Philippines, 2011Downey Duck



Sabang, Puerto Galara, Philippines

We recently traveled to the Philippines and dove with three different dive operators out of Sabang, Puerto Galera, about three hours south of Manila via bus and boat.

El Galleon is a small, cozy resort on the outskirts of Sabang. The rooms are older, but large and comfortable. Our room overlooked the small pool. The restaurant is open-air with a large covered area in case it rains. The food was good. The dive operator, Asia Divers, was excellent. They have a small shop, but they also have a huge dock and storage area for divers’ gear. They used mostly small covered speedboats; the closest dive spot was less than a minute away and the longest travel time was 10 minutes. Shore diving is not allowed due to heavy boat traffic and the use of safety sausages is highly encouraged. We didn’t see any big fish, but we saw dozens of nudibranchs, blue and black ribbon eels, clownfish galore, and frogfish large and tiny. We definitely enjoyed our time at El Galleon.

A three minute walk away was Atlantis Puerto Galera, in the heart of Sabang. Atlantis is larger and more upscale, with unique, although dark, rooms. Now we were getting a bit of stair climbing exercise, as our room was up a couple levels. There is a small pool, an active spa, and a large open, covered restaurant. The food was excellent, and the staff was helpful with my food issues. The dive operation was not quite as organized here, although still good. The equipment storage area was smaller and more crowded. Our short boat rides were in the typical bancas; we waded a few feet from shore to board. We dove some of the same sites as we did from El Galleon, but we also dove a few new ones.

The Atlantis Azores, which was the Truk Aggressor in a long ago life, has been beautifully redone and is very comfortable. All diving is done from inflatables. The food was very good, but the cooks actually made too many different dishes, making it hard for them to focus on my dietary issues. We dove a day at Anileo and two days at Apo Reef. Because of the rain, the visibility at Anileo was not terrific, which made the 100 foot plus visibility at Apo a real treat. We saw quite a few turtles, many of the same small things, a school of bumphead wrasse, and quite a few white-tip sharks, although the diving started getting a bit repetitious. I did one night dive—it was OK, but not great.

Although we enjoyed each location during our trip, our quest for the best diving in the Philippines continues.