For many years, I’d heard of the great diving in the Philippines – beautiful reefs, lots of fish, and loads of historical wrecks. I recently managed to get there to experience it for myself, along with my brother, his girlfriend, and our mate Steve.
We went to the dive centre of Puerto Galera, which was a 2 hour drive from Manila airport to the port town of Batangas and then a 1 hour ride on a bangka boat to La Laguna beach in Puerto Galera. We arrived at our amazing resort, Out of the Blue, where we had a villa right at the top of the hill that had great views over Sabang Bay.
We didn’t dive on our first day there, but took the opportunity to unwind with cheap beers, mangoes, and massages. One thing I didn’t expect was the number of older, foreign men with young, pretty Filipino women. Call me naive but I had thought that this was a dive destination, not a seedy, girlie destination!
Thankfully, the diving was fantastic and it was well worth the trek here. The diving was relatively easy here, with mild currents at most, but the reefs were colourful and teeming with fish. We even saw a few turtles!
On our last day in Puerto Galera, we took a day trip around the island in our own private jeepney, one of the flash buses common to the Philippines that were former US military vehicles. We went to check out the stunning views from the mountaintop Ponderosa golf club, White Beach, and a lunch at Tamaraw Falls.
After we’d had our fill of diving, we island-hopped to the premier beach holiday destination of Boracay. I usually find top rated beach destinations a disappointment whenever I go on holidays because we simply have amazing beaches in Australia, but this was one beach that definitely lived up to the hype. Walking across the beaches of Boracay is like a heavenly dip in powdery, silky soft talcum powder, and the water is a beautiful turquoise blue.
Boracay is a fun holiday destination, with loads of restaurants and bars, sunset sailing, and checking out the local seafood markets. We had one night out on the town with a pub crawl group, where we met lots of great fellow party people from the Philippines, the US, Saudi Arabia, and a few other Aussies too.
For great diving and beaching, and a cheap Asian holiday destination, I would definitely recommend the Philippines. It’s a laid back country with friendly locals, and has the advantage of being an Asian country where English is widely spoken. I’m looking forward to heading back to the Philippines sometime to check out more of the country’s spectacular diving and beaches.