A prime destination for diving, the ocean wrapped around the 7000 islands of the Philippines drew me in and sucked me under. I couldn’t get enough of the underwater life in this tropical haven of divers and locals alike basking in the colourful activity under the sea like a new age Shark Tale set. With so much variety in dives, locations and diving intentions, it was a total task and a half to find a place that was right for me. One thing’s for sure, you may be unlucky with clarity, maybe the area is busy or the price is above average but what ever the case may be – you won’t be disappointed with diving in The Philippines.
“deep wrecks, to sharks and manta rays, macro life and everything in between”
It is impossible to be disappointed in this tropical set of islands and if by some crazy phenomena you are, then I need to know what impresses you and where you dive because I can’t imagine I’d be in want of a refund in any of the filipino dream dive spots around the country. Each place has its own value from deep wrecks, to sharks and manta rays, macro life and everything in between. It’s like a playground for divers.
Being a budget traveller I wanted to scouse out the best price for diving, and find a good spot to go with it. No point paying half the price to inevitably see half action. I wanted the best of both worlds, and that is definitely what I got! I ended up getting the cheapest price available, through countless hours of researching, haggling and comparing. I also managed to get the most incredible experiences with every dive, and through talking with other divers and locals, was told that the place I choose was one of the best diving locations in the country. I met one diver who had currently been travelling around the Philippines for a month and thought his best dives hands down were in Sabang Beach, Puerto Galera.
Puerto Galera is a quick ferry ride from Batangas, South of Manila which generally has the cheapest flights. I say a quick ferry, and I also mentioned cheapest, but of course things don’t always go smoothly on the road – or on the water either! I had to pay a whole lot more to get the most run down looking, half floating few pieces of wood tied together with an engine hanging on for dear life, because it was Christmas Day and there wasn’t any ferries running. Although off to a rocky start, upon my arrival I immediately let go of any tension I had worked up on the journey getting there. I was in paradise. With the shore at my feet as I woke up each morning, I grabbed my diving equipment and headed straight for the water.
“our dive master who had been diving for 10 years said it was in his top 5 dives”
Each day I had a meeting with beautiful new fish I had never seen before. Known as critter heaven, there were also turtles and sting rays, octopus and giant frog fish there to greet you. It was never a dull day. What’s even better is that everything was so close to the vicinity of the dive shop. Although I went to a couple of different locations, I never had to travel far in the speed boat, and always found I was in the water in the most efficient time space, which allowed for efficient diving.
After a couple of days I ended my Filipino dives on a night dive, which was probably the best. Not only because it was so much more exhilarating to do a wreck dive in the dark, but because we were incredibly lucky with what we saw. Popper fish, lion fish, longnosed emperors and masked morays to name but a few. Our dive master who had been diving for 10 years said it was in his top 5 dives. I thought he may have been shrewdly exaggerating but once we all gathered on the boat afterwards, it seems everyone was on cloud 9. What a great way to finish it off.
Along the shore of Sabang beach there are an array of diving shops to choose from, as well as some great restaurants and bars to fill up on after a day of diving. I stayed in a gorgeous apartment on the shore, with a balcony over looking the beautiful horizon that I came home to every night. There was no reason to even leave this stretch of beach, and as always in the Philippines, everything is SO cheap.
“introduce yourself to the Filipino fish”
Although if you do pry yourself away from diving for an afternoon, you’ll be welcomed to even more exhilarating adventure. Tamaraw Waterfall is home to some stunning views, and a beautiful rock pool which you can swim in. Have lunch in the mountain and meet some of the indigineous people of the Island. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and to see some natural Filipino landscapes. Rent a motorbike and ride there yourself, which shouldn’t take too long from Puerto Galera (an hour max).
I can’t stress enough how well the diving went here and how much I would recommend it to anyone. First timers to dive masters – it’s one for the list. Go, dive, explore, introduce yourself to the Filipino fish and then tell me about it. I want to know how well you get on and if it had the same influence on you as it did with me.
As I said, this is one of thousands of islands. It’s crazy to think how much diving can be done in and around the Philippines. I’m sure you have had the same experience in another part of the country, on another island somewhere, and I’d love to know where. Boracay, Oslab, Dumaguete and Malapascua are known for great dives, each having their own qualities. Have you been there, and delved into the diving experience of the Philippines? If you haven’t I’m just going to finish this post now, so you can go and book a flight this second. Don’t do anything until you have arranged a dive in the heart of Asia in the tropical waters all year round of the Philippines.
Want to read more about this beautiful country and what amazing adventures are on offer here? Have a read of my bucket list for The Philippines and see what you can add to your own adventure travel list!