If there is one thing you should not miss during you stay with Marco Vincent dive resort is the spectacular day trip to Verde Island. The Island is the center piece of an area known as the Verde Passage. The diving here will stick in your mind forever, in some people’s eyes this is some of the best scuba diving in Asia if not the world.
Some well-known marine scientific gurus such as Dr. Terry Gosliner and Kent Carpenter have been pioneers of the area for many years. In fact the term ‘the center of the center of marine biodiversity came about from an expedition in 2005 led my Kent. This has been backed up with a 7 week expedition in 2015 lead by Dr. Gosliner. From early reports there has been another 100 or so new species added to the already spectacular list of marine life which can be observed in the Verde passage.
Verde Island is home to around a 1000 local people, even though the island is a beautiful place there is not much fresh water and the only electricity is provided by generators. There are many local fisher men here using a simple hand line to catch fish to provide for their families. Of course tourism plays a big part with some locals working with the many scuba divers who visit the island during a day trip to Verde Island.
The island also has some great history about it. A Spanish galleon ran aground in the eighteen hundreds; it’s cargo of porcelain plates can still be found to this day washed up in pieces on the beaches of Verde Island. The island was occupied by a small Japanese force in WW2; some locals can take you on a guided walk to some cannons that were left behind after the war.
The day trip from Marco Vincent dive resort departs at 7:30am. The breakfast starts at 6am and once you have enjoyed some bacon, eggs and toast it is time to board the pride of the Marco Vincent fleet. The 82ft foot long Big Beth is a vessel to be very proud of. Equipped with all the latest marine instruments the boat is prepared to be used as a liveaboard going to places like Coron and Apo Reef.
As we make the one hour 15 minute ride along the Verde passage you can feel the envious eyes of other dive boats as they watch our guests stretch out on board dipping freshly baked cookies into hot cups of tea and coffee. On the way over you can sometimes see Spinner dolphins looking for food in the converging currents. They often put on a little show for our guests by jumping out of the water, spinning multiple times before crashing back into the water.
The most famous dive on Verde Island is known as the Pinnacle or Drop off. The site is about half a mile from the shoreline on the South East tip of the Island. You can see three rocks sticking out of the surface. The reason why this place is so good is because millions of fish that live here like the current as it brings in nutrient rich water so they can feed. The current can be as strong as 6 knots, usually for 3 days after the full moon the currents are at their strongest. During these times the diving is better suited for advanced divers. For the rest of the month it is good for divers of all abilities. Just make sure you listen to your dive guides and be aware of what is going on around you.
Marco Vincent dive resort does 2 dives at the Pinnacle, after a thorough briefing our staff will help prepare our guests for the dive. In maximum groups of 5 guests per dive guide we enter the water via a giant stride or if you prefer you can enter the water first before we pass the BCD to you in the water.
It is sometimes hard to explain just how good the diving is at the Pinnacle. The south wall is simply magnificent. As soon as you descend you are mesmerized by the amount of orange Anthias that fill the water, if scientists did a count here I wouldn’t be surprised if the number reached a couple of million. You can see them in the current, ducking and weaving as they gobble up the plankton as it flies towards them. If you look up you will see hundreds of the Red tooth trigger fish in the mid water column. As you start to drift you will notice the topography of the site is also different than usual. The reef in places looks like it’s made out of square building blocks. There are a lot of sponges and tunicates, for some reason the Nembrotha Milleri and Cristata nudibranch at Verde Island are supersized versions compared to theones that you seearound Puerto Galera. As you get towardsthe business end of the wall you will see some large sea fans, some twisted into strange shapes after years of being hit by tons of passing water. In the fans you can see Threadfin Hawk fish and tiny skeleton shrimp. With the deep blue fast approaching you will see a few different smaller pinnacles shaped like huge dragons teeth, watch out for Scorpion fish as they use their camouflage to blend into the reef. Be aware of down currents as you reach this area, stick with you guide and stay the same level as him. Once you are around the corner take a look back and enjoy the massive schools of fish. You can see the Oriental sweetlips, the school of Jacks rotating in a prefect ball, the Low Fin drummers, the Snappers, the Spotted Sweetlips, the Fusiliers and also the Giant Trevely patrolling, looking for a weak fish struggling in the current. Wow all this excitement in just one dive.
After a swift pick up everybody is back on board, everyone has a hot face towel and some relaxing ginger tea. After a fresh water shower you get a nice laundered towel. The snacks are passed around, more tea, coffee or soda if you wish. Also a chance to re charge camera batteries and change lenses in our dry area. Is all this possible with any other operation I hear you ask, the answer is no :).
Our second dive is on the north east corner of the pinnacle, the topography is a lot different but still very interesting. You have the main pinnacles which break the surface and then the reef slopes down onto different plateau’s. These areas are great for some large Table corals to grow, there are some huge sea fans down at around 80ft/26m. You have a good chance to see Hawksbill turtles eating the sponges and large groupers lurking in the deep. Banded sea kraits are also a common sight, some of which can be 6 feet long. Look out as for a couple of Warty Frogfish that hang out around 50ft/15m. Once you get back to the end of the Pinnacle you can again watch the magical schooling fish show before heading to shallower water. The shallows are mind blowing with the additional sunlight giving the reef an almost rainbow glow. The tropical fish are in abundance, schools of Moorish idols, regal angel fish, orange stripped triggerfish, peacock groupers, honey damsel fish and many more. The coral gardens start at around 15ft/5m, the picturesque patches of Zenia corals sway in the current. The safety sausages have been launched and it’s back on the boat for lunch.
The chef on board cooks up a real storm. A delicious hot soup to start before a wonderful selection of main course options. These include BBQ chicken and pork belly, grilled tuna, stuffed calamari, chicken curry, pancit canton, white rice, green salad and freshly sliced fruits. After the great lunch, it’s time for a little rest; there are plenty of areas on board to get your head down for a while.
We enjoy one last dive on an enthralling day trip. We sometimes dive the washing machine which is located on the south west corner of Verde Island. This can be a roller coaster of a dive. The site is made up of some small canyons in which you can hide from current. There is also plenty of good stuff to see, there are many crinoids so you see ornate ghost pipefish and crinoid shrimps. Around the tube sponges you can see Giant frogfish. In the crevices you see white eyed moray eels. The top of the reef is covered with soft corals and anemones.
So the diving day is over and we make the trip back over to White beach, we celebrate an amazing day with a couple of cold beers and a choice of cocktails. As we approach the resort we watch the setting sun drop lower in the sky. Life is very good indeed. Don’t miss out on this day trip of a lifetime on your next stay at Marco Vincent dive resort.