I have just recently returned from Atlantis Dive Resorts in both Puerto Galera and Dumaguete. This was my second trip there in 18 months and it was refreshing to see the same dive staff, hotel staff, and meet and greet personnel upon arriving in Manila.
Due to flight schedules, we arrived in Manila a night before our transfer to Puerto Galera. We were met by Tess at the airport who assists with transfers, luggage, domestic airline tickets and making sure that everybody is headed to where they are supposed to be.
After a good night's sleep at a nearby airport hotel, we were promptly picked up at our hotel for our transfer to Puerto Galera. We had a private transfer, AC van for our 2 1/2 hour transfer to the boat dock where we boarded a large comfortable outrigger boat for our 45 minute water transfer to Puerto Galera. Enroute to the boat dock we even have a chance to stop to stretch our legs and even have a Starbucks fix :-).
Once arriving at the resort, it was so nice to be greeted by name even though my last visit was 18 months ago! You are then directed to the restaurant area for a hotel / dive orientation. During the orientation you are given cold wash cloths, a refreshing drink and a complimentary neck and shoulder massage. I don't know how they do it but within the first hour after your arrival, every staff member greets you by name!
During the orientation, you are met by the manager of the hotel, restaurant and the dive operations who each give you a quick orientation of how things work and then it's off to dive!
You are assinged a personal cubby in the dive locker area. Each cubby is numbered and that number corresponds to the numbered tag placed on your BC. All you have to do is set up your gear one time and the dive staff cares for, loads/unloads, rinses, and breaks down your gear for your entire stay. The resorts are basically a live-aboard on land and packages include up to 5 scheduled boat dives per day. Almost all dive sites are within 5 - 10 minutes of the resort so surface intervals are spent at your leisure back at the reosrt.
Diving: The diving is quite unique with black sand dives, some sloping walls, coral reefs and all within a few minute boat ride from the resort. The critter diving is what makes this location so special. The list of critters that can be seen on one dive is quite extensive and can include everything from Pygmy Seahorses, blue ring octopus, mimic octopus, pygmy cuttlefish, several differnt species of frogfish and everything in between. Don't miss the night dives either! If you like macro photography, this is the place you need to be!
The ease of diving is the best I have ever experienced at a land based resort. You simply walk about 20 feet from the dive shop and board the boat with only mask and fins. Everything else is loaded, set up and carried for you by the dive staff. The DM's are fantastic as well and know where every critter that you want to see is located on each dive site. The diving is quite easy as well and all dives are set up as drift diving so you never have to swim against current or find the boat. The boats find you which is always a plus in my book because of my navigationally challenged brain!
During the week, we were able to arrange a 3 tank boat trip to nearby Verde Island. Only a 45 minute boat ride from the resort, the underwater topography is vastly different with gorgeous blue water, walls covered with hard and soft corals of all shapes and sizes and the most Anthias that I have ever seen making for some great, colorful wide angle images. Surface intervals are spent on the Island at Ozone Dive Camp. There are thatched huts with tables and benches. In between dives 2 and 3 an enormous lunch is served. They even barbequed a whole tuna which was out of this world tasty! There is a chance to buy some local handmade crafts or just take a walk along the white sand beach.
Food - the food is plentiful, homecooked and gourmet. Breakfast is made to order - freshly made omlettes, freshly baked breads and pastries, waffles, french toast, and an endless amount of fresh fruit. There is a board that indicates the lunch choices which includes soup/salad, starters, entrees and dessert. There are several choices at each meal time to satifsy anybody. If you don't see it on the board, just ask....if it can be done or made, it will and with a huge smile! Dinner - WOW, what else can I say about dinner....1st rate....freshly made to order....several choices and just downright delicous. You will have to experience it for yourself.
Accommodations - the resort is built on the side of a hill so if you don't like climbing steps, you will need to request one of the lower rooms. I stayed in the Honeymoon Suite which was at the very top of the resort. Although the view from my private patio was spectacular, the 100 + steps to get there was a killer but certainly well worth it once you reached the top. There are a few several differnt room categories - Honeymoon Suite, Executive Suites, terrace rooms, deluxe rooms and oceanview rooms. The deluxe rooms are the standard inclusions in a typical hotel/dive package. All the rooms are very spacious and comfortable so no matter which room you choose, you will not be disappointed.
There is a pool and a full service spa on the resort property. The spa services are not to be missed and are extremely reasonable - about the quarter of a price for a stateside, standard one hour massage.
After our last day of diving, our group brought a bunch of school supplies with us that Atlantis helped arrange a visit to 2 nearby schools so we could present our donations directly to the schools. What a fun way to give back! Atlantis has a foundation which manages and accepts donations for the local schools.
It was time to leave and say our good byes but we know we will return. From Puerto Galera we headed back across the water to the boat launch and the ground transfer back to the Manila Airport to catch our domestic flight to Atlantis Dumaguete. Again, like clock work, we were met at the airport by Tess who got us checked in, and our bags weighed as a group (we did not have to pay any overage fees). We did all purchase the PAL SPORTS PLUS card from Philippine Air to allow us an extra 20K of checked bags which gave us a total of 77 lbs of free check bags. If you are traveling domestically in the Philippines and carrying dive equipment and/or camera gear, I highly recommend purchasing the card for 40.00. This can all be arranged directly with the resort before you arrive.
I believe I can only file one report per resort, I will post a review of Atlantis Dumaguete separately.
From the time you land in Manila until the time comes to say goodbye, you will know why their motto is Arrive as a guest and leave as a friend.
Many thanks to the all the staff of Atlantis Puerto Galera for making my second visit as enjoyable as my first! I will be back.
- Also Known As:
- Atlantis Dive Resorts Puerto Galera Hotel Puerto Galera
- Atlantis Dive Resorts Puerto Galera Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just a short hop from Manila, Puerto Galera literally means Port of Galleons; its sheltered bays have been a safe haven for sailors for centuries. These days though it’s the world class diving and stunning scenery that keeps visitors coming back year after year. ... more less