Friday, May 20, 2016

Scuba Diving in Mindoro

I recently had the chance to dive in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro and Pandan Island, Occidental Mindoro. This was my second time to dive in Puerto Galera and, while the place has many dive shops, I was not particularly impressed with the general set-up, particularly in light of sewer pipes discharging liquid effluent directly into the bay. That said, my recent dives indicate that the marine life (at least in the vicinity of Sabang Bay) are somewhat protected.


Scuba Diving Spots in Mindoro

Just below one of the floating bars fronting Sabang Bay is a school of sardines meandering in and out of the shade and sunlight. Nearby, two of perhaps the largest sea turtles I’ve ever seen were grazing on the see grass in the same vicinity as several mature unicorn fish. My dive guide points out a resident black frogfish in one of the small wrecks in the bay. A school of butterflyfish (I think that's what they're called . . . similar to the picture below taken in the Maldives) meets us at the other more substantial wreck in the bay. All in all, very delightful dives in Puerto Galera!


Pandan Island was a pleasant surprise. Just twenty minutes bangka ride from the town of Sablayan (about two-hours drive north of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on mostly concrete roads), Pandan Island (I thought) was a gateway to Apo Reef. I was wrong. Pandan Island itself is a diving destination. No need to travel an additional 50 kilometers by boat to dive in Apo Reef. The coral reefs in Pandan Island are, in fact, one of the best preserved compared to what I have seen in other parts of the Philippines thus far—better than Apo Island in Dumaguete, better than Balicasag in Bohol, better than Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro, better than Anilao in Batangas. In all of my dives thus far, I saw the biggest goliath grouper (Lapu-Lapu) here in Pandan Island—similar to the picture below. I also saw the largest trevally or jackfish (about 1 meter long), moray eel (about 1. 5 meters long) and octopus (with a head as large as a head of a young boy) here in Pandan Island.



Of course, there is Apo Reef, which was a great diving experience for me a couple of years ago, which I plan to revisit soon via Apo Reef Club Resort in Calintaan (less than one-hour drive north of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro). And still to be discovered are the diving spots of Mansalay and Bulalacao, which I will be checking-out in the months and years to come. I consulted a kapitan of a basnig (local commercial fishing boat) to point-out where the coral reefs in Mansalay and Bulalacao are located. See the illustration below.


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