Adventures and Sports

Dive Deeper: Rediscover 4 Unheralded Dive Sites In Sarangani Bay

Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Jun 28, 2017

Kept under the radar for so long, this rich body of water is a secret no more as the Provincial Government of Sarangani and the Department of Tourism Region 12 recently held the first-ever Sarangani Dive Safari. Media divers and underwater photographers from Manila, Cebu, and Davao were welcomed by Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, Provincial Tourism Council chair Michelle Lopez-Solon, and DOT 12 Regional Director Nelly Nita Dillera.

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“It takes tough people like you coming from different regions outside of Sarangani to come and experience what we have, and tell the whole world how beautiful Sarangani Bay is,” said Dillera. “We are trying to recover the negative impressions of Mindanao, and through you, we can change this reaction and promote Sarangani as a new diving destination,” she added.  
One of the country’s unheralded beautiful bays, the province of Sarangani has been proclaimed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as a Protected Seascape and listed as one of the country’s Key Marine Biodiversity Areas.
It covers an area of 215,950 hectares with a 226.4-km coastline, covering the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba, Maasim, Alabel, Malapatan and Glan in Sarangani, and General Santos City.
Its coral resources cover more than 2,293 hectares spread over 20 coral reef areas with about 60 important live hard coral genera, 411 reef species in 46 families. Seagrass cover is placed at 912 hectares, with 11 species in the coastal towns.
“We are doing marine preservation efforts as we are in the middle of a protected seascape.  We have whale sharks, sperm whales, yellow fin tuna, pilot whales, dolphins, clown fishes, lion fishes, sergeant fishes, and sea turtles,” says Gov. Solon who is also a certified diver.

Lemlunay House Reef

Lemlunay by Uwe Michaelis

The Dive Safari exploration is a mixture of easy and difficult dives. At the Lemlunay Resort in Maasim, a night dive was scheduled in the evening.  This dive took place at the house reef, where some critters come out only at night.  An interesting marine behavior the divers witnessed was a bobhead squid feasting on a shrimp. Other critters that showed up were cuttlefishes, nudies, a lobster, Spanish dancer, and parrot fish.
Lemlunay, which means “paradise” in the Blaan tribal language, has the South Point Divers shop which is the only dive center in the province. Just below it is the Tinoto Wall or Tinoto Express which is known for drift diving.

Tuka Marine Park
Tuka Marine Park in Kiamba is a favorite for snorkelers, especially in the shallow portion. But in the deeper part, there are giant bumphead parrot fishes, approximately 2 meters long, looking like a herd of cows underwater. Other interesting marine life are dorid nudis, various chromodiris, batfishes, and sea turtles.

Maasim Reef

Maasim Reef by Iggy Tadlip (1)

Not for the faint of heart, this dive is more for advanced divers. Experienced divers witnessed strong currents, did negative entries, and used a descent line to reach down to Maasim Reef. The bottom offered better visibility, milder current, and a more astounding garden of marine flora.
The reef boasts of juvenile white-tipped sharks nestling under a table coral, as well as huge fan corals and gigantic bat fishes.

Rocky Beach
Derived from huge, sloping rocks descending to the bottom of the dive site, this boasts of colorful fishes, surrounding colorful seafans. It is home to a school of napoleon wrasse, and a ribbon eel.  Soft and hard corals decorated the rocky area, with sea stars basking in the rays penetrating through the waters. It was an easy drift dive, which eventually led the divers back to the Lemlunay house reef.
Gov. Solon said that the success of the Dive Safari is just the initial step in promoting dive tourism in the province, in line with the DOT 12’s “Sox is Next” campaign.

Have you been to Sarangani? Come tell the world how beautiful it is in the comments below, or write about it here on!


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