Thursday, November 4, 2021

Diving Bohol (Not!)

As we started to think about heading back to Samal Island, we wanted to try to dive in "legendary" Bohol. We contacted a dive operation on the east coast, and they were excited to have us come by and dive with them. At this point in time, the Philippines were still not letting foreigners into the country due to COVID fears, so all the tourism-based operations were absolutely dying.
The S Pass

Bohol had been rigidly closed during the pandemic for over a year for all but Bohol residents. But the Bohol local government had recently "opened up" with a requirement for an "S-Pass" for visitors to Bohol. This is an online "check your vax status" mechanism.

We were fully vaxxed and had the paperwork to prove it. The S-Pass site wanted verification from the Philippines Government site. Everyone giving vaccinations were supposed to be uploading completed vaccination information to the central government website. But our vax site was apparently WAY behind in uploading the data, so the S-Pass site said we were not vaccinated. As we had paid $100 USD to a private clinic to get Moderna vaccinations, we were pretty upset that our vax confirmations were still not registered on the Philippines Government site. So, we could not get an S-Pass.

We provided copies of our vaccination proof to the dive resort on Bohol, and asked them if we could just anchor off their resort for a couple of days and dive with them. We asked them to get approval from the local council. Well, they couldn't manage getting around the government beauracracy and the insistance on an S-Pass. So sad, for them and for us.

So, we called up our old friend at Southern Leyte Divers at Padre Burgos, and asked if we could come dive with him. Actually, I think the same restrictions were in place in Leyte as in Bohol, but at this point, this guy didn't care. He knew if we anchored off, just dove with them, and didn't go into town, nobody would question him or us. So we stayed there for 3-4 days, had some nice dinners ashore, and some nice dives.
Southern Leyte Divers Dive Boat

An Anemone Showing its Colors

A Nice Nudibranch

A Ferocious Looking Lizard Fish

We also met up with Mike and Liliane from SV Meikyo, who were also on their way back to Samal Island.

On 4 November we started the trip south to Samal Island.