The Philippines offers an excellent variety of dives across its many islands. During a 2013 trip WorldScubaTravel was based at 2 islands, staying at the
excellent Atlantis Resorts, in Sabang on Oriental Mindoro, and Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Islands. We were there barely 2 weeks before Typhoon Haiyan
barreled through leaving a wake of destruction, though the areas we stayed at were fortunately spared.
At both locations, dives were typically a few minutes by boat from the resorts (with the exception of roughly 1 hour trips to Verde Island
- off of Puerto Galera, and Apo Island - off of Dumaguete. The two dive locations were vastly different from each other; Puerto Galera
consisted mostly of reefs & walls, while Dumaguete was mostly sand with some artificial reefs; a prime location for muck diving: searching in
the sand & scant cover for octopus, sea-horses, stonefish, etc., though larger fish, including barracuda, frequented certain locations.
Interestingly, during 2 weeks of intensive diving, we did not see sharks or other pelagics; apparently overfishing, including using dynamite
had cleared most these fish out & they have not returned. Still, there was plenty to see in the soft & hard coral as well as small critters lurking
under the sand or small obstacles.
The two islands were stunning & different; with diverse fish, abundant hard & soft coral & plenty of small sealife. If you love nudibrancs
these sites had a wide variety. The coral is dense & in good shape & there were a few small to medium sized wrecks.
Many of the reef dives are drift & wall dives, but we stayed less than 90 ft, well within
the limits for the 32% NITROX we used.
The first video shows clips from various dive sites around Puerto Galera:
This next video is the Three Pinacles dive site off of Verde Island, an excellent day excursion that is a 1 hr boat ride from Puerto Galera.
From Puerto Galera, we flew to Dumaguete, staying about 1/2 hour outside of the city. This video shows a collage of various off-shore dive sites that are in protected areas to the south of
From where we stayed, a 1 hr boat ride will get you out to Apo Island, a protected marine reserve with great wall & drift dives. This video shows the terrain & the abundant sea-life.
Night dives give another perspective on the underwater scene & for something a bit different, try a fluorescent light night dive; it's a bit disorienting as you only see what's immediately in
the blue light (you look through yellow goggles), but it's another different perspective - if you plan to take video, use a yellow filter on the camcorder lens.
Finally, while not a dive, an early morning excursion by bus & ferry will get you to Oslob, where Whale Sharks hang out in 30ft (10m)
depth just off shore from a rocky beach. We spent 1 hr snorkeling with these gentle giants while boats fed them. We were back at the resort by 2 PM.
A humbling & unforgetable experience much more enjoyable than the Cancun/ Holbox Whale Shark tour elsewhere on WorldScubaTravel.com.
In summary, I highly recommend the Philippines; the people were warm & friendly & the resorts excellent. We were extremely saddened by the damage
from the Typhoon less than 2 weeks after we left & wish them a speedy recovery.