My dive buddies and I spent a week diving with the team at the Atmosphere Resort and Spa. The resort is located in the Philippines, in the Municipality of Dauin. Most foreigners and dive enthusiasts refer to the entire area as Dumaguete. I’m not sure why. However, Dumaguete is the largest city in the region and the airport code DGT.
Scuba divers are attracted to this region because it is located in the Coral Triangle. The Coral Triangle covers the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. This region is clearly the epicenter of biodiversity in the world. While the region only covers 1.6% of the planet’s oceanic area, the region hosts 76% of all known coral species in the world and 37% of the world’s reef fishes. It’s estimated that more than 3,000 species of fish live in the Coral Triangle. This alone makes the trip from New York worth while.
Getting To Dauin:
Traveling to Dauin was not that difficult even factoring the number of flight transfers. I flew from NYC to Manilla (via Tokyo). When I booked, I think only Philippine Airlines offered a non-stop flight to Manilla from NYC. And I think that flight was sold out. Nonetheless, there many different ways to get to Manilla from the east coast of the United States – Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and a few other cities. A non-direct flight adds about 3 to 4+ hours of flight time in comparison to the direct flight.
Based on the time I could leave NY (after work) and the time the international flight arrived in Manila. I had to spend a few hours overnight in Manila since the first domestic flight was not until the morning. I knew my patience would be very low after the international flights. So, I booked a room at the Belmont Hotel.
The hotel provides airport shuttle service at no additional charge. The room was quite clean, had a hot shower, A/C and quick room service. I didn’t get a chance to walk around the hotel or use any of the facilities but it appeared to be nice. A good and very convenient element about this hotel is that it’s walkable (with all of my dive gear) to the terminal 3, which is the domestic terminal.
The domestic flight from Manila to Dumaguete is quick – about an hour long. When I arrived in Dumaguete, staff from the Atmosphere Resort & Spa were outside and waiting for us with sign. The resort is about a 30 to 45 minute drive from Sibulan Airport (DGT) depending on time of day and traffic.
Diving off the coast of Dumaguete and Duain is amazing. There is a ridiculous amount of marine life just off the coast. Add the super large turtles that inhabit the waters off of Apo Island and you will have a premier dive experience.
During the week, each dive guide assigned to our group was amazing. Every morning our dive guide asked us what we wanted to see – Frogfish, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Nudibranch’s, etc. and we then searched for them on specific dive sites. The dive guides were all good at pointing out unique creatures underwater. We did both shore dives and boat dives.
Diving off the coast of Dumaguete, Duain and Apo Island is quite diverse. I could easily spend more than a week in the region without getting bored. We observed more than I can list. The video above showcases the various species of Octopus, Cuttlefish, Pipefish, Devilfish, Jellyfish, Eels and Crinoids.
We also had the opportunity to see the magical and deadly Blue-Ringed Octopus.
The dive center runs quite efficiently and offers a lot of flexibility for divers. And everyone I met on the dive team were friendly and helpful. There is plenty of space to store gear in between dives. The air compressor is located behind the wet-gear storage room which reduces noise and it also pumps warm dry air into the room to help dry dive gear. Next to the wet-gear storage room is the camera room. This room allows underwater photographers and videographers to make camera adjustments, charge batteries, clean equipment, and view images on a monitor in a dry environment. Also, there are plenty of rinse bins which are refreshed regularly.
Scheduling dives is quite easy. There a sign up sheet on a wall which indicates the destination of each boat and how many people are on the boat. There’s no penalty if you drop out of a dive last minute. And since the dive center is only open to resort guest, the boats are not over crowded.
We didn’t take advantage of this feature, but we could have rented a boat at a slight premium to do specific dives. For example, if you wanted to do multiple dives on one site to look for a specific species of Octopus or Frogfish.
The dive shop utilizes a large wall to display useful information such as dive site maps, events happening at the resort, excursions, and boat & night dive schedules.
The resort had several boats to accomodate guests. There were a few short-range boats and 2 long-range boats. Access to all of the boats is from shore. The dive staff loads all of your gear on and off the boats. The short-range boats will go out with 2-3 divers at no additional cost. All of the boat were pretty fast. And the open-air toilet allows for great photographic moments.
We booked a 2-bedroom spacious penthouse. My dive buddy and I obtained a great deal at a local dive and travel show in the New York area. Each room has its own bathroom and very comfortable living environments. Each day the staff left fresh fruit and after dinner snacks in the room.
Food & Drinks:
We were on an all-inclusive food package. The selection of food was fantastic. There was a wide selection of delicious Filipino and Western food. The resort hosts one restaurant that specializes in Filipino dishes which was tasty. I forgot to take a picture of my the Filipino dishes but I did take a picture of a steak and my daily scoop of after dinner ice cream.
The food selections for breakfast and lunch included everything a typical diver would want. Since we were diving 4-5 times per day, I didn’t really explore the lunch menu. I mainly pre-ordered a soup and salad daily. The kitchen team timed it pretty well. They were informed when our boat was heading back to the resort and the food was nearly ready as soon as I sat down.
We didn’t take the drink package when we booked, but I wish I did. We assumed the drink package only covered alcohol beverages and since we were planning on diving 4-5 times a day we declined the package. We didn’t realize the drink package also included the fresh fruit smoothie station. Oh well! Next time!
The Resort & Spa is situated on a very large and spacious property. The resort hosts two seperate restaurants, 2 bars, 2 pools, dive center, camera room, spa, yoga hut, and outdoor gym. All of these areas have beach front views except for the spa and gym.
I enjoyed my time at the Atmosphere Resort & Spa and I would definitely return for another week of diving.
All of the images were taken with either a iPhone 8 Plus, Sealife DC2000 and/or Gopro Hero 8 Black. My camera set up can be found here.