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Puerto Galera on Mindoro Island is probably The Philippines best known scuba diving destination. Actually the majority of all dive operators and resorts are situated in a small village called Sabang which is just 10 minutes from Puerto Galera. Mindoro is a large island to the south of Manila and the resorts are on the north east coast.
Mindoro is a beautiful island with much to explore and Puerto Galera is a stunning natural harbor originally used by Spanish Galleons but now much visited by yachts from all over the world. The coastline around here is truly spectacular and with deep bays and inlets surrounded by tropical forests it is a nature lovers and photographers dream. For the adventurous there are many secluded beaches and hidden valleys just waiting to be explored.
Sabang has attracted visitors and residents from different parts of the globe and has now developed a very cosmopolitan feel, this is reflected by the wide range of restaurant styles and resorts available. Needless to say, seafood and Filipino food is popular but you can also eat English, German, Thai, Mexican and Japanese amongst others. There are a good number of bars and Sabang has a busy night time scene.
In addition to diving, the adventurous water sports enthusiast will also want to go kayaking, snorkelling, wind surfing and sailing. Back on land there is a golf course just a few kilometers from the resort and there are many opportunities to visit local waterfalls, go jungle trekking and island hopping. The beach adjacent to the dive shop and resort is perfect for sunbathing and for watching the world go by. Sunset cruises are available and there are also motorbikes for hire.
The quality of the diving is what draws so many people here and the ease of access from Manila is a big help. The port of Batangas is just two hours from central Manila by road and then from Batangas a 45-60 minute boat journey will bring you into Puerto Galera or directly on to the beach at Sabang.
El Galleon Beach Resort, part of the Asia Divers operation, is renowned for it’s peaceful beachfront surroundings and is set directly on Small Laguna Beach just a few minutes walk from busy Sabang. Thirty air-conditioned rooms have been constructed on the tropical hillside and their tranquil nature is in keeping with the areas natural beauty. With views of Sabang Bay and Small Laguna Beach every room is complete with mini-bar, hot water and hotel amenities.
The resort also has a swimming pool perfect for gently lazing in or for the more energetic it is the base for some of your diving training. Internet facilities are also available. The El Galleon restaurant is one of the most popular in Puerto Galera and serves a wide range of Filipino and international dishes. It is also situated on the edge of the beach so you can hear the waves gently lapping as you eat.
Adjacent to the dive centre and resort is the Point Bar. Sited on a rocky outcrop the spacious and comfortable Point Bar is a well known meeting spot and a great place to start and continue the evening. The bar will stay open for as long as you want!
The Dive Centre:
Asia Divers are a highly professional operation with an impressive twenty year pedigree. They are a PADI 5 Star Centre and The Philippines first CDC (Career Development Centre). The team of highly qualified Instructors and Dive Masters has worked at Asia Divers for many years and know the surrounding waters very well.
Much of the emphasis is on the naturalist aspects of every dive and detailed briefings help customers fully appreciate each site. There are over 30 great dives within 15 minutes of the centre and Asia Divers schedule at least 5 dive trips each day. Diving is always managed in small groups and surface intervals, apart from day trips, are spent back at the resort.
The entire range of PADI Courses (with the exception of Ice Diver!!) are taught here and whether you are trying diving for the first time, continuing your diving education or pursuing professional training this is the ideal place to be.
Asia Divers also have a Technical diving division called Tech Asia. Tech Asia Divers Institute has a world wide reputation for excellence both in the quality of training and for their ongoing contribution to the development of Technical diving.
People would not come here unless the diving first class and it does not disappoint. With over 450 identified species of coral, the area around Puerto Galera is home to some of the best marine bio-diversity on the planet. Blessed with clear waters and warm temperatures and with easy access to the dive sites this is a perfect dive destination.
There is something here for every diver from easy beginners and training dives to fast pace exhilarating drift dives. The reefs close to the dive centre are a dream for photographers with beautiful coral formations to be seen everywhere.
The most famous dive site has to be Canyons, a must visit for all experienced divers. It is here that the currents which encourage the profusion of marine life in the area really make a big impact. Strong surges along the wall mean that divers and fish alike seek shelter in three distinct canyons. You will find yourself having a short rest in each one surrounded by snappers, jacks, sweet lips and barracuda, occasionally bigger creatures such as sharks and tuna swim by. The end of the dive is often an ascent through the deep blue towards the surface.
On all dives you are likely to see parrot and angelfish, Moorish idols, snappers and red mouth triggers. Moray and ribbon eels are common and it is not unusual to see turtles. A short boat journey of about thirty minutes takes you to Verde Island where steep walls and drop offs are the background to waters teeming with fish life.
There are several wrecks within close range of Asia Divers and all are a haven for reef fish and macro life such as ghost pipe fish, nudibranch, and sea horses, just make sure you bring your camera!
Photographs courtesy of El Galleon & Asia Divers