4-day weekend with friends on Malapascua Island! We stayed at Tepanee Beach Resort (link). The owners are Italian, and take special care to make sure you are comfortable and well-fed for your entire stay. The restaurant at the hotel serves delicious regional Italian dishes, and there are a number of other European-owned restaurants on the Island. I don’t think we had a bad meal our entire stay! But food wasn’t the only highlight. The swimming, diving and beaches were just as amazing. Below – Malapascua Island is the only place in the world where you can predictably find Thresher Sharks. There is a cleaning station about 45 minutes from shore. The sharks feed on giant schools of sardines out in the deep water, and then come in for a nice cleaning. Maybe someday I’ll have the chance to watch the sharks feed. I can’t imagine a more amazing experience. Here’s a video, in case you are curious (link). You must rise well before sunrise to be out on the water early enough to see the sharks. On our way out, we even saw several sharks jumping out of the water as they chased fish! After a day of diving and sunshine, we enjoyed blended mango drinks, great company, beanbag chairs and a nice sunset. Looking back, it was one of those moments where all was right in the world, and you couldn’t ask for anything else.
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One of the coolest things I’ve ever done was booking a private plane for a 5-hour tour of Luzon. You can book your own tour with Jim Boyd at Navion Air (link). Starting at Jim’s private hanger, at Clark International Airport, we took off and climbed up above the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. Looking down into the lake that sits inside crater brought back memories of the time we hiked to the top, and went swimming inside. Heading north, we flew over the rice terraces near Baguio City. They are known as some of the largest and oldest rice terraces in the world. After that, we flew over to 100 Islands National Park, and then down to Iba, where we stopped for lunch, and went for a short walk on the beach. Going further south, we were able to look at our favorite protected bays and campgrounds from above. Finally, we made our way over our home in Subic Bay, and then back to Clark.
Below – A hot spring on the flanks of Mt. Pinatubo has been built into a Korean-Style bathhouse. Below – Looking into the crater of Mt. Pinatubo Below – Rice terraces near Baguio City Below – 100 Islands National Park Below – Reefs just barely submerged Below – Our plane parked at the Iba airstrip. Built in 1949 (64 years ago), our little four-seater comfortably carried Anne, her mom Sue, our pilot Jim, and I around for the day. With all the flying I do (I average about 75,000 miles per year), these were hands down the best. Too bad Navion Air isn’t part of the Star Alliance. Below – I can’t believe I used to live just a few miles from this! Some of my best memories were the times we would finish school on Friday, catch a quick boat down the coast, and be camping on an empty beach before sunset. Swimming in the bathtub-warm, and perfectly calm waters early the next morning was always the perfect way to completely relax after a week at work.
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