A Travellerspoint blog

Best island hopping tour in the Philippines!

I saw a juvenile sea turtle here while snorkeling but as soon as he saw me he took off like Usain Bolt; I've never seen a turtle swim that fast!

I saw a juvenile sea turtle here while snorkeling but as soon as he saw me he took off like Usain Bolt; I've never seen a turtle swim that fast!

The blue-spotted stingray was frolicking with a friend and moving so fast that I was lucky to get a photo; they were the only two stingrays I've seen so far on the trip

The blue-spotted stingray was frolicking with a friend and moving so fast that I was lucky to get a photo; they were the only two stingrays I've seen so far on the trip

I had the hardest time figuring out what this was!; it's actually the egg ribbon from a Spanish Dancer nudibranch which is a relatively large, nocturnal sea slug

I had the hardest time figuring out what this was!; it's actually the egg ribbon from a Spanish Dancer nudibranch which is a relatively large, nocturnal sea slug

We visited many places where the sea floor was just covered in colorful, pristine coral; of the 4 airports I visited in the Philippines, only Manila had a luggage carousel (the others all distributed luggage manually)

We visited many places where the sea floor was just covered in colorful, pristine coral; of the 4 airports I visited in the Philippines, only Manila had a luggage carousel (the others all distributed luggage manually)

The Philippines is part of a region called the Coral Triangle, which is a marine area that has the highest biodiversity of coral species in the world

The Philippines is part of a region called the Coral Triangle, which is a marine area that has the highest biodiversity of coral species in the world

This juvenile black-tip reef shark was the only one I saw in Coron; on the boat we had been told that juveniles were sometimes spotted here but never adults

This juvenile black-tip reef shark was the only one I saw in Coron; on the boat we had been told that juveniles were sometimes spotted here but never adults

Titan triggerfish; in more than 2 weeks in the Philippines I have yet to see another American (and this is peak season)

Titan triggerfish; in more than 2 weeks in the Philippines I have yet to see another American (and this is peak season)

My first attempt at Escapade Tour D failed since it was too windy so we went to random islands closer to Coron; I'm so glad I booked the tour again for my final day in Coron since it was easily my best excursion thus far on the trip

My first attempt at Escapade Tour D failed since it was too windy so we went to random islands closer to Coron; I'm so glad I booked the tour again for my final day in Coron since it was easily my best excursion thus far on the trip

Huge porcupine fish; this was easily the largest porcupine fish I've ever seen but he was super shy and would only come out when he thought I'd left

Huge porcupine fish; this was easily the largest porcupine fish I've ever seen but he was super shy and would only come out when he thought I'd left

I just love the many bright colors of Christmas tree worms; you can't get too close photographing them since they'll quickly close up and withdraw into their holes

I just love the many bright colors of Christmas tree worms; you can't get too close photographing them since they'll quickly close up and withdraw into their holes

Finding Nemo made almost a billion dollars at the worldwide box office; since the film more than a million clownfish annually are taken from reefs for aquaria (400,000 shipped to the US)

Finding Nemo made almost a billion dollars at the worldwide box office; since the film more than a million clownfish annually are taken from reefs for aquaria (400,000 shipped to the US)

Scarlet sea lily; on the bangkas the front seats on one side are reserved for disabled guests and the other side for senior citizens; I laid down on the floor between the two!

Scarlet sea lily; on the bangkas the front seats on one side are reserved for disabled guests and the other side for senior citizens; I laid down on the floor between the two!

School of porkfish; there are roosters everywhere in Coron as they are raised for cockfighting which is a huge event here; they could be heard at all hours

School of porkfish; there are roosters everywhere in Coron as they are raised for cockfighting which is a huge event here; they could be heard at all hours

Crescent wrasse; the beaches are seldom sandy, but composed typically of rocks and/or coral debris; there are very few shells

Crescent wrasse; the beaches are seldom sandy, but composed typically of rocks and/or coral debris; there are very few shells

This was an interesting book set in Depression-era Boston and Tampa during Prohibition; the characters are well-developed and there is plenty of action and plot twists

This was an interesting book set in Depression-era Boston and Tampa during Prohibition; the characters are well-developed and there is plenty of action and plot twists

Yellow boxfish; when juvenile, it is bright yellow in color but as it ages the brightness fades and very old specimens will have blue-grey to black coloration

Yellow boxfish; when juvenile, it is bright yellow in color but as it ages the brightness fades and very old specimens will have blue-grey to black coloration

I was surprised to see so many Europeans here since I expected to see mostly Chinese, Japanese and other tourists from Asia; there haven't even been many Aussie tourists

I was surprised to see so many Europeans here since I expected to see mostly Chinese, Japanese and other tourists from Asia; there haven't even been many Aussie tourists

This clam decided to make its home right in the middle of coral; it is essential to wear watershoes here since there are vicious sea urchins and lots of sharp coral rubble

This clam decided to make its home right in the middle of coral; it is essential to wear watershoes here since there are vicious sea urchins and lots of sharp coral rubble

Colorful clams cuddling; locals take off their shoes and leave them at the door before entering a home which is easy enough since most wear flip-flops

Colorful clams cuddling; locals take off their shoes and leave them at the door before entering a home which is easy enough since most wear flip-flops

There are a few primitive cabins on Banana Island where you can spend the night but you'd have to be pretty self-sufficient; you'd have the island virtually to yourself except for the few afternoon hours with daytrippers

There are a few primitive cabins on Banana Island where you can spend the night but you'd have to be pretty self-sufficient; you'd have the island virtually to yourself except for the few afternoon hours with daytrippers

It is estimated that the Philippines has lost a third of its coral in the last 20 years; the Philippines has the world's third largest coral reef system after Australia and Indonesia

It is estimated that the Philippines has lost a third of its coral in the last 20 years; the Philippines has the world's third largest coral reef system after Australia and Indonesia

Brain coral; the roads here are primarily used by motorcycles and trikes while there are a few vans but no passenger cars

Brain coral; the roads here are primarily used by motorcycles and trikes while there are a few vans but no passenger cars

A ferry runs once a day from El Nido to Coron; the journey takes 4 hours but was fully booked every day when I was there since one of the two ferries was out of service

A ferry runs once a day from El Nido to Coron; the journey takes 4 hours but was fully booked every day when I was there since one of the two ferries was out of service

This tour was definitely the best from Coron!; it goes to three islands 1 1/2-2 hours away by boat but that also means the sights aren't crowded and the sea life is in better condition

This tour was definitely the best from Coron!; it goes to three islands 1 1/2-2 hours away by boat but that also means the sights aren't crowded and the sea life is in better condition

Mustard sponge; among the hundreds of trike drivers in Coron I saw not one female

Mustard sponge; among the hundreds of trike drivers in Coron I saw not one female

Porous star coral; despite reading several books and eating 2 weeks worth of PowerBars, my luggage is still over my allowance; luckily the airlines here don't charge a fortune for the excess weight

Porous star coral; despite reading several books and eating 2 weeks worth of PowerBars, my luggage is still over my allowance; luckily the airlines here don't charge a fortune for the excess weight

The only lodging on this gorgeous island was just a few primitive cabins; the fine, white sand was ideal and very unusual for a beach in the Philippines

The only lodging on this gorgeous island was just a few primitive cabins; the fine, white sand was ideal and very unusual for a beach in the Philippines

Between the rough boat trips and the horrible roads my back is in even worse shape; most of the roads are not paved and full of huge potholes

Between the rough boat trips and the horrible roads my back is in even worse shape; most of the roads are not paved and full of huge potholes

School of porkfish; locals all seemed to have cell phones but most of the ones I observed were not smartphones (they must have figured out how to get service where I struggled)

School of porkfish; locals all seemed to have cell phones but most of the ones I observed were not smartphones (they must have figured out how to get service where I struggled)

It was surprising that there wasn't any trash in the water when there was trash everywhere on land; empty lots were just informal dumps

It was surprising that there wasn't any trash in the water when there was trash everywhere on land; empty lots were just informal dumps

The attractive colors of the small giant clam are the result of crystalline pigment cells; these are thought to protect the clam from the effects of intense sunlight or bundle light to enhance algae's photosynthesis

The attractive colors of the small giant clam are the result of crystalline pigment cells; these are thought to protect the clam from the effects of intense sunlight or bundle light to enhance algae's photosynthesis

While the group was eating I went snorkeling and saw my one and only shark in the Philippines; there was a nice coral area I found that tourists never visit

While the group was eating I went snorkeling and saw my one and only shark in the Philippines; there was a nice coral area I found that tourists never visit

A common misperception is that there are bananas growing on Banana Island or that the island is in the shape of a banana; actually the island got its name because it is shaped like the leaf of a banana plant

A common misperception is that there are bananas growing on Banana Island or that the island is in the shape of a banana; actually the island got its name because it is shaped like the leaf of a banana plant

Batfish; my basic hotel was clean, had great AC and a comfy bed with a price of only $200 for 5 nights (breakfast was included although I stuck with PowerBars)

Batfish; my basic hotel was clean, had great AC and a comfy bed with a price of only $200 for 5 nights (breakfast was included although I stuck with PowerBars)

Crown of Thorns sea star; most locals wear second hand clothes which, for the guys, usually means a t-shirt or sports jersey with shorts and flip-flops

Crown of Thorns sea star; most locals wear second hand clothes which, for the guys, usually means a t-shirt or sports jersey with shorts and flip-flops

It's hard to imagine but these Christmas tree worms have a central brain, complete digestive system and a well-developed closed circulatory system

It's hard to imagine but these Christmas tree worms have a central brain, complete digestive system and a well-developed closed circulatory system

Posted by RNRiggins 04:17 Comments (0)

El Nido Tour C Showcases Pristine Sights

I opted to fly from Manila to El Nido rather than take a cheaper flight to Puerto Princesa and then a 5 hour bus ride; that was a good call

I opted to fly from Manila to El Nido rather than take a cheaper flight to Puerto Princesa and then a 5 hour bus ride; that was a good call

In Disney/Pixar's 2003 film Finding Nemo and its 2016 sequel Finding Dory, main characters Marlin and Nemo are clownfish; this sparked popularity of the species and greatly increased the amount of captured specimens

In Disney/Pixar's 2003 film Finding Nemo and its 2016 sequel Finding Dory, main characters Marlin and Nemo are clownfish; this sparked popularity of the species and greatly increased the amount of captured specimens

Colorful sea stars were abundant; the all-day island tours off El Nido cost about $25 each which included lunch (I wasn't sure what was being served beyond whole fish)

Colorful sea stars were abundant; the all-day island tours off El Nido cost about $25 each which included lunch (I wasn't sure what was being served beyond whole fish)

Palawan is a 650 km long island that stretches all the way down to Borneo; the region is the most sparsely populated in the Philippines with many uninhabited islands

Palawan is a 650 km long island that stretches all the way down to Borneo; the region is the most sparsely populated in the Philippines with many uninhabited islands

The waters around El Nido were often full of these jellyfish but they weren't stinging; it was still creepy touching them that I couldn't help but recoil

The waters around El Nido were often full of these jellyfish but they weren't stinging; it was still creepy touching them that I couldn't help but recoil

The town of El Nido is a haven for backpackers and those not looking for lots of amenities; visitors realize the biggest attractions lie not in town but in the offshore archipelago

The town of El Nido is a haven for backpackers and those not looking for lots of amenities; visitors realize the biggest attractions lie not in town but in the offshore archipelago

Huge green plate coral; the currency here is the Philippine peso with roughly 50 pesos for one US dollar

Huge green plate coral; the currency here is the Philippine peso with roughly 50 pesos for one US dollar

The novel is set in the French Pyrenees and, despite a slow start, this book became engrossing with a sinister plot; it was the best of the first few books I read on the trip

The novel is set in the French Pyrenees and, despite a slow start, this book became engrossing with a sinister plot; it was the best of the first few books I read on the trip

The world's biggest pearl was found by a Filipino diver in the waters off Palawan in 1934; it weighed more than 13 pounds and was valued at $42 million

The world's biggest pearl was found by a Filipino diver in the waters off Palawan in 1934; it weighed more than 13 pounds and was valued at $42 million

Latticed butterflyfish; wifi is practically non-existent here with even cell phone coverage spotty at best

Latticed butterflyfish; wifi is practically non-existent here with even cell phone coverage spotty at best

Chinese traders had been regularly visiting the area of El Nido (Spanish for the nest) for its edible birds' nests during the Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Chinese traders had been regularly visiting the area of El Nido (Spanish for the nest) for its edible birds' nests during the Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Marimegmeg Beach is the closest nice beach to El Nido (6 kms away); there is a huge development under construction here and the water visibility was poor

Marimegmeg Beach is the closest nice beach to El Nido (6 kms away); there is a huge development under construction here and the water visibility was poor

I had hoped to do all 4 island excursions but pain and stomach issues kept me in bed for 2 days; I did the 2 most popular tours - A and C

I had hoped to do all 4 island excursions but pain and stomach issues kept me in bed for 2 days; I did the 2 most popular tours - A and C

Thin Bird's Nest coral; I wonder if I showed Alexa a photo if she could identify what was in it (species of coral or fish, etc)

Thin Bird's Nest coral; I wonder if I showed Alexa a photo if she could identify what was in it (species of coral or fish, etc)

Hidden Beach; the coolest temperatures are felt in January but, even in February, the weather was ideal although some thought the water was a tad cool

Hidden Beach; the coolest temperatures are felt in January but, even in February, the weather was ideal although some thought the water was a tad cool

All of the tours are run on bangkas which are traditional Filipino boats made largely of bamboo; because of their width, parking can often be a problem when lots of bangkas are present

All of the tours are run on bangkas which are traditional Filipino boats made largely of bamboo; because of their width, parking can often be a problem when lots of bangkas are present

Venomous banded sea krait; only 10% o the El Nido population is connected to the water supply with few having electricity as well

Venomous banded sea krait; only 10% of the El Nido population is connected to the water supply with few having electricity as well

It would be cool to see a time lapse video of how these offshore islands evolved; those remaining have been undercut by seawater so that I expect they won't be around forever

It would be cool to see a time lapse video of how these offshore islands evolved; those remaining have been undercut by seawater so that I expect they won't be around forever

Sea lily; the main/only road in El Nido was just non-stop construction projects; the workers lived like most of the locals, in tiny metal shanties with no electricity or running water

Sea lily; the main/only road in El Nido was just non-stop construction projects; the workers lived like most of the locals, in tiny metal shanties with no electricity or running water

Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones and are even sometimes called anemonefish; clownfish are immune to the venom of anemones because they have a thick layer of mucus on the surface of their bodies

Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with anemones and are even sometimes called anemonefish; clownfish are immune to the venom of anemones because they have a thick layer of mucus on the surface of their bodies

All tour guests had to pay a $4 marine park fee which was good for 10 days; the tour guides did a fairly good job of instructing guests on how to protect the area if you could understand their English

All tour guests had to pay a $4 marine park fee which was good for 10 days; the tour guides did a fairly good job of instructing guests on how to protect the area if you could understand their English

Lobed brain coral; this variety which grows in shallow, tropical waters is popular in the salt water aquarium trade

Lobed brain coral; this variety which grows in shallow, tropical waters is popular in the salt water aquarium trade

Colorful nudibranch aka sea slug; these critters are very toxic to cancer cells with research continuing to determine application in humans

Colorful nudibranch aka sea slug; these critters are very toxic to cancer cells with research continuing to determine application in humans

This strange swarm of small black fish moved together in mass as they were feeding; presumably that's a defense mechanism so they appear larger and less vulnerable

This strange swarm of small black fish moved together in mass as they were feeding; presumably that's a defense mechanism so they appear larger and less vulnerable

The Bacuit Archipelago is comprised of 45 uninhabited, limestone islands full of karst cliffs and secluded beaches; diving is supposed to be good but I decided to wait until Coron

The Bacuit Archipelago is comprised of 45 uninhabited, limestone islands full of karst cliffs and secluded beaches; diving is supposed to be good but I decided to wait until Coron

Blue Angelfish; I, incorrectly, expected that most Filipinos would speak English but my experience has been that even those employed in tourism speak limited English

Blue Angelfish; I, incorrectly, expected that most Filipinos would speak English but my experience has been that even those employed in tourism speak limited English

Long sea cucumber; in the 18th century, the Philippines was the world's largest producer of high-value sea cucumbers but the waters have been greatly depleted due to habitat destruction and overfishing

Long sea cucumber; in the 18th century, the Philippines was the world's largest producer of high-value sea cucumbers but the waters have been greatly depleted due to habitat destruction and overfishing

Sea lily; in El Nido, the town now has 24 hour electricity with just occasional brownouts but you can't use the water, even just for brushing your teeth (as I will attest!)

Sea lily; in El Nido, the town now has 24 hour electricity with just occasional brownouts but you can't use the water, even just for brushing your teeth (as I will attest!)

Clownfish are very territorial and photogenic; they just don't stay still very long which can be difficult to capture

Clownfish are very territorial and photogenic; they just don't stay still very long which can be difficult to capture

Interestingly, El Nido has no telephone lines since it developed recently; it has one permanent cell tower but it's reach is extremely limited and often overloaded

Interestingly, El Nido has no telephone lines since it developed recently; it has one permanent cell tower but it's reach is extremely limited and often overloaded

The Matinloc Shrine was built in 1982 but it and the neighboring buildings have been abandoned; there were several monuments to Ferdinand Marcos to date the site even further

The Matinloc Shrine was built in 1982 but it and the neighboring buildings have been abandoned; there were several monuments to Ferdinand Marcos to date the site even further

Posted by RNRiggins 10:49 Comments (1)

Manila-congested,gritty,polluted & not interesting

Completed in 1891, the San Sebastian Church is the first and only all-steel church in Asia; it has long been reported that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the design and construction of this church but no one knows definitively

Completed in 1891, the San Sebastian Church is the first and only all-steel church in Asia; it has long been reported that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the design and construction of this church but no one knows definitively

The Baywalk was a nice promenade along dirty Manila Bay; one day they were having a huge clean-up effort with volunteers wading in the water and bagging any trash/debris

The Baywalk was a nice promenade along dirty Manila Bay; one day they were having a huge clean-up effort with volunteers wading in the water and bagging any trash/debris

Manila could greatly benefit from a comprehensive urban planning rehabilitation; there is a large homeless problem because there is inadequate affordable housing

Manila could greatly benefit from a comprehensive urban planning rehabilitation; there is a large homeless problem because there is inadequate affordable housing

Built in 1571 Fort Santiago served as headquarters of the Philippines division of the US Army during WW2; the fort, at the entrance to the Pasig River, is the main historical attraction in the city

Built in 1571 Fort Santiago served as headquarters of the Philippines division of the US Army during WW2; the fort, at the entrance to the Pasig River, is the main historical attraction in the city

The beautiful Baroque San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; in August 1898, the church was the site where the Spanish governor prepared the terms for the surrender of Manila to the US following the Spanish–American War

The beautiful Baroque San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; in August 1898, the church was the site where the Spanish governor prepared the terms for the surrender of Manila to the US following the Spanish–American War

Many people have small storefronts selling junk/second-hand stuff and live in the space behind the shop; the buildings are rickety, dilapidated and overcrowded

Many people have small storefronts selling junk/second-hand stuff and live in the space behind the shop; the buildings are rickety, dilapidated and overcrowded

Quiapo Church is the famous home for the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ said to be miraculous; the dark figure of Christ was brought to the country in a Spanish galleon in the 17th century

Quiapo Church is the famous home for the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ said to be miraculous; the dark figure of Christ was brought to the country in a Spanish galleon in the 17th century

Jeepneys are ubiquitous and ply designated routes with riders getting on and off along the way; Manila is very densely populated which has caused the city to be called the world's most congested and the one with the worst traffic

Jeepneys are ubiquitous and ply designated routes with riders getting on and off along the way; Manila is very densely populated which has caused the city to be called the world's most congested and the one with the worst traffic

The Chinese Cemetery is enormous and larger than many Manila neighborhoods; the mausoleums are also much nicer than typical Manila homes with many having AC, running water and flushing toilets

The Chinese Cemetery is enormous and larger than many Manila neighborhoods; the mausoleums are also much nicer than typical Manila homes with many having AC, running water and flushing toilets

Traditional American-style restaurants are a rarity in Manila; more common is Filipino street food or small takeaway shops

Traditional American-style restaurants are a rarity in Manila; more common is Filipino street food or small takeaway shops

The Rizal Monument contains the remains of Jose Rizal who is a national hero and martyr; Rizal was executed by the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion after the Philippine Revolution, inspired in part by his writings, broke out

The Rizal Monument contains the remains of Jose Rizal who is a national hero and martyr; Rizal was executed by the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion after the Philippine Revolution, inspired in part by his writings, broke out

I loved this artwork made from driftwood; Manny Pacquiao, currently a senator, is the most famous Filipino athlete having won 11 world boxing titles in 5 different weight classes

I loved this artwork made from driftwood; Manny Pacquiao, currently a senator, is the most famous Filipino athlete having won 11 world boxing titles in 5 different weight classes

Manila belongs in a category with Warsaw, Hiroshima and Hamburg as cities that suffered the most damage in WW2; rebuilding has been sporadic giving the city a very disunified feel

Manila belongs in a category with Warsaw, Hiroshima and Hamburg as cities that suffered the most damage in WW2; rebuilding has been sporadic giving the city a very disunified feel

The Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago houses a museum to the life of Jose Rizal and the cell where Rizal was imprisoned before his execution at the age of 35; Rizal was an ophthalmologist, novelist, painter and world traveller

The Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago houses a museum to the life of Jose Rizal and the cell where Rizal was imprisoned before his execution at the age of 35; Rizal was an ophthalmologist, novelist, painter and world traveller

The Manila Cathedral was first built in 1581 and has been rebuilt 7 times since then, most recently in 1951 after WW2; in 1981 Pope John Paul II designated the cathedral a minor basilica

The Manila Cathedral was first built in 1581 and has been rebuilt 7 times since then, most recently in 1951 after WW2; in 1981 Pope John Paul II designated the cathedral a minor basilica

This replica of Michelangelo's Pieta in Manila Cathedral was made from the original mold; in 2015 Pope Francis celebrated his first mass in the country here

This replica of Michelangelo's Pieta in Manila Cathedral was made from the original mold; in 2015 Pope Francis celebrated his first mass in the country here

Imelda Marcos had Casa Manila built to show the opulent lifestyle of 19th century gentry; one of the most talked about features of the home is the double-seated toilet

Imelda Marcos had Casa Manila built to show the opulent lifestyle of 19th century gentry; one of the most talked about features of the home is the double-seated toilet

San Agustin Church, completed in 1607, was the only building left intact after the destruction of old Manila during WW2 and is the oldest church in the Philippines

San Agustin Church, completed in 1607, was the only building left intact after the destruction of old Manila during WW2 and is the oldest church in the Philippines

Street food is readily available but the lack of sanitary conditions might cause discomfort after consumption; I did find Frosted Mini-Wheats and Coke Zero

Street food is readily available but the lack of sanitary conditions might cause discomfort after consumption; I did find Frosted Mini-Wheats and Coke Zero

Manila has few monumental buildings and doesn't feel like a national capital; I wonder how much political corruption has held the Philippines back economically while neighboring countries have prospered

Manila has few monumental buildings and doesn't feel like a national capital; I wonder how much political corruption has held the Philippines back economically while neighboring countries have prospered

1933 Quiapo Church; Lonely Planet says Manila has outstanding sightseeing but unless you're into shanty towns I'd have to disagree

1933 Quiapo Church; Lonely Planet says Manila has outstanding sightseeing but unless you're into shanty towns I'd have to disagree

Manila Chinese Cemetery is the 2nd oldest in the city and was designated as resting place for Chinese who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period; like Manila, the cemetery is poorly maintained and falling apart

Manila Chinese Cemetery is the 2nd oldest in the city and was designated as resting place for Chinese who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period; like Manila, the cemetery is poorly maintained and falling apart

The Baroque facade of the Quiapo Church; Manila is the most densely populated city proper in the world and it sure feels that way in this neighborhood

The Baroque facade of the Quiapo Church; Manila is the most densely populated city proper in the world and it sure feels that way in this neighborhood

Posted by RNRiggins 02:27 Comments (0)

Great week scuba diving on Bonaire - part 2

The large obelisk was to help ships find the salt pans; Bonaire is only 111 square miles with a length of 24 miles and a width of between 3 and 5 miles

The large obelisk was to help ships find the salt pans; Bonaire is only 111 square miles with a length of 24 miles and a width of between 3 and 5 miles

We made the long, bumpy drive out to the Cai dive site only to find super rough waters and no dive buoys so we skipped it

We made the long, bumpy drive out to the Cai dive site only to find super rough waters and no dive buoys so we skipped it

In 1969 a flamingo nesting sanctuary was established, the first such nature preserve in the Caribbean

In 1969 a flamingo nesting sanctuary was established, the first such nature preserve in the Caribbean

Smooth trunkfish; juveniles have dark colored bodies covered in large yellow spots but as they get older, they develop a pale area where the honeycomb markings will later appear

Smooth trunkfish; juveniles have dark colored bodies covered in large yellow spots but as they get older, they develop a pale area where the honeycomb markings will later appear

Tarpon under bow of Hilma Hooker; the ship broke down near Bonaire in 1983 and 25000 lbs of marijuana was discovered onboard so the owners conveniently never came to claim the ship

Tarpon under bow of Hilma Hooker; the ship broke down near Bonaire in 1983 and 25000 lbs of marijuana was discovered onboard so the owners conveniently never came to claim the ship

Oops, didn't blow out all the candles; maybe Bernie and Chuck will be able to join us on our next diving trip!

Oops, didn't blow out all the candles; maybe Bernie and Chuck will be able to join us on our next diving trip!

The large condensing ponds which ring the crystalizer basins to produce salt, called the Pekelmeer, are a natural habitat for numerous species of brine shrimp which in turn feed flocks of hundreds of pink flamingos and other migratory birds

The large condensing ponds which ring the crystalizer basins to produce salt, called the Pekelmeer, are a natural habitat for numerous species of brine shrimp which in turn feed flocks of hundreds of pink flamingos and other migratory birds

One of a dozen lionfish we saw at Alice in Wonderland dive site; yellow painted rocks on the side of the road mark the dive sites

One of a dozen lionfish we saw at Alice in Wonderland dive site; yellow painted rocks on the side of the road mark the dive sites

Honeycomb cowfish; this species tends to be blue in color, but can also be yellow, gray or green.with juveniles generally more colorful than adults

Honeycomb cowfish; this species tends to be blue in color, but can also be yellow, gray or green.with juveniles generally more colorful than adults

The goldentail moray eel is a solitary carnivorous fish which feeds on small invertebrates like crustaceans and mollusks, rarely on small fish; it leaves its lair at night to actively hunt prey along the reef

The goldentail moray eel is a solitary carnivorous fish which feeds on small invertebrates like crustaceans and mollusks, rarely on small fish; it leaves its lair at night to actively hunt prey along the reef

Lavender stove-pipe coral can grow in a single tube but often grow in large groups of up to 22 tubes; the population density of these sponges is going down because of oil spills and other pollution

Lavender stove-pipe coral can grow in a single tube but often grow in large groups of up to 22 tubes; the population density of these sponges is going down because of oil spills and other pollution

The patio of our rental house was much nicer than the living spaces; even booking many months in advance we had trouble finding a house on the sea

The patio of our rental house was much nicer than the living spaces; even booking many months in advance we had trouble finding a house on the sea

The sharptail snake-eel; these snakelike creatures are more benign than their aggressive relatives, the morays

The sharptail snake-eel; these snakelike creatures are more benign than their aggressive relatives, the morays

Blue tang; their diet consists only of algae from the reefs in which they reside, as well as off the bodies of surrounding fish

Blue tang; their diet consists only of algae from the reefs in which they reside, as well as off the bodies of surrounding fish

Spotted moray eel seen at Pink City dive site; these solitary animals can grow to a length of almost 7 feet

Spotted moray eel seen at Pink City dive site; these solitary animals can grow to a length of almost 7 feet

Our rental house had a family of large iguanas that was always around; we discovered they liked eating lettuce

Our rental house had a family of large iguanas that was always around; we discovered they liked eating lettuce

Queen Conch; for centuries the conch represented an important part of the local diet but is now an endangered species and we never saw a live one in the wild

Queen Conch; for centuries the conch represented an important part of the local diet but is now an endangered species and we never saw a live one in the wild

Traditional cactus fence made of Yatu cacti; this columnar species grows straight up with a fruit used to make jams and for medicinal purposes

Traditional cactus fence made of Yatu cacti; this columnar species grows straight up with a fruit used to make jams and for medicinal purposes

Flounder; due to overfishing and industrial pollution, Atlantic flounders and soles are currently on the list of seafood that sustainability-minded consumers should avoid

Flounder; due to overfishing and industrial pollution, Atlantic flounders and soles are currently on the list of seafood that sustainability-minded consumers should avoid

Green sea turtles are for the most part herbivores, grazing on sea grass and rooted algae although they do eat jellyfish (and, sadly, plastic bags)

Green sea turtles are for the most part herbivores, grazing on sea grass and rooted algae although they do eat jellyfish (and, sadly, plastic bags)

Our house had a private ladder at the bottom of these steps which we used often to go snorkeling; the week was valuable quality time with great friends!

Our house had a private ladder at the bottom of these steps which we used often to go snorkeling; the week was valuable quality time with great friends!

1000 Steps; as a rookie diver, Lee did really well all week and became adept at spotting eels

1000 Steps; as a rookie diver, Lee did really well all week and became adept at spotting eels

This strange image, I think, depicts coral feeding; I haven't been able to find anything similar on google images to get more information

This strange image, I think, depicts coral feeding; I haven't been able to find anything similar on google images to get more information

Banded butterflyfish; in traditional Dutch fashion, bicycles are a popular means of transportation on the island (as are scooters)

Banded butterflyfish; in traditional Dutch fashion, bicycles are a popular means of transportation on the island (as are scooters)

Anemone; Lac Bay, in the southeastern part of the island, attracts wind surfers from around the world to Bonaire and 5 of the 10 highest ranked freestyle windsurfers in the world are from Bonaire

Anemone; Lac Bay, in the southeastern part of the island, attracts wind surfers from around the world to Bonaire and 5 of the 10 highest ranked freestyle windsurfers in the world are from Bonaire

Orange elephant ear sponge; for diving emergencies, the island has a hyperbaric chamber

Orange elephant ear sponge; for diving emergencies, the island has a hyperbaric chamber

French angelfish; during the day you will mostly see these fish out and about, but come night they seek shelter in their designated hiding spot where they return every night

French angelfish; during the day you will mostly see these fish out and about, but come night they seek shelter in their designated hiding spot where they return every night

Crevalle jack (aka common jack); in the Americas,  the reported annual catch since 2000 has ranged between 190 and 380 tons although the species is not considered good tasting

Crevalle jack (aka common jack); in the Americas, the reported annual catch since 2000 has ranged between 190 and 380 tons although the species is not considered good tasting

Hairy mushroom coral; like the name suggests, the surface of this coral is covered with many hair-like tentacles

Hairy mushroom coral; like the name suggests, the surface of this coral is covered with many hair-like tentacles

Great barracuda typically grow to a length of 24-39 inches in length; barracudas possess strong, fang-like teeth that are unequal in size and set in sockets in the jaws and on the roof of the mouth

Great barracuda typically grow to a length of 24-39 inches in length; barracudas possess strong, fang-like teeth that are unequal in size and set in sockets in the jaws and on the roof of the mouth

It was cool watch this green moray eel swim; their vicious reputation may come from the fact that they habitually open and close their mouths showing off their sharp teeth but they are actually just taking in water to breathe

It was cool watch this green moray eel swim; their vicious reputation may come from the fact that they habitually open and close their mouths showing off their sharp teeth but they are actually just taking in water to breathe

One of two large green sea turtles seen during Karpata dive; Bonaire has long been a leader in nature conservation and ecological responsibility

One of two large green sea turtles seen during Karpata dive; Bonaire has long been a leader in nature conservation and ecological responsibility

Blue parrotfish spend 80% o their time searching for food; they use beaks to scrape algae and small organisms from rocks and teeth which grind ingested rocks into sand

Blue parrotfish spend 80% of their time searching for food; they use beaks to scrape algae and small organisms from rocks and teeth which grind ingested rocks into sand

We enjoyed a week of beautiful sunsets from our house; one night some of the guys even saw the famous green flash

We enjoyed a week of beautiful sunsets from our house; one night some of the guys even saw the famous green flash

This eel was seen when I snorkeling in front of house; along the shore was debris from long ago construction that unintentionally now provides habitat for eels

This eel was seen when I snorkeling in front of house; along the shore was debris from long ago construction that unintentionally now provides habitat for eels

Pipe Coral; the island is surrounded by a national marine park from the high tide line to a depth of 200 feet

Pipe Coral; the island is surrounded by a national marine park from the high tide line to a depth of 200 feet

Chain moray eel; the island has year-round pleasant temperatures averaging 82 degrees with an all-time low temperature of only 67 degrees

Chain moray eel; the island has year-round pleasant temperatures averaging 82 degrees with an all-time low temperature of only 67 degrees

Bonaire whiptail lizard; the Dutch attacked Bonaire during the 80 Years War and conquered the island in 1636

Bonaire whiptail lizard; the Dutch attacked Bonaire during the 80 Years War and conquered the island in 1636

Beginnings of blue pipe sponge maybe?; the American army built the Flamingo Airport as an air force base during WW2; many German and Austrian citizens were interned in a camp on Bonaire for the war's duration

Beginnings of blue pipe sponge maybe?; the American army built the Flamingo Airport as an air force base during WW2; many German and Austrian citizens were interned in a camp on Bonaire for the war's duration

In 1526 the Spaniards settled Bonaire thinking the island could be a cattle plantation; they settled in Rincon which was in the center of the island and safe from pirate attack

In 1526 the Spaniards settled Bonaire thinking the island could be a cattle plantation; they settled in Rincon which was in the center of the island and safe from pirate attack

Sponges constitute 70% o the diet of French angelfish; in some locations, this species is fished for consumption and is reported to be quite tasty

Sponges constitute 70% of the diet of French angelfish; in some locations, this species is fished for consumption and is reported to be quite tasty

Golden trumpetfish; Scuba Diving Magazine’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards has recognized Bonaire as the number one Shore Diving Destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic for 24 consecutive years

Golden trumpetfish; Scuba Diving Magazine’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards has recognized Bonaire as the number one Shore Diving Destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic for 24 consecutive years

Juvenile French angelfish run cleaning stations at sea fans, cleaning other fish with their pelvic fins; they attract potential fish by fluttering their striking bodies and are so specialized that fish will line up for their services!

Juvenile French angelfish run cleaning stations at sea fans, cleaning other fish with their pelvic fins; they attract potential fish by fluttering their striking bodies and are so specialized that fish will line up for their services!

Bonaire gets a significant amount of its electricity from an array of 12 wind generators along its northeastern coastline which began operating in 2010; this renewable source now fills 40-45% o the island's electricity needs

Bonaire gets a significant amount of its electricity from an array of 12 wind generators along its northeastern coastline which began operating in 2010; this renewable source now fills 40-45% of the island's electricity needs

Elliptical star coral is slow growing and highly susceptible to white plague (in 1995 75% o the species in Florida was killed); Bonaire uses the US dollar as its currency

Elliptical star coral is slow growing and highly susceptible to white plague (in 1995 75% of the species in Florida was killed); Bonaire uses the US dollar as its currency

Azure vase sponge; KLM operates a daily flight from Amsterdam to Bonaire which is a 10 hour 40 minute flight

Azure vase sponge; KLM operates a daily flight from Amsterdam to Bonaire which is a 10 hour 40 minute flight

Trumpetfish; Dive Friends Bonaire started a Debris Free Bonaire program that emphasizes collecting debris washed ashore and helps keep the islands dive locations free of trash

Trumpetfish; Dive Friends Bonaire started a Debris Free Bonaire program that emphasizes collecting debris washed ashore and helps keep the islands dive locations free of trash

Much of Bonaire's southern half has been made into a giant system of ponds and pools which evaporate seawater to produce salt; presently operated by Cargill, Bonaire's solar salt works produce 400,000 tons of industrial grade salt per year

Much of Bonaire's southern half has been made into a giant system of ponds and pools which evaporate seawater to produce salt; presently operated by Cargill, Bonaire's solar salt works produce 400,000 tons of industrial grade salt per year

Grunts and snappers around salt pier pylon; the island has few sandy beaches and is very arid with lots of cactus

Grunts and snappers around salt pier pylon; the island has few sandy beaches and is very arid with lots of cactus

Posted by RNRiggins 01:52 Comments (0)

Manila's Ocean Park Aquarium one of few tourist attractions

The sea lions were so smart and even trained to stick out their tongues; these sea lions are from Chile since they are not endemic to the Philippines

The sea lions were so smart and even trained to stick out their tongues; these sea lions are from Chile since they are not endemic to the Philippines

This diver was feeding the sharks squid but the animals were all well-behaved and not at all aggressive; squalor was pervasive across Manila with most people struggling to make money

This diver was feeding the sharks squid but the animals were all well-behaved and not at all aggressive; squalor was pervasive across Manila with most people struggling to make money

The walk-through aquarium was the most popular feature at Ocean Park; traffic in Manila is horrendous and chaotic and likely to get worse with all of the new high-density development

The walk-through aquarium was the most popular feature at Ocean Park; traffic in Manila is horrendous and chaotic and likely to get worse with all of the new high-density development

Black-spotted pufferfish; locals speak Tagalog but many know some English and the performances at the Aquarium were narrated in English

Black-spotted pufferfish; locals speak Tagalog but many know some English and the performances at the Aquarium were narrated in English

These budgies, called parakeets in the US, are native to Australia where they have lived for 70,000 years; the birdhouse was a small addition above the barnyard

These budgies, called parakeets in the US, are native to Australia where they have lived for 70,000 years; the birdhouse was a small addition above the barnyard

The tiny orange and black poison dart frog is native to Central America; in 1965 Ferdinand Marcos was elected president here with the slogan - this nation can be great again

The tiny orange and black poison dart frog is native to Central America; in 1965 Ferdinand Marcos was elected president here with the slogan - this nation can be great again

Each evening there is a laser and sound show with water fountains that can shoot water 130 ft high; kids enjoyed the laser images of sea characters and the choreographed show

Each evening there is a laser and sound show with water fountains that can shoot water 130 ft high; kids enjoyed the laser images of sea characters and the choreographed show

The freshwater mata mata turtle is native to South America; this strange looking species has a shell that resembles a piece of bark

The freshwater mata mata turtle is native to South America; this strange looking species has a shell that resembles a piece of bark

A few fireworks were added to the end of the symphony show; the aquarium promoted lots of opportunities to interact with sharks, rays and sea lions at an additional cost

A few fireworks were added to the end of the symphony show; the aquarium promoted lots of opportunities to interact with sharks, rays and sea lions at an additional cost

The audience member didn't seem enthusiastic about being kissed by a sea lion; the aquarium, owned by a Chinese company, opened in 2008

The audience member didn't seem enthusiastic about being kissed by a sea lion; the aquarium, owned by a Chinese company, opened in 2008

The endangered zebra shark is a nocturnal species found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region; in the Trails of the Antarctic exhibit Humboldt

The endangered zebra shark is a nocturnal species found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region; in the Trails of the Antarctic exhibit Humboldt

Ribbon eel; this species is native to the Indo-Pacific region and can reach 4.5 feet long

Ribbon eel; this species is native to the Indo-Pacific region and can reach 4.5 feet long

Spotted sweetlips; there were lots of admission options but I chose the cheapest visit which was about $10

Spotted sweetlips; there were lots of admission options but I chose the cheapest visit which was about $10

Clownfish; this aquarium is pretty dated with small tanks and many missing identification labels

Clownfish; this aquarium is pretty dated with small tanks and many missing identification labels

Stonefish; the world's most venomous fish, which is endemic to the Indo-Pacific region, can even be fatal to humans

Stonefish; the world's most venomous fish, which is endemic to the Indo-Pacific region, can even be fatal to humans

Ocellate river stingray; native to South America, this species is the most widespread, freshwater stingray

Ocellate river stingray; native to South America, this species is the most widespread, freshwater stingray

This female Patagonian sea lion, weighing 300 lbs, is dwarfed by her male counterpart who can top 750 lbs; the Philippines has 105 million people, 82% o which are Catholic

This female Patagonian sea lion, weighing 300 lbs, is dwarfed by her male counterpart who can top 750 lbs; the Philippines has 105 million people, 82% of which are Catholic

My aquarium ticket included admission to the barnyard; there were mice, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs in this cheap addition to the facility

My aquarium ticket included admission to the barnyard; there were mice, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs in this cheap addition to the facility

The endangered sun conure parrot can live 30 years in captivity; this species is monogamous and lives in a relatively small area of NE South America

The endangered sun conure parrot can live 30 years in captivity; this species is monogamous and lives in a relatively small area of NE South America

The yellow-banded poison dart frog is from northern South America; the bright coloration evolved as a warning to potential predators that it will make an unpalatable or toxic meal

The yellow-banded poison dart frog is from northern South America; the bright coloration evolved as a warning to potential predators that it will make an unpalatable or toxic meal

You could rent one of this punked out cars to pedal around the entrance to the aquarium; the Philippines were named for the great grandson of Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella

You could rent one of this punked out cars to pedal around the entrance to the aquarium; the Philippines were named for the great grandson of Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella

These knight anoles are native to Cuba and have migrated to Florida but can't tolerate cold temperatures; I just love how they can stick to the glass

These knight anoles are native to Cuba and have migrated to Florida but can't tolerate cold temperatures; I just love how they can stick to the glass

The tawny nurse shark is nocturnal, endemic to the Indo-Pacific region and eats primarily octopus; a large hotel and shopping complex is attached to the aquarium

The tawny nurse shark is nocturnal, endemic to the Indo-Pacific region and eats primarily octopus; a large hotel and shopping complex is attached to the aquarium

The Philippines is the world's second largest archipelago with 7100 islands; there are 17 active volcanoes here in a nation frequently hit with natural disasters

The Philippines is the world's second largest archipelago with 7100 islands; there are 17 active volcanoes here in a nation frequently hit with natural disasters

The tanks didn't have live corals or sponges and some I thought were overcrowded

The tanks didn't have live corals or sponges and some I thought were overcrowded

Lionfish; Manila doesn't have much in the way of tourist attractions but serves as a gateway to other Philippine destinations

Lionfish; Manila doesn't have much in the way of tourist attractions but serves as a gateway to other Philippine destinations

Dogface pufferfish; the aquarium had tons of school groups and is hopefully educating them about protecting the environment

Dogface pufferfish; the aquarium had tons of school groups and is hopefully educating them about protecting the environment

Giant Trevally; this species can weigh up to 175 pounds and is native to the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region

Giant Trevally; this species can weigh up to 175 pounds and is native to the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region

Posted by RNRiggins 08:37 Comments (0)

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