Diving Sipalay

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Sipalay, Philippines

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Country: Philippines  Area: Philippines

Water Temp: 26 - 29°C (79 - 84°F)

Visibility: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Sipalay is known as 'jeweled city in Southern Negros,' with a range of dive sites that are suitable for beginners.  

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The 1km-long Sugar Beach is seldom visited and its gentle slope makes it suitable for swimming.  Visitors can relax at the palm-fringed shore. More divers, mainly from Europe, are now heading to the neighbouring Punta Ballo-based resorts.

The area is famous for healthy coral reefs with a huge variety of hard and soft corals and macro life. There are also schools of jackfish, turtles, snappers, tunas and more. Sites range from wrecks to walls, shallow and deep reefs and a few special muck diving sites. Due to the remoteness of the area, there are not that many divers  and no more than one boat at a dive site.

Sugar beach, Sipalay, Credit

Climate

The best time to visit Sipalay is from November to May, when there is the least rain and no typhoons. This is also the high season, with the peak season from Christmas until Easter. The main rainy season is from June to September.  Sometimes there is hardly any rain but diving may not be possible because of high waves.   The water temperature ranges from 26 C to 29 C with an average of 28 C.

Carabao in Sipalay, Credit

Marine Conservation

In 2001, the City government formed a Marine Protected Area around Sipalay to protect dive sites like Disneyland and Eva’s Point.  It also organizes programs to maintain the reefs, which include initiatives to clean up the crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak. The government also ensure that the reefs are clean, and that a zero-fishing policy is enforced in certain regions. Policies and procedures for responsible commercial development are a current subject of study and discussion. All visitors must pay an entrance fee to dive or snorkel within the area the fee goes towards  further conservation initiatives. 

The region is also incorporated into a number of broader Southern Negros research and conservation projects. 

Other Year round Marine life

Octopus, Nudibranches, Cuttlefish, Mantis Shrimp, Ghost Pipefish (same season as seahorses), Frogfish (March-May)

 

Information & Photos kindly provided by : Scuba Planet Philippines

 
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Shore Diving

Most dive resorts have a handful of house reefs directly off their shoreline. These are most suited to learners and beginners, who then move outwards to the boat dives.

One more nudi,Credit

Boat Diving

In total there are around 42 dive sites in the Sipalay area waiting to be explored.  Most are suitable for beginner divers. Nearly all are about 5-10 minutes by boat from the dive shops.

Day trips can be arranged to some of the sites around Turtle Island and the Danjugan Island Nature Reserve. Here, there are wrecks,reefs and two walls. 

Seahorse, Credit

Liveaboard Diving

Sipalay and western Negros are often built into broader liveaboard tours of the Visayas. While not  everyone will dive the sites in the immediate vicinity of Sipalay, tours of Apo Reefs, Coron Wrecks, Anilao and Dauin are generally included. Most of these liveaboards depart from Cebu.

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How to Get There

The nearest international airports are in Cebu or Manila. From Manila,  take a domestic flight to Bacolod and from there either a taxi (it takes 3.5 h) or a public bus (5.5-6 h) to get to Sipalay.

Beach & Hammocks, Credit

From Cebu it takes about 4 hours by ferry to Dumaguete and from there another 6 hours by public bus to Sipalay. 

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Where to Eat & Drink

Various bars and a restaurants are available. Generally the area is quiet with no discos, but concerts and beach parties are sometimes organised. 

A restaurant in Sipalay, Credit

While Sipalay is a quiet place, there are a handful of bars and restaurants. Most restaurants tend to be run from the various resorts, but a number of them will welcome outside visitors. Driftwood City Restaurant, located within Driftwood Village Resort, is an Italians seaside restaurant, which also organizes tours and transfers. They also have a bar.

Ask around for local events such as concerts, beach parties or discos, as resorts will organise something from time to time. 

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Other Activities

Activities around Sipalay revolve largely around the ocean, with plenty of activities for non-divers, including walking and relaxing on Sugar Beach  as well as games of beach volleyball, badminton and frisbee. 

Kayaks are available for rent for those wishing to explore the mangroves and a few shallow reefs. There are also daily guided snorkeling trips. Boat trips can also be arranged  to explore the nearby Tinagong Dagat and Maricalum Bay. 

Further inland, there are a number of trekking routes which lead into series of caves.

Beach Volleyball net, Credit

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

On a general note, while in Asia, please do not support elephant abuse by riding elephants or supporting elephant performances.

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • The 'training' that elephants go through to become a part of the tourism industry involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time starting as a calf
  • Asian elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • That said, there is responsible elephant tourism in Asia.  A good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means the elephants have undergone horrific abuse in order to get there

Help these magnificent animals by making travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry; the main problem is a lack of awareness.

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips 

Be aware of tricycle drivers trying to overcharge, or saying that the hotel you want is full and  they know something better. 

Be wary of boat transfer operators. Scams and inflated prices are commonplace. 

The beach, Credit

Sugar Beach is the most famous destination in Sipalay but serious divers prefer quieter and more dive-orientated resorts based out of Punta Ballo. 

The nearest hyperbaric chamber is located in Batangas. It is over 700 kilometers away and only accessible by boat or flight. There is a secondary chamber in Manila, which is slightly further away.

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