Sun

08

Mar

2015

How a Swiss Football Star Found Love in Sipalay, Philippines

Diving and Snorkeling in Sipalay, Philippines - I Dreamed Of This

He Came For a Diving Vacation  - But Stayed For a New Life

Ex-Football Star Christian Reinwald (left)
Ex-Football Star Christian Reinwald (left)

You never know where life as a travel writer will take you.  I came to Sipalay to relax and do some snorkeling - but I ended up stumbling into a real-life movie


Christian’s story is the stuff dreams are made of.  It is the tale of a handsome Swiss football star who came to Philippines to explore one of his great passions in life - diving.  Little did he know that what he found when he got there would change the course of his life…forever. 

It all began back in Switzerland, where Christian, a retiring football player, was planning on buying a house.  When he decided on a property that he liked, he was surprised to find that the owner, who was also a dive-enthusiast, wanted to sell him the house and everything in it as well. 

“You are leaving everything behind??”  Christian asked.  “Where are you going?”


 

 

The man smiled.  “The Philippines”, he replied.  “I’m going to build a dive resort there”.

“The Philippines??”



 

 

Christian was a bit baffled by this…after all, he knew of many beautiful islands around the world, but the Philippines wasn’t even on his radar.

Curious, Christian pressed the man for more information about this little-known island paradise.  After countless photos and stories about the warmth and beauty of the Philippines, Christian was convinced he needed to visit.  He ended up buying the house in Switzerland, but he told the man that when his dive resort opened there in Negros, Christian would be his very first guest.  

Well, being a foreigner who was mesmerized by the beauty of the Philippines myself, the rest of the story comes as no surprise to me at all.

 

Finding Love - and Building a Resort of His Own

Christian With His Beautiful Wife and Children
Christian With His Beautiful Wife and Children

When Christian finally paid a visit two years later, he fell deeply in love…not only with the stunning beaches and marine life of Sipalay, but also with a beautiful island girl who called it home. 

 

He sold his home in Switzerland and never looked back. 

Fast forward 15 years, and Christian has really put roots down in Sipalay.  Now married with a beautiful family, he built a dive resort of his own next door to his wife’s family.  It’s called “Easy Diving and Beach Resort”, and I was fortunate to be able to experience the place for myself!

 

In the early days, Christian told me there wasn't even a paved road going to the resort.  With a single motorbike and plenty of determination, he began to build his dream piece by piece.  What's impressive to me is the way he has been able to "meet in the middle" - blending his own culture with that of his wife's. 

 

As the property grew over the years, so did Christian's reputation as a world-class diver and host.  He even took a former Philippine President for a dive! 

 


 

Their Island Home

 

Christian had a vision for his perfect island life, and that meant finding a way to share his paradise with others. I was quite fortunate to be invited to see their home and resort for myself. The first thing I noticed is how well maintained it is…the tropical climate can really take its toll on some of these places, but not at Easy Diving. It really is beautiful - the attention to detail is unmistakable!  I think this is why it's one of the top-rated dive resorts in the Philippines.

 

The second thing I noticed was the stunning beach…here you have a front row seat for some of the most spectacular sunsets you may ever see in your life!  I actually came to Sipalay because an Australian friend told me it was the best sunset he'd ever seen.

 

 

Sunset on the Beach - Easy Diving and Beach Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines
Sunset on the Beach

(Click To Enlarge Photos)

Beach - Easy Diving Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines
Beach in Front of the Resort

Sipalay, on the island of Negros, can be accessed by a flight to Bacolod (most likely through Manila), then a 2-3 hour bus or shuttle (can be arranged through the resort). 

 

The name “Easy Diving” comes from the fact that many of the incredible dive and snorkeling spots can be found directly in front of the resort.  That means you don’t have to spend hours on the boat traveling between dive sites.

 

Don't let the name fool you - the resort is great for divers...but snorkelers, kayakers and beach-goers will appreciate it as well. 

 

 

Pictures From Around the Property

(Click To Enlarge)

Dive Safaris - The Experience of a Lifetime

Christian and Easy Diving also offer multi-day dive safaris, and I am very excited to come back and explore one of these adventures next time.  I noticed one of the safari boats being built on the shore (the last photo above), and it really got my imagination going!  How amazing would it be to explore these stunning dive sites in your very own pirate ship?  Yes, I dreamed of THAT.  

 

Excellent Cuisine

Of course, the attention to detail here also extends to the great food in the restaurant.  The Friday night buffet was a meal to remember!   The kitchen offers both Filipino and European cuisine, but I think there is more of an emphasis on European, as many guests come from EU countries.  Try the giant Schnitzel! By the way...German speakers will feel right at home here.

 

 (Click To Enlarge)

Impressive Diving & Snorkeling

I took the following photos with my Olympus TG-4 underwater camera…as you can see, there are a LOT of incredible corals and fish to see here in Sipalay!  I joined a few rewarding dive trips out on the boat, but also was impressed by the corals I saw just snorkeling near the shore. 

 

I even rented a kayak and paddled out to a marine sanctuary nearby - you can ask Christian or the staff about the snorkeling site at the corner of the bay.  I loved seeing the corals and marine life there - clown fish, pufferfish, harmless sea snakes, and two massive lion fish! 

 

If you are a diver looking for peace and quiet AND rewarding dives, this is the place for you. 

 

Brain Coral Underwater - Easy Diving and Beach Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines
Brain Coral Underwater - Easy Diving and Beach Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines



(Click To Enlarge)


(I will post a video with plenty of colorful fish and corals soon!  Follow along on FB for updates:)

Clown Fish and Sea Anemone - Easy Diving and Beach Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines
Clown Fish and Sea Anemone ( I Found Nemo!) - Easy Diving and Beach Resort

(Click To Enlarge)

Secluded Beach Next Door (kayaking) - Easy Diving and Beach Resort - Sipalay, Negros - Philippines
Secluded Beach Next Door (kayaking)

Conservation Efforts

One last thing I want to mention about Christian is his love for wildlife…and birds, specifically.  As you descend down the beautiful stairway to the resort, one of the first things you will notice is the sound of parrots in the distance. This is because along with conservationist Pavel Hospodarsky, he created the Punta Ballo Parrot Farm, and works with the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to protect and preserve many critically endangered and endemic Philippine bird species.

 

(Click To Enlarge)

 

 

I took a private tour of their operation (thanks, Pavel!), and I admire what they are doing very much.  Christian has also been actively involved in rehabilitating (and in some cases even creating) the corals there in Sipalay as well.  We need more people like Pavel and Christian in the world...please visit their links above for more info!

 

Truly an #idreamedofthis Experience

In closing, I would like to thank Christian and staff for hosting I Dreamed Of This! Exploring his resort was like diving right into someone's dream...what a unique experience!

 

Sipalay (and Negros in general) is truly somewhere I could see myself spending much more time in the future. It's perfect for those needing an escape from the monotony of day-to-day city life, and would certainly be an incredible place for a wedding or honeymoon as well!

 

Aside from everything else, Christian is just a really nice guy.  You can tell that years of island life have been good to him. 

Please say hi for me...

 

You can read reviews and check rates at Easy Diving Resort HERE

 

- Nathan Allen

Photo by Bicolano Man

(Like my FB page below to follow along with me!)




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Nathan Allen has spent 6 years taking photos and documenting life in Asia.  A long-term traveler, he lives by the motto "spend less, see more".  Follow him HERE.

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