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Dive Review of Asia Divers/El Galleon in
Philippines/Puerto Galera

Asia Divers/El Galleon, May, 2009,

by Gareth Richards, Ohio, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 5153.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cocos, Galapagos, GBR, NZ, Roatan, Cozumel, Cyprus, Turkey, BVI, Keys, etc
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive your computer, 55 mins limit
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments Boat rides are so short (5-10 mins) no need for a tank. Cameras were well handled and respected by the crew. No shore facilities but none needed: the hotel is 100 feet from the dock. Subject matter outstanding, very healthy corals, tons of nudis, seahorses, small fish fab.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments
El Galleon is in my opinion the best all-around dive resort in the Sabang area. El Galleon has its own dedicated dive store (Asia Divers), and it is the only dive resort nearby with its own private pier. This is significant as other dive boats load and unload from the beach in Sabang which is less convenient. Asia Divers offer nitrox and even trimix through their Tech Diving operation. Nitrox is commonly used all the time by most guests, and at a price of $60 for unlimited nitrox, it is easy to see why. Day dives are scheduled 7 days a week at 0800, 1030, 1330 and 1600. Dives are always 50-60 minutes; one exception was a deep dive to 129 feet (Fishbowl) which naturally was shorter. Night dives are available any day upon request, even it is one person. I corralled some others for the night dive that I did, so we had a small group. The dive was scheduled for 1815 and we were back by 1930.

Nearly all divers are European so all diving is conducted in metric: meters, bar and deg C; however all instructors are bilingual and if your gear is in feet, psi and deg F (mine is), no worries. Most guests were experienced divers, but I did see regular small Discover Scuba and Open Water classes being held also. Most diving is from PI-style bangkas but Asia Divers also has a purpose-built dive boat with 2 powerful outboards. This boat is used for day trips to more distant locations, such as Verdi Island. I joined one of these trips and dove 2 tanks at Verdi. An additional charge of $25 was added for use of the speedboat, but it cut travel time from 60+ minutes to only 20.

As a guest your main responsibility is to analyze tanks in advance and write your name and mix on the tank on tape, and sign the log. These tanks are then taken to the boat and assembled into your gear for you. At the end of the day bring back just your fins and mask , etc and the main part of your gear is brought back for you. So as a guest there is no handling of your bc/tank combo required.

Hot towels are offered on the boat immediately after the dive (kept in foil in a cooler!) and towels and a fresh water shower are available as soon as you return, as well as a fresh water hose and rinse tank for gear. Hang up your wetsuit and it will be stowed away for you.

Most diving is drift diving of one form or another. Currents can be ripping, or completely absent depending on location and state of the tide. Dives might begin in one direction and reverse course in the middle according to prevailing current conditions. The boats follow the divers and pick up based on SMB deployment.

Diving is nearly all reef diving, of the highest caliber. In my opinion this is some of the finest reef diving in the world. Reefs are in pristine condition with hard and soft corals, plentiful fish life of many species such as wide variety of anemone fish, lion fish, trevally, tuna, fusiliers, nudis, feather stars, morays, rays, sponges, seahorses, ghost pipe fish, and on and on. Verdi Island is a phenomenal wall dive. There are also some dive sites (Giant Clams) offering terrific muck diving as well as, you guessed it, giant clams.

Water temp was 82 F at nearly any depth; I wore a 5mil and was glad of it as I was doing so much diving; I saw others in everything from just shorts, to shorties, to 3 mil full suit, to 5mil plus full hood.

El Galleon is located around the point from Sabang itself, on Small LaLaguna. This in itself is a big advantage in my view. All the Sabang hotels are jammed next to each other on Sabang beach and are crowded together, backing on to the village. El Galleon is much more open and spacious in its setting. There are many types of room I stayed in a ground floor poolside room which was great. Room was well outfitted with cable TV, a safe and a nice bathroom, and good AC. Bed was a comfortably firm Queen size. Laundry is done for you immediately (I turned it in around 0700 and received it back at lunch time for a very nominal fee). Free wifi is available.

Food is outstanding dishes cover European, Thai, Filipino, Indian cuisine and are of uniformly high quality for an astonishingly reasonable price (typical main course running 5-7 USD.

Total cost: $1200 for 7 nights, poolside room including single supplement, including unlimited day dives for 6 days (up to 24 total) and all food. This could have been as low as $854 per person if I had been in a budget room, double occupancy. Amazing value.

PG is 3-4 hours from Manila depending on traffic; 2 hours by road to Batangas and one hour by boat. There are many many ways to do this. Probably the best combination of convenience and value is the Sikat bus/ferry service leaving Manila at 0800 and connecting to a dedicated ferry at $25 one way per person. The resort can arrange completely private transport via car and private boat for $175 one way, up to 6 people. This is the way to go if you have a group. If you dont have a group, or prefer something in between, you can arrange a private car for about $60 one way and connect to the boat yourself for about $6. This has the advantage that you can leave on whatever schedule you like (if you dont want to catch the 0800 bus for example). I did this and arranged a car through beelinetravel.com. It was prompt and reliable in both directions.

All in all an excellent trip and incredible value.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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