Dive sites in the Philippines always afford a grand sight of the underwater world—coral reefs, sea plants and creatures. But diving at Subic Bay is quite another thing. Aside from the usual spectacular sights underwater—sharks, dolphins, turtles, stingrays, and others—there is a bonus of seeing touching remains of World War II ship wreckage. Some report a total of 30 reef dive sites and 30 wreck dive sites.
Subic Bay in Olongapo is a mere two-hour drive from Manila through the North Luzon Expressway. It’s the nearest dive site to Manila that can afford amazing diving spots where reefs and wrecks are both available. Dive centers dot the Subic coastal landscape and each are just minutes away from reef and wreck dive sites. Hence, Subic Bay is unofficially the “Pearl of the Orient” due to the abundant spots where these treasures are located.
The wreck dive sites reveal mostly World War II vessels—huge war or battleships, supply ships, sea patrol boats, landing amphibians, antique steam ships, some submarines and crashed planes. But there are more. Post war incidents of ship sinking occurred there. Some say there are some ten large ships added to the wrecks of the war. Then there are the Spanish ships that sank at these Subic Bay wreck dive sites, so the place literally swarms with wreck dive sites. Accordingly, somewhere there is the San Quintin vessel, a warship in the Spanish-American War. Another is a Spanish galleon believed to have sunk in the 16th century and a Chinese Junk ship.
Among the historic wreckage are: The 116-meter long USS New York is in these Subic Bay wreck dive sites. It’s in a depth of about 27 meters. This warship was built in 1891 in Philadelphia and was greatly used in the Spanish-American War. It was intentionally sunk in December 1941 at this Subic wreck dive site to prevent the Japanese from capturing it.
An LST ship measuring 80 meters long is also down there in the wreck dive site some 34 meters deep. It was an huge amphibious ship tank of the US Coast Guard that crossed oceans and crept up shores to deploy troops. And El Capitana, a naval ship launched in August 18, 1917.
Subic Bay wreck dive sites are more than a cache of underwater sea wonders. They are a treasure of sea wreckage buried in history annals but alive in the hearts of serious wreck divers.