As I watch the broadly smiling divers emerge laughing with one another from the clear waters of the Isla Verde Passage, mere meters away from my beach side suite, I reflect how wonderful a country the Philippines is. The setting, style and attitude of Scandi Divers, Sabang, and Oriental Mindoro does perfect justice to that Wonder. It’s difficult to believe when one lives in a mega-city such as Manila that within just a few short hours by road and ferry (2-3 hours road and 1 hour ferry, no flying necessary - as organised for me by the superb people at the Cloud Air travel agency www.cloudtravel.com) one can be in a place as seemingly remote and tropical as this.
Scandi Divers and its sister resort (next door but one) Campbell’s Beach Resort (facilities are available from both resorts to guests of either) are the perfect resorts to enjoy this treasure of a location. Located on Big La Laguna Beach, just a few minutes by Bike or small Bangka Boat (the local style of outrigger boat - plenty available, approx. 200php for the journey) takes you away from the busy area around Sabang 'proper'. This journey is also just a fifteen - twenty minute pleasant, leisurely stroll along the seafront from Big La Laguna beach for later visits where there is plenty of nightlife for those that want it (as opposed to the quiet tranquility of Big La Laguna beach), providing options for all types of travelers.
It is a lovely place for all at Big La Laguna beach but the true appeal of Scandi Divers and Sabang is the sub-aquatic realm. Located at the South West end of the Isla Verde Passage there are dive sites here (such as the Verde Island) that take one to a world of Marine beauty such as the tropical oceans of the distant past must have offered. A mind bending diversity of coral life, which impresses even the most experienced of divers. There have been certified sightings of Thresher sharks as well as being known as the Nudibranch capital of the World! The area was designated by UNESCO in the 1970's as an area of outstanding marine beauty and one of the most diverse marine environments in Asia if not the world.
Since the 1970's however, the area has developed considerably, and on many sites (although certainly not all) there have been a number of environmental events, such as typhoons, coral bleaching and a crown of thorns starfish invasion so the unique pristine environment (like EVERY place on earth, no exceptions) has changed somewhat over the intervening years. This is as inevitable as it is lamentable but the area is still highly notable for its beauty. It has weathered the 'tourist' boom and environmental knocks better than most places and conservation efforts from individuals and dive centers, with Scandi Divers leading the efforts in many cases, have helped to repair and limit some of the worst excesses. There are not, however, any other places that I know of that can compete with this level of beauty so easily accessible, so reasonably priced (if not flat cheap!) from such a large capital city.
I have travelled here with the excellent Philippines Cloud Air Travel and Tours company a number of times now and each time I fall in love with the place a little more, I even brought my family and friends here after my recent wedding in nearby Batangas, all were very impressed with the service and facilities.
Big La Laguna beach is a community. The travelers who come here return time and time again, expats who visited in the 1970's have never left! There are so many friendly people full of stories of the 'old days' when the beach was nothing but traditional nipa huts! All this creates such an informal and relaxed, friendly setting that one cannot help but feel part of this fantastic community. Adventurers who travel alone cannot help but make friends here, travelers in groups will relish the level of service dedicated to make everyone, wherever you’re from, whoever you are, feel as comfortable and cared for as possible all at such reasonable rates.
Scandi Divers and Campbell’s beach resort is the perfect destination for both domestic and international travelers alike. The diving instructors are second to none in professionalism and skill, the resort staff are friendlier than I have encountered ever before and the operation runs flawlessly.
For me, Scandi Divers feels like a home from home, I defy you to not feel that way after a visit here.