If you’re planning on diving in the Philippines, whether you’re a diving enthusiast, or just someone wanting to commune with nature while having a little fun, a number of premier dive sites in the country are available for you to check out. And on top of that, you need not venture far from the country’s capital of Manila to get that exhilarating plunge.
A common misconception about diving is that it can be quite hard on the pocket. Besides purchasing equipment and other logistics, the costs and the time required for traveling to reach dive sites can be extremely daunting, if not prohibitive. But choosing an accessible location – in the case of the Philippines, somewhere near Manila – would further shrink the gap between your budget and that much anticipated diving experience.
Over to the North is Subic Bay, Olongapo, just a two-hour land trip from the Philippine’s capital. Subic is renowned for its shipwreck diving sites. Historically, because of its strategic location as a gateway to the Far East, Subic has been used and developed as a naval facility. After the base was closed down in 1991, Subic has been transformed into a Freeport Zone, becoming a hub of economic activity and tourism. Being a duty-free zone, good deals on diving equipment, along with cheap diving packages can be procured in the area.
Subic’s magnificent lush forest landscape combines perfectly with the scenic diving sites, many of which contain newly discovered corals and shipwrecked vessels. Most divers come to marvel at the famous wreck sites, which range from battle ships to small patrol vessels downed as early as the Spanish colonial period in the late 1800s.
Some 140 kilometers south of Manila, meanwhile, is the town of Anilao in Batangas. Because of its proximity – just a two-hour drive from Manila – Anilao has become a popular destination for those looking to satisfy that spontaneous urge to take that weekend plunge. Numerous resorts can be found across Anilao that offer short boat rides to more than two dozen excellent dive sites. One famous dive-site is the “Cathedral,” a roofless cavern with a cross mounted on burgeoning coral formations.
A short distance from Anilao is Puerto Galera, in the island province of Oriental Mindoro. Known for its white sand beaches, Puerto Galera has recently become a popular diving destination for local and foreign tourists, with more than 24 newly discovered sites. Puerto Galera’s richly diverse marine life and pristine seascape have made it one of the most appealing dive sites in the Philippines. Visitors can choose from a variety of diving activities — from snorkeling, to scuba diving, to wreck diving.
These diving locales have operators and establishments that provide affordable diving packages, which include boat rides, diving equipment and lodging. A week’s worth of diving plus accommodation can range somewhere between US$100 to US$200. Popular diving spots in the Philippines appeal to divers not only for the experience they offer, but also for their low cost. Their accessibility, particularly their proximity to Metro Manila, makes them even greater deals.