Being so close to Manila one is inclined to be put off, however on visiting Puerto Galera we have found it to be a real gem in terms of diving and atmosphere.
Puerto Galera is a small town located on the northern side of Mindoro Island, just a few hours south of Manila by road and ferry. Together with the two adjacent towns, Sabang and White Beach, and their surrounding waters: the whole area is often referred to as Puerto Galera and is known worldwide for its fantastic diving.
White Beach and Sabang are the primary destinations for tourists, with White Beach being a popular weekend hangout for the locals. Further along the coast, Sabang does not have such an impressive beach but is home to a wide range of accommodation and in particular, dive shops. The town grew from a small fishing village to a thriving town off the back of scuba diving, so the focus here is very much on the diving itself.
With diving in mind, it is well worth a visit to Puerto Galera. Beautifully intact corals are munched on by huge turtles, more interested in their dinner than worrying about on looking divers. The corals support a huge amount of marine life; in particular the macro here is excellent: nudibranchs galore, frogfish and if you are lucky and have a very sharp eye, even the pygmy seahorse.
There are around 40 dive sites ranging from 5 to 40 metres in depth and water temperatures are between 26 and 29 degrees Celsius the whole year round. Currents are common in the area and are sometimes strong and unpredictable so can be challenging, but great for divers who are a bit more experienced and enjoy drift diving. Nevertheless, there are always dives available with little or no current for beginners and those who simply prefer a more leisurely dive! There are also several wrecks in the area, both deep and shallow, which suit all levels of diver; as well as deep underwater canyons for those interested in going down the technical route.
The bottom line is that this is the perfect place for a diving holiday and with such healthy and varied reefs it is difficult to get bored, particularly for the underwater photographer.