Puerto Galera

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(4 REVIEWS)

 

Puerto Galera in a Nutshell:

 

Centrally located, Puerto Galera is a hub of marine biodiversity, offering some of the best diving in the Philippines.  It is home to a variety of dive operators and accommodations that are sure to suit the most discerning dive enthusiast and photographer.  

 

 

Puerto Galera Dive sites:

 

Puerto Galera's dive sites are as varied as the species you'll find there.  There are walls, sloping reefs, and the occasional small wreck, all only a very short boat ride away. Many of the dive sites rank right up there on the 'pretty' scale, offering excellent wide-angle scenery. 'Muck' dive sites like Boatyard and Manila channel are home to a huge array of macro critters, including nudibranchs, reef octopus, hairy frogfish, mimic octopi, seahorses and the like.

The Canyons is the adrenaline junkie's site of choice during times of strong currents, boasting a thrilling ride with rests in the bowls as you watch in amazement while schools of trevally, tuna, and sometimes barracuda hang effortlessly in the current. The Alma Jane wreck is a favorite among wreck enthusiasts, is easily accessible, and is home to several giant frogfish, big schools of batfish, and small tropicals. Of course, no trip is complete without a two-dive trip to Verde Island.  Large schools of big fish, monstrous sea fans, walls and stunning reefs are the rule here and warrant at least one 2-tank trip. Most of the other sites are lovely, and there's never a shortage of interesting things to see.

 

Non diving activities:

 

Need a day off from diving? Most resorts will help arrange boat or jeepney transportation to any number of lovely nearby beaches… White Beach is buzzing with many bars and restaurants, while Ininuan and Talipanan are smaller and quieter. No visit to Talipanan is complete without a lunch or dinner visit to Lucas for pizza. There are tours to Taal volcano, Tamaraw Falls, Tukuran falls and the Manyon villages.  You can even enjoy 9 holes of golf at The Ponderosa, a course built into the side of the mountain, boasting some of the best views you'll find anywhere in the area.  Hint:  don't use your best balls, and take plenty of them!

 

Combination trips:

 

Trips to Puerto Galera can most easily be combined with Anilao, just a short 1 hr boat ride away. Many other great destinations in the Visayas can be reached via short, relatively inexpensive flights from Manila. And remember that the Philippines offers much more than diving! If you have the time, there's everything from the rice terraces of Banaue and Batad to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, just to name a couple. Wherever you go in the Philippines, you can easily meet some friendly locals and experience the culture.

 
 

Best Time to visit:

 

Wet season generally starts in June, with showers popping up regularly in the afternoon/evening. July through September are wetter, then late October and November bring the beginning of drier weather. Typhoons are regular visitors to the Philippines during wet season, so while visitors during this time might enjoy amazing weather, they must be prepared for whatever mother nature delivers. 

 

DIVING CONDITIONS:

 

Water temperatures vary from a maximum 30+ C/86+f in summer to 25C/77f in winter. A skin or shorty wetsuit will suffice in the warmer months, but a 3 or 5ml full suit and a vest/hood is recommended for winter. Visibility varies with the prevailing weather and currents, but averages between 15-25 meters / 50-80 ft, sometimes offering up 30+m/100+ft in some locations.

 
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Puerto Galera is a good place for nice and easy diving at a slow pace. It is much more developed than Anilao, which is just 1 hour away by boat, and the value proposition is completely different. Anilao has better marine life and critter diving, but Puerto Galera has more resort choices, non-diving options, dining options, and nightlife. If you are looking for a laidback place to relax and dive at a leisurely pace, Puerto Galera is for you.

There are plenty of dive shops and accommodations in Puerto Galera so it is easy to customize your trip to be whatever you want it to be. I prefer to stay in the areas of Big La Laguna or Small La Laguna, which are quieter than being in Sabang town proper. That way, I get to enjoy peace and quiet, and I can head to Sabang for a meal or nightlife. I highly recommend Captain Gregg's in Sabang for a hearty meal.

Puerto Galera gets deep very quickly so all the dive sites are only minutes from shore by bangka boat. The Alma Jane is a nice metal wreck in about 30m of water and very close to shore. It is covered in marine life and several schools of fish make their homes there. For exciting dives with strong currents and big schools of fish, take the 1 hour boat ride to Verde Island. Marine life is a combination of general reef fish (sweetlips, snapper, barracuda, parrotfish, etc.) and strange macro critters (seahorses, octopi, crustaceans, etc.)

Visited on 04/2010 - Submitted on 08/24/2014
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The nice thing I like about PG's diving is the accessibility of nice easy diving right off the shore. For my first dive in PG, the boat brought me out maybe 100 yards just beyond where a lot of boats are anchored and there were nice beautiful coral heads with lots of fish. After that, I told my divemaster that I'd rather just swim from the shop out to the reef and back so I can look for critters. Around one of the big concrete blocks that act as anchors for the boats, we found 2 harlequin ghost pipefish and 2 baby frogfish.
By far the best diving in PG is on Verde Island. A group of us got the dive shop to rent a larger boat to make the long 45minute choppy trip out to Verde Island a comfortable smooth 30minute ride. Verde Island is a pinnacle that breaks the surface just a little. You can go as deep as you want and constant strong currents make it an awesome drift dive. We started at just about 100ft and slowly made our way up to our safety stop. The largest schools of fish, colorful soft corals and huge barrel sponges make this trip out to Verde Island really worth it.
The other divers I dove with at Verde Island said the conditions were perfect that day. We had 100ft viz and the water was about 78 degrees.
Topside, there is a small town to explore. Massage parlors and bars are available everywhere. The red light district is confined to one alley and easily avoidable if that is not your scene.

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 07/30/2014
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Coming directly from one of the top "muck" dive areas in the world -- Anilao, I was pleasantly surprised by the diving around Puerto Galera (PG). I saw just as much interesting creatures in PG as I saw a week before in Anilao. I love muck diving and by far my favorite dive site around PG was "Giant Clams". For a muck site, it's relatively deep (18m) so our dives were limited to about 60 minutes. In just 8 dives, we still found lots of interesting animals -- two wonderpus octopi, mototi octopus, lots of nudibranchs, seahorses, stargazer, frogfish, hairy shrimp, skeleton shrimp, mantis shrimps, a couple flamboyant cuttlefish, and various scorpionfish. We saw all these mainly going to three dive sites -- Giant Clams, Boatyard, and La Laguna house reef.

General conditions were good. Water temperature 27C, 20m visibility. Most dive sites were 5-10 minutes away. You can go to dive site with no current or strong current (Channels).

Topside there's no shortage of restaurants and bars to go to in Sabang. It's a little too crowded in Sabang for my taste. Better to chill out in the nearby coves of Little La Laguna and Big La Laguna. Drinks at El Galleon on their pier was quite nice during sunset. The Point Bar there was also nice. Other topside activities include renting a buggy and driving off road or visiting other less touristy beaches.

Visited on 06/2014 - Submitted on 07/30/2014
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In Puerto Galera, specifically the resorts on La Laguna Bay and the town of Sabang, Happy Hour is in the late afternoon. The problem with Happy Hour is that participation in the festivities means that you, dear diver, are NOT doing the night dive. And if you are not doing the night dive in PG, you are missing out. The bars don't close immediately after Happy Hour, they continue to serve patrons even after the night dives are complete. The beer and mixed drinks are still cheap, just not 2-for-1 like during Happy Hour. But they taste so much better later ... since you have another PG night dive to talk about.

A dinky blue ring octopus dragging a mollusk back home for dinner, tiny octopus hiding in the sand, bobtail squid watching divers watch them. Ghost pipefish of all varieties out hunting. Mollusks, some small and some huge, motoring around the sand, looking for dinner. An assortment of pleurobranchs and nighttime nudibranchs and flatworms, some nudis imitating flatworms while some flatworms do their best to look like a nudibranch. Demon stingers and stargazers. A near-overload of critters to find and observe. And this wasn't even your best night dive at Puerto Galera! That was at The Hill, or maybe Sabang Bay, or the Boatyard, or it could have been on St. Cristopher wreck or Coral Cove. You can't remember .... because you've enjoyed every PG Happy Hour underwater.

PG diving is mostly muck and rubble and coral heads, but with a surprising number of beautiful reefs or small wrecks thrown in just to keep you guessing. You spent so much time at the bottom of Manila Channel, probing the coral rubble or looking over the tugboat wreck for dragonets and nudibranchs and frogfish, that your dive computer nearly shrieked out an alarm. You headed up the side of the channel to do a long safety stop, and found a stunning coral reef waiting for you. Wait a minute, I thought this dive was supposed to be in coral rubble! Ah, that was your "dive", this is your safety stop. Enjoy the crinoid with a squat lobster underneath, crinoid shrimp and clingfish inside, and an ornate ghost pipefish hiding in the fronds.

While in PG, don't miss an opportunity to dive on Verde Island. It's a journey, a long-ish 45 minutes in a speedboat out to Verde, but you'll realize why you're there within 5 minutes of getting in. Clear blue water, a gorgeous reef
covered with hundreds of types of coral and crinoids of every color, fish, fish, and more fish. Soak it in. And if you're
so inclined, stick your face down in the reef and find some nudibranchs that you haven't seen before, even in the muck back in PG.

Water temps at PG dive sites are in the low to mid 80s Fahrenheit (or 28 to 30 C), in April and in September. Air temps? It was in the upper 80s in the afternoons. Currents are generally mild, but you will whip around one corner at Verde Island, and The Canyons dive site will give you some big fish action due to the currents there, and diving Manila Channel at the wrong time will be a workout. Usually, you will be in little to no current, searching for every macro critter you can find. Getting to PG from Manila requires a 3 hour ride in a van to Batangas, and a one-hour boat ride to the island in mostly sheltered waters.

The resorts in Sabang/La Laguna Bay area have access to Sabang, which is a big enough town to have a large collection of shops and restaurants and markets and drinking establishments. So if you need some sort of uncommon battery for your dive computer, or to visit a cigar shop for a celebratory smoke, or you need some mangosteens for a snack, or get a 10 meter long banner made to alert everyone that your dive buddy's 50th birthday is today (Curt, ydw), you can get it in Sabang.

Diving in Puerto Galera has something for everyone. Some nice wide angle sites, some small wrecks, some pretty reefs. The most satisfied diver will be the one who wants to look for the small and strange, on a sandy, mucky, rubble-strewn, or seagrass-covered bottom, or in between the coral heads. Go slow, look around carefully, and maybe you'll be the next PG diver to have a blue ring octopus swim in over your left arm, flashing like crazy, and land on the coral head right in front of you .... to mate with the other blue ring octopus you didn't even notice was there.

Visited on 04/2013 - Submitted on 05/26/2014