Last year, just in 5 days of diving in Anilao with Crystal Blue Resort, besides other numerous animals, I was able to photograph more than 50 species of nudibranchs. I decided to return to CBR (Crystal Blue Resort) and to stay there for 10 days, anxious if I can double my previous record. Plus, as added bonus, Mike Bartick, well published underwater professional photographer, was giving Underwater Photo Class and just that was well worth to make a trip.

I flew from Boston february 9th on a new Boeing 787-8 and 13+ hours that I spent on the plane passed just like a “dream”. Nice, spacious aircraft with 110V electric outlets under each seat, USBs and entertainment system, bearing somewhere in the depth of its 10-inch screen plenty of music, games and movies to keep you busy for days. My previous trip to the same destination took longer and cost me more than I paid this time – $1077 vs. $1343 paid last year.

I also would like to say a very special thanks to Heather, a beautiful soul, who helped me to get one out of 4 empty sits in the last row. Sweet. (By the way, there are no restrooms in the tail section of 787-8.)

Crystal Blue Resort

Despite my very late arrival, about 1 o’clock in the morning, the driver was waiting for me at the airport and two and a half hours later I entered my room. I missed the first dive, busy setting up my camera and dive gears, but the second morning dive, afternoon and night dives were mines to enjoy.

CBR

After each day of diving, gears would be washed and hang to dry by a member of a dive team. In the morning, everything was put together and waited for us on the boat. All I had to do is to analyze the nitrox and check in the water basin impermeability of my Ikelite housing.

View from dining area

After two morning dives, we had a lunch, then, at 3 pm., there was an afternoon dive and, if you wish, at about 5 – 5:30 pm one could explore darkened waters of Anilao. Then, upon return from the night dive, the dinner was served, followed by free time, which mostly was used to upload, catalogue and to discuss new findings. My room was spacious, clean and air-conditioned to my liking.

Last time I’ve written the whole paragraph, dedicated to the chef Rey and his kitchen team. And this time, I can only reaffirm my previous sentiment, this guy really knows how to excite your taste buds. Right on the first day, sitting with 5-6 people at the same table, I began to hear from the others how well everything was prepared. Every day for the lunch and dinner, besides yummy soups, fresh salads, fruits and desserts, one could’ve had 4 different main courses – fish, chicken, beef and pork. Every dish not only looked appetizing but also was tasted delicious. If we talk about the quality of the food – then out of all my trips to other resorts … so far … the kitchen at CBR remains to be the most memorable one. I’d like to express my great appreciation and to say thanks to all, and especially to chief Rey, for preparing such a great meals.

Diving

CBR utilizes bangkas, Philippine style boat with two supportive bamboo beams, hanging on each side of its sleek, narrow-hull.

Bangka – Filipino style boat

Skippers and deckhands were attentive and very helpful, leaving to us nothing to do but donning our gears and back rolling into the blue. After resurfacing, while still in the water, we would pass our cameras, tanks, masks and fins for an easy climb back on the deck, where hot coffee or a steaming cup of chocolate already was waiting.

Hypselodoris bullocki – one of my first nudi

The hot drink may sound unnecessary, but after a few days of diving in the 76-79’F water temp, wearing a 3mm suit, I sure appreciated the amenities. (I broad with me a dry suit (Waterproof D9,) about 12 dives old, but on a second day it begin to leak near the dump valve, and then the whole mechanism stocked in the closed position. It is not a bad dry suit and it’s very light to travel with; I only wished that quality of its craftsmanship matched its high price.)