Puerto Galera is the Philippines first declared World Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1977. One of the key focus of such recognition is the conservation of its coral reefs, which are considered to harbor the richest marine biodiversity there is to find. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that it has been called as the heart of the Coral Triangle region.
Going to Puerto Galera has always been a delight for SCUBA divers like me. The last time I was here was last year when my Italian friend Rossano and I decided to spend a two days diving and snorkeling. Just recently, I made a visit again to do the same thing -- it just does not get tiring given that there are more than 20 dive sites of varying beauty and levels of difficulty to explore.
My Irish friend Conan has been in the local diving scene for more than five years now, and having him around makes every underwater safari much more enjoyable and secure. I stayed at the hotel and dive resort he works at, LaLaguna Villas, which has only been in Sabang area for three years. The resort sports new and modern facilities, impeccable views of the Verde Island passage, as well as great customer service from the locals employed as staff. Staying here for a few days proved to be a relaxing option, it being away from the hustle and bustle, bright lights and loud noise of Sabang proper. One can still sleep here quietly any time of the day, and then take a dip at the private swimming pool whenever one needs to cool down. There is also a gym facility open for guests.
One of the highlights of the trip was the dive in the Manila channel. the dive site is about 10 minutes boat ride away, tucked from the commercialized and touristy area of Puerto Galera. With us at that time was a group of French divers who were also spending the weekend surveying the underwater scene of this oven underrated paradise.
The extensive coral garden of the Manila channel is perhaps one of the best I have seen in Puerto Galera. The low underwater current makes it ideal even for beginners and snorkelers alike. Some of the surprising marine life we spotted were a large green sea turtle, some squids, and large schools of wrasses and other interesting fish. The good dive that afternoon was rewarded well with a nice view of the sunset on the way back, which deserved opening cold cans of beer to celebrate another wonderful experience on this part of this beautiful country.
I cannot imagine Puerto Galera without a dive with Conan and staying at LaLuguna Villas.
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