu Sea on the south, west. And then the North West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, depending who you ask. Same see different names on the northwest. So those four large bodies of water, basically water from the open ocean rich nutrients come in and funnel through the islands of the Philippines. So we're also on a meeting point of two major oceanic currents, which is the North Equatorial Current and the Pacific current. So again, water from open ocean come in rich nutrients and go between the islands right, the channels between the islands are normally around anywhere from 100 to 300 metres deep. So there's a lot of water, right and then the nutrients obviously settle kind of like on the, on the on the walls or slopes of the island islands to create really, really rich habitats. And that's why also our corals are the fastest growing corals in the world. It's because there is a temperature difference. You know, even with global warming, the water does not get to 30 degrees Celsius for a long period where it damages the corals right, it's funnels, the water funnels and colder water like I was just interested to hear in April and we had some upswell like 25 Celsius

 

so that's positively toasty this

 

is for us. Oh my god for us is like like we don't you know, we don't move I wouldn't even go diving in that kind of temperature. But you know, you get those currents coming in and so that what makes it so you know, biodiversity healthy, right? So to PETAA is that with a drop offs, just insane, corals insane, insane as they see fans that are like, three metre diameters and just, everything is big, everything is colourful, you know, lots of schools. So there is that, and of course, the fact that you can get there makes it look at it, right. Like, why do people I don't know who's who's a top model these days, man. I'm like, so you, of course, that's my Matt waters is so desirable. That's why it takes so long to schedule a podcast with him because there's only one of him, and everybody wants it. Go, you know, so. That's to batalha. Matt, you are to the top

 

you go. Yeah. I just I just happen to look on the map here. And I put it on the old Google thing that shows you the the topography and it's it's actually very interesting that you can see how that those channels like you say they're gonna be bringing that nutrient rich water through and it's all sits on one big spike.

 

Well, yeah, well just have a look not only to Bhutan. So have a quick look at the Verde passage, verde passage, right. So that is basically the point year between verde Island and the middle of it is verde Island, which is after incredible studies has been proven to be the number one most biodiverse point in the world, which was science from school, gorgeous school. Go verde Island. No, don't look to the top. This is a totally different destination. Go to just Google verde Island. And when you'll find it, you will find it very shortly. And when you find it, you will learn that this bugger is located in the middle of the Verde passage.

 

Oh, this is near the end of malaria.

 

There you go. Right. So you've got anilao. You've got Puerto Galera. Yeah. And in that area is verde island. So the most biodiverse point in the Philippines, as the California Academy of Sciences declared, after their study, and what makes it so unique, is the fact that it sits if you look at where it's sitting, going back to this discussion about currents, if you look at where it's sitting, right, it's sitting, you can see that the water is coming in from the west Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, right, we've just been discussion. So that's where the water is coming in. So these guys settled as well. Exactly. So what you get there is current currents that come in, water reach and nutrients, everything kind of like funnels through that channel, that passage called a passage, and then that goes straight into the area of the inner islands like Rome, blonde, etc, etc. So it's the same thing into the tie, if you look at the the location of it, that because water comes in really rich in nutrients, and then they find these two atolls, and then you've got all these corals. Right, so that's where your habitat becomes very unique. Yeah, right. And so that it's true, it's true, and I will kid you, not verde Island, is one of the best, best hands down dive sites. It is on real, it's pinnacles rising up from 150 metres going all the way to the surface, you can only see the tip. So you see this tip triangle of Blackhawks, right. And then it goes down like this dunk. And then there's a little plateau and a boom, and then the wall goes down to about hundreds of metres deep. There are clouds, clouds of red tooth triggerfish It's unreal. It's unreal. It's like a dream. It's a dream. And every time I go there, I just go, Oh my God. And it's really funny because like, I just got back into Bhutan a second time. And I was literally diving through this cloud of red fruit to trigger fish. And I just went, you know, the same feeling. So yes, of course to Bhutan is amazing. It's amazing because it's remote. Yeah, it's amazing. Because there's no people, there's no lands, you're on a boat for a week you get off the boat wants to go on land. That's not even on land. It depends on the tides, right? So we go to the ranger station to visit the Rangers. But obviously, you know, their their house is a house on on stilts. So on low tide, it's just nothing, right? It's just water, water, water, water, water and some more water. So that experience is really unique. And of course the size of the corals and just a variety of there's heaps of sharks everywhere. Everywhere.

 

That's what I was going to ask next. Is that the shark what kind of sharks and I've got a there's one chap, he's a good mate now he started out as a guest. And he's only ever happy when he sees something big. Some Sharky Yeah. You can be oh, well, they'd be like, yeah, it's okay. But if a sharp turns up, he's got a big cheesy grin on his face.

 

Right so I think sharks in the Philippines log on coastal diving. We don't get that much. Yeah. For the million Filipinos for obvious reasons. Right? And, you know, obvious reasons that also go back to our dining industry. Because, you know, again, I there's no judgement and what I'm going to say, but you do go and people go on vacation, they would sort of be like, Oh my god, amazing tuna steak, and then they go back. And then they go diving and they get back and they're like, Oh, we didn't see anything in the water. You're like, yeah, it was just on your plate. Yeah. So there's obviously a very strong correlation between what you see in the water and what you have on your plate. So I think you know, to PETAA is a marine park, it's protected. You do get all your grey reefs, black tips, white tips. Normally, we do get quite a few Whale sharks there. This season less than prior seasons. And we saw what we did see to hammerheads, which I've never seen there. So there are hammerheads there. Manta is all sorts of array marble arrays, eagles, you know, all sorts of big animals and then tune as much SIP Trunking huge. Today's barracudas jackfish schools parent bumphead parrotfish the big one, you know, like, all sorts of big all sorts of

 

big stuff. Yeah. Hey, I wanted to I wanted to ask you and then you've got those

 

people looking for nudibranchs

 

Yeah, I think he'd save that for you know, backup. Up north. You know Tibbets. Haha, it's got to be wide angle for sure. Yeah, I was gonna ask about I am going to ask about what's it called Ocelot and the whalesharks. Now, I went there years and years and years ago, when I didn't know any better. And I've got to say, it was surprising and quite alarming at the quantity of people getting in the water to swim with Whale Sharks. Obviously, it's good for the locals because they're turning some good coin. But one thing that's always stuck in mind is the Whale sharks, are they getting used to holes? And are they getting damaged by other boats when they leave that kind of area? And I'd be intrigued to know what your kind of opinion on Oslob and the way the whalesharks have been? Used, I suppose.

 

Treat it I think, let me ask you with a different let me start with a different question. Also, for the people listening, do you go to zoos?

 

No. But yeah, neither

 

do I. Neither do I. So that's kind of like a different very different breed of people, because 90% of people would go to zoos. I think divers wouldn't go to SeaWorld and aquariums. Although I will tell you, I was insanely surprised to hear how many people go and dive with Whale sharks and the Georgia Aquarium, where a 20 minute dive is 425 US dollars and dive shops, arrange trips there. So to me, to me, that is, you know, it's also is an open ocean. The feeding is done three hours a day. So nobody's forcing the Whale sharks to be there. That's to begin with, right. I think studies are still being done, and are also partly funded by the government. They're the local government was alarmed and required to devote some of the youngest income to shark's tooth Whaleshark research. So there's always like, you'll see especially now like the last couple of times that I went since after the pandemic, you do get more you will see marine biologists in the water kind of like observing and swimming with the with people and just looking at the behaviour of the sharks and stuff. Um, I don't know, I don't know the answer to that. That's a complicated question. I mean, this is goes back to my Hey, how was your tuna steak? Right? We are people and we have desires and people just go Hey, where's my bucket list? You know, it's no different than poking poking. blue ring octopus, so the blue rings come out. And you can get a nice photo? Yeah, it's no different. Just that one smaller?

 

Yeah. I mean, I'm not. I'm not trying to put dispersions on anyone who goes there. Now because I was one of those people I knew no different. I just wanted to say the workshops. But

 

the plus it's well managed, Matt, it's really well managed. Like, it's one of the only places in the world where you go. And there are actually dozens of people in the water from from, from the corporation. If you go too close, they will tell you to go far. If you shoot with a flash, they'll tell you to stop. If you try to touch Whaleshark Would you be surprised how many people do try to there's actually a prison. It's actually in the law in the Philippines, you're not allowed to touch them, okay, and you can get a fine and you can go to prison up to four years. It's in the law. It's actually a pretty big animal, The Boondock as they're called in local language, in Tagalog, they're on the 100 pices bill as well. So they're quite part of that, that theme.

 

I've got it I've also do the caveat on it that I actually was at an aquarium two days ago. Because we took some disabled divers dive in with well with not with Whaleshark but with no sharks.

 

And you know, and that kind of goes to where do you draw the line? You know, some people say oh, we will draw the line you'll aquariums are actually saving to actually saving I don't know endangered species. And it's important that for the education side of it, it's important when we take kids there so they can get connected with the water. You know, I took my son to swim with the Whale sharks and oh slope from about 10 times, you know, since he was two and a half, like put his head in the water and he's like, Oh, it's gonna make math right. You know, it's hard. It's hard where to draw the line. You do also have to remember that we Eat, and especially people listening to this podcast, we're divers, we know the ocean and we love it. The 90% of the people going to Oslo are locals, or Chinese. And Koreans, you know, people who would not necessarily ever be in the water in that scenario, who probably have very likely seen more dead fish than any fish alive. Yeah. Yeah. Right, that fish on their plates and in their food. So there is that aspect as well. I don't know where to draw the line. You know, it's a very fine line. I think we each define it to ourselves. And I think relatively speaking to compare to, you know, aquariums and zoos and a distressed environment in that sense. Yeah, it's, you know, it's, it's, it's definitely better because, well, sharks are migrating through, they're free. They don't get enough food to stick around. Forever like to be to be kind of like your pet, your pets. Whaleshark

 

That will be a lot expands to sustain an adult. Well, it'd

 

be a lot of food. Yeah. And you know, there are no motor boats in the area. There's only the bunk of boats with a, you know, with a rose. So I don't know, it's a tough one. I mean, lots of people do it. And the people who don't want to do it, don't do it.

 

Yeah. Yeah. So is there any other hotspots for sale sharks for divers? Absolutely. Oh, my God, I live with them. Can you?

 

Oh, you can you can we dive with them off the liveaboard Yeah, we diver them off the liveaboard are not offshore, just because the local operations there are not at par with our safety requirements. So we don't do that. We used to be able to do that off our bunkers when we do the across islands, but we can't cross island with bunkers anymore. Since 2019. The rules change with how far bunkers can go so yeah, so we can't do that. We used to do that with bunkers or with a liveaboard. I think. There definitely, definitely definitely other spots to batalha is one. And then you've got Salvan later. If you look at Southern later on the map sourthern later, l EY T. That's also part of the besides region, but it's the furthest East. And that's basically where the Pacific Ocean is. So that's where they would funnel through. coming in right. Now. There's don't soul

 

deep channel out there as well.

 

Yeah, exactly. And actually, that is also snorkelling, they're very well protected there and you can die with them. It's not clean. Basically. We did a trip there on a live aboard last December, which we're looking to do again in 2024. And that will be led by Dr. Gonzalo. Arapaho, who is shark researcher and a PhD in marine biology. spent seven years in the Philippines, studying migration of sharks. So he's leading a trip, which is very educational. And we do we do Malapascua and southern later to go see them in a bit more of a natural environment. And then there is Dawn soul. Yeah. Which is also a place where people do see them and that that's seasonal. Right? Yeah. So I think what people and also southern latest season are the most sightings are in December in January, so it's, uh, you know, look at us today. I mean, I'm just looking at you. I've got my screen and I've got about 27 Other chrome windows open, like, we want everything now and everything instant and, you know, I was just on a weekend to batalha, we had freaking incredible dives. And literally people would come up from the dives and I understand that saying, let's let's do the Whaleshark dance you want to see Whaleshark Send me there's so many other amazing things in the water. But you know I do get the fascination so I think people want something that's short this guaranteed Yeah, yeah, that's why oh slob is so popular. Yeah. Yeah.

 

To be fair, I think people that know about to better her and book on a couple of years in advance. You know, they realised that nothing's a guarantee no matter how many Oh, yeah, well shut down says you do? Manta waves.

 

Right. But I mean, on the other hand, I will say that then the route that we do offer liveaboard that includes Malapascua I think does not fall short does not fall short. Because we move every day we start in our down location on Atlantis, do McGarry and then we do we do all sculpins Sumilon. So you do get the Whaleshark diving, so no mas is there. And then we do kind of alters right now we don't do Moalboal and Pescador but we do go up to Malapascua and we do get to Island, which is incredible caverns with Whitetip sharks sleeping and like really, really cool topography. We do kalanggaman Which is really nice. Well, obviously we get the threshers in the morning, and then we kind of go off on the east side and then we do cabbie Lao Balicasag, which is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful dive sites in the Philippines and other Marines. Centuary would you like school of Jackson? Really great corals, lots of turtles, lots of abandoned sea snakes very similar to Apple Island. And then we do Palau and we can do and, and so there's a lot of other points in the besides region that people can go to that are not in the middle of the sea with the deep rolls but have the same amazing biodiversity as to Batal.

 

What's to be honest, Ronnie listening to all this, my mind's fucking blown. That's all these locations. All these locations that you're listing are for all locations that I've looked at in the past thinking oh, yeah, one day I'm gonna get there. The the time from Dumaguete assay up to Malecon Malapascua. Is that do you do that in one kind of hit? Or do

 

we do it? We do stops along the way we stopped along the way. So the idea of doing it besides route for anyone really is to be able to hit multiple destination dive destinations that otherwise would take you over a month. Yes. So the idea is to be able to hit all those all those points in you know, seven to 10 days. And that's really really unique. It's kind of like your Raja on pot air you know, but it's just it's so it's so diverse it topography is so different. The the biodiversity is so vast that really those are into me, we also do another route but we do that on alternating years. And that's upper refund korone wrecks, you know, I don't know if you know, but it was Sangha, which is in Corona island we have do gongs and those are territorial and are very shy. I've been to many places where you you would hear a blood or you've seen them from the helicopter, but not in the Philippines. And I went diving with them and it's very, very regulated. There's seven metres depth, between five and seven, you're allowed 20 minutes in the water with them. Only for divers, somebody watching you on top, they don't get too close. And they just literally have to swim away because they're in your face. Incredible in credible experience. So you know we do that right? We leave from Puerto Galera and then we do upper reef, which is the second largest marine park in the Philippines, lots of sharks. So it's three islands with channels, Sandy channels in between them about 30 metres. And then we get the you know, we get a lot of grey reefs, white tips, black tips, rays, etc. Again, it's you can't get there on day boats. So you know, that eliminates all sorts of fishing. And then we do the Rex and corona and then we do Barracuda Lake, which I think is one of the riskiest dive. One would do in their lives. I mean, it's like diving this and notice, right like, do you remember the first time you drove this notice? Heavy? Did you dive this? Do you remember the first time you go in there like through the freaking jungle. And then you sit down you go into these like really cold water. And you go in and then all these games of like lights and cliffie typography, right? And the visibility is like air and then you get a goldfish swimming, you're like, ooh, it's just so exciting. It's so different. Barracuda Lake is it's landlocked.

 

There's no barrier, there's no barricade or in this lake is there is there

 

is there is one there is one, I mean, at least when I was like fucking four times the size of me know, probably twice. It's Barracuda because there's no predators, right?

 

Because that's literally landlocked, isn't it?

 

It's landlocked, and it's freshwater. And the interesting thing about it, so first water is obviously 100% visibility. But the interesting thing about it is that it's reversed thermoclines So it at the surface, you're at like 26 Celsius, you start going down and starts getting warmer. And and it's really freaky. So yeah, so you're not diving, good weights, and you're not aiming for the wetsuit, because you know, it's warm. So you do, you know, I did put a rash guard because I was like, Ooh, this, you know, I'm not used to diving in my, my bathing suit. And I'm really happy that I did and I'll tell you why in a minute, but like you start going down and then at like 10 metres, it's about 30 Celsius and then 15 metres like 35 and then 20 metres or 40 cells, you should like, you know, it's kind of like the the reading is a bit weird. So you kind of spend most of your time at like 1015 metres, where you're, you know, comfortably warm but not boiling. And then you see the thermal clients like these clouds of oil all over and then it's cliffs. Right. It's all these vertical volcanic cliffs, and it's just topography is insane. It's insane. It's like diving in space. I would imagine. I don't know. Yet, but you know, I would imagine that's how we would look like so. Yeah, it's very He very, very freaky and they need your safety stop and he got these these goatfish in these cleaning shrimps that obviously have no predators. So they're like, oh, it's like climbing all over you pulling your hair and it's just yeah, it's just a very different very different kinds of diving, which I really liked. The racks are pretty cool. There's a lot of stuff on them in Carone. And then we do the do gongs, and we do the two racks up the swung up, which have you know, you could really see it's kind of like, bit like Palau and truck where you could see the silhouette of the boat as you go down.

 

Yeah, yeah, what kind of steps are there?

 

So they're about 20 boats or ships, their average length 120 metres. So it's an entire Japanese fleet that when they're to run from the Americans and most boats sank in the channel, and that's why we don't have the greatest visibilities like 1015 metres. But they're under 40 metres.

 

1015 metres of visibility will be fantastic. And Sydney. That'd be a good day.

 

Yeah, like I said, I mean, you guys, you guys are very particular. And strange. It's like that. It's like the it's like the West Coast divers in the United States. You know, they'd be like in January. Yeah, you got to get the water. I mean, it's amazing. You get the archives, you get the seals, you get all these crazy rays. But I yeah, I'd be a popsicle. With Tropical diver.

 

I did. We went diving on Sunday, and we did a double boat dive. And the weather had come in a little bit. We didn't know rain, but it was just cold, cold biting wind. So yesterday, I was like, death. I just couldn't get couldn't get warm, snotty, it's horrible. So I think I need to dry again, I'll get a heated vest or something like that for the winter times.

 

I yeah, I think I would totally do that. You know, I'm getting to a point now where I'm, you know, less scared of very cold water. And, yeah, I think I'm going to do I'm going to start doing some drysuits stuff, especially, you know, kind of like when you go to AWS or West Coast of the United States, you know, places where it would it would make sense to go diving, but I could never do it. Yeah, yeah. high dive. five mil five mil and a hood in the Philippines.

 

No, I will be bored short while short seller actually. That's about it. Yeah, tropical worse soon, soon. Hey, speaking of soon, soon, the when we first started talking, you were planning just a famil visit that kind of thing. Is that been filled up yet?

 

Are you coming? Maybe? Yeah, there's a bit that I could show you Verde islands can show you verta Island? Yeah, so we do. You know, we do Famille trips for a dive shop owners and group leaders. Obviously, Atlantis is a little bit different than some of the other operations where I would say on average, probably 6060 65% of our business is groups. Yeah, that's predominantly what we do on the boat. It's, you know, 90% of the boat is full boat charters. So that's a group coherent group. But we really know how to run that we really really know how to run that. So you know, you get your you we you divvy up the divers into groups of six because that's our maximum ratio is one day you got six divers. Normally, they would have their own speedboat or they'd be to book to two different groups on one Blanca boat, if we take the bunkers. So the idea is really to create an exquisite and very personal diving experience by you know, kind of going through that routine of getting a group of anywhere from 10 to 5060. Our largest group is 120 people. You know, it's we know how to handle those kind of groups. We know how to stagger the day, how to how to get all the boats running, and people out and back on time, we have dedicated camera rooms in both resorts. So people spend their surface interval I didn't mention that. So we do five dives a day, where everybody goes, like, Oh my God, there's so much I've never gotten to five. But you know, the setup is so different because we come back to the resort after each dive. And so you've got your coffee, you've got your tea, you've got your cookies, you're in the camera room, and then Okay, it's time to go diving again. So it's not this like long boat rides we have to surface into by convention on the boat getting gold wanting to dry, then you gotta go to the second dive. You look good. We're gonna be a true way to get in the water. But yeah, there's none of that because you're back in the resort. Yeah, right. And you dry off and then and so it's kind of like a liveaboard it's like boom, boom, boom, boom. You don't want to dive on fine. You miss it out. Like you don't have to decide in the morning. You just sit at one dive you go rest and you join the next one because they're scheduled. Yeah. So it makes it pretty easy with the surface interval of the resorts. Yeah,

 

I've got 10 questions that I've been asking every guest this season. So why don't we fire into some of those and see how you get on?

 

10 commandments? Yeah. Hailing down from the sky

 

okay. How do you describe your job as a diver to people who are not familiar with the activity

 

so really funny was so my vote that's literally so so a lot of times it'd be like

 

especially because now you know, we during the pandemic, we got stuck in Israel involuntarily and we made us we're fine and then people would ask. So So what do you do? And I go, Oh, I I work for Scuba diving resorts and you know, Israel being Israel, people do dive quite a lot, and they at least know what it is generally. But then some people go Scuba diving, you're like, Yeah, you know that thing with the tanks? And you're like, Oh, you mean like going underwater? Like, yeah, like, Oh, my God, I would never do that. Okay, so that's about 80% of the responses that I get. People go, Oh, I'm so scared of it, you know, or I'm freaked out by it. But the funny story is like when I listen to, so my son is in second grade, he's seven and a half. And when people ask him, What is his mom do? And he goes, my mom's job is to tell people how beautiful Scuba diving is, and especially in the Philippines, and where they can see a lot of fish and also Whale sharks, because I've been swimming with Whale sharks. And that's my job described by seven and a half years old. So yeah, that's how we would describe it. You know, the it's not it's not you can you can do the corporate thing. Oh, you know, I do sales and marketing for Atlanta. CyberSource was a chain of Scuba diving resort and a liveaboard. And we tell people why they should live with us over all the other people. No, that's not my job. Totally not my job. My job is to share with people how amazing the Philippines is. And there's a lot of places in the Philippines are amazing. Not just where we are. But a lot of places in the world that are amazing for diving, but particularly in the Philippines. And then my job is to explain to people what the difference between 90 and 100 is 100%. And that's where we excel. Yeah, our retention rate is 45% 45% of our guests come back. That's a lot. I always joke and tell people. It's huge. And I always joke and I tell people, I always joke and tell people look, you know, my job is to get people to come for the first time, it can be very, very hard, because we're not just competing over with other operations in the Philippines, right or other destinations. We're competing with everyone. So let's say you've got a week off, or two weeks off, and two weeks and two grand, right? So you'll say hey, we're gonna do we're gonna go What can I do? Right? Philippines could be one option. But there are obviously many, many, many other locations that people want to go to. So, you know, first of all, you're competing with the world. And this is just in the world of Scuba diving. Then you've got your competing vacation, where you've got a Scuba diver who now married Oh, God, for sake, a non diver. You know, when I met my partner, he wasn't a diver. And I was like, Yeah, mate, I think you. Yeah, and he's a dive master. Now. You got to level the playing mate. And so I think you know, and then you got these guys who are like wandering between, you know, what do we do on school holidays and stuff like that? Should we go a place where that involves Scuba diving? What do we do? You know, there's there's that and then within the Scuba diving world is other destination within the Philippines. There's other destinations and and our destination? Is there other operators. So, you know, I think my job is to help people narrow that search down to find something that they will get an amazing experience. I really do believe in it. I really do believe that. In our world. It's we create experiences for people. And that experience like we just talked about, right? Like you do a double tank dive and you have 12 hours and you're underwater for two. So with Atlantis, you're underwater for five hours a day, but it's it is 12 hour days, right? It's 13 Sometimes depending on how much you sleep. So it's it's kind of it's kind of creating everything that's around it as well.

 

Yeah. So great. Answer, great answer. Okay, how about that? Can you share a memorable diving experience that stands out to you as the best you've ever had?

 

I've got one that stands out. I don't know if I could say go for it the best. I don't believe in the best. You know, there's so many dogs I haven't dove yet and so many dogs that I do have that I just can You might have said, Oh my god right? No, but I had a so it's kind of like a personal story as well. But like, we, we were in Palau and we decided that we should, you know, make some offsprings and make sure that there's more future divers in the world. So that industry doesn't die. And we, you know, we obviously you don't know, and you're a remote island and, you know, of course, you've got pregnancy tests and stuff, but it's not that very, I mean, you're not so entwined into it, you kind of live your life and, you know, off you go, so, we had already decided to leave and to go to Costa Rica, like we took a job in Costa Rica and my partner went a month ahead of me to start because though that the restaurant then the resort we ran the resort was kind of small, it's like really five upscale villas, but the restaurant was massive. So 195 seats and, you know, he's a, he's a chef when not anymore, but was at the time. So he went ahead of me and then I you know, and I didn't know yet you know, what was going on, I didn't really feel I wasn't a massive like packing and, you know, handing down and you know, all the my job for the my successor and cetera, et cetera. So there was a lot of stuff going on. And one day I was like, oh my god, I haven't been diving and like couple weeks, so I better jump on a boat, jumped in a boat went to German channel. And normally I would stick at the end, you kind of like the end of the group, like at least make eye contact and stuff, but kind of stick to myself because you're not guiding anymore and you're not part of the you know, so it'd be kind of like at the end. And there was this female grey reef who was just gliding next to me in a really you know, normally they'd be next to you and then off they swim because they you know, they don't like the noise that comes out of our gear and everything. But she she kept gliding, gliding and gliding and gliding and gliding and so half an hour goes by and we're like literally on the edges of the wall, you know, towards the mouth of the channel or past the mouth of the channel. I think people were looking at Mentos I don't know, it was just like literally, her and I. Yeah. And at some point I'm kind of like it was it was really really strange. It was really strange. There are lots of strikes in Palau, they do come really close but they don't stick with you for that long. And then at some point, I'm just kind of looking at her and going oh my god, I'm pregnant. Go back to Yeah, man go back to the water got back to just got back with that crazy realisation in my head. Went back up, you know, wash my gear, blah, blah, finish my workday went to the pharmacy to go to test and there you go. Holy smokes. Yeah. So I think you know, the I think the scientific explanation would probably be they do feel pulses, right. Okay, so I think she must have kind of felt to different pulses and one thing, so I think maybe that was what she just I don't know, I don't know what it was. But that is a very, very, very memorable dive for me still to this day. Yeah. Well, yeah, very, very crazy. Yep.

 

Okay, if someone wanted to pursue a career similar to yours, what advice would you give them

 

love it you gotta love it. You definitely don't do this for the money

 

Yeah, no, just love it love it and I think any career not just mine just follow your passion though the current don't fight it don't don't don't think about what you do today to do it tomorrow look, I came from that world like I was at recreational diver in this high rolling corporate job with suits and not what suits but real suits. And all this all this jazz with where you make a lot of money so you can spend a lot of money when you go do the things you love. So by way make half the money now but I am super happy and I do what I love every day. And I think that's it you're replaceable for me you know people are different whatever makes you tick whatever makes it

 

but it's your work life balance thing that you've got to get going on and

 

yeah, I don't know if it's work life balance. I think this kind of work. Is your life. The difference? No, this is your life. Well, I think for a lot of people in this industry, right. So I think that's what makes it so special. Yeah, I

 

think it's a very there's like murky water between because like say suits, corporate world nine to five, nine to six, whatever it is, you kind of know your clock. How but this industry, because it's not only a job, it's a passion, that now 96 might be nine to one one day if there's nothing going on, but it could be nine till midnight. If you haven't a great time with guests and, you know, talking passionately about well, topics like we're talking about that.

 

Okay, if you could change anything about the diving industry or Scuba diving in general oh, what would it be?

 

Wow. That's a big one. I wish diver stop eating fish. That's not the first one. No, I think I think I think what this industry needs, but has has its starting and I really see it I really, really see it is the connection that we have to the ocean and beyond the stupid thing. I think we because we are there. And like you said, you know, most people don't, don't do it. I mean, realistically, most people in the world Scuba dive percentage wise, right? We're a very small percentage of the population. I think it's our job. We're ambassadors. We're ambassadors, and it's our job to tell people, even small things, you know, just to the smallest pieces of information that people don't think about because they don't die. For example, the whole discussion with microplastics and why it's so important to recycle. Right? So there is an I'll give you an example. There's there's a an NGO of six local women and do make it they make jewellery from recycled materials, okay? It's 100% proceeds go to them really cool. It's called Luma. Go google them support them lum a Geo, say it again. Sorry, l u m a Geo. Right. And they make these jewellery from, from anything recycled. They started with paper, and then they went on to leather and cotton and stuff. And so recently, recently being the last kind of like five years, we support them. So we get some of our giveaways from them. Everything's handmade and 100% proceeds go to them and six families are being fed by those efforts, right. But with a lady that we work with Florida, she's really awesome. And then they started doing this. These jewellery from from recycled plastic. So they got this machine that cuts plastic in different shapes. And they make these amazing, amazing. Jewellery is like a hoop and then it's got these pieces of plastic hanging in but they're all cut in a certain shape. And you've got the blue ones, those are the suave bottles, you know, the fabric detergent, fabric, the laundry softener, softshell fabric, whatever softener thing, yeah, softener thing. And then you've got your orange ones are from tide, and the laundry detergent. And then you've got the different ones from you know, your your dish soap, et cetera, et cetera. And we talked about and we talked about when to start doing them, and I always buy them, I buy them also personally, and then those my girlfriends know, that's what they're getting for their birthdays, collecting their Luma go collection, every birthday. And so, you know, I told floor and I said, Well, that's really great. And then we talked about where you get the plastic and then they say, oh, you know, my money, we just go out on the beach and collected. But there's so much plastic on the beach? And I said, Yeah, because they obviously they go in the city of doing Eddie Gore in Cebu land, which is by the airport. And I said, yeah, there is. And so Didn't you see that before? And she's like, actually, we almost didn't notice it before. But now we do. So you know, it still was little things. There was a saying in the Old Testament that says if you've changed one soul it is if you've changed the whole world. And I really do believe in it. Yeah, we're just one person on one little person. Oh my god, what difference can I make huge one to join. If we all think that we can make a difference, there'll be no difference made. So just do do your little part. You know, educate others. I think this industry needs to have more people that are ambassadors for the ocean. You already dive because you love it. You know, talk to your friends about it. Explain to them the importance of recycling. Explain to them that the effect of microplastic in the ocean, right the runoff using biodegradable materials. Avoiding single use plastic man, I'm having this discussion with people here in a first world country. You know why single use

 

do you think why do you think the Philippines and now it's time to catch up with the Western world on the awareness of single use plastics? Because I know the finger has been buying beans have been heavy plastic uses and dumpers, but

 

we are I mean, we are at the resorts. There's no single use plastic, even our straws or bamboo. So we've tried to do everything kind of locally, all of our buy. All of our toiletries are biodegradable because we're on the boat, you know, and the resorts close to the ocean. I think on from a population perspective lightyears away, it's just also different economical traits, like my master's is in business focusing on international economics and you look at obviously, totally related to what I do now, right? You look at assumption graphs around the world. And you know, people in third world countries normally get paid every two weeks. Right? And then you see the consumption graphs go up. Right? Because that's when they spend all their money. So savings is pretty flat. It's changing, obviously now with growing middle class, which is in the Philippines, but predominantly, most of the people. They go to the local stores and the your shampoo, your laundry detergent, your everything comes in those aluminium single use lines. Yeah. Right. So it's that concept of getting away from that packaging. Everything is wrapped in another thing. And another thing and another thing, so yeah, they're not huge dumpers to be honest. Because a lot of people burn their trash.

 

Yeah. Okay. Yeah,

 

there's, there's, you know, like I said, one at a time, one person at a time, we will make a difference. We will.

 

Was it? Excuse me, I mean, the questions, it's the next question was going to be what are your thoughts on ways to minimise human impact of the oceans? I think we just nailed that. Okay, so has your passion for diving, or indeed, the industry changed over time? And if so, how?

 

I think I think, you know, we all do have a moment with where we question ourselves, I think my biggest challenge and the greatest thing that the best thing I did was to stop guiding, honestly, to this really angry guide, stop guiding, yes, I became a very angry guide, because people were was just at the time, this was like the 2012 ish. Everybody started getting cameras, you know, it became so accessible, it became affordable. And everybody, even the shitty divers started diving with cameras. And of course, what do they want to do is take great pictures, why would you want to take great pictures, there's so many amazing photographers out there, just go, here you go, this is what I saw. And take a picture from the internet, wherever, right now. But people want to take their own pictures and their own movies and their own their on their own. And in in doing that, they not deliberately, most people, not deliberately some deliberately, which is ridiculous, you know, break, break, break stuff and touch things. And that I kind of became really, really angry, angry, angry guy, angry guy didn't want to show anyone anything. Because I was worried they're gonna, they're gonna move stuff, and they're going to touch things, I'm going to break things. And it was just I would see things everywhere being, you know, kicking quarrels, and I was like, Ah, so yeah, that was, that was a really good time to stop guiding. With that in mind, and I think, you know, that was that was a turning point for me. Also to re understand and re examine your passion to it. If you I got you know, when I was guiding in the Philippines, 13 years ago, I got hypothermia, I was in the hospital for four days. So

 

I you know, it gets into pains.

 

I know, I know, it was raining, it was 25 Celsius four times a day, I told you was Tropical diver. But it was very, very difficult. But you get to a point where it's raining and you just look and you go I don't want to be in the water now. And come on every single day professional have had that are still has that from time to time. That's normal. You know, that's just how you feel about your job. And I kind of I was really happy making that change and really being able to dive what I want and just go oh my god, I miss it so much. I have to go to the work. You know, so and that would be a week without diving. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, you gotta you gotta find you got to find where your passion is. Some people just love guiding and love teaching and oh my god, I look at some instructors that I know we're in their 50s and are still so eager to show it to people and overcome difficulties that divers have when they first get in the water. And, you know, I think that's amazing. I think we each have our calling and we need to find that.

 

Okay, here's a good one for one of the many safety procedures we have in the industry. If you had to choose one as the most important what would it be

 

I can only speak from like personal incidents, right? Because that's, that's what runs in my head right now. Two things, two things. Do stay close to your body. Stay close to your body and have freaking oxygen on the boat. have oxygen on the boat. Make sure you dive with somebody that has oxygen on a boat, make sure that the tanks are serviced. You know make sure that if does something happen people know what to do you know I had that This happens. This is just statistics, you know, with with over 2500 dives, you know, you're bound to have stuff happening to you. And so once I had my O ring exploding at 20 metres, okay. And at that point, you know, you could you could freak out and go up, and then one would hope that there'd be oxygen on the boat. And that's the rest of your diving holiday is probably pooped. If unless you get, you know, at least you wait for a few days to see what happened. But yeah, I was close with my buddy. And we shared air and it was fine. And we went up, but the dive operation actually it was it was at Atlantis. And I was diving as a fun diver right now guiding or anything or not even leading a group, none of that stuff. It's just fun diving.

 

But you were working for my buddy? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

So you know, the, the dive guides were just amazing. They were we have to dive guides, there were to dive guys, it was safety diver, which was one of the dive guides. And within an instant of a second, I had someone with me, you know, holding us to together, making sure you know, making sure that we were fine surfacing with us. And it was just, everything was super smooth. And things like that happen. Things like that happen, it's not. So it's just statistics is like if you drive a car, you will bump into someone else's car at some point, or somebody will bump into you. It's just statistics. So I think diving in an operation that has all those safety trainings and mechanisms in place is super, super important. I dove in the Dominican Republic with someone who was guiding the dive, and was just going up and down and up and down and up and down. And I was like, and I was a recreational diver at the time. And I'd be like, I'm not following the profile. That's putting me at risk in a remote location of a falling apart boat. Oh, he was also me because I wanted to go dive there. But there was definitely no oxygen on the boat. There was definitely no oxygen on land. The nearest hospital was like I don't even know how far that was more of a kind of like an expedition thing that I was like, oh, let's go do this. But you know, I I think I think staying safe in general being close with your buddy making sure that you're on, especially if you're diving as a recreational diver. Make sure that there's oxygen.

 

Yeah, yeah. And don't be afraid to ask the question. S shifts in place.

 

Absolutely. Absolutely. You know how I dive that when I go diving like for Ron, my vacation? Oh, my God, I took everything. You change

 

everything on the boat with a checklist?

 

No, but I look around, I look around and they will say and they will say you know, like when I was in Egypt now they were like, oh, yeah, we have oxygen on the boat and like, oh, okay, awesome. When did you last check it? Because you know, when I did my divemaster in Honduras, and we would show up super hungover. We would take a hit of oxygen. Oxygen? Of course you do. Everybody does it don't lie. You've done it. If you're a dive professional, you know, everybody, and then and then. And then when there is an emergency, nobody knows that that bottle is not full. So I'm just saying like those little things. They make a very big difference in one's life. So yeah. I don't know if I answered your question.

 

I think so. We got that one is one of the most difficult questions you're ever going to answer in your life. What are your top five bucket list destinations?

 

places I haven't been to

 

no no. It can be where you've been or where you want to be? Bucket List

 

No, they're all places I haven't been to. That's That's my bucket list. Because that changes all the time. Right? It changes all the time. As you as you progress and you go along. So right now my next my my Well, like I from places I have been I'll answer that in two folds from places I have been. Obviously, definitely, definitely. I've got a couple there's one. There's Palau. Yep. Of course. Peleliu to be particular. Really, really really nice dive sites. And ULONG channel is definitely one of my favourite black rock into Bhutan. Okay. Gatto island off Malapascua with that cover in that you swim through and it's like then you see the light out. So notice in Mexico and and and that diver the do gongs, man. Mind blowing there's a truck coming your way. Yeah, from places I haven't been Caicos Goshawk was Coco's Sea of Cortez and Mexico. As you can see colder colder colder places I need to get a dry suit

 

or get some thermal insulation.

 

Exactly how I just got a brand new waterproof W seven wetsuit.

 

Nice so good. Oh, I literally just missed that I missed out on one of those this weekend. I got back in touch with a guy and it literally sold like 25 minutes before.

 

Oh, my water wetsuit. I've owned a bunch of wetsuits in my life that's probably the best I've ever owned. A great yeah, I was not called for an instant of a second um yeah so Sea of Cortez Maldives, which surprisingly, I haven't been to which is strange yet and all of your your your your region there your unit PNG. Well, yeah. Yeah, exactly. I hear a lot of good things in PNG. So yeah, places, these kinds of places. I haven't been to yet.

 

Yeah. Yeah. I think this particular locations around the world just game changes. Philippines, Indonesia, Galapagos pngase. Right up there. Yeah.

 

Definitely. Definitely. And I think that that kind of, to me, if you diver place, extensively for few years, and you still love it. That's a bucket list. Yeah. So you know, for me, that's definitely definitely Palau in the Philippines. Yes to.

 

Cool. All right, last one for you. How would you describe the dive community to a non diver?

 

A bunch of tattooed individuals wearing jeans and sneakers and trade shows. Drink like fish love fish. And there's just any resemblance between a professional industry you know what we think of like a corporate industry, you know, a kind of like a, and this world is not to be found. I think everybody and I have this discussion with you'd be surprised a lot of people. Everybody in this industry loves it. Yeah. There's not a single person in it that goes, Oh, my God oak diving. You know, you can't, it's just and I think that makes a huge difference. Everybody is very laid back. Very, very laid back for better or worse, right? Sometimes I wish to be a bit more of a business boutique. Just in a way businesses are not being run, but how businesses interact with each other on the b2b world, which is more my world. For example, especially,

 

there's huge opportunities there. I think everybody's keen to do b2b. But I think you hit the nail on the head early on, when we first started this chat, that there's just not a lot of knowledge of how to do it. without offending people.

 

I think it's absolutely absolutely like I mean, your typical your typical dive operation, small dive resorts, especially in Southeast Asia, is either a retired couple that take their pension and build a small facility and they love diving, and now they're making it a kind of like a second living in a way or just a retirement plan. Or you've got your dive professional who've all they've done their lives was to be a dive instructor and they opened a place. Right? There's so much more to diving than that. I mean, honestly, I had super interesting dinner about a month ago in Singapore with with with a friend and an a customer and they are focusing on retail. Do you know that this is their focus? This is how they run there is a chain of 1111 shops in Japan. Am I see 21 All they do is retail? Yeah, I mean, look at you guys and down on there with Adreno. You know, it's a very, very different model. So I think, you know, it's catching up. It's catching up. There's obviously this industry is comprised of two pillars or three pillars, right? You've got your training, you've got your travel, and you've got your equipment. And those are all in the same industry but in their own our own little micro Christmas, very different industries in their own on their own right. I think the retailers or the manufacturers manufacturers and retailers are mostly the ones that catch up the most to what's happening in the real world, as they like to call it. Right because they have to they have to they are you know, I just heard this from one of the manufacturers who told Have me in the last three years since the pandemic and everything that happened. We all know supply chain, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But the cost of a chip to put in a dive computer, which is the same chip that goes in the car industry is same chip, it goes in many other industries, that factory doesn't discriminate between who they sell it to, there's a price to it, and that's where they sell it, right? has tripled, tripled, in cost. So you know, they have to catch up. Because otherwise they won't be able to compete and off they go. So I think they are the closest ones. And then I think, you know, training, obviously, there's there's a lot of catching up with a lot of the digital live report. Digitalization, right, like now everything is online. And you've got your, your kind of you can do your elearning, before you actually do something, and, and, and there's that side of the house, right? And then there's a tribal side of the house where we're sometimes I mean, again, coming from, from my perspective, sometimes you'd just go especially during the pandemic, and after right, like, let's say you, you booked, you booked a trip and you couldn't go, are you seriously going to call cuantas and yell at them that you want your money back because of a force majeure. Or Marriott or you would tell Marriott I want to book a room but I don't want to pay a deposit. Because it's who knows what's going to happen? Are you seriously going to do that when you purchase your flight? You just purchase your flights right to

 

Jordan, to those

 

to Jordan, right? So you would not say the to the airline, oh, I'm sorry, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna pay 10% of my ticket value now and then the rest maybe a week before I arrived, because who knows what's gonna happen? You're not gonna do that. But yet we're expected to behave by those laws and rules that people think so I think in that sense, from a business perspective, we're a bit like yours.

 

Yeah,

 

that's the charm of it as well. Right? That's, that's the whole of it together. Still good with the bad?

 

Yeah, I think an element to that as well is not only the customer holding back on, you know, spending, but the fact that there's been the in industry battle to get those customers. So it's, it's a very competitive market. And you've always got some asshole who's going to drop it down as cheap as possible to undercut everyone because they'll take five bucks instead of 50 bucks, that's profit. But then the knock on effect, the customer then sees because they're not getting the quality that they expected. But in a roundabout way, and I think it's all I think it's also on those those cowboys that are out there doing the shit within the industry. And that's the better the industry that we as people within the industry need to clean up? Quite frankly.

 

Yeah. So is that is that if you were to change one thing about the diving industry? Is that what you would change? Yeah. Take the Cowboys.

 

Yeah, well, the Cowboys like fucking close them down. Now. Because it's the Cowboys that will more than likely be the issues with people getting injuries as well. And lack of training. can make it another little soapbox.

 

Yeah, yeah. No, but it's but it's true. It's true. You know, when people don't see that, you know, what people see is they go on vacation for a week. And that's it. And you know, and that's normal. Like if I would go on to buy a car then I wouldn't necessarily see all the bits and pieces behind it right? Because it's not an industry for me this is just a one off activity. Or once a year activity if you asked my dad was total loss three cars in the past three years, but not none was his fault. was his fault. Yeah. Which is ridiculous. But I think you know, the those those things, and it goes back to the question, you asked me about safety. Look, we had a we had a lady This is Oh my god 545 years ago, she asked us for a quote, you know, she was coming into maganda she asked us for a quote Look, we're not cheap. Know that we want to be we have an excellent product, which excellent value for money. It's a safe dive operation, it's a great resort to stay in and the staff is exquisite. I am at a point in my life where I would pay a little more to have a great product I would and that's how I shop you know, that's how I shop like my you know, I would buy organic honey where places where I know that bees were treated right? I will invest more in getting you know, something that aligns with my beliefs. So for example, older biodegradable cleaning products, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, right? You would pay more for things that are important to you. So, it should carry on to your travel experience. Of course, we all like good deals. Everybody likes a good deal, right? Everybody likes to buy on sale. But on the other hand, when you think about, you know, this is your vacation, the delta, like we said For the difference between 90 and 100 is sometimes 100%. So you want to really think about and I think the older you grow, you kind of go. Yeah, I want to have a comfortable bed. I want to, you know, little little things that matter to us old people. Anyway, this lady contacted us, we gave her a quote, she said, yeah, no, it's too expensive, whatever. She went with one of those cowboys, as you call them, one of those pirates with a freaking compressor on the beach and some falling apart boats and going back to oxygen on the boat, had an incident underwater. Dive guide didn't even pay attention. I think that the dive guide actually was a divemaster. But without any insurance, of course, nor did the operation. And, and then she surfaced, and then she got on the boat. And she was like, Look, I think I got bent. And they were like, oh, no, there's no way you got bent. And she's like, Can I have some oxygen? And they were like, No, we don't have oxygen on the boat. Okay, and then she said, Look, I really think that this was an apple Island, right? So there's no hospital staff like, definitely, you need to get back to negros, which is 45 minutes away. But the guys were like, well, we are we're really sorry. But there's one more dive to do so you don't have to dive this time. You just sit on the boat and wait. She sat on the boat by the time she got to the hospitals was about five hours later. Yeah, she had to go to Cebu to the chamber where she ended up with 10 treatments, which is quite a lot.

 

Yeah. So

 

this saying you know have those things in mind when you go oh, yeah, I'm gonna go for 20 You know, 20 bucks dive. Yeah, excellent. But there is there's a lot of things in the operation behind it. And you know, I love my life. I've got my bucket list. I want to go see my bucket list. I don't want to lose, lose out on anything. For for a couple $100. So

 

exactly. That's definitely well said. And on that note, I think we'll we'll wrap this bad boy up, shall we?

 

That's a bad girl. But yeah. Rather a good girl. Good girl up. Yeah.

 

Yeah. Okay. All right, folks. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. And we'll put the links in the show notes and everything like that, that you can get ahold of Ronnie and Wingo await and Philippines and I promise you, I'm gonna be 99% away there already of sorting out a group kind of expedition in the next 1218 24 months, something like that. So keep your eyes peeled on the website and we'll see what we'll do. We'll work together and make something happen.

 

Amazing, amazing. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for so much for listening guys. And go go to the Philippines. Go dive the Philippines. Love it. Embrace it. Enjoy every moment.

 

I will finish on that one. Fantastic. Thanks very much for your time, and I'll speak to you soon. Ciao everybody.

Introductions to Roni & her career
Diving in Jordan
Philippines overview
Dumaguete & Apo Island
Daily Schedule at Atlantis Resorts
Atlantis Peurto Galera Resort
Atlantis Azores Liveaboard
Tubbataha Reef
Scuba GOAT guests 10 questions