We are a simple family. When we travel, we avoid staying at expensive hotels or resorts. We prefer to stay with family, friends, or at AirBnb places. Our two-week stay in Dumaguete in January 2016 was no different. There are many choices for staying in Dumaguete. One can stay in the city itself, in one of its many hotels, BnBs, and hostels. Most of the AirBnb places are not in the city center though and we think that’s well and good. After hours of looking on AirBnb and actually driving around on our rented motorbike, we found a small farmhouse in a town outside of the city, and it was the perfect place to stay for the New Year and the days after.
I flew to Manila from Cebu, took Lia with me, along with all our heavy bags, and flew with her to Dumaguete, where we were picked up at the airport by Fabio and the owner of the farmhouse in a van. Before going to the farm, we did a grocery run for all the things we might need.
The farmhouse came with its own small kitchen complete with necessities, as well as toiletries, gallons of filtered water, and even food. It had television and cable TV. It had a balcony, a hammock, a portable kiddie swimming pool, and best of all, a big, wide vegetable and flower garden in the front of the house. I had loved watering the plants every afternoon and actually rushed home before sunset to tend to them. It was so hot then that the soil was parched everyday! The farm was located in a breezy area though and we didn’t have to use the air conditioner at all. We only had to leave the windows open, which were protected by mosquito netting, and we were fine. There were also very few mosquitoes, unlike in El Nido, so staying out in the balcony and in the hammock was not a problem at all.
Lia came back to me with a very bad cough, and high fever that lasted for nearly ten days. She could not use the kiddie pool because of that. In those ten days, we were not able to do anything other than just go to the city for quick lunches at some of the nice yet inexpensive restaurants lining the boulevard. We cooked our meals by going to the local market and sometimes we had dinners prepared for us by the farm caretakers. Our favourite was tinola with native chicken.
We played many games of Dobble, Fabio’s Christmas present for Lia, and watched movies. On New Year’s Eve, all three of us laid on the hammock, covered with a warm blanket, and watched and counted shooting stars in the night sky – the distant sounds of firecrackers, and fireworks a faint glint in the far horizon.
On New Year’s Day, we had a long late lunch at Casablanca, a restaurant on the boulevard that we love. It has good, inexpensive food, and wonderful view of the sea. Just to show you, here is our receipt. Php749 is equivalent to 15USD or 14EUR.
One of our other favourite places to eat at or hang out at is Mooon Cafe near Silliman University. They have even more inexpensive food and free wifi! They also have more menu choices and Lia loved lounging on their seats.
Sometimes we didn’t drive with our motorbike all the way to Dumaguete and instead went to Dauin where a number of dive resorts with their own restaurants are located, lined along the same beach, one after the other. We went to each and every one of them, inquiring about their diving rates, as well as checking out their restaurants and free wi-fi connections. We had lunch once at Mike’s Beach Resort but we found out that they had very slow wi-fi. We were dependent on wi-fi connections because none of the two phones from two different phone companies I had were working well enough in the area. The food was nothing special too so we didn’t come back.
Next door is El Dorado Beach Resort, which was a very nice resort, filled with birds, pools, hammocks, nice chill out areas, and good rooms, but we found the restaurant on the beach too hot, and the one that was not had no beach view.
Right next to El Dorado Beach Resort is Atlantis Dive Resort, and in addition to their having good food, fast service, they had really fast free wi-fi. We met the owner and he said he spent a lot of money to have a good internet connection installed in his resort. Well then I say, it’s well worth it!
We had lunch at the restaurant a number of times and had a good time relaxing on their beach loungers while sipping cocktails and chatting with the owner.
After going through all the dive resorts and comparing packages and rates, we decided to consult my friend who lives in Dumaguete, and he suggested going to Bongo Bongo Divers and Homestay/Hotel. Fabio had his own diving equipment so we only had to pay for the boat fee and the tank refill. Another friend of Fabio’s had arrived in Dauin a few days before, and we had him stay at Bongo Bongo Divers, because they have nice huts that go as low as Php700/night. They also had the lowest diving rates and packages. They have a homey feel and the place was filled with friendly dogs. We love dogs! We decided to join their next diving trip to Apo Island.
Although it was my third trip to Dumaguete, I have never been to Apo Island, famed for its turtles and excellent snorkelling and diving sites. We had so much fun snorkelling with the turtles and Lia and I saw so many! I also surprised the tour guides with my skill in rowing the bancas from our big boat to the shore. Big boats are not allowed near the shore because they will damage the shallow reefs so they have small boats used to transfer tourists to the shore if they wanted to have lunch there. We had lunch in the boat so that was not a problem for us. Lia though had a scare with the jellyfish, as she thought she had brushed through one, and we brought her to the shore for some supposed first aid. I assured the guides that it was only because she still had the phobia from her jellyfish incident in El Nido. It was taking her some time to get over it. She has thankfully gotten over it now.
With Bongo Bongo Divers, Fabio and Giuseppe were also able to make a muck dive from the shore of Dauin. They said it was quite good. There are definitely many dive sites in Dauin to satisfy the heart of every kind of diver.
I hope this post has been helpful to any of you who are thinking of going to Dumaguete or Dauin to dive. Those are the suggestions we have for dive resorts as well as for places to eat at. More on Dumaguete and other things to do in another post.