A still, white leaf scorpionfish at the shipwreck of Alma Jane

Quick Guide to Diving Alma Jane: Puerto Galera’s Cool Shipwreck Dive

Of all the dives I did in Puerto Galera, perhaps my favorite was the Alma Jane wreck.

The Alma Jane doesn’t have some morbid past or historical significance — it’s merely a decommissioned cargo ship, intentionally scuttled in 2003 to make a new dive site.

Because of the strong currents and nutrient-rich waters of the Verde Island Passage where it was sunk, the wreck has been taken over by coral colonies faster than you’d expect for its (relatively) young age.

In fact, it looked almost entirely taken over by coral — it was hard to spot any metal amidst all the new coral colonies, which is one of my favorite qualities in a shipwreck dive.

More corals and soft corals on the wreck at Alma Jane in Puerto Galera
The amount of coral on the shipwreck at Alma Jane shows just how rich with marine life the Verde Island Passage is!

While I’ve actually never been much of a wreck diver, Alma Jane was an exception because of just how overrun (in a good way) it is with coral and reef life.

It’s such a thriving artificial reef that it’s hard to tell it’s even a ship unless you are looking at it from afar!

Diving Conditions at Alma Jane

Coral detail on a part of the shipwreck at Alma Jane
Anthias, hydroids, sponges, and corals on the interior of the ship

Due to its depth, the Alma Jane can only be dived by advanced open water divers, since the ship is resting on the sea bed at 30 meters deep (about 100 feet).

With how deep the Alma Jane is, and how intriguing it is, crossing your NDL (no decompression limit) is extremely tempting – it’s almost like a siren in that regard, begging you to stay deep.

Be sure not to push your computer’s limits, and always maintain the same degree of conservativism that you planned to before you got in the water.

As they say, “plan your dive and dive your plan!”

Detail view of some of the corals growing on the metal hull of the ship in the Alma Jane wreck
Beautiful feather stars, sponges, soft corals, and a damselfish

The conditions at Alma Jane can be very good if you’re lucky.

We lucked out with great visibility, about 30 meters, so we could see the entire length of the ship from stern to bow.

There was some mild current, but nothing too crazy: we just ascended and descended using the mooring line.

Depending on the season and time of day, you can have poor visibility or strong current.

Both of these factors should be discussed in the pre-dive briefing so you know what to expect.

What You Can See at Alma Jane

A still, white leaf scorpionfish at the shipwreck of Alma Jane
A stoic-looking leaf scorpfionfish: it camouflages so well you can notice it by its swaying movement — like a leaf!

Alma Jane is a heaven for underwater photographers, with promising wide-angle shots of the eerily-looming ship underwater and all sorts of tiny critters that make amazing macro subjects.

Among the critters you’ll spot on Alma Jane are leaf scorpionfish (pictured above), nudibranchs of every stripe, pipefish, tasseled scorpionfish, frogfish, and more.

Besides the small things, Alma Jane is also home to some bigger life, particularly schools of batfish, as well as other large schooling fish like trevallies, snappers, and sweetlips.

Tip: Keep an eye out for anemones and coral formations like this one pictured below: bubble coral is are home to lots of little critters like this Vir philippinensis, also known as the bubble coral shrimp.

Bubble coral with a shrimp poking his head out and looking at the camera
The bubble coral shrimp can always be found on his favorite patch of coral!

Orangutan crabs are also particularly fond of this type of coral, and I saw one here as well.

Though it was a lot more shy than this bubble coral shrimp, who was practically hamming it up for photos (or, more likely, just trying to scare me off).

My Experience Diving Alma Jane

A purple anthia next to a piece of the ship that has a lot of coral growing over it
Anthia and corals on the ship’s hull

I went diving with Reef Haven and it was fantastic.

We did it as the first dive of the day, partly because it was our deepest dive of the day.

Also, earlier in the day is when the visibility is best at Alma Jane, and also currents are typically at their weakest.

We definitely encountered some mild current on the dive, which was helped by the fact that we had a mooring line to use to ascend and descend.

The start of the shipwreck Alma Jane
Reaching the scuttled Alma Jane after following the mooring line

I chose to use Nitrox (32%) for this dive, which gave me a MOD (maximum operating depth) of 110 feet and about 25 minutes of bottom time at 100 feet.

Not sure if Nitrox or air is right for you? Read this guide.

And I needed every single one of those minutes to explore the beauty of the Alma Jane and all its macro critters!

Nuidbranch near some sponges and other algae and things to eat close up on the alma jane
The accurately-named Desirable flabellina (Coryphellina exoptata) in the details of the ship’s nooks and crannies

When my computer buzzed at me that I only had three minutes left before I needed to slowly begin my ascent, I was dismayed!

My dive ended up being about 40 minutes, with 5 of those minutes as a safety stop on the mooring line.

I ended up consuming my air fairly quickly on this dive, due to some extra movement to offset current and also because I was so excited!

white and black frogfish on the shipwreck
Backside view of a black and white spotted frogfish before it jumped into the ship’s interior to hide from attention

If you have more air in your reserve, sometimes divemasters will have you gradually ascend by heading towards La Laguna Point, where you can do some muck diving on the way.

That’s a little more exciting than an ascent with a safety stop where you can’t really see much while you wait on the mooring line.

Either way — Alma Jane is a beautiful dive site that you can’t miss while you’re diving in the Philippines!

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