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Guide to Diving in Puerto Galera: Coral Triangle, Wreck Diving, Topography Diving
Diver sights white coral habitat in Puerto Galera

Guide to Diving in Puerto Galera: Coral Triangle, Wreck Diving, Topography Diving

Verified Expert

Diver spotting yellow fish in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

Puerto Galera is a village located in the northern tip of Mindoro, the Philippines' 7th largest island. It's known for its white sandy beaches, pristine blue water and island scene, and nightlife. Besides being a relaxing beach vacation, Puerto Galera offers incredibly diverse diving in the Philippines and in the heart of the Coral Triangle. 

Just across the Isla Verde passage from Anilao, Batangas, independently famous for macro diving and nudibranchs, Puerto Galera offers over 40 dive sites along its coast, with healthy coral reefs and an abundance of fish.

Many divers attribute strong current to the area and think of it as advanced diving in terms of dive skills, but that is only partially true; stronger currents depend on the lunar calendar and in certain dive sites, occur two weeks of each month, with especially crazy drift dives 4 days after the new moon.

In April 1570, the Spaniards left Bombon (now known as Batangas), sailing through Isla Verde passage, right onto this white sandy beach, believed to be discovered by Chinese traders named Puerto Galera (the port of Galleons).

Puerto Galera was a small fishermen village until it was discovered as a tourist destination due to its pristine blue water and green hills of its topography. It became a popular tourist spot in the late ’70s, and in the late 80’s it became known as a diverse dive destination with colorful reefs,  and since then, became one of the Philippines' premier dive spots.

Puerto Galera has several inner bays, with no current shallow coral gardens and sandy patches ideal for courses; Open Water students can immerse in skill learning while actually seeing some marine life! Puerto Galera also offers relaxed critter spotting dives (a haven for photographers!), interesting underwater topography, and a couple of wrecks for the rusties. 

Puerto Galera has the optimal condition for certifications; learn to dive while experiencing the marine diversity of the coral triangle.

Coral Triangle Bubble

Pink fish swimming by coral in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

The Coral Triangle is the habitat for 76% of known coral species globally, 52% of Indo-Pacific reef fishes, and 37% of the world's reef fishes. Diving here offers the highest diversity of coral reef fishes in the world- more than 3,000 species, and you can also find here 6 out of the 7 species of marine turtles!

Coral Triangle estimated annual fishing export revenue is $3 billion, the same amount as the annual income of tourism! By diving the coral triangle, divers support local communities and helping them build a sustainable income that supports conservation. 

Detective Diving

If you're diving a macro site, bring a magnifying glass. Many little critters come to life once divers get a chance to have a closer, bigger look. Especially in sites with no current, focus on a single critter and examine color patterns, distinguishing factors, and more.

A camera with a macro lense can offer the same results, but in lack of sophisticated electronic equipment, buy a regular, handled magnifying glass and get a small hole through it with a gentle drill. Jewelers and hardware stores would likely have such tools. Pass a cord through it and clip it to your BCD. 

Critter Diving 

Bearded Scorpion fish in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

Puerto Galera is an excellent place for critter diving. Blue Ring Octopus, Pygmy Seahorse, and Mandarin Fish are awaiting divers in easy, no current, sandy slope and grassy dive sites, while dozens of nudibranch species are easily spotted. 

A couple of dive sites worth visiting include Giant Clams, a protected area in Puerto Galera bay with clams hundreds of years old which can be 1.5 meters wide. Sloping down into the sandy grass bottom, this is a popular site for spotting hairy frogfish, mimic octopus, wonderpus and flamboyant cuttlefish. Less known dive sites with excellent macro include Montani and Shipyard. 

Coral Cove is an excellent macro site, with a sloping reef filled with Nudibranchs, Ribbon Eels, Pipefish, Frogfish, Seahorses, and Orangutan crabs. Sinandigan Wall is a 30-meter deep wall with a blanket of Nudibranchs on its sandy, bouldered bottom. 

This is a great place to spot Leaffish, Frog Fish, Crocodile Fish, various anemones, and plenty of small shrimp residing in the mushroom corals. 

Wreck Diving in Puerto Galera

A leafy scorpion fish in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

Divers can get a glimpse into wreck diving experience in Puerto Galera’s one proper wreck and a few smaller wrecks. The instructor can teach wreck specialty here, and true rust fanatics can continue from Puerto Galera to Coron Island, the wreck mecca of the Philippines. 

Alma Jane

Alma Jane is a 60 ton, 32-meter steel-hulled Filipino cargo vessel built in 1966 in Japan. She was stripped of dangerous objects and intentionally sunk in 2003. She sits upright on the sandy bottom, well within recreational limits, at 20-30 meters deep, with its upper deck at 22 meters deep. 

She decayed rapidly and looks older than her 14 years underwater, mostly due to the warm water of the area (about 30C during summertime). 

On the upper deck, divers can get an of Alma Jane original timber deck lines, which are now rotten. The upper deck is bountiful of hard and soft corals, shrimps, crabs, and macro life. Swimming through with its wide beams, schools of fish swim along, while light rays entering from various skylights create beautiful scenery. Moray Eels reside in the metal structure, while the mast on its bow now houses oyster clams and hard corals.

Diving on the sandy bottom offers an excellent view of the ship’s silhouette. You can expect to meet Snappers, Sweetlips, Batfish, Rabbitfish, Scorpionfish, Pufferfish, Lionfish, Trumpetfish, Frogfish, Octopus, and Cuttlefish.

Dive Tip: Bring a torch and a good dive guide to point out everything. 

St Christopher

Also knows as Anton's Wreck, this 18-meter long wooden boat was sunk by local dive operators in 1995 to create an artificial reef. At 20-24 meters deep, swim alongside large Snappers while spotting juvenile and adult Frogfish and Sergeant Major (a type of Damselfish) guarding their purple eggs.

Diving St Christopher at night, the sandy bottom crawls with dozens of crabs and shrimps, on the wreck itself or in the soft sponges around it. Snappers, Batfish, and Frogfish are regulars on this dive site.

St. Christopher can have moderate to strong current during tidal changes; it's best to dive it at slack tide and use is as a starting point to explore the reef in Small Laguna Beach. 

Dive Tip: Bring a magnifying glass and a good guide to spot macro life. 

Sabang Wrecks

Divers at the Sabang Wreck in Puerto Galera

A set of three small sunken vessels, a small steel yacht, and two wooden boats are a haven for macro diving and photography, with Eels, Scorpionfish, Stonefish, Lionfish, Flounders, Pipefish, Frogfish, Ghost Pipefish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, and various Nudibranchs.

Cruising along on top of the decaying vessels presents a highly diversified residence of marine life, where divers can see dozens of species within meters. 

Dive Tip: Bring a pointer stick (to place in the sand for staying put), a torch, and a magnifying glass. 

Topography Diving

Aerial shot of Verde Island in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

Canyons 

There's a set of three canyons to the northeast side of Puerto Galera, right at the tip of the Island, on the Verde Island Passage. This dive site is like Snakes and Ladders for divers.

The canyons are 20-28 meters and stages one after the other, from the shallower to the deeper. Jump in and swim on top of the first canyon, then through a narrow drop down and rise again.

Being located on the passage exposes this site to strong currents, which means rich in nutrients, which draws schools of fish, like Giant Trevallies, Sweetlips, and Snappers. 

Located an hour boat ride away from Puerto Galera, Verde Island offers great topography diving in one of the Philippines most diverse marine environments.  

Pinnacles 

Banded Sea Snake in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

“If Yosemite Park were a reef, it would look like this," said the editor of Undercurrent Magazine. Pinnacles dive site takes its name after the rocky pinnacles that rise from over a hundred meters deep to kiss the surface on the East side of Verde Island.

Hard and soft corals have grown all over the rocks, shaping a vertical reef with massive gorgonian fans and sponges. Butterflyfish, juvenile Angel Fish, schools of the small, dark Red Tooth Trigger Fish, Sea Snakes, Frogfish, and some large pelagic schools can be easily spotted here. Dive tip: look into the blue to look for the occasional Rays and Tunas. 

Washing Machine

Diver sights white coral habitat in Puerto GaleraPhoto by Noam Kortler

Watch your bubbles go round and round on a series of seven shallow gullies, where, on strong current days, you’d be thrown around like on a rollercoaster. Dropping and passing through each canyon in a slalom, the rocks that once formed the canyons are covered in colorful hard and soft corals.

On a slow to no current day, take your time and gracefully drift with thousands of orange Anthias who emerge and enter their coral shelter in an endless cycle, Moorish Idol and Banded Sea Snakes. 

How To Get to Puerto Galera 

Puerto Galera is accessible by ferry via the public port in Batangas, 110 KM south from Manila. Several resorts like Atlantis offer private transportation from Manila for their guests, which shortens trip time by half. Check our Puerto Galera guide for details on how to get there. 

Where To Stay and Dive

Atlantis Resort on Sabang Beach offers hillside Flintstone-like accommodation in an all-inclusive dive vacation format, with excellent meals at Toko’s restaurant and up to 5 boat dives a day. Small dive groups, climate-controlled camera room, and new boats. 

About the Author

RONI BEN-AHARON of Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards is a global nomad who enjoys soaking up the sun, exploring trails, and diving. She’s been working in marketing/ management in the tourism industry for over a decade.

Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards offer:

  • Dedicated Beachfront Dive Resorts in Dumaguete and Puerto Galera
  • Superb Liveaboard
  • Unlimited Diving
  • Photographer Friendly Dive Resort 
  • Excellent Food 
  • Five-Star Service