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“Unwelcome houseguests”

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Magic Island Dive Resort
Certificate of Excellence
Rockhampton, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Unwelcome houseguests”
Reviewed 6 May 2014

after an overnight flight we arrived to what looked like a fairly pleasant place, however our first encounter was with the so called dive supervisor, rude , stand offish and basically negative from word go, no clue how to deal with people and showed little to no respect for people who had extremely high qualifications and experience, fundamentally treated as brand new beginner divers. From this first meeting the trend with the expat staff continued and we felt as though we were unwelcome guests in a private house. The mattresses were so hard that the wooden floor became an attractive option after the third night of waking up with spasms i our lower back, the final two nights i actually slept better on the floor. The "divemasters" are actually not that even though they are advertised as being that, they are what appears to be hastily trained rescue divers, while as locals they were friendly and charming they lacked the education, experience and skill that comes with proper training, with 3 qualified instructors owning and operating the resort it was disappointing to learn the staff were not being afforded proper opportunity. The Dive briefings were basic and the picture on the board never changed just the name of the site, on one particular dive there is a cave that has a significant current leading into it, this was not mentioned during the brief, and the "dive master" did not even notice when i entered, a beginner diver would have ended up in serious trouble in the same situation. The diving generally was average, while there were a few interesting things, both the coral and marine critters can be seen elsewhere in better condition and more prolific. The food while being quite good was overpriced and undersized, the same meals 3 times the size for half the price can be found a ten minute tricycle ride in the main drag of town. The local staff were the only redeeming feature, friendly and charming they were a delight, but as far as management and operation go after 23 years diving, training and traveling, I have not seen one this bad.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank lattitude2027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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164 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (31)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 May 2014

I have the privilege of experiencing Magic Island Dive Resort from two different aspects, one as a diver/customer staying with and two as a dive shop owner bringing a group of divers to the resort. From the beginning it was clear to us Magic Island is the resort we wanted to visit. We narrowed our results to two operators in the Philippines. We met Arie and Desiree first, the owners of Magic Island, and that was it. We didn't even talk with the second. Later I found out the other operator we were considering is also excellent, but different.

As a group leader Magic Island is a dream. From working with Arie and Desiree to book the resort, to finalizing everything and the details along the way with Concheng, the resort manager or as we called here The Lady. Because we were a larger group (20), I had people arriving from different places at different times. Even when I was going mad keeping it all together, Concheng never missed a beat, was patient and extremely helpful. Needles to say, before even getting there, I was excited about the experience here from a service standpoint.

As a group leader I take pride in finding great places and resorts for my guests to enjoy. My customers' experience is my responsibility. Usually it is not a difficult task. We go to cool places with great people and we all love diving. Magic Island's staff, however, created something different. They took service to a different level, and most of the people on the trip expressed to me how this was the greatest dive experience and maybe vacation of their life.

We arrived at 4 am to the resort. They arranged picking us up at Cebu airport. It was pretty easy and straight forward. The drive to the resort is about 2.4 to 3 hours depending on when you arrive. We had no traffic at 2 am and the drive, I thought, was pretty cool. Upon arriving at the resort (12 of the 20 of us) there were maybe 10 staff members still awake and awaiting our arrival. You would think a couple people would check you in and then you would get some sleep. Not if you didn't want to. They had some amazing snacks for us prepped at 4 am and drinks. Each of the staff took the time to introduce themselves by name and learn our names. Imagine, they have about 34 or 37 staff members. By the second or third day each one of them knew most of the guests names, and the staff that interacted with us regularly, knew all 20 of our names. I love that!

Within a short time, they knew what we liked to drink, eat, etc. The best part of getting up in the morning is coming down to the water and not even being asked how I would like my coffee, it just came to me the way I loved it every morning. I heard that from many people in my group. The food and drinks at this place are incredible. The meals prepared for breakfast, lunch and dinner blew my taste buds away. If you have a dietary limitation, they will do their best to make sure you still eat well. We had a few vegetarians in the group who claimed it was the best vegetarian food ever. Gluten free was a struggle at first, but they were determined to get it down and they did.

So we have ridiculously good food, unimaginable service and we have not even started diving. The first day, as all my dive trips seem to go, was a bit of chaos as we learned their system. The best thing is, they just let us be in our chaos and were always there to answer questions, assist with gear, tanks or anything you wanted. I'm pretty sure if I asked, they would have had someone kick my legs for me while diving. Which bring me to the diving and their way of running the dive operation.

This trip was my first trip diving east Asia. I found the diving to be indescribable. I very much love the big, pelagic animals of the Socorro Islands and was worried about 10 days of macro diving. I have to tell you, i was hooked after day 1. Every single dive I would come up having seen something I have never seen before. Every dive. And I would listen to the other divers and see their pictures. I realized when I left it would be a miracle if I saw .01% of the critters they have all within 3 to 20 minute boat rides. The guides all take their time and make it a point to point out things and wait for everyone to see. Ok granted, our photographers and non photographers butted heads a few times as to who really is the king of the ocean, but all is squared away and everyone is a photographer ;) On the boats they always had coffee, bananas and fresh mango for us. The mangoes are spectacular. The crew is fun and joke with us. By the end of the trip, I really felt we were visiting family and friends and going diving. The best part, you literally can dive 24/7. We did early dawn dives, late night dives. It doesn't matter. We just let them know, and they make it happen. My favorite sites FYI are Gobi Point and Pescador Island at night. Gobi just rocks.

Besides the diving, they arranged a day of snorkeling with Whale Sharks for us. It was a great experience to be with them, but a bit overcrowded and . . . That said, not Magic Island's control. The day they took us there they even brought fruit, coffee, towels. Everything they do is above and beyond. One day we hiked the Kawasan Falls. An awesome, awesome, awesome trip. Make sure you can handle starting at level 6 if you decide to do it. Our entire group decided to do level 6. With each other's help and mainly the guides, we did it. Again, at the end, you are at this beautiful waterfall and they prepare an impressive BBQ for you. You hike back to the jeepnies and back at the resort for more diving.

I get it. Like any place, I could sit here and say they could do this, or do that, but what do I know. I spent 10 days there and would go back and spend another 100 if they let me. As a customer, I felt treated like royalty. In the world of service, they would get 7 out of 5 stars. The accommodations are perfect! The rooms are clean, elegant and simple. No TVs in the room, which is great. I didn't spend much time in there anyway. I found the beds very comfy. For me, the rooms had everything I needed, nothing more and nothing less. The arrangement of the resort is excellent. It's a smaller cozy place, but it is easy to get away from the group if you like. I force my guests to be together 24/7 so that didn't matter ;).

If all the resort's ammenities are not enough, no problem. Want a massage. Great. They will arrange it for you whenever you want and the masseur comes to the resort and rejuvenates your dive tired body. Want a mani or pedi cure, no problem. Want to rent a motorcycle for the day, great they will arrange it. They really are there for you to have an unforgettable experience. I never heard the words "No Problem" so often in my life when making requests. As you can see, as a group leader, this was easy for me. My guests were so well take care of, I could have slept the 10 days I was there, and they still would have felt I put together a gem of a trip.

So to Arie, Desiree, Concheng, Joe and the entire team. Thank you! you deserve more than 5 dots filled in, but if represents maximum spectacularism, you earned it.Hope to see you soon.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ScubaRami
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nieuwendijk, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
437 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 April 2014

We have stayed here several times. This resort is beautifully situated on the shore at Moalboal on the island of Cebu. It is small but well maintained, decorated with many flowers, a beautiful pool and an excellent restaurant. Both the (Dutch) owners and the staff are friendly on all fronts. The food is sometimes simple but always delicious, with lots of fresh produce, and both the menu and the daily special offer sufficient possibilities.
The cabins are cozy and the beds are good. However, you sometimes startled awake as the Tokay Geckos make noise at night, but it never lasts long and it's a beautiful sound (we still miss).
The resort is patronized mostly by Dutch guests.
The resort is a great dive. The trips by boat are well organized and the diving is superb. There is also a beautiful house reef.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Fedor-and-Rivka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SF Bay Area
Level Contributor
31 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2014 via mobile

Diving, top notch macro with some bigger stuff. This was our first trip to SE Asia so many critters were new to us. When DMs have hand signals for frogfish and ghost pipefish I am very impressed, two critters we had never seen before.

Diving was well managed without being tightly controlled, dive until your air is low. DMs spotted the small stuff all the time, stuff my camera saw better than I did. Fabulous coral. Easy access for snorkeling or night dives on house reef right in front of Magic Island.

Staff is personal, friendly, understands your food and diving interests. We loved the international guests, we were the only Americans for our week. A fine dive bar right in the middle of things, group dinners where you really get a chance to chat with fellow guests. The all inclusive plan is a deal.

Go dive, stay and eat with the folks at Magic Island.

Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank DuaneK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
El Nido, Philippines
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2014 via mobile

After reading so many fantastic reviews about Magic Island I was really excited about our stay, but walked away from out stay very disappointed. Like many of the other reviewers I found the diving to be amazing (as it is from every other dive shop on the area) but the accommodation was very basic for the price, the food was ok, and most staff were really lovely. And I have to agree with other reviewers that we also had staff try and push us into the set dinners, and when we decided not to we also were forced to order at 4pm so as not to inconvenience the kitchen. The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of customer service when paying our bill on the last day, as the price we were initially quoted for diving was much higher on our bill. After reminding the manager of her initial quote she responded that it must have been a miscommunication. When I pushed her again to remind her exactly what she had quoted me she eventually very begrudgingly agreed to reduce the cost by P25 per dive (approx USD 0.50). On our bill of USD2500 I unsurprisingly wasn't impressed. For a resort that charges the prices they do I would expect a much higher level of customer service, and am seriously disappointed with my stay there. I would recommend guests who value customer service and value for money to look elsewhere.

Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank Travelbugtime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 March 2014

Any place I have reviewed before that I gave an excellent to should be downgraded. Magic Island is amazing. Diving is world class. Dive guides were terrific. Gourmet food was beyond plentiful and excellent. I would like to have Fred the chef cook for me all the time. The staff is beyond amazing. They are friendly and knew every person's name in our 18 person group by the end of the first day we were there. I can not say enough good things about Magic Island. Don't go anywhere else!

Room Tip: Sorry--no fitness center
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ilovetodive
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1 review
Reviewed 18 February 2014

I recently spent 10 days at Magic Island with a group of divers mostly from Chicago and we had a wonderful time. Our hosts, Desiree and Ari, were wonderful. The staff was extremely attentive to our every need and they all knew all our names by our second day. The rooms are clean and roomy. Everyone has a porch and the views are lovely.

The food was served family style was plentiful and delicious. The head of their dive operations, Jo was wonderful and always accommodating as were all the dive masters. Jo even dived with us a couple of times with her devil horn dive cap. I even did a dive with Desiree. We often got to choose dive sites that we wanted to go back to.

Just so you know Desiree and Ari don't greet you and disappear they're often mingling with their guests. Right now they're building a second resort so while they may not always be around their staff is so wonderful they don't need to be.

If you're expecting a 5 star luxury resort this isn't it. But true dive resorts rarely are and this is a true dive resort. I look forward to returning to the Philippines and check out the new place when it is finished in a couple of years.

Room Tip: The resort is basically cottages. There is one two story cottage, I stayed in the upper cottage. The...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank BethPL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Magic Island Dive Resort

Property: Magic Island Dive Resort
Address: Tongo, Basdiot, Moalboal 6032, Philippines
Region: Philippines > Visayas > Cebu Island > Moalboal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 34 Speciality Lodging in Moalboal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Magic Island Dive Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Away from the masses, you'll have a wonderful stay in one of our ten cottages. Enjoy a great dinner in our restaurant or have a drink on our terrace with its magnificent view of Pescador Island. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Magic Island Dive Hotel Moalboal
Magic Island Dive Resort Moalboal, Philippines - Cebu Island

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