Tag Archives: quovadisdiveresort

A Christmas reef clean up – making a difference

Here at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, we think that being a diver carries more responsibilities than just diving and looking at fish. As soon as you get certified as a diver, you don’t just learn about safe diving practices, but your instructor should also have taught you about the importance of being a responsible diver in regards to the environment.

The surface of the world as we know it right now consists of 71% water, and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. Rain forests are responsible for roughly one-third of the Earth’s oxygen, but most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants. The production of oxygen in the ocean is created by plants (phytoplankton, kelp and algal plankton) that live in the ocean. Same as plants on land, the marine plants produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. This process converts carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars that the organisms use for energy. One specific type of phytoplankton (Prochlorococcus) releases vast amounts of oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere. It is the most abundant photosynthetic organism on our planet.

Phytoplankton creates the base of the marine food chain. The health of all organisms in the ocean is directly related to the health of phytoplankton.

So how can we help to save our oxygen?

Save the phytoplankton!

How do we do this?

Decrease you impact on pollution by using less energy (go to work via public transportation or your old school bicycle), help protect habitats on land and in the ocean (donate to organizations that can make a difference or volunteer on land or in the ocean by doing clean ups), encourage others to stop over-harvesting ocean wildlife (talk about the negative effects in the ocean of consuming predatory fish and also the consistency of mercury in bigger predatory fish and personal health risks that are related to the consumption of a lot of fish).

Since you see what is going on as a snorkeler or a diver below the surface, you can personally help out by not only telling how amazing the marine life is, but also the changes that you might have seen already over the last few decades. Your pictures and stories can help others care as much as you about the ocean and their habitants, and hopefully through your stories you can educate others about the importance of protecting our oceans. You are a diver, snorkeler, and with it you are the most important ambassadors to help protect our oceans and oxygen.

Want to make a difference soon?

Come and join us on our Christmas reef clean up and by diving against debris we will donate 500 Php of the money you paid for the dive to PROJECT AWARE to help save our oceans. Find us on Facebook or simply e-mail and sign up! See you on the 22nd of December!

Christmas Reef Clean up - 22qnd of December 2017

Christmas Reef Clean up – 22nd of December 2017

What exactly is coral??

Coral reefs are formed by groups of marine invertebrates that live together.

Each individual is known as a polyp. Corals feed by sticking out their tentacles into the water and catching drifting plankton and when they’re inactive, corals protect themselves by withdrawing their tentacles.

Large coral colonies you see are formed over hundreds and even thousands of years as polyp growth rates are extremely slow – up to 1cm per year.

When a polyp dies naturally a new polyp will form over the top. Repeated over many years, this process eventually results in the massive coral formations you will see today. As sea levels rise and fall over geological time the ‘active’ area of the reef changes over time. The white sandy beaches you see around these islands are produced by dead coral broken up over time in to smaller particles of calcium carbonate.

Coral garden - Top Pescador Island

Coral garden – Top Pescador Island

How Does Coral Feed?

Only a fraction of a coral’s food is from what is caught by the tentacles.

Coral’s main food source comes from a symbiotic relationship (mutually beneficial partnership) with photosynthesising algae collectively known as zooxanthellae.

The algae provides a coral with it’s colour. Without any algae, all shallow water coral would be white. The relationship between coral and algae is incredibly efficient, providing the following benefits:

Benefits to coral

Benefits to zooxanthellae

supplied with up to 90% of energy requirements as well as oxygen and aids with waste removal

safe environment to grow

provided with glucose, glycerol and amino acids for production of sugars, fats and most importantly calcium carbonate for reef construction

provided with compounds required for photosynthesis

Written by Henry Collister

Dive Instructor – Quo Vadis Dive resort

“The Best House Reef in Moalboal”

So many people that come into our dive center have some form of prejudice towards the notion of diving our “house reef,” but actually the house reef we have in front of our resort is one of my personal favourite dive sites in Moalboal. Those snorkelers and divers willing to experience it for themselves will generally agree. One of the biggest appeals it has is that a lot of the time it is just your group there creating a rather unique experience; truly a gem “hidden in plain view” as the expression goes.

Being guided out to the reef wall by mooring lines in the shallows, you end up reaching the drop off for our incredible reef. The reef itself is packed with some of the most beautiful, healthy hard corals and anemones the area has to offer. Though through descending deeper you can see a vast array of colorful soft coral, big barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans that are potentially home to some very special creatures such as: hairy squat lobsters, ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, giant frogfish, painted frogfish, sexy squat shrimps, peacock mantis shrimp, candy crabs, orangutan crabs and so on…

Ornate Ghostpipefish

Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Blue-ringed Octopus

Blue-ringed Octopus

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

During the dive, you will likely be greeted by sea turtles which can be either green turtles or hawksbill turtles. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re surfacing or even if you’re already on the surface, during the day time when there is sargassum seaweed or coconut shells floating around, you might be able to spot the amazing sargassum frogfish looking for shelter near the surface.

To top it all off… As the sun sets over the horizon our house reef inhabits some of the famous mandarin fish that come and display the spectacle of their mating ritual for us, there really aren’t much better ways to start a night dive. Even blue-ringed octopus, and leafy scorpion fish tend to surprise us on night dives pretty regularly in addition to many other marine species that come alive after dusk.

So, let’s be rid of this negative connotation when you hear ‘house reef’… Quo Vadis House reef… Snorkel it, dive it, and be amazed!

 

Written by, Inge

Instructor and Dive Center Manager

Quo Vadis Dive Resort

Pictures: Inge Leys & Pernilla Sjöö

PROJECT AWARE Reef Clean Up: Making ‘White Beach’ clean again!

On 11th of October 2017, all buddy teams were set up and given bags to collect rubbish and our boat crew of the ‘Smiling Star’ lifted the mooring line and we headed towards White Beach, approximately a 10-minute boat ride away from our resort. We chose this site since a lot of people visit White Beach and unfortunately don’t take their rubbish away with them and so it ultimately ends up in the ocean.

Despite the main objective being to clear up as much rubbish as we could, there was ample time to enjoy the beautiful array of marine life. Being just past the full moon, we had a pleasant current allowing us to calmly drift along the reef. It was apparent on the dive that White Beach was in dire need of a clean, especially to preserve the flourishing corals housing some of people’s favorite creatures, such as pygmy sea horses and ornate ghost pipefish.

CK and Dee picking up trash

Every buddy team took a different maximum depth in order to increase our scope and efficiency on picking up the rubbish.

As we surfaced, we all realised everyone had done a brilliant job since there was not one empty bag. Even our boat crew managed to grab 3 bags of rubbish that was floating on the surface. Surprisingly enough, we found one of our favorite creatures hanging onto the floating rubbish: the famous Sargassum Frogfish!

White beach reef clean up

Sargassum Frogfish

Our second dive was a fun dive at Pescador Island, One of Moalboal’s most famous sites for its beautiful reef, caves and overhangs. As it is protected from fishing, this dive site is covered with schooling fish like Trevallies, Fuseliers and the adorable, colorful Anthiadinae.

Meanwhile the staff that only joined for the reef clean, returned to land and started the Project AWARE count of the rubbish, which weighed in at 55kgs! The most common items were plastic bags and food wrappers, but we also picked up some nappies and even bicycle and motorbike tyres. Sadly, the wind is not to blame for such items being in the sea…

PROJEVT AWARE garbage count

At the end of the day our winners were announced, with the heaviest bag going to Dindo Paquitbot. He managed to pick up 8kg of trash all on his own. Our other winner, Nils Toussaint, claimed the largest item with a bike tyre.

One thing we will all remember from this day, is that less plastic is better, because a lot of it does end up in the ocean. To help prevent it, bring your own reusable carry bag when shopping and choose your groceries wisely with minimal plastic wrapping as possible. Hopefully one day there will no longer be a need to do clean ups such as this.

Check out the website for Project AWARE below and see how you can make a difference! Merely signing one of their petitions is a significant contribution you can make in the comfort of your own home.

https://www.projectaware.org/

Pygmy seahorse Miniature syngnathids

Last few months we been Pygmy Lucky! We have start to see a lot of pygmy seahorses around Moalboal at Quo Vadis Dive Resort. So let’s take a closer look into the life of an pygmy seahorse.

Introduction

Pygmy seahorses are a group of seven species of miniature syngnathids (technical name for seahorses and pipefish)  They range in length from 1.4 – 2.7 cm between the tip of the tail to the end of the snout. So they are in the same size as your fingernail roughly, that is tiny!  

Distribution

They are found in the Coral Triangle region of southeast Asia but also all the way to southern parts of Japan and northern parts of Australia. The status of pygmy seahorses is classified as being ‘data deficient’ because very little is known about their habitat distribution and population trends.

Life cycle

The tiny size of the them makes it hard for them to live along. They attach to a host – gorgonian corals – and use this as a protection. They blend perfectly in by their colours which makes it very hard for predators to find them. Since they are very bad swimmers and can’t handle currents they use the fans as an anchor so they don’t get swept away.

Feeding

They don’t have a digestive system so they eat like all the time, non stop! The favorite food is tiny brine shrimps but other crustaceans are also on the menu. They are slow feeders though, in fact, most of their life is spent either resting or eating.

Photograph pygmy seahorses

If they are exposed for strong lights they can pass out and get swept away with the currents. Of course you don’t want this destiny to this tiny cuties. So make sure to turn off your strobes if you using any and use a focus torsh instead. 

By years of local experience Quo Vadis dive resort dive guides have learned to find out where some of the resident Pygmy Seahorse lives around here in moalboal. So if you are on the haunt for the Pygmy just let us know at Pernilla@quovadisresort.com Stay tuned up for part two “Five facts about Pygmy Seahorses.”

Photocredit to Chris, Pernilla Yannick & Sofie for letting us sharing this incredibly photos!

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An interview with Anna Oposa: Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas

Who is Anna Oposa? As stated in her website’s biography:

“Anna R. Oposa is a multi-hyphenate changemaker, being a writer, speaker, and project manager, though she is best known as the co-founder and “Chief Mermaid” of “Save Philippine Seas (SPS)”. SPS is a movement to protect the country’s coastal and marine resources through information, communication, and education campaigns and community-based projects.”

anna Oposa

We were fortunate enough to meet Anna Oposa when she came to dive with us at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, here in Moalboal. She is a momentous inspiration to us all with her resolute devotion to ocean conservation. Through creating a website/petition (savephilippineseas.org) in an attempt to raise awareness of the atrocities occurring to the environment due to ignorance and negligence, it was not long before it turned into a movement as a result of being fueled by members sharing equal passion. With such drive it is unsurprising what she has achieved, playing a key part in getting the thresher shark listed as a protected species in the CITES convention which took place in October 2016.  In addition, through educating children and adults alike in the long term effects their direct actions cause and suggesting alternatives so that a harmonious relationship with nature may one day become a reality.

As divers we too share in Anna’s love of the ocean and is something we aim to convey to whomever may walk into our centre. Through a collective understanding and respect towards nature in general it’s almost unfathomable what together we can accomplish in terms of preservation and even growth!

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

 

Here is what Anna Oposa had to say in response to the questions we asked:

May you explain a little what your company is about?

“Save Philippine Seas (SPS) started in 2011 in response to an illegal wildlife trade case called the ‘Rape of the Philippine Seas,’ in which tons of protected species such as turtles and corals were seized. A handful of people who did not know each other, but met online because of this issue, decided to start a social media campaign called SPS. I was the youngest one in the group, just fresh out of college – only graduating a month before. When the issue died down, I continued with the advocacy, but first as a passion project. In 2013, we decided to register it as an NGO out of necessity—we were getting more and more donations and sponsorships and needed to be a legal entity.

This year, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. Half a decade! I still can’t believe it sometimes. We have two major projects, Shark Shelter, which is based in Daanbantayan, Cebu, to conserve and protect the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary; and the Sea and Earth Advocates Camp, which is an environmental education and leadership program for Filipino youth in partnership with the U.S. government and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.”

 

What motivates you?

There are many motivations, and it depends on the situation that I’m in. Sometimes, I am motivated because I am angry that the people who are supposed to be doing their job to protect our seas are not doing it. Other times, I’m motivated because I’m inspired by the people I work with, or the progress that we’re making.

My constant motivation is this: marine conservation makes sense for an archipelago with the richest marine life in the world, where millions of people depend on the sea for their livelihood and food. We take care of our sea, it takes care of us.

 

What is your favourite sea creature and why this specific one?

Oooh… For sentimental reasons, of course the thresher shark is the love of my life because I have spent so much blood, sweat, and tears trying to conserve them and elevate their status in the Philippines. They are beautiful, graceful creatures.

I also really, really love seeing soft corals. It feels like I’m in an underwater meadow.

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

 

What can we do to help save the Philippine seas?

Step one is understanding how our daily choices are connected to the Philippine seas. That shampoo sachet and straw you’re using could end up in the sea. The sunblock you’re using could contribute to coral bleaching. By being able to connect that, you’re able to change your daily lifestyle choices, specifically reducing use of plastic or buying more eco-friendly personal care products.

 

Who or what is your source of inspiration?

I never run out of inspiration. There are so many people I look up to in this field, and I’m lucky that I not only get to work with them but call them some of my closest friends. When the going gets tough, it is so important to have your core group of friends to give you advice and encourage you to keep going. I am also constantly inspired by the communities and youth we’ve trained the last five years, and how they’ve grown and taken on so much.

 

Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?

This is an extremely difficult question that I don’t know the answer to. Haha! You see, five years ago, I would have never imagined myself running an NGO called Save Philippine Seas, raising funds to implement projects, and speaking front of hundreds of people and government officials to advocate for the protection of our seas. And yet here I am.

I don’t know where SPS will be in five years. I don’t even know if I’ll still be part of SPS in five years. I hope someone from the SEA Camp network becomes the next Executive Director of Save Philippine Seas. It would be such a big success indicator if someone we trained took over. I also dream about a sustainable funding source for SPS and to continue our two projects, just in a bigger scale and scope.

 

What is/are your goal(s)?

I have many, and my dreams for myself are all tied to my dreams for the Philippines. I want every single Filipino to love and care for the Philippine seas. I want the shark sanctuary we established in Daanbantayan to be a model for community-based eco-tourism. I want marine conservation to be part of the national curriculum. These are big dreams, I know, and they’re probably not going to be accomplished in my lifetime. But I’m sure going to die trying.

 

What is the proudest moment you feel you’ve achieved with your organization?

I am most proud that SPS serves as an enabling environment for empowerment to many people, especially young people. When I see the people we’ve worked with gain more interest and passion for this advocacy, and start initiatives of their own, I feel like such a stage mom! My job as the Chief Mermaid is to make sure the people we work with become better than me, and I’m sure they will be in no time J

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island

 

Pescador island

Pescador Island is a small uninhabited island set in the Tanon Strait. The whole island above and below water is riddled with caverns and caves providing homes and cover for a wide variety of creatures like lion fish, octopus, sweet lips and moray eels. Spear fishing and all other illegal fishing methods are prohibited, so the inhabitants below and above water have some peace. The shelf, surrounding the island, 5 to 20 meters wide, can be seen from a boat and on calm days the scene is tantalizing.

Turtle

A sea turtle slowly passing

In the blue water surrounding Pescador you can sometimes spot turtles, trevally, small barracudas, mackerel and tuna that sometimes dart in like rockets to get some dinner, this is a very impressive sight!  Pescador Island translate to Fishermen Island. The reason behind is due to the massive sardine school that before were surrounding the Island and all the small fishing boats they attracted. A couple of years ago a typhoon hit the island and the sardines decided to move and today you can find them at Panagsama reef. Pescador is only one island but offers three very different dive sites

Entrance: Reached by a 15 min boat ride in a south-westerly direction. Boat entry.
Conditions: Depending on the wind, flat to strong waves. Often a medium to strong current in a south-north direction.
Depth: 0 to 50 Meters
Visibility: 15 to 40 Meters

Pescador Cathedral

Cathedral at Pescador Island

Cathedral at Pescador Island

The largest cave is “The Cathedral and starts at 18 meters and goes down to 40 meters. The scenery is breathtaking. There is a buttress at the top of the cave creating the impression of a church spire. Inside the cave we can spot nudibranchs, lion fish and sometimes scorpion fish. After the Cathedral the wall is not as colourful as the east and west side but its full of inverted walls and smaller caves to check out, where we can spot octopus and moray eels hiding in their holes.The wall contains scorpionfish, banded seakrait, sweetlips and you can also spot a frogfish or two hiding around the sponge corals.

Pescador East

jawning frogfish

A yawning frogfish is showing his good side

Pescador East is just as beautiful dive site as the west side but very different. The wall dropping to 50 meters, and the sloping wall is dressed in big hard corals, here you can often see schools of inquisitive violet fusiliers and many other colourful reef fishes. You will start the dive at the south end where the famous coral garden is located. The dive will continue north and here we can see camouflaged giant frogfish pressing against a sponge coral. If you are even luckier you can catch them yawning. Devil-, leaf & bearded scorpionfish are also found at the wall. You can also find a lot of other life like sea moths, clown trigger fish, reef octopus, nudibranches and lots more. Don’t forget to take a look out in the blue and you might spot schools of big eye trevally’s, sardines, butterfly fish and red tooth triggerfish.

Pescador West 

sof corals

Beautiful soft corals decorating the wall at the west side of Pescador Island

When you do Pescador west, you will jump at the south coral garden and after that you will continue north direction with the reef on your right side. At 15 meters and deeper you find colonies of soft corals in all different colours on the steep wall and if you shallow up you can see large hard corals, surrounded by reef dwellers attract an incredible variety of marine life. The wall is filled with spectacular crevasses, over hangs and caves, inside them we can find sweetlips and groupers. Quite simply it is a paradise for divers. You can set your eyes on creatures like frog fish, clown trigger fish, stone fish, devil scorpion fish and a different nudibranchs and in the end of the dive you might get a glimpse of the cathedral.

Quo Vadis Dive Clean-Up 2016

grupp-quoWhat a success our Dive Cleanup turned out to be! Quo Vadis Dive Resort manage to raise 1204 USD to Project Aware and with help of other passionate divers we also removed 118 kg of trash from the ocean bed during our Dive Cleanup at the 11th of October this year. We were 23 divers doing 2 dives and let me just say, our bags was overfilled. It’s such a good feeling picking plastic after plastic, fishing lines, cans and bottles from the reef knowing we are doing this for our ocean, together.

carro-tal

Together with PADI, Project aware and all happy volunteer divers we made this happen and we are more than proud. The theme word of this day is just that: together, because we could never have done it alone. To talk, clean and share all this with people that is just as dedicated as we are is inspiring.

glada-dykare

The sardines was the first dive site we cleaned up and the site was overfilled with fishing lines, hooks, lines and ropes. While collecting the trash we were monitored by the enormous school of millions sardines, hovering over our heads making the day turn dark as they covered the sun. Not a bad clean-up dive.

simmar

The second dive was just by White beach where the white sand slopes down in the ocean turning into a colourful reef.  Between sea anemones, hard- and soft corals we could find everything from diapers, plastic and tires, to clothes, cans and bottles which all followed us up to White Beach to get weighted.

skrap-white-beach

At White beach we all enjoyed a nice BBQ together followed by some volleyball and the competition was fierce. There was also a trash competition and the winner got a nice price, but even more important, he alone removed over 39 kg of trash from the ocean.

vollyball-skraaaap

Picture from Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

Due to the big success we decided to make this a annual event. There is plenty of garbage in the ocean waiting to get picked up and more money to be dedicated into project gaining our ocean, our planet. Go into http://www.projectaware.org to learn more about what you can do to help and also to read about their projects.

grupp-ny

Over and out and see you next year!

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We have the best house reef in Moalboal

From Quo Vadis Dive Center you follow the stair down to the turquoise ocean, now when your feets is touching the 29 degrees warm water you put on your mask and fins and you start to swim out. After 50 m the rocky bottom will transfer to a shallow coral garden and you have now set eyes on Quo Vadis House Reef. The corals beneath you is a wonderful mix of lobed pore-, brain-, funnel-, table-, tube-, whip-, mushroom-, bubble-, maze-, staghorn- and green cup corals, just to mention a few. The reef is in excellent condition surrounded by a lot of colorful fishes. When putting your head in the water you will see thousands of damsels and other small reef fishes swimming along puffer fishes, trumpet fishes, lion fishes,

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Painted Frogfish

With a drop of going down as deep as 60 m you have plenty of options. Suitable for both beginner divers to more advanced diving and not to forget for snorkelers and free divers.

Sometimes you will find some of the uglier inhabitants of the reef, such as, different spices of frog fish, scorpion fish and devil scorpion fish. If you are not a fan of the ugly critters of our house reef you can also enjoy big turtles swimming past, almost on a daily basis. You can find two different turtles; the hawksbill and green turtle.  You notice the difference since the hawksbill never clean themselves and therefore it grows a lot of algae’s on their shell. The green turtle is the opposite way around, very tidy and love to scratch its back against a sponge- or fan coral.

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Nudibranch

If you get really excited about small critters, such as, nudibranch, whip coral shrimp, ornate ghost pipe-fish, Popcorn shrimp and bubble coral shrimp you will also enjoy our House Reef. And when lights are out the Mandarin fish are coming out for the sunset dance.

Let’s just say there is something for everyone!

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Ornate Ghost Pipefish

 

 

 

How to get from Cebu city to Moalboal

The Philippines has through the years been a very hard place to get around, but since tourism has exploded the last few year’s this has started to change. But we still have to remember that the Philippines is a archipelago with over 7000 islands so you need to plan your traveling well not to waste your time. Cebu is one of the biggest tourist destinations with tons of ways to spend your valuable time.

Now let’s talk about how to get from Cebu city to the waterfront of Moalboal and its pristine coral reefs.

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Backpacker Option
From the airport you can take a comfortable taxi with a meter to the south bus terminal. When you arrive in the bus terminal just ask for Moalboal and people will point you to the right bus. Put your own bag in the bus and carry your own luggage if you don’t want to pay for the service.

You can choose between air-con bus and non-air con bus the price difference is almost none existing so I would go with the air-con one if the wait is not to long. The price is approximately; non air-con – Php107 and air-con – Php137 . To avoid traffic congestion the best time to go is weekdays before 4pm.

Ask the bus driver to stop in Moalboal 360 Pharmacy because there are not really any bus stops. When at last in Moalboal you might think; is this it? No this isn’t it! This is where you do your shopping, where you have the pharmacy and where you can find really cheap restaurants, but Panagsama is the place you want to go if you can’t wait to splash down in the colorful water.

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Now it’s time to find a tricycle (or they will find you.) A tricycle is a motorbike with a side carriage and a very local way of traveling. A tricycle should not cost you more than PHP100 – 200 depending how many people there are in your group,  now it’s only a ten minute ride down to our five-star PADI Dive center. From Quo Vadis Dive Resort there is just a few steps down to our colorful house reef and all the amazing creatures living there.

Comfortable Option
If you don’t mind paying a little bit more you can get a taxi direct from the Mactan airport to Moalboal. The drive takes you around 3 hour without traffic , but the total travel time will be much less than taking a bus since you don’t have to wait in line for buses and tricycles. Are you staying with us? Quo Vadis Dive Resort can provide you with a comfortable and safe transportation with our new resort car with air-con and WiFi together with our very friendly driver Loyd who can tell you almost everything worth knowing about this country. Price is Php2900. If you are staying with us, email pieter@quovadisresort.com to arrange your transportation with Loyd.

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13620858_1122436231171820_6783655080334997673_nWelcome to Quo Vadis Dive Resort!

/Caroline and Charlie