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Magic Critters at Magic Oceans

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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The warm waters off the cost of Anda, Bohol in The Philippines is a haven for all manner of critters. Even better, there are only a handful of dive operators in the area, so you are likely to be the only divers on any given site, giving you plenty of time and space to explore. We were only there for 3 days of diving, and yet in such a short time, we were treated to a huge array of macro critters.

You have already seen our blogs on the Shaun the Sheep Nudibranch and the incredible night dive, so we just want to fill in some of the gaps and show you what marine life you can find on the reefs and sandy seabed that run along this productive coastline.

Macro junkies will be rewarded on every dive here! Tiny crustaceans and nudibranch can be found on every dive. Porcelain and candy crabs are photographer’s favourites, but there are plenty more to be on the lookout for. Sea Slugs come in all colours and sizes from the minute (sometimes too small for us to see with the naked eye) to large, on one dive we must have seen over 20 different species. While it might take you a little while to be able to spot the smaller species, the dive guides here have eagle-eyes, and are always on the look out for marine life to point out to you.

Pigmy seahorses live on the house reef, as well as dive sites all along the coast, and we have never seen so many of their cousins, the ghost pipefish. The team at Magic Oceans have introduced a Code of Conduct for photographing Pigmy Seahorses which is available here on their website. On the sandy muck dives, small thorny seahorses could be found just swaying on the seabed.

Frogfish, a creature close to our hearts, also feature on pretty much every dive. On one dive, a large orange frogfish, very much like the one that featured on our logo, took a shine to Caroline, leapt off his perch and slowly made his way, somewhat clumsily, over to her (watch video to the end), falling off the edge of the reef in a comedy frogfish moment.

As well as all this marvelous macro, the reef tops here are packed with healthy corals where turtles like to hang out, so the diving at Magic Oceans has lots to offer. In our three days of diving, we packed in 10 dives and would have been delighted to stay on and do more, but it was time for us to move on to Atmosphere Resort. Fingers crossed we will be back to visit the Magic Resorts team soon…

For more information visit:

Magic Oceans Dive Resort

The Official UK Travel Guide for The Philippines

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Scuba Diving in India: 5 Best Places to Visit Now

Asia DTA Team

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India doesn’t get the attention it deserves for its scuba diving. With its white-sand beaches and tropical islands, this stunning country is on a par with some of the world’s best-loved diving hotspots. There are isolated coral reefs, shipwrecks, pinnacles, remote atolls, and walls that host an eye-popping array of Indian Ocean marine life. With India recently opening its borders to fully vaccinated travelers, now is the time to explore this incredible destination before the rest of the world finds out.

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Andaman Islands sit off the coast of India in the Bay of Bengal, surrounded by bright blue waters and fringed with isolated coral reefs. It is a tropical paradise destination with thriving mangroves that support diverse marine life and extraordinary birdlife.

Many of these beautiful islands are inhabited by the Andamanese, an indigenous group of people whose privacy is paramount, meaning you cannot visit all of the islands. Some of the Andamanese tribes, such as the Sentinelese, have had little to no contact with the outside world for many years.

Havelock Island and Neil Island are two of the most exceptional diving spots in the Andaman Islands and are regularly rated as two of the best places for scuba diving in India.

Havelock has excellent macro diving, whilst Neil Island offers pristine coral reefs and fewer divers. Together they host some of the best marine life that the northern Indian Ocean has to offer.

When to go: November to April.


  1. Goa

Sitting on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea, Goa is known for its long stretches of golden sands and lively nightlife. But if you step back from the bustling bars, you will find picturesque dive sites and a destination rich in culture and history.

Grande Island is a hotspot for water sports and is one of Goa’s best dive locations. There are dive sites for every level of diver at this must-visit island, plus some of Goa’s famous shipwrecks.

As an important trading port for centuries, Goa has around 100 shipwrecks off its shores, which have become thriving artificial reefs. As well as wrecks galore, Goa also has shallow coral gardens and striking pinnacles that attract tourists to Goa scuba diving every year.

When to go: October to May.


  1. Puducherry

Puducherry’s crystal-clear waters are enough to attract any keen diver to explore this well-known French colonial settlement and the surrounding area.

Above water, Puducherry is a quaint destination with a French Quarter of bougainvillea-lined streets, colorful colonial villas, and sophisticated boutiques.

Below water is equally as eye-catching, with a huge range of diving opportunities along Puducherry’s vast coastline. There are unexplored coral reefs and shipwrecks, plus famous dive sites such as Coral Sharks Reef – a great novice dive site with plenty of reef sharks.

Go in search of sea snakes at Aravind Wall, one of the most famous dive sites in India, explore popular Four Corners, or head into the deep, dark depths at The Hole.

When to go: February to April, September to November.


  1. Netrani Island, Karnataka.

Netrani Island (Pigeon Island) is one of India’s best-known dive spots and sits off the famous temple town of Murdeshwar. Shaped like a heart, it is also known as ‘the heart of India’s diving’ and offers world-class diving with excellent conditions.

There are rarely any currents at Netrani’s dive sites, making it an ideal destination for Open Water Divers and novices who want to learn to dive.

Most of the diving is done from boats, taking you to explore diverse coral landscapes bursting with colorful marine life. Keep an eye on the blue when you dive there, as whales sometimes visit this special island.

When to go: October to May.


  1. Lakshadweep  

Lakshadweep, an archipelago off Kerala, has 36 atolls and coral reefs, with lagoons full of life and pristine reefs. Whilst you cannot visit all of the islands, those that you can visit make it a fantastic place to dive. And when you’ve had your fill of diving, you can explore Kerala’s famous tea plantations.

Whichever islands you choose, the clear blue waters of Lakshadweep have a seemingly endless list of marine life highlights, including sharks and sea turtles.

Bangaram Atoll is entirely surrounded by coral reefs and the continuous nature of the reef makes it one of the most interesting places to dive at Lakshadweep. As well as gorgeous corals, Bangaram hosts Princess Royal, a famous 200-year-old shipwreck.

Kadmat Island, or Cardamom Island, is all about turquoise waters, white sand beaches and encounters with numerous sea turtles. With healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs to dive, it is a mecca for marine life. Make sure you leave time to visit this impossibly idyllic island.

When to go: October to May.


Who is diving in India suitable for?

With over 8000 kilometers of coastline, India has a broad range of dive destinations to suit every dive experience level.  There are plenty of easy-going dive sites for novices, plus adventurous dives for experienced divers.

What marine life will you see when diving in India?

Sitting in the Indian Ocean, India’s dive sites host a huge variety of life, including abundant tropical reef fish, lion fish, moray eels and prized critters. Sea turtles are regularly spotted cruising the reefs and nest at many of India’s islands. Manta rays, whales and dolphins are also seen in India’s waters.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

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Critter Diving in Dumaguete

Atlantis Philippines

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Words and Images by Marty Snyderman

While the term “muck diving” is one that would probably not pass a smell test with the marketing gurus on Madison Avenue, experienced muck divers know exploring the muck to be a featured attraction of diving in the water surrounding our resorts at both Atlantis Puerto Galera and Atlantis Dumaguete.

If you are new to diving or simply have not yet enjoyed the opportunity to muck dive, you might not be familiar with the term muck diving. Don’t let your lack of familiarity or the name turn you away. The term muck diving was first used to describe exploring areas where the bottom consists of black sand, mud and silt in sites that are often influenced by some current flow and a source of freshwater. Over the years the definition has expanded, and today the term muck diving is often used to describe dives over almost any area that has a soft bottom as well as dives around structures such as a pier or dock where the pilings along with discarded tires, bottles and other man-made objects combine to provide habitat and hiding places for all kinds of creatures.

Shrimp goby and shrimp on the sand

But it is not just the nature of the sea floor or number of species that one might see that has made muck diving so popular. It is the fact that many of the encountered creatures are so bizarre, amazing, different, and well adapted for their life style and their chosen habitat that they routinely leave divers in awe of what Mother Nature has to share. Creatures such as ornate, robust, and halimeda ghostpipefishes, shrimpgobies and their partner shrimps, strange-looking scorpionfishes, sea moths, skeleton shrimp, decorator crabs, stargazers, gurnards, frogfishes, cuttlefishes, seahorses, octopuses, and snake eels are daily fare in muck sites.

Paddleflap Rhinopias on the sand

In many muck diving areas, the bottom is not completely barren. Small patch reefs and anemones in the sand provide refuge for additional species of fishes, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and squids etc. In short, muck diving can be crazy good!

The Muck Diving Experience

Napoleon Snake Eel in the Sand

For many divers the first time they look around after entering the water at some highly acclaimed muck diving site, their heart sinks as the surroundings do not bring the term beauty to mind. Drab is usually more like it, and upon first consideration most muck diving sites look boring. But you’ll be selling muck diving short if you judge this book by its cover. Just trust those that brought you to the site and go see what there is to see. Odds are you’ll be absolutely amazed.

Muck Diving Technique

A Hairy Frogfish uses its lure to attract prey on the muck substrate in Dumaguete

In many muck sites it is extremely easy to stir up the bottom and reduce the visibility with a single kick of a fin or the loss of buoyancy that causes a diver to crash into the sea floor. It is best to keep kicking and all other movements to an absolute minimum, and to achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy.

After that, it is “get low, go slow, be curious, and look closely” as you scour the bottom and any structure whether a soft coral, sponge, or debris such as a dead leaf or piece of driftwood on the sea floor. Take two looks at the slightest aberration. See something that looks just slightly different than its surroundings, and the odds are that you will be looking at some mind-blowing animal.

A Box Crab scurries before burying itself in the sand again

Be patient with yourself as you learn “how to look”. Divers that are new to muck diving almost always swim past subject after subject without spotting them during their first several muck dives. And they are almost universally amazed by the animals their dive guides spot. It is like the guides and new divers are diving in different oceans.

The key to the guides’ success is that they know where, how to look, and who they are looking for. Of course, gaining that expertise takes time. No doubt, their experience is a huge help. When you ask them how they do what they do, they are usually quick to tell you they “get low, go slow, remain curious, and look closely”.  And I’ll throw in a “have fun and allow yourself to be amazed by Mother Nature”.


Visit www.atlantishotel.com to find out more!

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