Because sometimes the destination is as fun as the ride itself
Riding motorcycles in itself is fun. But riding motorcycles to go scuba diving is even more fun especially if your riding buddies are certified Open Water Divers. We hatched this plan while Vaune Phan and I were out riding in Thailand last year during the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S international press launch, and last month we finally got our chance after Vaune Phan was invited by Metzeler to attend the 2017 Inside Racing Bike Fest and Trade Show at the World Trade Center.
For the ride, I borrowed an F700GS and S1000XR from BMW Motorrad Philippines for Nico and I, and a Ducati Scrambler Classic from Ducati Manila for Vaune Phan. Well, that was the initial plan but we ended up switching bikes. A day before our ride to Batangas, I invited Vaune to ride around Manila to get her acclimatized, so to speak, to the crazy driving habits of Filipino drivers. Being from Singapore where most drivers are disciplined, I was afraid Vaune would panic. But surprisingly she was able to adapt quickly, and soon enough we were riding our way up at a brisk pace through the hills of Tanay, Rizal for a quick brunch in Cafe Katerinas. During our meal, Vaune was visibly enjoying the cooler climate up the hills of Tanay where it was seven degrees cooler compared to the stifling heat of Manila.
The following day, Vaune and I met up with Nico at the Caltex gasoline station along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) where we had breakfast before heading out to Anilao, Batangas. After breakfast, it was a quick ride to the CRAFT Dive Resort in Mabini, Batangas for the next fun activity after riding: scuba diving! While Vaune and I are certified Open Water Divers, Nico is a total newbie. But that didn’t stop him from trying out the new sport because CRAFT offers Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) courses for beginners for only PhP 2,500 which includes one-on-one training and all the diving gear needed. After donning our wetsuits, we hopped on to the boat and off we went to Dive n’ Trek, our first dive spot for the day.
It took around 15 minutes before we reached our first dive spot, and on our way there, I couldn’t help but feel utterly relaxed while enjoying the ocean view from our boat. After the adrenaline rush of riding big bikes, there’s nothing more calming than soaking in the serenity of the underwater world. We should do this more often.
While Nico finished his one-on-one training with our Divemaster Arlie Juarez, Vaune and I, together with our certified Open Water Photographers Randy and Jerel, back-rolled off the boat and into the water. Almost immediately, we were surrounded by a variety of colorful fish eager for some snacks. Luckily, we brought some bread for them to feast on. The feeding frenzy that ensued was indeed a sight to behold. After a few minutes, Nico and our Divemaster Arlie joined us and took us around the colorful reef where we saw a couple of sea turtles and giant clams. There was only a slight current at that time, and with the sun shining brightly overhead, visibility underwater was marvelous.
We were enjoying the rich underwater scenery of Anilao so much that our dive lasted for more than 50 minutes. Nico was ecstatic after his very first dive and was soon contemplating getting certified for open water. After Dive n’ Trek, we moved over to nearby Ligpo for our next dive. Unlike Dive n’ Trek, Ligpo is only for Open Water certified divers because of its moderate to strong currents and deeper depths. This time, Nico had to stay on the boat while Vaune, Randy, Jerel, Arlie and I went beneath the waves.
I’ve been to Ligpo before but it was my first time to visit the Ligpo Cavern, one of the most popular dive sites in Anilao. It has a 2-meter opening and the inside is about 3 by 4 meters. It tapers upwards to a 1 by 1 meter hole like a chimney to a shallow area of about 5 meters allowing natural light and fish to enter the cavern. It is an attraction to divers because it can allow penetration of up to 2 to 3 divers inside from the 10 to 12-meter deep opening up into the shallow opening to a soft coral garden. Permanent residents in and around the cavern include giant frogfishes, giant grouper, the unique electric clam considered a rare find across most of Asia-Pacific diving spots, special nudibranchs such as facelinas, and lobsters. We even saw a couple of young black-tip sharks but they were too shy for our cameras.
After two dives, we decided to head back to shore before sundown. While we could have ridden back to Manila that evening, we decided to stay for the night and enjoyed a plate of baby back ribs at Johanna’s Grille for dinner. By the way, if ever you find yourself in Bauan, Batangas be sure to give Johanna’s a visit. It’s really worth it! After dinner, we spent the entire evening exchanging stories of our riding and diving adventures. Nico finally decided he was going to save up for his Open Water Certification. Vaune, on the other hand, promised to return to do more riding and diving with us. You see, while riding motorcycles is more often about the ride rather than the destination, sometimes the destination is as good as the ride itself, if not better.
Special thanks to BMW Motorrad Philippines and Ducati Manila for lending us the bikes for this story and to CRAFT for allowing us to shoot in their premises.