Anilao has emerged as a major diving destination in the last few years. Only a 2-3 hour drive from Manila, the area is bursting with dozens of dive spots and scores of dive shops and resorts. After a 15 year hiatus from diving, it was time to put our flippers back on and explore the deep blue.
We had been staring at the sea in Anilao almost a week but had only ventured into the pool. That venture resulted in our toddler getting an ear infection and that occupied us for the next few days. But we were constantly staring at the sea’s hypnotic surface. It was inescapable — the whole resort was shaped around the sea like an audience watching a stage. Reflecting the sunrise, the sunset, the blue sky overhead and the stars and moon at night — the television of our outdoor living room.
‘You are the slowest people I’ve ever hosted. When groups of Koreans come, they arrive at the resort at about 3AM, wake up at 7AM, and do four dives every day for four days then leave.’
When we finally broke the water’s surface and went diving on our ninth day, we couldn’t believe what had been sitting beneath our noses for so long. While the mood was grey and cloudy above water, a whole other world full of inconceivable life and variation existed under water. It is so beautiful and colourful it seems almost designed for us to look at. It would take more than all the great artists combined to paint such a canvas.
Our most memorable dive was of a single ocean shelf that dropped off the face of the Earth over the course of about 20 metres. When you are diving, your mask blocks out your peripheral view and focuses you on what’s infront of you. As we descended to begin the dive, we were all captivated by the stunning show happening on the coral reef that lined the inclined ocean’s floor. But as we reached our maximum depth, one by one we noticed what had been waiting for us from behind: the empty vast deep blue of the ocean. One side erupting with life, activity and reef, the other endlessly empty and still. I imagine this is a small taste of what astronauts feel when floating in space.
It was very humbling, but it also reminded me that you don’t necessarily need to travel to experience new things. Sometimes you just have to peek your face in underneath what’s right in front of you.