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Coco Beach Resort, Philippines
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Thread: Coco Beach Resort, Philippines

  1. #1
    SMN Publisher The Publisher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Coco Beach Resort, Philippines

    At ScubaMagazine.net we’ve done some fantastic diving in the Philippines.

    On one review trip we actually passed by the channel in front of Coco Beach Island Resort and from a distance saw the below image and how inviting the authentic bamboo bungalows looked up the lush tropical secluded hillsides, so when we had an opportunity to stay at, dive with and review Coco Beach Island Resort, we jumped at the chance, so join us now on another journey to back to Paradise.


    How to Miss your Flight

    For the 2nd time in the last three trips, we didn’t read our itinerary correct, and missed our flight by about 30 minutes. Cathay put us on standby, but told us they may be able to get us out on the next flight 6 hours later, but our connection though Hong Kong was so bleak we might be stuck at the HK airport for a day or more. Two hours later we received a phone call from Cathay who said they were able to confirm us all the way through to Manila. Imagine that, an airline that actually calls a passenger’s cell phone with great news! Other airlines, are you reading this?

    Once again we faced the cruel and unusual punishment of having to deal with TSA Insecurity staffers. Seems that my thoughtfulness of taking my rebreather bailout bottle and removing the DIN valve with a finger tightened cap to keep foreign objects out was for nought, as a TSA stuporvisor informed me that neither myself nor they could unscrew the cap, as there might be a dangerous agent inside that could be released from a sealed container in the so called secure area. And here I though they were the most dangerous agents.

    The supervisor told me I could return with the same bailout bottle with the cap removed. I guess he wasn’t completely cracked up to be an oppressive government employee, as he had a some common sense and agreed I shouldn’t have to go to the back of the line all over.

    I was trying to figure out if they were more comfortable with terrorists releasing harmful agents in the screener lines that have higher target densities, or if they only had problems with potential terrorists releasing deadly agents from bailout scuba bottles at the scanner machines, but sealed Pelican dryboxes suddenly opened releasing chemical weapons of mass destruction were acceptable.

    We Chose Cathay Pacific

    As mentioned for this trip, air transportation was provided courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways. We have always enjoyed flying with Cathay, as the planes are newer, cleaner, the stewardesses are friendly, and the large flat panel screens with a multitude of passenger selectable movies' rocks.

    I normally request a window seat so I can rest my head against the side of the cabin with a pillow and sleep, but I didn’t realize that the seats at the rearward most portion of the fuselage are not against the cabin side due to the fuselage’s curvature. And my luck further continued when traveling down the isle as I realized that the adjacent passenger I was to be seated next to was a cross between Yao Ming and the legendary sumo wrestler Akibono. I never liked elbow room anyway!

    After a pleasant flight filled with naps and some good movies like a really cute penguin movie, I arrived at Corazon Aquino International Airport. Coco Beach Island Resort has a shuttle that picks up passengers from the airport and adjacent hotels which is a really nice touch for those unfamiliar with navigating to next departure point.

    Being in a car or bus in the Philippines is a total blast, as drivers do everything they can to crowd out, cut in front of, honk at and generally muscle their way around. Now this sounds like big U.S. city driving, but what I find absolutely fascinating from a cultural and behavioral anthropology standpoint is nobody comes unglued over it! I saw a complete lack of any angry responses or road rage. I think from a stress standpoint they are onto something here! I guess that is what Paradise does!

    The air conditioned shuttle next takes arriving guests on a 2 hour journey southwards towards a small port just south of Batangas called Talaga. This is just a stand for shade and local vendors offering cold refreshments. This was a pleasant diversion from the crowded Bantagas Pier port. From there, Coco Beach Island Resort has their own large bankga passenger boat that takes guests on a pleasant scenic ride of 1 hour to a small staging area 5 minutes from the resort where passengers offload to smaller skiffs as your luggage is taken by a skiff to the resort so you don’t have to carry anything.

    Ahhhhh.....Back in Paradise!

    Coco Beach Island Resort is located on a private side of a small peninsula on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. It is a sprawling resort situated on 20 hectares which is about 50 acres of native tropical gardens. We were immediately drawn to the lush vegetation and the huge bamboo private bungalows nestled up the hillsides.

    We were greeted by Marco Burmeister, the general manager of Coco Beach Island Resort, as our gear cases were taken to the dive center and our limited luggage to our private room. I say limited luggage as all one really needs is some shorts, a bathing suit, a couple of t- shirts, some sandals, and that’s it. Why bring a bunch of t shirts, toiletries and such when a huge variety of such goods like $2 t-shirts & $3 swim suits can be purchased 10 minutes away from the resort or better yet, browse Coco Resort’s little art shop where a really talented artist will airbrush any photo, design or thing on a shirt for you. He is amazingly talented!

    The Accommodations

    There are a large variety of accommodations at Coco Beach.

    Five of the different accommodations are made of varnished bamboo and are really cool. It was like I was staying in the Enchanted Tiki-Hut at Disneyland!

    The first bungalow we stayed in was called a Suite Room that had a separate living room area, bathroom area and a bedroom. There was a balcony with the hammock for those that like to relax. The shower was cold water only but in the tropics this is usually lukewarm and quite fine.

    The other rooms are either another detached bamboo bungalows further up the hill for even more seclusion, or closer to the main grounds, an attached longhouse style room that was more Western in nature with air conditioning, hot water and a television. All rooms had a private safe and they give you a lock.

    I think my favorite room for 2 is the Banana Deluxe House. There sitting on the balcony up the secluded hillside veranda and looking out over the Verde Island passage, well, it was just stunning.

    Coco Bungalowswtmk.jpg

    Coco Divers

    Once we were settled in our room I went straight to the dive center called Coco Divers. This is another authentic bamboo 2 story center with a wetsuit rack, a huge rinse tank, an outdoor shower, a meeting/student room and camera charging area. There were wetsuit racks and plastic milk crates with guests name on them to keep your gear, a BC & regulator rack and a bathroom in the back.

    It was at Coco Divers I was introduced to Thomas, the Danish dive manager. Thomas gave me a relaxed dive schedule rundown and helped me with 220 to 110 charger adapters for my HD video and lighting systems.

    He promptly had my rebreather oxygen cylinder filled, filled my diluent cylinder and I did all my systems checks. If you request it a few days in advance, they can get in Sofnolime 4-8 mesh or if well in advance, 8-12 mesh Sofnolime.

    Time to Relax

    Since we had arrived in the afternoon, after getting situated and all my gear ready to go, it was time to relax. But dinner beckoned! After a meal of some of the largest shrimp you’ll ever laid eyes on mixed with spaghetti, I went back to Coco Divers and sat around with the other dives, Coco Divers staff and Thomas just shooting the breeze.

    They have a great selection of critter identification books, and considering what the diving was like, you’ll need it! I also enjoyed browsing Danish and German dive magazines and seeing lots of dive gear we never see in the U.S.

    Local craftsmen were putting the finishing touches on a new Coco Divers dive store section covered with traditional bamboo appointments.

    The Diving

    There are two fastboats and as many larger bangkas as needed to dive from. First dives start at 8 am, then 11 and next 1 p.m. A 4th dive or a night dive are based upon request.

    Your heavy gear is all carried for you and loaded on the boats. With a 40lb video rig and a 60lb rebreather rig, this was most appreciated!

    There are at least 30 dive spots all within 15 minutes of Coco Beach. I gave the dive guides my short list of desired critters that would make my day, and off we went.

    On one of the dives we went to the middle of the three wrecks collectively called Sabang Wrecks. There is a white gorgonian on the south side of the middle wreck that can’t be missed. I’ve briefly swam past it many times from previous Philippines visits but this time I was told it often holds ornate ghost pipefish. And sure enough, the dive guide spotted one and pointed it out for my middle aged eyes. Upon an even closer inspection, I spotted over a dozen Periclimenes tenuipes shrimp, and some commensal gobies that lay on top of the branches.

    It was funny having other divers looking at me from a distance as I spent at least ten minutes on that one gorgonian….U/W photographers, you know what I mean! To many divers, it is just a nice colorful gorgonian, but for us macro fanatics, I could have spent 30 minutes on that one gorgonian, it had that many suitable macro subjects.

    Some other guests asked about pygmy seahorses, and the dive guides said that too should be no problem. There is a small gorgonian fan at a site called Kilima Steps. This gorgonian is only about .4 meters or a little over 1 foot tall. The dive guide spotted not one but two pygmies facing each other engaging in a head-butting contest. After staring at the gorgonian, I ended up finding over 6 pygmies on it.

    I had noticed even after many days the Coco Divers dive guides didn’t seem to forget my list of desired macro subjects. I saw them inspecting the whip corals with their singular arching stalks, and after a dozen so of those, with me watching their body language off in the distance, within short order my Coco Divers guide did that sweeping glance thing looking for me which could only mean one thing-he spotted a commensal Periclimenes Zanzibaricus! Oh man, I was in heaven! I captured some great HD video footage of a P. Zanzibaricus whose species has mastered mimicing its host coral. I know, I know, I am easily appeased with offerings of bizarre macro critters.

    Rooster Sumo Wrestling & More

    Coco Beach Island Resort is a great resort for those that may not want to dive every single available opportunity or day, or have spouses or family members who don’t dive.

    There is a sprawling pool with a water slide and there was always a contingent of doting moms and dads playing with their little kids that was actually quite amusing to watch. Many guests passed portions of their days just relaxing on one of the many reclining beach chairs reading books or snoozing.

    Coco Beach poolwtmk.jpgCoco Beeach slide.jpg

    Each morning a member of your “house family”, which are on site staff members that maintain your room, will leave bottles of bottled drinking water on your door step with a printed sheet of the days activities. It was rather endearing to be introduced to your own personal butler so to speak, called the “House Papa” and “House Mama”.

    On one evening there was a huge sit down dinner and guests were entertained by the Coco Beach Band, a live music band singing popular American songs. At one point, they sang a traditional Pilipino song while the young girls of staff members did a traditional dance and moved around throughout the seated guests and placed a nice necklace made up of washed up uninhabited small shells.

    Coco Beach Bandwtmk.jpgCoco Beach dancing girlswtmk.jpg

    On other days Coco Beach does day trips to places like Tamaraw Falls, or one can go up the golf course, or in town for some local gift shopping.

    Friday afternoon was one of the most fun activities we experienced which was Cock Fighting at the Coco Beach Resort. This was not traditional cockfighting which is cruel, but Westernized cockfighting. The best way I can explain the way Coco Beach staff set this up, was to call it Rooster Sumo Wrestling.

    Guests gathered around a very slippery sheet of plywood as 8 or so champion roosters were kept separated on the grounds. It was a 2 out of three event where guests place bets in Philippine pesos on which rooster they thought would prevail. After working the guests up into a comedy filled betting frenzy, the two mortal adversaries were let loose at each other. Roosters would approach each other, size up their foe, and leap into the air kicking forward into the chest of their opponent. It was like sumo wrestlers pushing their opponents. Whichever rooster was pushed off of or fell off of the slippery plywood sheet was the loser. Each rooster had its spurs covered with a pad, so it was just like sumo wrestling where the only thing damaged was the losing roosters ego although I suspect they were oblivious to that. What was highly entertaining was that many of the final tier winning roosters were more interested in looking for food on the plywood sheet than confronting their opponents. Apparently the Philippine roosters are like the Philippine people-more interested in pleasantries.

    Saturday evening had a big Coco Beach Bash that was a blast.

    One activity that I kept threatening to do but never got around to it, as the diving was so good, was they had this cute little 2 person white bangka sailboat that looked like it would be perfect for sailing around the local small islands or even just in the bay in front of Coco Beach. What a perfect way to relax and have fun while not diving.

    Right within the resort grounds Coco Beach has many little shops. One was a nice beauty salon with all the standard offerings. Shown in the below middle was their Eco-Rainforest themed boutique called The Tree of Life with natural organic soaps, perfumes, and health products. On one wall were the stories and legends behind the products which made for some pleasant and educational browsing times as shown in the 3rd photo.

    Coco Beach shirt artist.jpgCoco Beach Rain Forestwtmk.jpgCoco Beach Inside Tree of Lifewtmk.jpg

    Speaking of that, they had a nice tropical themed shaded lounge area right next to the salon that had a Zen like tranquil atmosphere to it where you could sit down with friends and relax or curl up with a good book. Next door was a clothing shop with wear suitable for the tropics, and on site seamstresses could do whatever you wanted with it.

    Coco Beach Zen loungewtmk.jpgCoco Beach seamstress.jpg

    Coco Beach had a large supply of reading materials and board games one could grab and take down to the pool lounge area and read while sipping drinks from the bar, and upstairs there was a 6 computer Internet terminal to stay in touch at all hours of the day with work or family.

    Coco Beach librarywtmk.jpg


    Food was available in several different dining styles. For breakfast, you could either have a large buffet breakfast or order exactly what you wanted. Lunch was to order and Dinner was also either buffet or special order.

    It was nice to have a quiet dinner, but hanging out with other guests from all over the world and talking diving, of course, was pleasant.

    Coco Beach also has a 3 story observation platform style restaurant available by reservation. Dining guests are way high in a shaded open air restaurant up a tropical hillside overlooking the peaceful tropical bay.

    Coco Beach SkyView Restwtmk.jpg

    For the next week, it was more exotic marine life, more amazing macro critter opportunities, more sea turtles, more pygmy seahorses and shrimp, more great food, relaxation and new friends, and of course, just an amazing dive and resort experience.

    Coco Beach Half Price Offer

    For a limited time, if you mention ScubaMagazine.net, Coco Beach Resort will offer dive guests a HALF PRICE STAY between the months of August to December 2007:

    Here is what you’ll get:

    8 days / 7 nights in Deluxe Bungalow
    3 daily dives with own equipment
    Breakfast buffet, Airport transfer and tax included

    Only $490 USD per person.

    Offer valid from August 1 - Dec 19, 2007. For more info, please contact Marco at mb@cctravel.dk

  2. #2
    Registered Users gesguerra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    Just wanted to back up Mr Publisher's claim of having had a fantastic experience and diving in the Philippines, particularly in the small paradise called Coco Beach, Puerto Galera.

    By invitation of Ms iDiveChick, I'm sharing some pictures I took during my serene retreat and amazing dive at sweet Coco Beach, May 2007. =)

    01. Coco Beach

    02. Powdered Sands, Turquoise Waters

    03. Sweet Dusk

    04. Picasso Triggerfish

    05. Fishy fishy

    06. Trumpetfish

    07. Anemonefish

    08. Another Anemonefish

    09. Hard Corals

    10. Soft Corals

    11. Featherstar

    12. Blue Starfish

    13. The Dive

    14. The Garden Under

    15. The feeling downunder

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