st52wood - Bluewater Dive Travel



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Puerto Galera


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
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Never miss a night dive. Never. Ever. You never know what you'll find on a night dive in Anilao. The Pier, Arthur's Rock, Twin Rocks, Secret Bay - these and other sites have plenty of weird stuff out and about. Common and mimic and blue ring octopus, bobtail squid, magnificent and common cuttlefish. Spiny devilfish, stonefish, waspfish, a variety of scorpionfish including rhinopias. Stargazers and flatheads hiding under the sand. Anemones, some actively feeding, all enjoying the dark. Crabs and shrimps peeking at you from everyplace. An astonishing assortment of nudibranchs, including some mind-blowing mimics of various plants and corals. Flatworms and various mollusks out looking for love, or a meal, or both. Bobbit worms standing there with their jaws wide open, waiting for something to blunder into them.

But don't miss the daytime dives either. Most of the time, you are muck diving. No matter how bleak things may look from a distance at a particular site, sand and silt as far as you can see with only an occasional island of "life", take your time and look around slowly. There is plenty of life waiting for you to discover. Other sites may have coral rubble and nothing taller than a few inches standing above the plain. But critters are all over. Ghost pipefish, ornate and robust and hairy. Frogfish, seemingly scattered all over, some quite well camouflaged against the sand or a small outbreak of life among all that sand. Seahorses and pygmy seahorses, tiny pipefish anchored to a blade of seagrass. All types of dragonettes. Nudibranchs, some just out for a stroll, others having a meal of a sponge or some bryozoans or some coral ... or making a meal of another nudibranch. Or maybe enjoying the company (wink wink) of another nudibranch of the same species. Just look around carefully, and be astonished by what you, your dive buddies, and your divemaster find.

But then there are the lovely reefs of Anilao: Sombrero, Layag Layag, Mainit's Point, Beatrice, and many others. Corals of uncountable types as far as you can see. Clear blue water. All types of small fish flitting about. Anemonefish of nearly every type, inhabiting a stunning number of types of anemones. And still, there are small things to look for, if the beautiful reef hasn't distracted you.

The water temps when we visited in April/May were typically 82 degrees F, but some sites had upwellings of colder water at 78 F, and there's always the chance that you'll go deep enough to find some specific critter that you'll encounter a significant thermocline. Usually, there is no major current to deal with at most mucky sites, but some of the more clear water, wide angle sites could have strong currents if they are dived at the wrong time. Your topside activities will consist of whatever your resort has to entertain you, and walks through some of the little villages and small towns during your surface intervals. That's it. The Filipino people are wonderful hosts, happy to see you and glad to help you. And the Philippines are a bargain destination, when you consider the quality of diving.

If a diver is looking for lots of big fish, maybe even some pelagic life, and diving in clear blue water ... Anilao is not a suitable destination. If a diver wants to enjoy lots of shopping and nightclubs and casinos with major entertainers when not diving, Anilao will disappoint. If a diver really want to dive, and is looking for a place that has lots of critters, some really weird stuff, and is willing to look around in muck and sand and coral rubble carefully to find these strange animals .... Anilao is a destination that should be visited. And then visited again.

Visited on 04/2014 - Submitted on 05/25/2014
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