We again took Cebu Pacific, and the flight to Cebu was inexpensive, a little over $50/person for the round trip tickets. Basically, book early, you’ll get a deal, book late, you’ll pay an arm and a leg. We had booked about 6 weeks in advance, so we got a fairly good price.
As for where we stayed, we went to Turtle Bay Dive Resort. It was EXPENSIVE. But, we were served delicious meals, and the whole place was super relaxing – despite the cost, I can’t help but recommend it! It was worth it!
And there really are turtles in Turtle Bay! So if like me you love seeing turtles, this is the spot!
Here’s the breakdown of what each thing cost (please see note below about the low-season discount we got, so we paid slightly less):
Sea View Deluxe Room with Breakfast: PHP 4,340/night (U$100)
Can you do it cheaper? Absolutely. We splurged for the sea view room, which was also very private. I wouldn’t recommend this room for anyone that’s elderly or have difficulty walking, as there are some steep steps to get down to the room, and back up to the restaurant, but for us, it was perfect. The bathroom was also very spacious (per Filipino standards). And yes, there’s both a fan and air conditioner in the room. The construction of this whole resort was not your usual Filipino construction. It was actually brick and concrete buildings, which we rarely see when traveling here! The resort is 4 years old, but looks brand new.
Lunch and Dinner: PHP 1,100/person/day (U$ 25.50)
You can do without the full-board and just order off the menu, which will be a bit cheaper. The food is spectacular (seriously, some of the best I’ve had in the Philippines), so I do recommend eating your meals there. You can go into town, but it’s a 20 minute ride from the resort. Also, if you’re in the same room we were, there’s a mini-kitchen, so you can always prepare some of your own meals. We wanted no-frills and we just wanted to relax in between dives, so the full board was perfect for us. There was always rice, seafood, pork and chicken, so there was enough for every taste. (And have I mentioned how the food is delicious? I’m still dreaming about their stuffed eggplant, and Karl couldn’t have enough of their blue marlin!)
Guided Boat Dive: PHP 1,350/person/dive (U$ 31.25)
Guided Shore Dive: PHP 1,100/person/dive (U$ 25.50)
The day we arrived, the water was too rough for a shore dive, so we took the resort-owned Jeepney towards the Marine Sanctuary in Moalboal, about 30 minutes away, at no additional cost. (We also paid additional PHP 225 per dive for the BCD and regulator rental, but we had our own wetsuits/fins/masks.)
The rest of the days the water was calm as the wind had settled, and we had no issues with the shore dive or taking the boat.
Airport Round-Trip Transfer by private car: PHP 6,200 (U$ 143.50)
This is self-explanatory. Not cheap, but it’s a 2.5 hour trip each way, so having someone waiting for you at the airport and delivering you where you want to be, and doing the same on your way back home, removes so much stress from the trip!
Agoda.com had good deals for Turtle Bay, but we were interested in the full board package (not offered on Agoda), so I emailed Chris, the manager, and asked if they offered any embassy discount rates. Being low season, he offered us 20% discount off all the rates above, as well as no VAT (we are exempt from those taxes here, even though some hotels don’t honor it, likely because they don’t pay their taxes anyway, but Turtle Bay gave us no issue, we just had to present the card), so our total prices were less than listed. We got a great deal! Agoda rates were very good as well.
They have enough rooms to fit 57 people, and I have no idea how it would be if it was full (there were only a total of 7 of us there). I would recommend going during low season, to fully enjoy the quiet and peace of the place. It was like we had the place to ourselves! The first night we met a French couple, who are living in Beijing, and were very nice (they left the next morning), and luckily, the 5 Americans who joined us on our second day were also a blast to be around. You eat meals on one big communal table, which can be great (when you have great company) or bad (if the company sucks). We really lucked out!
Customer service at the hotel was excellent. The waiters learned our name, and our preferences in food. The dive master was nice (but not nearly as funny as the one we had in Batangas and Coron), and the boat people were super sweet.
The day we arrived, both Chris as well as his wife, Faye, were there (she’s the owner) and they had their meals with us and provided great conversation (he’s Australian, she’s Filipina). They also came to say hello when we sat for lunch right after arriving, which was a nice touch.
The one beef I had? We ended up spending another 50% of what we had already paid upon checkout (we paid in full by bank transfer before arriving). The 20% discount we were offered was only for the stuff we pre-paid. If you do get a discount, if you already know you’re doing a certain number of dives, book those in advance, we had only prepaid for 4 of the 7 dives we took (and since the price is per person, we could have saved PHP 1,890 – U$ 45 – if we had scheduled those in advance).
Coffee is only included with breakfast, and no refills are included. The price of coffee is expensive at PHP 85 for every little cup (it’s the same price of drinking a beer there!). You do get water included (if you pay for full board), but there are no bottles, if you want to take water to your room, you need to open one of the bottles in the fridge, at a cost, and refill that. No drinks/juices, etc, are included in the price, and even though we left early afternoon, our last lunch was not included, so we had to pay that apart as well.
I guess my biggest complaint is for the price of coffee… I thought it was extreme, and Karl liking his coffee and always getting a refill with breakfast, it added up to quite a bit. (Personally, I didn’t realize coffee was not included with the other meals, since it was always offered, until we got the bill at the end.)
As for how the rest of the resort was like? Super relaxing!
We got a lot of reading done in between dives! (There’s no TV in the rooms – don’t remember if there was one at all in the common area – so bring reading material!)
There are a lot of these little tables around the place for you to sit down, relax and enjoy the view.
This part is their “fake beach” for people who want to sit by the ocean. At a lack of a real beach, they built this small strip with sand, and had lounge chairs you could put out and lie down.
As you can see, even during low tide it’s not really a beachy place, so the fake beach is a nice addition.
This little gazebo and the fake beach, were right in front of our room.
The view from the restaurant…
Restaurant on the left, the other rooms on the right. We ate outside in the covered area most days and it was PERFECT. Being so close to the shore, the weather was always a bit cool, specially at night.
There’s also a lot of green space to relax in.
And the water is super-clear!
We only went to the pool on our last day, since we couldn’t dive (for you non-divers out there, you can’t dive the same day you fly). Sadly, there was construction going on at their future spa behind the pool, so it wasn’t the most relaxing place, as there were lots of banging. We left when the power drills started up.
The pool was not a chlorine pool, maybe a salt water mixture? I liked it as my skin/hair were not gross afterwards.
And yes, on our last day we killed time by reading next to this amazing view in our favorite gazebo!
Overall it was a really nice trip, and I highly recommend the place. Just getting good customer service, it’s worth it. The food was delicious and the diving spots amazing! They also have many couches inside the covered area of the restaurant, so you have plenty of space to sit down and relax. I even took a nap there before dinner one day!