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Cabilao – Small island, big impression

The soft current is taking our hand and guides us along the edge of the reef. Our eyes wander towards a gorgonian the size of a hand. There! One, two, three, … six, seven! We are counting seven pygmy seahorses in the narrowest space – simply record-breaking. Well camouflaged they defy all adversities, clutching their tails around the gorgonians and smoothly swaying back and forth in the current. These tiny creatures are easy to miss. Fortunately, our dive guide has a well-trained eye for what makes a diver’s heart beat faster.

David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO • PT-EP11 
• PPO-EP01 • 2 x UFL-3 

The Philippines is a place where the maritime macrocosm wildly unfolds its complex beauty. So, of course it has been attracting divers for many years. The diving locations in the North of the so-called Coral Triangle, the mother of all reefs, are well known for their bizarre critters and microorganisms – a nudibranch paradise and hot spot for underwater photographers. The islands of the Philippines – a gift of the gods? According to legend, the gods were so enthusiastic about their creation of the first Philippine island that they just created more than 7000 of these islands and thereby formed the Philippines. Surely, this is just a myth, but still these countless tropical islands offer enough reasons to believe in this incredibly beautiful legend. 

David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO • PT-EP11 
• PPO-EP01 • 2 x UFL-3

If you travel to the Philippines, you will be spoilt for choice: 7107 Islands full of contrasts make this country one of the mostly frequented travel destinations in Asia. So, where to go? If you are a Philippines expert or a person looking for a very calm and peaceful destination, Cabilao will be the place to go. This small island is far from mass tourism and located in the so-called Cebu Strait between the islands of Cebu and Bohol. The tourism industry on the around 8 square kilometres forming Cabilao Island has a manageable size. You will find a few resorts but no hustle and bustle. Far from any commercialisation and mass tourism, hectic life and masses of divers are nowhere to be found. So, it comes as no surprise that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has declared the island a marine park and official nature reserve. As a consequence, the protected and healthy reefs here accommodate nearly everything that has name and fame in the tropical reefs. 

Already on our first dive here, we were fascinated by an Ocean of all colours and exceptional creatures. Macro-photographers are able to catch sight of countless tiny creatures like nudibranchs, wire coral shrimps or gobies.

David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO • PT-EP11 
• PPO-EP01 • 2 x UFL-3

Without doubt: it’s the small things that have a big show here. But that’s not all. Eels, the famous Nemo and bright yellow rocking fish will probably cross your way. At the so-called “Chapel Point” you have the possibility to dive through canyons flooded with light to reach an awe-inspiring chapel.

David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO • PT-EP11 
• PPO-EP01 • 2 x UFL-3

But besides all these underwater wonders, you should also take some time to explore your onshore surroundings when travelling to Cabilao Island. The neighbor island Bohol, for instance, offers a huge and exceptional flora and fauna which is very rich in species including the funny tarsier. With its tiny body and big wide eyes it will delight not only adults but also kids. So why not take your camera onshore for a walk? Bohol became famous for the so-called “Chocolate Hills”, which is a very astonishing and surreal hilly area in the middle of the island. It is a bizarre and legendary area consisting of 1268 conical limestones that are attracting thousands of curious tourists from the whole world. At least it´s time to take your camera and catch up all the big impressions on this tiny little island, isn´t it?

Melanie Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm 1:2.8 PPO