After a really wonderful week diving the Tubbataha Reef area, I traveled to Puerto Galera for a few days. There is nothing easy about getting here but it is definitely worth the effort. We took a short flight back to Manila and Atlantis loaded our luggage in one van and the rest of us in a couple of other vans and we were off. It is about a 2 hour drive south of Manila to the dock where we caught a boat to Puerto Galera. A 1 hour ride on a boat and we were there. Puerto Galera is not what I expected but the diving is great. There are wall to wall dive shops, resorts and restaurants lining the coast but we never felt crowded on the dive sites. There is a lot to see here, especially little stuff. My first dive here was my 500th dive so I really wanted it to be special. We saw the yellow pygmy seahorse above on that dive. I think any dive with a pygmy seahorse is very special. The nudibranch on the right was a later dive but the colors and variety of them in Puerto Galera is amazing.
The critter life here is really varied and interesting. Above is a Warty Clown Frogfish and an Ornate Ghost Pipefish. These are things you don’t see in a lot of places. I was not there long enough to schedule a full day trip to Verde Island but I am sure I would have enjoyed that as well. It is highly recommended as a day trip of diving. Instead we concentrated the 2 days we did have to dive on the best of the local diving and it was very good. The only down side was a night dive that had very strong current and should have probably been called off. If you want some adrenalin in your system, go out in heavy current on a night dive! You can’t see where you are going well enough and always feel like you are going to hit something. It was crazy.
Above is one of 3 Fimbriated Moray eels I saw during my stay at Puerto Galera. There were some other not so usual morays there as well. I saw a Snowflake and a White-eyed Moray there as well. I have not seen many of these 3 varieties in the past so it was a thrill. The yellow thorny seahorse above cracked me up when he rolled his eyes up for this picture. It was like he was saying “enough with the pictures, already!” You can do up to 5 dives a day and you choose which ones or all.
The Atlantis Resort at Puerto Galera was interesting. It is in the middle of town, basically. You have the 50 Bar in front near the water, then the dive shop & briefing area, then an alley that the town people & the public walk through, then the rest of the resort. The restaurant had great food, just like the Azores did. They really do a fine job on that. There is a gift shop, a dive storage area with rinse tanks and then the main desk. The rooms are in back as well as a pool. The rooms were very nice and had plenty of space for everything. All in all, a great resort. If you want to be in town, this is the place for you. If you are looking for an out of the way place, away from everything, this is not it. The diving is really good, however. Above is a pygmy scorpionfish that was about 1/2 inch long. Pretty cute and a first for me. The Flambouyant cuttlefish on the right, was one of 3 we saw. That is incredible. I had only seen 2 ever, before this.
To recap, the Atlantis Resort in Puerto Galera is a nice resort in a really different location and a good choice for great diving and some extracurricular activities in town. I wish I could have done Verde Island but there just wasn’t enough time. This was a short stop so I could experience this area and it’s diving. The diving in the Philippines has yet to disappoint me!