Tuesday, September 30, 2014

19 reasons to stay and dive with Exotic Island Dive Resort

It can he hard to choose where to go for your holiday nowadays. There are endless choices of destinations and resorts. We have created this 19 points to show you a little teaser of what Exotic Island Dive Resort is all about.

1. We proudly name ourselves as the first Thresher Shark divers on Malapascua island. Exotic was the first dive resort to open on the island back in 1998. We like to say that we have unmatched experiences when it comes to diving with the thresher sharks. We have been taking divers to see these beautiful sharks for a whopping 17 years and counting!

Thresher shark and divers at Monad Shoal
Thresher shark and divers at Monad Shoal

2. Exotic has - without a doubt - the largest fleet of diving boats on the island This means that we can cater to everyone from individual diver to big diving groups and offer trips to several dive sites at the same time. A big boat doesn't mean a crowded boat, it means everybody has enough space and an enjoyable trip.  

Some of Exotics dive boats
Join us on one of our comfortable dive boats!

3. We welcome everybody to stay with us! We got spaces for non-divers to experienced technical rebreather divers. Here there is activites for everybody! With our big resort consisting of 40+ rooms ranging from Super Deluxe rooms overlooking the sea to back packer lodgings, you choose your budget. With us you can dive, snorkel, relax on the beach, do an island cruise or even learn to carve your own shark!

Returning from one of our early morning dives at Kemod Shoal, Hammerheads!
Returning from one of our early morning dives at Kemod Shoal, Hammerheads!

4. Protecting the environment is always important and Exotic promotes responsible diving behavior and environmental protecting practices. We have over the years received international awards from Project Aware. To mention a few of our many projects, we done over the years, includes driving the establishment of a Patrol boats in 2002, to protecting Gato Island, to making sure the famous Dona Marilyn wreck wasn't salvaged. 

Exotic swimming to end finning! Project aware Finathon.
Exotic swimming to end finning!

The beach at Malapascua exotic island dive resort5. Exotic Island Dive Resort is located on the cleanest and most pristine part of the world renowned Bounty Beach. The German non diving magazine Reise & Preise rated this as one of the worlds top 20 beaches! Our guests can expect peace and quiet on the beautiful white sands of a real virgin, tropical beach. We are the only resort on the island with a dedicated "green" team that works solely on taking care of our gardens, the beach and our own ECO recycling area. We also grow our own herbs and vegetables in our ECO garden. 

Fresh herbs and vegetables from our Eco garden
Fresh herbs and vegetables from our Eco garden

6. Our first class restaurant offers the biggest selection of mouth tasting dishes, with influences from all over the world. There is also a well a very well stocked bar including draft beer. You can enjoy your food watching the sea while our friendly and knowledgeable staff takes care of all your dining experience. We have fabric napkins, proper porcelain dishes and glasses. There is no plastic in our restaurant.

The resturant at Exotic
The resturant at Exotic

Artificial reef, our concrete shark!
Say hi to Sharky!
7. Back in 2000, Exotic was the first dive centre to establish and build a house reef on Malapascua. The Famous photographer Scott Tuason called this "One of the best house reefs in the Philippines. This "Exotic House Reef" was approved by the local government as a no fishing area and solely for Exotics use. This ensures a low impact on the reef and promotes coral growth. Not only do we protect the reef but we also invest our time, effort and money in durable artificial structures for marine life to cling on to and seek shelter within.  You can expect to see anything from the most beautiful nudibranchs to schools of batfish. The latest structure we built and sank is our 5 meter concrete shark "Sharky" He weighs an excess of 900kg!

8. Exotic is the only PADI 5 star IDC Resort & PADI Tec-Rec Center on the island. It doesn't matter if you want to take your first breaths underwater, teach people to take their first breath under water or do technical training. We truly offer the whole range including Closed circuit rebreather, trimix training and support.

PADI IDC resort and TEC REC centre

9. You can really say that Exotic is truly "exotic" and original from the beginning. Built with hard work and dedication from the owners from the ground and up. Exotic actually started out with only 2 bungalows and a small kitchen with the tanks and compressor in the back as a small dive shop. Over the years, under the caring eyes of the owners Dik and Cora, Exotic has become the most complete resort on the island offering everything you might wish for during your diving holiday.

The beach at Malapascua Exotic island Dive Resort
The beach is just as white today as it was then :)

One of the distributions together with the Red cross
One of the distributions together with the Red cross
10. Exotic has always worked very closely with the local community.  Not only has the discovery of the thresher sharks as a dive destination had a huge effect on the islands economy improving peoples lifestyle. Exotic has also over the years driven several projects to improve the welfare of all people on the island and especially after the super-typhoon Yolanda, Exotic worked closely with the Red Cross for many distribution with all personal and boats participating in getting supplies to all the people of Malapascua. Exotic is currently supporting the elementary school situated north on Malapascua. Working for the community is something that never stops and you are welcome to come and participate!

Do you IDC in comfort!
Exotics main classroom.

11. For our students, Exotic has the best classroom on the island with ocean view, plus 2 smaller classrooms. We make sure that if you are taking a course at Exotic you are doing it in comfort. Aircon, tv, projector, whiteboards which ensures you can focus on your studying even in the hottest months!

12. Exotic is independent. With this statement we mean that at Exotic we operate our own generators. We have 3 generators of 150Kw, 125KW and 60KW which ensures we always have enough power for all our needs and also maximum reliability. You wont wake up in the middle of the night because the AC turned off. Even when a super-typhoon as Yolanda, which unfortunately passed right over Malapascua in November 2013, our generators stayed operational.

13. Technical Center: Exotic was the first technical diving facility on Malapascua. Already in 2004, 10 years ago we offered Technical diving and Trimix. Then it was under IANTD and today we offer PADI and TDI technical courses. You can read one of our trip reports here

The world war 2 wreck presumed to be the Oakita maru, just north of Malapascua and frequently dived by Exotic
Technical divers at the Oakita Maru north of Malapascua

14. Exotic supports the local populations with employment opportunities. All  our Divemasters are locals, and this is not only for recreational diving but also for Technical, Trimix and rebreather diving.

Local DM Paul white the white arrow Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR)
Paul with the White arrow CCR

15. On the top floor of Exotic we got a In-house spa. You can lay down in comfort and get a massage from one of our lovely and skilled masseuses. Choose from thai massage, shiatsu to reflexology and more.

Malapascua Exotic Island Dive Resorts Spa
Exotics spa

16. Safety comes first at Exotic. On all diving boats we have VHF radios, life vests, emergency Oxygen units, first aid box and a fire extinguisher. At the dive center we have the only Automated External Defibrillator "AED" on Malapascua Island. The next closest one is several hours away in Bogo or Cebu City. We also have a well stocked first aid cupboard.

Exotic has invested in an AED to ensure our divers safety
The Only Aed on the island.

17. At Exotic we have 8 Bauer compressors as well as a 8000Liter air bank. This overcapacity ensures that the tanks are always filled and ready.

Exotic has enough air for all your diving needs!
8 compressors and a 8000L air bank, Yes we have enough.

18. Exotic was the first dive centre to create a Distinctive PADI Thresher Shark Specialty course.

Thresher shark at Monad Shoal
Thresher shark at Monad Shoal

19. We are still pioneers! We continue to explore the waters around Malapascua and Samar region. When Exotic opened back in the days, it was because Dik and Cora saw the huge potential for diving here on the island. Today, 2014, our second Exotic resort is opening in the province of Samar, and for the same reason: the owners see the same potential over there, and are planning to grow this area as a new exciting dive destination. The area is still very much unexplored and we are constantly looking for new sites to visit and explore!

Kerikite offer some truly amazing scenery and diving!
Kerikite offer some truly amazing scenery and diving!

This might sound like allot of chest pounding going on and yes in some ways it  might look like it. What we are trying to  point out is that Exotic has been here for many years offering premium diving with quality services that all started with an idea from two people sleeping under a palm tree only meters away from our resort today. It's amazing to see what can be achieved when people put their mind into things and how this dream has changed a whole island. The staff, the location on the beach, the diving, it all makes for a holiday you won't forget.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Introducing Adam Beard PADI Instructor

Adam Beard, PADI instructor malapascua.
Adam Beard
Hello my name Is Adam and I have had a love of the underwater world since I was a young whippersnapperIt was only recently In the last few years that I decided to take my passion and turn It into a full time hobby, Initially I started travelling South east Asia with the intent of seeing the wonderful sights, which i undoubtedly did, however most of my time was spent in the blue. I continued in this manner upon arriving in Australia where I worked on a live-aboard where I did my dive master internship. I then realised that I wished to turn my hobby into a full time job and completed my IDC in the Philippines In Exotic Malapascua.

This truly was a great experience to be around incredibly talented and knowledgeable divers, I learnt so much from my teachers colleagues and now can say very good friends ;) The IDC prepared me very well for the real world of teaching due to i believe a great, teacher. she really made learning a pleasure with great knowledge and wonderful teaching methods. These wonderful methods I recall very well and implement into my teaching today.
I have done several specs with my CD like DUP, Deep, Nitrox, Aware Shark, Wreck and am completing at least another best 7 with her in the next coming weeks. I am looking forward to being back in the lovely classroom with great facility's and lovely people.
I can safely say some of the best diving of my life has been here, with early mornings or any mornings for that matter not being my strong point, the early morning thresher shark dive has to be one of the most amazing experiences I have had, getting up starting the journey out into the stars as the sun rises making the ocean light up with beautiful splashes of reds, oranges, and pinks. followed by diving at monad shoal with really Amazing sharks, and on the way back to the resort seeing our resident dolphins that like to swim along with the bow of the boat. It's just magic! what more can I say?

Adam teaching peak performance buoyancy during his internship at Exotic malapascua.
Adam teaching peak performance buoyancy during his internship at Exotic malapascua.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Amazing Sea Creatures Chapter 1 - Cleaner Wrasses

The cleaner wrasse is the best known of all cleaner fish.They are mostly found in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, living in reefs between 2-40 meters depth. The cleaner wrasse is part of the wrasse family together with 500 other types of wrasse fish. They can be found in pairs or smaller groups and sometimes just one by one. 

The cleaner wrasse grows to about 12 cm in size. All cleaner wrasses are born female, to reproduce, the biggest cleaner wrasse turns in to a male, if this male would die, the strongest one of the survivals will then turn into a new male.

Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasse
There are a couple of different types of cleaner wrasse. The most common one is the Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasse. You can tell it’s a blue streak cleaner wrasse by looking at the different colors: the head is white or sometimes yellowish; the middle portion of the body has a black stripe from head which stretches towards the tail. The “blue streak” is located around the tail fin.

The cleaner wrasses have a very important role in the marine eco system. Their role is to clean other fish, sometimes they are also referred to as dentists! At a coral reef they set up a cleaning station were they remove parasites and dead skin from all kinds of fish. Why you might ask? – This is because these parasites and dead skins are the main food source for the cleaner wrasse. We call this shared interest for a symbiotic relationship as both partners benefit from this behavior. The fish gets cleaned and the cleaner wrasse gets food.

We can see cleaner wrasses clean almost all fish in the ocean. From the big thresher sharks to tthe small anemone fish and sometimes even divers! Because of their important role in the sea they usually don't get eaten by bigger fish, as bigger fish recognizes the particular “dance” performed by the cleaner wrasse when they are ready to swim: moving up and down instead of swimming. So you could say that their roll is giving them some immunity. 

The cleaner wrasse is a very common fish although sometimes they are mistaken with the “False cleaner wrasse”. The false cleaner wrasse is actually a blenny that looks almost exactly like the real one.The difference is that the false cleaner wrasse has a longer snout, plus they also pretend to be a real cleaner wrasse in order to get close to the fish in need of cleaning. When they get close enough they take a bite and swim off quickly!

False Cleaner Fish

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beautiful "Sea Monsters" at Malapascua!

Tiger tail sea horse at Exotic Island dive resort
Tiger tail seahorse at a night.
When diving around Malapascua, you are very likely to see many amazing critters in the ocean, in addition to our world famous Thresher Sharks, of course. One beautiful critter you can expect to come across  is the Seahorse.

So what is a Seahorse? The Latin name for Seahorse is hippocampus. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning "horse" and campos meaning "sea monster". 
However we do find them too enchanting to be called sea monsters!

Seahorses are actually a type of fish. They live in water, breath through gills and have a swim bladder. They do however not have any cardinal fins and are instead equipped with a long tail, which the seahorse can use to hold on to objects as to not drift away in the current.  The Sea Horses most famous feature is, without a doubt, their long neck and snout that points downwards. They also have the ability to change color for camouflage.

Around the world there are between 30 to 40 species of seahorses and possibly as many subspecies. Sea horses are very hard to identify as the sea horses of the same species can look very different. New species are still being found. Around Malapascua we are lucky to have several species to observe. The two most common species we see are the Tiger tail Seahorse (Hippocampuscomes) and the Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti).

Pygmy seahorse at Malapascua exotic island dive resort
Pygmy seahorse hiding in a sea fan.
Seahorses are known to have great eyesight and they are also able to work their eyes independently. They can actually see in front and behind of them at the same time!

By using their great eye sight, they locate their food and then uses their long snout to suck it in. Seahorses  feed on small crustaceans and different kinds of shrimps. If you are diving in area repeatedly, you will probably discover that seahorses are usually found in the same places time after time. A seahorse usually resides in a sea fan or a small coral patch and unless needed to, the seahorse will not move location for many years.

One reason for not changing location can be because Seahorses are poor swimmers. They are mainly relying on their dorsal fins to provide propulsion and use their pectoral fins for stability and steering. Some species have the capability to grow fleshy appendages called cirri on their bodies. This gives them the ability to camouflage as sea weed, or blending in to a sea fan.

Yellow pygmy seahorse at Exotic Island Dive Resort
Pygmy Sea horses comes in many colors,

When it comes to finding a mate, the seahorses are known to bond with their partner for life. After finding a partner the seahorse couple will meet first thing every morning to reinforce their partnership with a elaborate display of courtship. The female meets the male in his territory and as they approach each other they change color. The male circles around the female and then the pair often spiral around an object such as a coral. This can last for up to an hour before the female goes back to her territory.

The Seahorse male is the only creature where reversed pregnancy happens. The female transfers her eggs to the male who then fertilizes them in his pouch. Some species can have up to 1500 eggs! After 2 to 4 weeks the eggs hatch and the baby seahorses emerges.  They are called Fry. From the moment they are born they are completely on their own. Unfortunately less than 1 in a thousand makes it to adulthood.

Common seahorse at Malapascua Exotic Island Dive Resort
Here is a almost white seahorse at
Malapascua Lighthouse.
Sadly most species of seahorses are today endangered because of  the threat from both aquariums,  traditional medicine and souvenirs trade. Yearly, approximately 150 million seahorses are being fished for medicine use alone. 1 million seahorses are sold as souvenirs. Another million are being taken for aquariums were only 1000 survive longer than 6 weeks!

So how can you help these beautiful critters?

First of all - Don't buy any seahorse souvenirs. Second - Boycott any shop that does sell seahorse souvenirs. Thirdly please don't visit shops, restaurants or bars that keeps seahorses in aquariums. Lastly if you can please don't just walk away, please also let the establishment know why you are not using their services. The more people that raise their voice, the more of a reaction we can get!

Want to see your first seahorse or want to capture some more pictures for your collection? Come and visit! Here you will find them in the sea! We also promote responsible interaction so we can all keep on enjoying the privilege of diving with these beautiful creatures!

Yellow tiger tail seahorse at Gato island
A yellow Tigertail seahorse hiding at Gato Island,

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Exotic blog is back!


The blog is back! Apologies for the absence since Typhoon Yolanda struck. Here’s a catch up on what’s been happening at Exotic over the last couple of months.

Aid arriving to Malapascua
Aid arriving
Obviously the typhoon was a major incident for everyone on Malapascua and we thank everyone for all the goodwill messages we received. The damage sustained to the resort was relatively minor in comparison to elsewhere on the island and with some people losing their homes we considered ourselves very lucky.

Thresher shark at Malapascua
Taken by Exotic guest João Paulo Krajewski last week
However, there was still plenty to do to get the resort back in shape and ensure the continued comfort of our guests and this work was started by our dedicated staff immediately. We were the only place anywhere on the island with electricity for some weeks which certainly helped! Fallen trees were cleared, roofs and boats repaired. In fact, within a couple of days we were the first dive operation on the island to be fully operational again which was testament to all the staff here and their efforts.

Fortunately, the Thresher Sharks Malapascua is famous for have been in high numbers recently and we’re all thankful for that!

Happy members of Red Cross 
As mentioned earlier, not all the islands residents were as fortunate as us here at Exotic so we were proud to host several aid agencies including The Red Cross and assist them in transporting food and medical supplies to the island as well as making sure all those in need received them. A special thanks must go to the ‘Peace Riders MC and Outsider MC’, two groups of bikers from Cebu who raised substantial funds through their network and thankfully decided to donate it to the island in the way of food and building materials which were distributed to the islands residents. 

Thanks must go to everyone for all their support for the island.

Intructor Examination at Exotic
Another successful Instructor Examination 
So what else has happened at Exotic in the last couple of months… loads and loads! Just three weeks after the typhoon we held a highly successful Instructor Development Course and hosted the subsequent Instructor Examination. Congratulations to Jasper who heads for a year in Australia as a newly qualified instructor! Within the next few days we’ll be welcoming three new instructor candidates in eager anticipation of this months IDC which begins on 14th January.

Snorkel test
At Exotic we take much pride in the quality of the dive professionals we produce before sending them out into the big wide world. Our Divemaster program is top notch and in the coming weeks we’ll be welcoming several new additions to the team of interns we have here on our programme. So a big hello to Jessica who arrived yesterday as the first of 2014’s intake! Hello and go and clean my equipment… only joking! We’re very kind to our Divemasters here! At the beginning of December we held a graduation party for some of our newly qualified DM’s which featured the famous snorkel test. So congratulations to Ted, Ervin, Jasper, Jay and last but by no means least Lars who entertained everyone on the night!

Divemasters at Exotic
The three musketeers Jay, Jasper and Lars
Towards the end of December the much anticipated annual Christmas party took place at Exotic. Many of the staff had been practicing for the interdepartmental talent contest for days in preparation and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of all the acts on show. Congratulations must go to the restaurant service staff led by the eccentric Junnell for scooping first prize with a comedy dance routine to leave everyone in stitches of laughter. I dropped my beer for laughing and that doesn’t often happen let me tell you! In fact, the restaurant as a whole claimed the top two places after the chefs delivered a superb act to claim second place. All in all a great night much enjoyed by both staff and guests alike.

Santa on at Malapascua exotic island dive resort
Santa comes to Malapascua
A couple of days later Santa Claus made a visit to Malapascua and set up camp at Exotic. Actually, it was one of our guests, and newly qualified Advanced Open Water diver, JR Molinar who strapped on a Santa outfit for half the day in thirty degrees of heat! Nice work JR! Thanks to Toys R Us and all the individual donors who helped make the day possible. It was a total success and was great to see so many smiles on the faces of the kids which was the intention.

New Year saw Joshua, our head chef, lead efforts as the restaurant hosted a first rate buffet to see in 2014. We are looking forward to a great year and are hoping to see you soon!