And I would have given 6 stars if I could have ;)
Where even to start- Cebu Dive Center is one of the best diving operations I have ever paid a visit to:
In July (2014) me and my significant other have been diving in Malapascua and since our next stop was going to be Moalboal for some more diving, we were planning our trip ahead and already searched the internet for some inputs on diving operations in Moalboal. As Westeners we do pay a lot of attention to safety standards and professionality. Since there are quite some western-run and professionally appearing diving operations in/around Moalboal, we finally relied on the best rated diving operation on tripadvisor (5 / 5 stars), that's how we first came across Cebu Dive Center in Moalboal.
Gladly, I called in advance (actually because we wanted to stay in one of their 2 available rooms located right at the dive center) so even though both of the rooms were occupied, Cameron- the manager of Cebu Dive Center- knew when the two of us were coming for diving and promised to squeeze us in, for a rather big group of 7 people had already booked in advance and thus occupied most of the seats on the only boat available.
I say 'gladly' because Cameron actually had to ask a few customers to postpone their diving requests until the big group had left and everyone would fit onto the boat.
(I personally really appreciate such a safety first-approach, and Cameron told us the next major investment will be a second boat and more rental diving equipment to suit (:D) more customers at the same time)
Not surprisingly, even the turned-down customers returned after one or two days with an even bigger craving for Moalboal's awesome dive sites and the opportunity to discover them with CDC - every single one we met during our 8 or 9 nights in Moalboal was more than happy when they were able to join the group. I think that's mainly due to 2 reasons:
1.many backpackers looking for the cheapest diving option in Moalboal find themselves directed towards Cebu Dive Center. Once they arrive, they actually find out that CDC not only is the cheapest but also the very best diving option in Moalboal-a balance most seldomly to be found. Of course it's hard to tell professionality from a mere first impression, but there definitely is something about Cameron and his crew that makes you trust them and wanting to listen to their stories and go share some really memorable underwater and after water adventures with them. CDC became our home-base from the very first moment we arrived and Joy ( CDC's fairy for basically everything,see below) even offered to show us around to find the most suitable accomodation for our budget on the first evening we arrived and even called Cameron (the manager) from his dinner table to get us introduced. If that's not polite and helpfully friendly then I'm out of guesses.
2.CDC's team consists of Cameron, instructor himself but mostly the manager (great guy, will come back to him later), Bro (dive master for many a year, about to become instructor himself very soon), Jojo (also divemaster and great diving guide), the little bit grumpy but very helpful Danny (occupied most of the time refilling tanks but also led some of our dives), the amazing Joy ( good fairy behind the bar and taking care of pretty much everything else-providing towels and orange juice for each guest after getting off the boat, ordering lunch for hungry guests,and so on) and Jocelyn (sharing Joy's duties but has to cut down a little bit due to her pregnancy).
So,basically, the core team is rather small but this gives room for as much flexibility concerning dive sites, rental gear etc etc as one could ever ask for.
In addition, there are 2-3 freelancing diving instructors providing Open water and all imaginable kind of requested diving certifications (not only PADI): if you're looking for the real Bavarian-freelancing-diving-experience (loveable, stubborn, really humorous and yet highly professional) and are thinking about taking a diving course - ask for Michael, you will not regret it.
There are also some freediver courses practicing on CDC's house reef so you simply cannot get bored.
Maybe this very personal atmosphere and high flexibility of the staff are some of the advantages of being a small diving operation but I was stunned how absolutely uncomplicated and-again, but can't stress this enough- flexible the whole diving teams was: we asked for some specific diving sites and the whole team tried their very best to fulfill our wishes...that's not only customer service mindedness but rather an attitude they pretty well succeed in obtaining towards each individual customer.
Not that we've been diving with other operations in Moalboal to provide a neutral view but we couldn't even think of it, as the crew alone is worth at least a visit for a beer or two (be careful with Joy and the Tanduay Rhum after dark every once in a while though- tiny adorable lady with a lion's heart and the drinking abilities of a fully grown man ;D):
Cameron, one of the genuinely nicest, most interesting and simply most hilarious human beings I have ever had the honour of meeting; of American-British heritage and a lot of experience and stories (you'll be surprised!) to share ;) married to the most gorgeous wife he could possibly fall in love with :)
My significant other had the honour of doing his PADI Advanced Course 1 on 1 with Cameron who recommended the best adventure dives possible to him (i.e. Videography for which he lent him his private GoPro and provided some very useful tips on filming underwater/editing the footage afterwards and even managed to get a videoclip of me and my boyfriend as a couple under water...:D happy days!!)..we're still feeling honoured to have met such a memorable, unique human being with such enormous passion and love for what he's been doing at least the last 1.5decades.
Noteworthy that Cameron has been managing CDC only for about half a year now and already issued more diving certifications than the previous manager in the whole year past.
Then there's Bro, the superattentive and shockingly nice Dive guide, you won't miss the tiniest seahorses or shrimpfish in his company.
There's an aura of deep respect towards even the smallest clownfish and nudibranches he will discover.
The same with Jojo-you feel safe and taken care of right from the start and can fully enjoy your dive. He's also really funny and you will have a great time.
Everyone at CDC happily provided us with recommendations for food (try Maya's Native Garden- very delicious Mexican Food and Pleasure Principle) / attractions (go see a cockfight in Moalboal's Arena and visit the Kawasan Falls!), an affordable tricycle for a day tour etc.etc...they make you feel welcome and in a strange way home, ~1200 km away.
The dive sites themselves are stunningly beautiful (there's a description of each dive site and prices as well provided on the CDC-website) and the best I've seen so far: so many colours, turtles, fish and corals...
Make sure you don't miss the plane wreck at Umbrella and Tongo!
And of course don't miss the shore dive on the house reef with the amazing schools of sardines! Incredible experience!
The sardines even attract dolphins and thresher sharks every now and then, all in all awesome!
Water temperature was never below 28ºC but be sure to wear a wetsuit as there might be some tiny invisible jellyfish every now and then.
Cameron told us that they're planning on opening a second operation around Mactan- I wish them all the best for this enterprise and their future, we already know we'll be returning next year again to Moalboal.
If there's 2 suggestions/tips I may offer to CDC's team, they are as follows:
1. it would profitable to maybe increase prices for diving for ~10% or so, as quality deserves its price and diving would still be very cheap but I'm convinced that there are great options in reinvesting in CDC.
2. A little debriefing right after each dive for everyone interested on which fish/animals they saw during the dive, as well as feedback on certain behaviours/occurences under water:
Dragging rather unexperienced divers away from the corals in order to protect the latter is appropriate for an instructor leading a dive group, just like waiting with someone for his decompression stop to end because he simply didn't stick to the agreed maximum depth - but talking about it afterwards and pointing out misbehaviours as well as offering tips in return might be worth thinking about.
If at all, that's the only thing we may have missed during our unforgettable experience at Cebu Dive Center in Moalboal.
Thank you again for everything- it was our pleasure and a bloody honour sharing these happy days with you all :)
P.S.: heads up for a little advise on accomodation: we stayed the last 1 or 2 nights I think at CDC's double room and it was the best deal you can possibly get in Moalboal. Nice, clean, big room, wifi and aircon and the best starting point for your 8am dive ;)
If both the rooms are occupied, try Pacitas Beach Hotel, a 6-minute walk away but worth it ;)
All the best from Conny&Lukas
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.