We have just returned after a fabulous small group safari to the Philippines. The trip began in Manila, with a group transfer to Puerto Galera where we stayed at a fantastic owner-run resort- Fisherman’s Cove. Set in a private bay this dive resort combines excellent diving with friendly knowledgeable staff and delicious Italian-0inspired food. The sites in the area boast some incredible macro diving, beautiful walls and coral gardens, over a variety of terrain and topography. One of the highlights for us was diving Canyons in strong current enjoying views of large groups of schooling trevally and snappers. We did a day trip to Verde Island, a well-known pinnacle site, covered with coral and teaming with fish; truly magnificent. The muck diving revealed some fabulous and rare critters including pygmy and thorny sea horses, frogfish, ornate and robust ghost pipfish, too many crabs and shrimp to name (including zebra, spider, soft coral, xeno crabs; emperor, skeleton and harlequin shrimp) and so many nudibranchs of all colours and sizes.
After a fantastic week, enjoying three dives a day, we made our way to Sangat Island off Busuanga to dive the famous WWII wrecks in Coron Bay. This private island is truly a slice of paradise with beachfront bungalows, a sunset bar on the rocks and easy access to the wrecks that brought us there. The wrecks were all sank in September 1944 when the Americans bombed a fleet of Japanese ships, including seaplane tenders, cargo carriers and gunboats. Many of these wrecks have ammunition, guns, and building materials (bulldozers, cement, jeeps etc) still onboard. They are mostly within recreational dive depths and offer fantastic opportunities for wreck penetration with knowledgeable experienced guides. Exploring the cargo holds, engine rooms, heads and crane mechanisms were some highlights. We had 25m+ visibility with almost no current; and the wrecks boast fabulous marine life, including soft coral and sea fans, schools of snapper, barracuda and batfish, sea snakes and cuttlefish as well as nudibranchs and crabs. Two group members took the opportunity to complete their deep diver speciality so that they could confidently explore the engine room of the Irako Maru.
Our last night as a group was spent in Manila, enjoying the atmosphere of the Mall of Asia sea front promenade. It was then time to go our separate ways, after an absolutely fabulous tour.