Travelogue Anilao (Philippines) 2020

We started the new year with a flight on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong to Manila. Surprisingly, almost all seats were fully booked, but we had to realize that we were apparently travelling in a flying refrigerator, only rarely had we been so frozen as in this plane (Dreamliner).

After landing in Manila, the entry formalities were completed relatively quickly, even the luggage was already waiting for us, as was our driver, who took us to the Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao in about 2 hours. Here Mike Bartick and his team showed us the hotel and the very well organized dive center, our guide for the next 2 weeks should be Edgar. We started the next day with a first dive in the house reef of CBR, water temperature was 26 degrees, just good for our 5mm suits.

The CBR is located on a steep slope, like probably all hotels in Anilao, you climb quite a few steps to get from your hotel room to the restaurant, the dive center, the camera room and other locations. There are a total of 6 dive boats for 4 divers plus guide.


At the moment the diving region south of Manila is experiencing an upswing due to the diversity of species in the macro area. This is interesting for many underwater photographers, especially for the critter and muckdiving friends. Several dive centres are increasingly offering the so-called Blackwater Diving, a special form of night diving, also a reason for us to come to Anilao.

The first days we spent with some dives together with our guide Edgar, we searched and found pygmy seahorses, mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, shrimps, various anemone fish. We also visited two resident Rhinopias (fringed scorpionfish) and took extensive photographs.


The main reason for our holiday in Anilao was the participation in a Black Water Workshop with Tobias Friedrich ( and Mike Bartick ( .

Blackwater Diving - diving above the deep sea - offers the diver a completely different universe. Every night the largest mass migration on earth takes place in vertical direction, from the deep sea to the water surface and back again. A long wetsuit should be obligatory, as it protects against poisonous or nettle-ridden jellyfish and salps. During the dive you will see a lot of juvenile fish, which do not always look like their adult relatives. In supposedly empty salp shells you can discover tiny larvae, crabs and sometimes even a nautilus.

The many creatures dance in front of the divers and diving lamps, it is a really exciting experience and the variety of species seems boundless. The objects of desire are called: Wunderpus, Long Armed Octopus, Blanket Octopus, Paper Nautilus and Ribbon Fish (there is also a Top Four here). The deep black water highlights the details and colours even more than in conventional night dives.

For orientation, an illuminated float is let into the water and a rope with a lead weight is attached to it, to which lamps are attached every 5 metres.


4 dives a day (2 x during the day and 2 x at night) we found it a bit exhausting after one week, but especially because of the picture reviews and the exchange with other photographers we could take home many new ideas.

There was also enough time for other shooting techniques and exposures, Snoot, flashlight and Magic Tube accompanied us on all dives. Photos with these "toys" are certainly often a matter of taste, but it is simply fun to try something new.


Shortly before Roland's birthday there was a not so nice surprise, the volcano "Taal", about 30 km away from our hotel, spat lava and an ash cloud, which reached up to 12 km height, this moved then in southern direction towards us. The air traffic was stopped for 1 to 2 days and about 70,000 people were evacuated, who unfortunately still have to live in emergency shelters for an indefinite period of time.

At some point our vacation came to an end. We would like to thank Tobias and Mike again for the great support "day and night", the hotel was top, especially the much too good food and the dive center was very nice. Many thanks also to our guide Edgar and the other employees in the hotel and in the diving center.