I spent 19 hours on two planes, 2 hours by car in Manila and 1 hour by boat to get to this dive resort. I expected something that would be worth my while and it exceeded my expectation.
The resort is beautiful - right on the beach. The room is clean and comfortable. I had the basic room (no Ritz Carlton) but it worked just fine for me. The resort staff was pleasant and friendly. Everyone was happy to be working there. As soon as the boat docked, the staff grabbed my bags and took them to my room. Check-in took less than a minute. They were waiting for me. The food there was incredible. Great local food (pancit for one) and Indian food. They have a French chef that was wonderful. The meals were delicious and reasonably priced. The hotel has a bar that overlooks the water and the view was great. The diving was very different from what you get in the Caribbean.
The dive operation is Asia Divers. The dive staff and the entire operation was top notch. They put most (actually all) dive operations in the Caribbean to shame. There is a dock that is the largest I have ever seen. It has storage spaces for up to 100 divers at any given time. There were no more than 20 divers when I was there. You handed the dive staff your gear and you don't have to worry about it for your entire stay. They haul it to the boat and clean it for you when you are done. For Nitrox divers, they even analyze the tanks in your presence and you sign off on it. Asia Divers is right next to the resort and it is the BEST run dive operations I have ever seen in my 40 years of diving. The dive masters (Josh, Eric, Alli, Ruben and Jamie) all know how to show divers macro sea life. Alli even dived with a magnifying glass to look for the really small stuff. You get a hot face towel after you surface and when you get to the dock, they hand you a warm towel. The boats were never too crowded and we did back flip entries in a highly organized manner. with the exception of Verde Island, all dive sites are close to the resort so you don't sit in the boat for a hour to get to the dive site.
What you see in the Philippines are very different from the Caribbean. You see very colorful feather soft corals, huge black frog fish (the size of a cat), eels, electric clams that buzz away at 70 feet underwater, gigantic clams, large cuttle fish, lots of nudibranchs and of course Nemo! I saw a juvenile sweetlips swimming like crazy to fend off potential predators. The visibility was not very good the week I was there due to some rough weather the week before. But as Jamie was saying, if you are shooting macros, you don't need much visibility. The currents at some sites could be tricky and unpredictable. You will find yourself swimming against the current more often than you are used to.
The dives at Verde Island is especially treacherous. It is definitely not for inexperienced divers. In fact, the dive masters will not take any newly certified divers to Verde Island. The current was extremely strong and could easily lift up or push down a diver 30 or 40 feet in a few seconds. At another dive (canyon wall), I had to abort after narrowly missed smashing my face against a huge coral reef with the current pushing me towards it at great speed. It pulled me down 30 feet in a split second and the viz was near zero and I lost all visual contact with my dive party. I aborted the dive. That's where training and experience came in handy. Several very experienced divers also came close to aborting their dives.
Some other dives were very smooth and tranquil. We were just drifting along with a slight current at 60 to 70 feet and seeing all that beautiful sea life passing by.
In sum, I cannot say enough good things about the resort and the dive operation. They are true professionals. You will also meet lots of people from Hong Kong, Australia and Asia.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Renowned for its serene and quaint beachfront surroundings fronting Small La Laguna Beach, Puerto Galera, Asia Divers and El Galleon Beach Resort and have thirty air-conditioned rooms that blend into the tropical hillside. Majestic views of Sabang Bay and Small Lalaguna Beach, with a restaurant which extends to the water’s edge offering a great value in European and local cuisine, a small pool for learning how to dive, spa, and all the hotel amenities and necessities one needs to totally enjoy his/her stay. The dive facility is less than a year old and there is nothing like it in Asia! We have a diving platform with a large pontoon where boats can easily dock making it easy for guests to get on and off the boats. Divers have their own crate for storage in a spacious area, a dedicated camera room; you are well looked after by the crew who are there to help you with anything you may need. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El Galleon Beach Resort And Hotel
- El Galleon Beach Hotel Puerto Galera