In our experience, Puerto Galera is the most popular and energetic dive destination in the Philippines. Strong currents, huge diversity, exceptional macro… macro nuts are seriously going to love this place. And then there’s Verde Island… we challenge you to find a more fish populated dive site in the Philippines.
Puerto Galera is located on Mindoro, an island separated from mainland Luzon by the Verde Island Passage. It is situated 130 kilometers southwest of Manila so it is an easy couple of hours land transfer from Manila International airport then an hours crossing via banka boat. Around the coastal town of Puerta Galera is well known to tourists and locals alike mainly for scuba diving, beaches, a busy night life though many enjoy exploring the mountain ranges of central Mindoro.
The famous beaches of Puerto Galera are Sabang Beach and White Beach, with the former being popular with foreign tourists for diving and the latter seeing throngs of local travellers from the mainland, especially during weekends. Both places have numerous and varied types of accommodation strung along the edge of the shore and become alive at night with their many restaurant choices and bars. Puerto Galera itself is a sleepy town with a pleasant pier area where you can grab a coffee or sunset beer in one of its bistros and cafes and watch town life.?For those who would like an adventurous day off from diving, there are numerous choices from nature trips like mountain climbing, trekking, caving and waterfalls to island hopping, snorkeling and windsurfing.
Other resorts can easily arrange a ride on a carabao (water buffalo) pulled cart which crosses the countryside and traverses a small rivers. Similar trip are typically a whole day affair that invariably ends up at a waterfalls where you can enjoy a picnic time of local food specialtie and a chat with locals.
If you need a bit more adrenaline, trips can be arranged to the Extreme Sports Adventure park, who is more than happy to challenge anyone at go carting, mud cart, atv and paint balling. Another popular place with spectacular views of the bay is Ponderosa Adventure park (not for those vertigo challenged!) where we recommend you try the zipline (be prepared for screams!) and the canopy walk. To wind down you can enjoy a game of golf with fantastic views of Puerto Galera Bay… just know that if your ball does go off the green, you most probably won’t see it again!
The main difference in diving in Puerta Galera over other places is that due to the tidal currents and the way the land is shaped and where it is situated along the Verde Strait, it gets ‘flushed out’ twice a day by tidal currents. Divers will be based in nearby Sabang bay, Small or Big Lalaguna bay where the majority of dive sites are about 8-10 minutes away. From a divers perspective its one of the few places in the Philippines where you have to pay attention to the tide table. You can use this to your advantage so that a dive at Kilima Drift is a proper adrenaline dive! From a biological viewpoint, the tides changes promotes the most amazing diversity if marine creatures to exist.
Canyons with its washing machine currents, soft and hard coral around Hole in the Wall and Alma Jane wreck where we’ve had fantastic wide angle opportunities with school of batfish as well as found the smallest frogfish in the sand… There are many dive sites to keep a diver busy in PG. Other personal favourites, only because we have a pan chant for the weird and wonderful, are Giant Clams and Boatyard dive sites where there is a good chance to see flamboyant cuttlefish, spiny devilfish, hairy frogfish as well as all shapes, sizes and colours of non hairy frogfish, garden eels, various species of nudibranch.
Sabang wrecks is another signature dive site compromised of three small wood and steel boats in varying stages of deterioration… see moray eels, resident varieties of reef fish, warty frogfish, cleaner shrimp and don’t forget to scan the sand between each of the boats for Pegasus fish, anemone crabs and …. And as you swim shallow you will most likely find giant frogfish cleverly camouflaged in the boulders and bump into a turtle munching on the sea grass. Don’t forget to look in the grass for ornates, shrimp and small crabs. Sabang wrecks is just fantastic for a night dive as well.
Dive sites north of Sabang like coral gardens, monkey beach. hard and soft coral, beautiful colours of various feather stars and in and around the rocks looks flame file shells, scorpion fish, frogfish, zebra shrimp and bit deeper on fire urchins, many species of nudibranch.
Then of course the unforgettable dive with the lovely Alli from Asia Divers when we found not one but two Paddle flap Rhinopia fish – unfortunately we are unable to divulge the location as we made a promise! (But if you ask nicely…)