Philippine Sea – a Divers’ Haven

by Arlene Rafiq
Divers Haven in Philippines

With its 7,100 plus islands, and dive sites that have been featured prominently in various books, magazines and websites, surely the waters surrounding this archipelago is nothing but breathtaking.

I am not a diver, I can’t swim and have a strong phobia of open water but it did not stop me from taking a boat accompanying my husband or my sons to their dive expeditions. My husband was a dive specialist and master diver and my two sons are also divers and they have been to the best dive sites in the Philippines.

My husband takes video underwater so it felt like going underwater with him. I can’t tell you how much beauty I see but can’t feel and it somehow makes me sad that I am losing half of my life.

It’s so hilarious to watch divers on the big screen as they do underwater stunts while my husband is shooting the various fish and corals. Diving aficionados will find Philippine water an experience like no other. Splendid beaches, coral reef and new discovery of 100 plus marine species and it is considered home to bio diverse waters on the planet.

Batangas which is about 85 kilometres from Manila stands out as the most popular dive destinations because of its proximity to Manila. Layag layag, a Tagalog word for sailing is one of the most popular sites in this area. Divers find it easy to spot some of the most exotic marine creatures in the crystal clear waters.

Sombrero Island boasts an extensive reef formation, home to myriad small fish. The reef ’s rocks and walls cracks harbour many types of marine life from turtles and stingrays to a variety of soft corals. Some seek bigger creatures so they go to Mapating Rock which literally means shark infested rock.

The rock is surrounded by shallow area of about 12 metres and ends in a series of drop offs averaging about 40 metres. Divers normally enjoy the unusual natural phenomenon of underwater hot springs emerging from a hollow near Balahibong Manok (chicken feather) Island. This site is home to tuna, Barracuda and white tip sharks. Diving in this island is strictly for professionals due to the very strong currents.

A more tourist friendly dive area is Puerto Galera or Port of Galleons, off the northwestern tip of Mindoro Island. In Puerto Galera, one of the main dive sites is the Marina Channel where a 14th century shipwreck was discovered by divers in 1983.

The wreck is now home to blue-spotted rays and Moorish idols. This shipwreck is most often visited by divers who wish to have a more adventurous under water experience. Another island that boasts fantastic dive sites is Cebu, famous for its fine sandy beaches, ancient forts.

Divers Haven in Philippines

Exciting night life and friendly hospitable people. The small town of Moalboal is probably the best place for serious divers to set up base camps. From Moalboal, a brief but bumpy ride takes us to Panagsama Beach. The ambiance is relaxed and quiet and relatively uncrowded compared to Puerto Galera obviously designed with tourists in mind.

A twenty minute boat ride away is Pescador Island. Night divers love to frequent this island because of the Spanish dancer, snail like creatures that have lost their shells. They are strikingly coloured and more active at night.

If touchedor gently picked up, they begin to dance a wild wavy movement of body and surrounding skirt. While it’s a delightful sight, this movement is thought to be a warning sign before emission of poison.

“Getting away from Manila area, one of the most interesting dive strips is to Sulu archipelago on a cruise ship. To me it is a nature lover’s paradise.”

Getting away from Manila area, one of the most interesting dive strips is to Sulu archipelago on a cruise ship. To me it is a nature lover’s paradise. Divers usually stay for at least five days aboard a cruise ship which has special pump boats to ferry experienced divers to more exotic dive spots. This place appeals only to the most experienced, adventurous and avid divers due to safety reasons. Fishing and seaweed farming are common occupations in the surrounding islands where the stilt houses of residents perch above the sea.

The thrilling and exhilarating adventure of accompanying a dive expedition exceeded my dreams. The whole experience on the boat with professional divers, underwater photographers and sportswriters opens my eyes to the beauty outside “Getting away from Manila area, one of the most interesting dive strips is to Sulu archipelago on a cruise ship. To me it is a nature lover’s paradise.” urban city life.

With hundreds of exotic marine creatures and the tortoise blue sea, the idyllic beauty and serenity of Philippine waters is a gratifying experience. Indeed the Philippines is endowed with a natural beauty on a par with the rest of the world.

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