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Diving in the Philippines! First stop: Sabang - Puerto Galera!

Gooooood morning divers!

Manta ray Flyby
Big Laguna - Sabang

It's been quite the trip so far! Starting 2 months ago in beautiful Indonesia, now traveling to the Philippines to revisit this incredible diving paradise, once again. And to bring you all the places you never knew you wanted to go. First stop: Puerto Galera!


In this blog I'll be sharing the following:


  • Leaving Indonesia

  • Entering the Philippines

  • Getting to Puerto Galera/ Sabang.

  • An impression of the diving scene.

  • The most memorable dive sites.

  • What's next?


 

Leaving Indonesia.

While I enjoyed Indonesia and Lembongan immensely. I knew the time had come to continue further and eventually leave Indonesia. I have extended my stay on Lembongan twice. Originally booking 7 nights, then extending to 10, I stayed for 2 weeks in the end.

The people, dive center, and the diving scene is just too good. Especially if you love drift diving. Roctopus dive Lembongan made me feel at home and we had a great time and I'm sure I'll visit again in the future!

Nusa Penida Dive Sites
Puerto Galera Dive Sites


Leaving Lembongan was quite easy. The boats leave from the beach as early as 8 AM until the last one departs at 4 PM. For 150.000 IDR (roughly $10) you can transfer from Lembongan to Sanur on mainland Bali.


After arriving on the beach and receiving my bags I took a taxi to Benoa because I had to pick up my passport and the next day, I left VERY early in the morning to the airport of Denpasar on my way to my next destination, and I couldn't be more excited!


Nusa Penida Coastline
Turtle passing by

 

Entering the Philippines.

Most likely you will enter the Philippines through Manila. While the city isn't one I would stay in for too long, you can easily transfer to a bus station, next flight or taxi from here.

I got myself some cash, and a local sim card and I was ready to be on my way to Puerto Galera, not knowing what I would get myself into.


The Philippines provides a free 30-day visa to most nationalities with an easy extension of 59 days. Just go to an immigration office located at most tourist locations and within 1 hour you're set! It's refreshing, because I had to go to the immigration office in Bali a total of 3 times, and while I got the time, a lot of people I've met don't. There are 2 main immigration offices in Bali and if you happen to stay, or want to stay in the north, for example, you will have to travel back and forth a few times which can mess up your plans.


Manta Close up
Ernie's Point
 

Getting to Puerto Galera/ Sabang.

Upon leaving the airport of Manila I got myself a taxi to the bus station 10 minutes away and was able to get into a bus, leaving only 5 minutes later, on a 2 hours+ tour to Batangas Pier, in the south of the island.


The bus eventually dropped me off at an intersection close to the ferry port. However, having no signs and a lot of people offering me private boats and taxis I soon found out that the last boat departs at 4 PM from this Pier. While contemplating taking a private boat, I was soon told that for "only" 10.000 pesos ($190) I could be in Puerto Galera in 20-30 minutes.

I couldn't help to laugh and tell them: "nice try"!


I had to get a hotel and I soon found that the closest hotel was about 15 kilometers away when checking the travel apps. A trike driver (A ricksha with a side span, more or less) then came up to me, offering me a hotel nearby. I hopped in, paying 100 pesos to be dropped off literally 150 meters down the road at a very "interesting" hotel.


As rooms could be rented by the hour, 3 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours, I knew this isn't your ideal holiday retreat. However, since I didn't have many other options, I decided to stay the night to leave at 5.30 AM the next day to get my ferry to Balatero, Puerto Galera!


The ferry port entrance is located between a row of 20 small shops, selling everything and more. There are no signs, just a bright yellow fence about 5 meters wide you must go through to get to the port. Once in the port, I booked my ticket and got straight onto the fast ferry to Balatero. After 2 hours I arrived, paid my environmental fee of 120 pesos ($2,20), and got myself a taxi, taking me to Sabang, THE place to be if you love diving!


So to summarize:

  1. Fly to Manila.

  2. Get a Sim card and some cash.

  3. Get a taxi to Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).

  4. Book your ticket and get on the bus to Batangas Pier (IF continuing to Puerto Galera that same day), otherwise, get out at Batangas City and book yourself a hotel.

  5. Ferries leave from 6 AM until 4 PM, depending on demand. If not enough people show up, they might cancel the ferry, so the earlier you go, the more chance of success!

  6. Once in Balatero port, grab a taxi offered to you for 250 pesos to Sabang.

  7. You've arrived, sit back, enjoy the sunset and grab a drink!


Turtle and Batfish
Turtle and Batfish

 

An impression of the diving scene.

Puerto Galera is a province, more than a town. There are a few smaller towns like Sabang, and White beach along the coast, all pretty much within 10 minute drive. If you go a bit inland by renting a scooter or grabbing a taxi you can see some cool waterfalls.


If diving, I would recommend Sabang 100%. This village is dedicated to diving, offering more than 30 dive centers along the beach. The village is divided into 3 parts: Sabang, Big laguna, and Small laguna, all adjacent to each other and easily reached by foot.


Manta Ray from top
Inside Sabang Wreck


The dive sites are mostly around Sabang bay and a bit towards the east. There are about 10 dive sites beside each other in a kilometer stretch of coast. You can ask your dive center to take you somewhere further of course, like Verde Island (I would absolutely do this!).



Sabang Wreck
Sabang Wreck


 


Triple Manta
Sabang - Puerto Galera

The most memorable dive sites!

There are a few very good dive sites in Puerto Galera. Below I will summarize my favorites. Some of them are reason enough to book that airplane right now.


A few good spots to go diving are:

  1. Canyons

  2. Coral Cove/ Boulders

  3. Dungon Wall/ Ernie's Point

  4. Sabang Wrecks

  5. Verde Island

1. Canyons.

Canyons is a legendary dive site. It's a deep dive with a max depth of 35 meters. The incredible thing about this dive site is the possibility of strong currents and therefore: Big fish. Thresher sharks have been spotted here in the season as well as large pelagic fish.





2. Coral Cove/ Boulders.

These are actually 2 dive sites but easily combined. Coral Cove starts with a sailboat wreck at 25 meters- 30 meters. After exploring this, you could go North-west along the bay and end up in Boulders. A beautiful coral garden and a slightly sloping reef.


I love this dive site because it has many different looks to it. You start with a wreck, continue on a sandy bottom with great macro, ending up in a coral garden.


3. Dungon Wall/ Ernie's Point.

This dive site is along the eastern coastline of Sabang and is simply stunning. If you're lucky you can do a drift dive. If not, you will have a gorgeous sloping reef for about 1 kilometer. Incredible coral garden, plenty of fish, and beautiful geography. Even after doing this dive 3 times, I will still be impressed!



4. Sabang Wrecks.

This is probably the signature dive site, after Dungon wall. The 3 wrecks are in Sabang bay between 10 and 20 meters deep, so any level of diver can enjoy this dive. You can even penetrate one of the wrecks, which is filled with thousands of small fish. Outside these wrecks, you can spot stonefish, scorpionfish, big snappers, turtles, and shrimp of all species.




5. Verde Island.

Number 5, but probably my favorite! This beautiful dive site is easily my top 10 ever seen. The geography is simply stunning and you will not have enough battery for your camera! There is a chance of currents and also big fish. If there is not much current you will see millions(!) of fish! A neverending stream of schooling fish, moray eels, scorpion fish. Too much to name. If you ever have the possibility, GO HERE!






What's next?

The next blog will be from The Philippines! I have visited this beautiful country in 2018, and now it's time to go back and explore all the places I haven't visited the last time.

I am traveling to Boracay island next on my way to Bohol and wherever I might end up next.


This will hopefully complete the full Philippines experience and make for amazing stories, photos, and travel tips!


Thank you for taking the time to read this, any questions or tips can be sent to contactdivingscene@gmail.com, and remember:


"If you can breathe, you can dive"

Manta Ray
Sabang Coastline

 

Want to visit The Philippines or Puerto Galera yourself? Book your stay and/or travel guide here!














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