Puerto Galera is located on the North West coast of island of Mindoro and is about 130 miles south of Manila. One of the main destinations in Philippines for scuba diving is Puerto Galera. There are more than 30 dive centres. It is also a marine sanctuary with a great marine life and coral reefs. The area has been a Marine and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO since 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reefs in Asia. While scuba diving Puerto Galera, big fish like white tip sharks, tunas, barracudas, eagle rays, turtles can be seen at the popular dive sites. Thriving fish life like angelfish, wrasses, surgeonfish, batfish, butterfly fish can be seen at house reef wrecks. You can also spot exotic fish like spanish dancer, harlequin ghost-pipefish along with camouflaged frogfish, fire gobies and blue-ribbon eels.
Scuba diving Puerto Galera is a heaven for underwater photographers, marine biologists and divers. You get to see a diversified marine life of soft corals, gorgonians, crinoids, colourful sponges, tunicates, crustaceans and shrimps and the most popular is the invertebrate, ‘nudibranchs’.
It is also a great place for night diving.
Most of the dive sites are located in Verde Island passage. Here the current is strong and the water is clear. It is a great opportunity for drift dives along the deep walls.
The other popular dive sites are in front of Sabang beach and are accessible via a 5 minute boat ride.
There are many places at Puerto Galera where you can learn technical diving.
How to get to Puerto Galera
You can travel to Puerto Galera from Manila. The preferable transport is the bus. There is a bus terminal along Taft Avenue, Pasay City. This is nearest to the Ninoy Aquino International and Domestic Airport. The other bus terminals are in Cubao (Quezon City), EDSA corner Kamias Street (Quezon City), Alabang(Muntinlupa City).
You can also avail the ferry going to Puerto Galera. Travellers may also opt to use private transfer.
Best dive sites around Puerto Galera
Hibo Reef: The depth is 40 m. This is located in the Manila Channel. The wall is covered with gorgonian sea fans and large black coral trees, unique to this spot in the locality. Eels and blue triggerfish have made small holes in the wall their home. stingrays are common below the wall, on the sandy patch. A variety of soft corals can be spotted while scuba diving Puerto Galera’s this dive site.
Tamaraw Rocks: The depth ranges from 3 to 16 m. It is a shallow dive. You will find barrel sponges and colourful reefs on your way while scuba diving. On the sand there are stingrays. This site is home to leaf fish, frog fish and is a good site for night dive.
Odies Wall: The depth of this site is 33 m. The ocean floor is white sandy with large bommies and rock formations. The contour slopes off gently. You will find large number of staghorn coral, basket sponges, plate corals and sandy areas are covered with long whip corals and a variety of small tropical fish. Reef sharks and turtles can also be spotted.
Manila Channel: The depth is 18 m and the site is abundant with gorgonian sea fans and colourful sea whips. You can also see hard and soft corals in a variety. While scuba diving, groupers are hard to spot because they are well camouflaged.
Coral Gardens: The depth is 10 m and this is one of the best dive sites of Puerto Galera. It is excellent even for drift drive. Coral strewn terrain shelves out from the beach and some of the crevices are home to ribbon eels and even turtles can be seen.
Alma Jane: It has a depth of 30m. A liveboard which had sunk in 2000 is home to giant frog fish and even batfish hang out here. Turtles can be spotted too.
Sabang Wreck: With a depth of 18m, this is an old wooden fishing vessel sunk off in front of Sabang beach. Home to bat fish and surgeonfish, it is a popular dive site. Trumpets, stone fish, stargazers, flounders, sea stars call this dive site home.
Sabang Point: It has a depth of 24m with stoney corals, fish, invertebrates such as cuttlefish and octopus. A ridge is covered with crinoids and corals. It is a good site for night dive.
Monkey Beach: A coral slopes down to 18 m. This site is good for beginners. Small coral heads have crinoids, nudibranchs and reef fish.
Dungung Wall: A wreck sits at 27m, at the bottom of the multi-level wall. The wall rises to 12m where the bottom extends into the bay. A good area for colorful corals and reef life.
Hole in the Wall: Situated at Escarceo point, this dive is normally performed as an 18m profile. You descend in several drop offs, each about 3m, and reach the hole at about 13m.The hole is about 1.5m wide, covered with multicolored corals and crinoids. While scuba diving Puerto Galera, you will find this as a world class dive site.
The Canyons: An advanced dive site with 30m depth. Drop offs are covered in soft corals and sponges.You will find a variety including snappers, emperors, sweetlips, barracudas, jacks, trevallies and the occasional shark, that make this a high-light Dive. The dive ends at a large anchor embedded in the coral where the group can gather before being swept off before the safety stop, in the current.
The Atol: This large rock has several small crevices on the bottom side, reef sharks and stingrays have made these crevices home. On the other side the rock overhangs, it is a good place to explore with a flashlight. You will find eels, lionfish, nudibranchs and octopus. A large grouper also lives here and also the occasional larger pelagic fish. It is good for nitrox diving.
Shark Cave: It has a depth of 27m. It has a large overhang which is a favourite spot for white tip reef sharks. It’s also home to blue spotted stingrays, moray eels and octopus. This site is usually visited at the beginning of a multi-level dive to the Pink Wall or as a stop on the way to the canyons.
Pink Wall: It has a depth of 12m. A very pretty site with many corals. When dived on the correct tide, it is a paradise for photographers and beginners.
What to expect while scuba diving Puerto Galera
The conditions on many dive sites are pretty easy and therefore ideal to learn scuba diving. Puerto Galera is famous for its drift dives along the beautiful walls.
Since Puerto Galera is considered as warm water diving area, 3 mm thick wet suits are the norm. The tide exchange is from a few centimetres up to 2 meters. For scuba diving Puerto Galera, selection of the dive sites depends on the tidal exchange and the slack tides, which is an important part of dive planning.
The currents which is common in the area are often brisk and unpredictable.
You will find gentle currents in most of the local dive sites ideal for training. It is fierce in the straits in the channels between the Islands.
The Verde Island Passage is known as the “centre of the centre” of the world’s marine biodiversity. Life enhancing nutrients from the Pacific and waters of the South China Sea mix together. Underneath the surface are vivid reef formations which consists more than 300 species of corals. It also has underwater rock canyons that host nearly 60 percent of the world’s known shore fish species. It is described as the marine counterpart of the Amazon River basin,” by World Conservation Union. The passage is at the peak of the “Coral Triangle” that consists of the Sulawesi and the Sulu Seas in the southern Philippines and nearby Indonesia.
Other things to do and see in Puerto Galera
Apart from scuba diving Puerto Galera, you can indulge in other activities like sailing, kayaking, sunset cruises, beach hopping, volleyball, golfing, snorkeling, banana boat, trekking, buggies and motorcycle rentals and even paintball. There is also a zip-line in the area.
Best times to visit Puerto Galera
It is possible to dive all year round in Puerto Galera. The visibility ranges from 10m to 30m depending on the season and the tide.
The best time to dive is from April to September. During this period you will enjoy great visibility, good sea conditions and warm water.
During winter and especially in December, the water temperature is much colder with minimum around 23°C on certain dive sites.