Close up of sleeping turtle next to sea fan

Scuba Diving in Puerto Galera: The Phillippines’ Newly Minted Capital of Diving!

When I arrived in Puerto Galera, there was a sense of pride in the air: Puerto Galera had just been declared the diving capital of the Philippines in September of 2023.

And after 2 weeks and 24 dives in Puerto Galera and its neighboring preserved marine area of Verde Island, I could easily see why.

The density of dive sites in Puerto Galera is incredible!

A school of batfish and black, white, and yellow fish, with a bunch of crinoids or feather stars clustered on a rock

There’s muck diving for macro nuts, wall diving for fans of immense coral reefs, drift dives for adrenaline lovers, wreck dives for those who want a bit of history and intrigue to their dives…

There truly is a bit of everything in the dives sites of Puerto Galera.

While Puerto Galera isn’t quite as well known amongst divers as Anilao, one of the muck diving capitals of the world, I think that will change soon… but for now, you can enjoy Puerto Galera without the crowds or high prices of some of the Philippines’ more well-known spots!

Things to Know About Diving in Puerto Galera

Getting to Puerto Galera

Two clownfish in an anemone in Puerto Galera

Getting to Puerto Galera isn’t the easiest thing… which is the case for a lot of the Philippines’ best dive spots, to be frank.

When originally planning my dive trip to the Philippines, I thought I would take a month and visit several spots around the islands.

However, I often found that island hopping in the Philippines isn’t as easy as just… well, hopping on a plane.

Typically, a plane is only the first leg of a journey: one that must be continued by some combination of taxi, bus, and/or boat.

In the case of Puerto Galera, I first arrived at Manila International Airport and arranged for a private driver to pick me up in Batangas.

A white leaf scorpionfish sitting on corals

You can contact my driver, Aldy who I highly recommend: you can reach out to him at +63 977 026 9866 via WhatsApp and he or a trustworthy driver on his roster will help you out.

In December 2023, the cost when I went from Manila to Batangas Pier was 4,000 PHP each way; perhaps you can work out a deal for booking a return trip.

If budget is a concern, you can take a taxi to the bus station (Pasay Bus Station) to then catch a public bus to Batangas Pier — discuss the rate with the driver before getting in the taxi, but expect around 250-500 PHP.

Then, you can take a JAM or CERES bus to Batangas Pier for around 200-350 PHP depending on which bus you take.

Once you arrive at Batangas Pier, either by pre-arranged driver or by taxi/bus, you’ll need to pay for the ferry ticket, around 630 PHP for the ferry itself and another 30 PHP as a terminal fee.

If porters help you with your bags, have smaller bills ready for them: a tip of around 20-50 PHP is acceptable, but don’t expect change back if you give them a higher note.

Frankly, porters can be a little stressful in the Batangas Pier area, especially if you’re a solo female traveler like myself and this is your first stop in the Philippines.

Barrel sponge and maori wrasse detail on the dive site in Puerto Galera

Don’t let anyone touch your bags unless you are prepared to and happy to tip — and also keep in mind there are usually two ‘sets’ of porters, ones who wait before the ferry entrance area and ones who are in the ferry terminal itself and seem to be employed by the terminal.

I’d suggest ignoring the first porters and bringing your luggage to the ferry entrance area yourself, and then from there, you can use the porters.

I found the first porters to really swarm you and then berate you for not tipping them enough, even though they only walked 30m/100 feet with you!

Once you get on the ferry, it’s pretty smooth sailing: it takes about an hour to get to Puerto Galera if you take the right ferry (I suggest the Galerian fast ferry which drops you off at Balatero Port).

Note that once you arrive in Puerto Galera you have to pay another small fee, about 10-30 PHP (I forget the exact price).

Your accommodations or your dive shop should be able to arrange for pick-up by tricycle when you arrive at the port.

Cost of Diving in Puerto Galera

One of the divemasters at Reef Haven making a heart with her hands with soft corals around her on a rock

Diving in Puerto Galera is not quite as cheap as diving in Bali or Thailand, but it’s still inexpensive compared to many places in the world.

I dove with Reef Haven who I would highly recommend: they’re locally-owned, woman-owned, and all their core divemaster staff are local women, many who are trained via in-house scholarships.

The vibe is very family-oriented, so you immediately feel like you’re part of an extended Filipino family, and the owner Julienne takes great care of you and can help with a lot before and during your stay.

For a sample of what prices are in Puerto Galera, here’s a list of the prices at Reef Haven:

  • 2 boat dives – 2,600 PHP ($47 USD)
  • 6 boat dives – 7,200 PHP ($130 USD)
  • 10 boat dives – 11,000 PHP ($199 USD)
  • 20 boat dives – 20,000 PHP ($360 USD)

This includes everything but gear rental, which is another 700 PHP per day ($13 USD) and Nitrox, which is 200 PHP per tank ($4 USD).

Note that boat trips to Verde Island are priced separately for a whole-day excursion, and they only offer this once a month or so depending on demand, but it’s around 5,500 PHP ($99 USD) for a full-day, 3-tank dive including a delicious BBQ lunch!

Best Time to Dive

Coral that looks like a tree with crinoids and other interesting coral features

The best time to dive in Puerto Galera is between November and May, when the surface conditions and water visibility are at its best.

However, I went in December and I must admit that the water was a little chilly for me and even the local divemasters, who were all layered up in several layers of neoprene!

For most of my dives, the water temperature was around 26°C or 79°F, which for most people isn’t that cold, but it is for me!

Barrel sponges, fan corals, black corals, crinoids and other sea life in the deep of Kilima Steps

I dove the first day in one of their rental 3mm wetsuits since I had to rent other gear anyway… and then on day two, I promptly changed back into my 5mm wetsuit and wore that for the rest of the trip!

While Puerto Galera does have the potential for year-round diving, note that there is typhoon season during June to October, which can create poor surface conditions and cloud underwater visibility.

What Can You See?

A nudibranch with yellow, pink, orange cerata

An easier question to answer might be what can’t you see while diving Puerto Galera?

The Verde Island Passage, which is where you’ll be diving during your time in Puerto Galera and/or Anilao, is considered the “Center of the Center of Biodiversity” and is at the heart of many marine conservation initiations.

According to the Sea Institute, marine biologist Kent Carpenter and his team discovered that the Verde Island Passage is home to the highest concentration of coastal fishes on the planet — a massive 1,736 species were discovered in just 10 square kilometers of these waters.

Colorful yellow and blue fish next to black and white spotted fish in a coral rubble area in the sandy bottom of a reef

That’s pretty wild considering that within the entire Caribbean Sea, you can only find 1,400 species of fish and marine mammals (source: NOAA).

Fish ID geeks like myself will be in heaven, as you’re practically guaranteed to spot a fish you’ve never seen before on every dive.

And that’s not to mention the hundreds of nudibranchs species and other incredible invertebrates you’ll spot while diving in Puerto Galera, like porcelain crabs and orangutan crabs tucked in their favorite patches of coral or anemone.

Diving in Verde Island

a dark blue and green polka dot nudibranch found in the waters of verde island passage

Another great reason to go diving in Puerto Galera is because of its proximity to Verde Island, one of the best dive sites in the entire country.

Going to Verde Island is an all-day affair, but Puerto Galera is closer to Verde Island than Anilao, so there are more frequent day trips there.

Typically, it’s about a 1-hour boat ride from Puerto Galera to Verde Island, and then you’ll typically do two dives in the morning before taking a longer break for a BBQ lunch and a final afternoon dive before sailing home into the sunset.

I’ll write a full guide to diving in Verde Island next, so I won’t include those dive sites in this post, but let me tell you… it’s absolutely worth it, and you really ought to try to go to Verde Island for a day while you’re diving Puerto Galera.

Best Dive Sites in Puerto Galera

There’s are more than 30 dive sites in Puerto Galera and during my two weeks there I managed to dive 16 of them… many of them twice!

Here are the dive sites I visited during my trip and a brief explanation of each!

Alma Jane

Hydroids and hard and soft corals on the hull of an old, sunken ship 30 meters underwater
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 30m, dive time 39 minutes

This is one of the most famous dive sites in Puerto Galera and for good reason: everyone loves a good old-fashioned wreck dive!

And the Alma Jane is a gorgeous, gorgeous wreck — but it is only suitable for advanced divers, as you need to spend most of your time around the 25-30m depth mark.

Be sure to watch your dive computer closely as you can get quite close to running down your NDL admiring all the amazing nooks and crannies of this wreck!

Shipwreck detail on the alma Jane with windows, soft corals, hard corals all colorful and on the wreck

The Alma Jane is not a penetrative wreck dive, but you can still see so much just by going around the wreck.

I saw a huge black frogfish, a leaf scorpionfish, some bubble coral and an orangutan crab, schools of sweetlips, and so much more during this dive.

Bubble coral with a shrimp poking his head out and looking at the camera

For this wreck dive, you ascend and descend via a mooring line, as the currents around Alma Jane can sometimes be a little intense.

You don’t notice them too much when you’re down at the shipwreck level, but you can definitely feel them when you’re ascending and descending!


School of jacks seen with tree-like coral, swimming above it
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 29m, dive time 37 minutes

Another incredible dive for advanced divers only, Canyons can be an incredible adrenaline rush depending on the currents here.

I’m actually not a huge fan of intense drift dives so I was quite happy to find that the currents weren’t too strong when I was visiting Canyons.

But at other times, the currents in Canyons can make you feel like you’re being shot out of a cannon!

Luckily, when I dove, it was calm enough to pause and smell the roses (aka, take pictures of nudibranchs)

Because of those sweeping currents, Canyons is a great dive site for spotting big schools of fish like jacks, batfish, trevallies, and sweetlips.

You can also occasionally see larger pelagic like mantas, thresher sharks, and hammerheads here, but it’s not likely.

Canyons is made up of three canyons that have eroded from the currents, creating sheltering walls that give way to a sandy bottom about 30 meters down.

Anchor sitting on the sea floor with corals and other things around it with sea critters around it

At the third canyon, you can find an old anchor from a Spanish ship that’s been left there to be reclaimed by the sea.

There is no mooring line at Canyons so you will ascend in the blue, swept along in the current, so you have to be comfortable with blue water ascents as well.

Kilima Steps

Scuba diver diving upside down with yellow fins and huge school of jacks
  • (Dive #1) Dive Parameters: Max depth 26m, dive time 54 minutes
  • (Dive #2) Dive Parameters: Max depth 29m, dive time 52 minutes

We dove Kilima Steps twice because we were hoping to spot the elusive thresher shark who, often enough, makes an appearance here!

However, both times we weren’t lucky enough to see one, despite once even making a 7:30 AM wake-up call to try to beat the crowds and spot this notoriously shy shark!

Pink skunk anemone fish in an anemone being swept by the current

Whether or not the thresher stands you up, it’s still an incredible dive.

Both times I saw massive schools of jacks, several colorful nudibranchs, and turtles that were so laissez-faire they didn’t mind you approaching them at all!

In fact, I think Puerto Galera has to win the prize for chillest turtles in the sea.

Sea turtle grazing on things on the sea floor with a diving floating over its head

Note that the thresher sharks are deep dwellers who tend to not stray above PADI Open Water depths (18 meters and higher), so this dive site is only suitable for those with Advanced Open Water certifications.

We spent almost the entire dive around 25 or even 30m looking for the sharks, so be sure you have OK air consumption at depth!

Luckily, the dive site is relatively chill other than its depth: there aren’t really strong currents on this part of the coast, so except for the depth, this is a good dive for intermediate divers.

Sabang Point

Close up of sleeping turtle next to sea fan
  • (Dive #1) Dive Parameters: Max depth 18m, dive time 56 minutes
  • (Dive #2) Dive Parameters: Max depth 15m, dive time 50 minutes

It’s almost a certainty that during your stay in Puerto Galera you’ll dive Sabang Point at least once!

This was the second dive on the first day and my last dive of my entire trip, and it holds a special place in my heart — especially since I got my favorite-ever photo of a turtle here!

Moray eel with mouth open with yellow and white and black spots

Sabang Point is just a good old-fashioned reef dive, with lots to see in the shallows, going as deep as 25 meters at its deepest.

You can possibly find pygmy sea horses in the fan coral if you have a keen eye (and some luck), and you’ll often find some blue-spotted sting rays hanging out on the sandy parts.

Sabang Wrecks

Two anthias and a butterflyfish in front of the window of a shipwreck
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 20m, dive time 54 minutes

Not far from Sabang Point, Sabang Wrecks is more of an outcropping of a three different scuttled wrecks, rather than one big intact wreck a la Alma Jane.

The first wreck is mostly open, the remnants of a timber ship that has now been mostly lost to sea.

The second wreck is a former small yacht, which is in better shape than the first wreck.

A crab with funny eyes and long claws hidden in a little crack in the wreck

The third is another timber ship and it’s where I saw a lot of really cool macro life, like some unique shrimps and crabs.

After the wrecks, you’ll go over a sandy patch and then see some more coral.

A reddish snake eel with freaky eyes and mouth

On the sandy patch keep an eye out for some cool things, like the low-key demonic looking reptilian snake eel I spotted!

Other cool finds on this dive were several kinds of nudibranchs, a gorgeous pipefish I had never seen before, a cool filefish, and more.

Hole in the Wall

Black frogfish with mouth open
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 21m, dive time 60 minutes

This is a fun dive located near Canyons, but it doesn’t have the same strong currents as Canyons… not until you pass through the Hole in the Wall, anyway, which is when you tend to end the dive.

This tunnel is really short, so it’s good for people who haven’t done many swimthroughs.

At a depth of only 12 meters, this swim through is not intimidating in the slightest, and it’s beautiful to look through it in either direction and see beautiful blue water on either side.

Adorable boxfish with yellow and black markings

Master your buoyancy before going through the hole-in-the-wall though — you definitely don’t want to accidentally brush anything that can sting you!

This dive site is home to all sorts of gorgeous soft corals and sea fans, and when I dove it, the black sun coral was in bloom, a rare occurrence which made for an incredibly beautiful sight.

Sinandigan Wall

Colorful purple, white, and bright red nudibranch close up on the sandy patch of fragmented coral
  • (Dive #1) Dive Parameters: Max depth 19m, dive time 62 minutes
  • (Dive #2) Dive Parameters: Max depth 18m, dive time 58 minutes

This was one of my favorite dive sites because it’s nicknamed “Nudibranch Boulevard” for the sheer variety and number of nudibranchs you’re likely to see on this dive!

But it’s not just nudibranchs you’ll see here: this is also one of the most spectacular wall dives off the coast of Puerto Galera, and a close second to Isla Verde’s Wall in terms of beauty and diversity of life.

This dive is great for all kinds of divers: a gentle drift and a ton to see both above and below the Open Water limit, so it’s perfect for all levels of divers.

A green, dark blue, and orange nudibranch eating sponges and other sea life

It’s not a muck dive that will bore divers who don’t like to look for teeny-tiny critters, but it does have enough macro life that underwater photographers will be in heaven.

Is there a perfect dive site in Puerto Galera? This is as close at it gets, in my book.

La Laguna Point

A beautiful orange and white bulbous nudibranch with pink tips on the white dots
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 17m, dive time 61 minutes

This lovely dive site is also good for all levels of divers, with a small slope that maxes out around 20 meters but plenty to see above that, with a lot even as shallow at 5 meters.

This area also has a lot of nudibranchs and small life like frogfish and coral-banded shrimps, especially in the area between where the sandy bottom meets the coral ridges.

Monkey Beach

Porcelain crab in an anemone
  • (Dive #1) Dive Parameters: Max depth 17m, dive time 57 minutes
  • (Dive #2) Dive Parameters: Max depth 20m, dive time 57 minutes

Another favorite dive site, Monkey Beach is great for reef diving as well as macro critter hunting.

A keen guide who is good at spotting can show you some really cool, teeny-tiny nudibranchs here, many the size of a grain of rice!

This coral slope is home to lots of black frogfish and peacock mantis shrimps, who love to lurk in crevices and crannies here.

Depending on currents, this can either be a drift dive or a pleasant, slow-paced coral dive… I personally didn’t experience any current either time I dove here, but you’ll have to check with your divemaster.

Giant Clams

a very large clam on the sea floor at the dive site named giant clams
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 19m, dive time 63 minutes

So, you may have thought you’ve seen giant clams before… but probably not the real deal!

What you’ve likely seen are maxima clams, which are (oxymoronically) named the small giant clam.

The real ‘giant clam’, Tridacna gigas, is what you’ll find here — and giant they are, often more than a meter long and weighing more than 200 kg (440 lbs!).

Do not harm or touch these clams in any way, shape, or form: they’re 60 years old and highly protected by the government as they are the most endangered species of clams out there.

Beyond the clams, this area is great for muck diving!

A translucent and blue shrimp on an anemone

Keep an eye out for flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish, and nudibranchs who all love this area.

I found a really beautiful translucent and blue shrimp, two peacock mantis shrimps, and countless teeny-tiny nudibranchs while diving this site.

Ernie’s Point

Pink fan coral with glassy fish behind it
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 24m, dive time 56 minutes

Another wall dive on the Sabang Reef, this dive site is named for a small cavern at 21 meters down, where there used to be a grouper that divers nicknamed “Ernie”.

Ernie may have moved on (or died, let’s be honest), but the dive site has kept its name.

Its still popular among other groupers, peacock mantis shrimps, and large schools of fish who come in when the tides shift.

Secret Bay

Nudibranch with orange, white, and black cerata on some sponges and corals
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 17m, dive time 60 minutes

Secret Bay is located in the area close to the dock in Puerto Galera, and the secret is out.

It’s a great place for muck diving, second only to Montani in the hearts of local muck divers.

A teeny tiny colorful nudibranch with cerata with red, yellow tips and purple detail

Here is the prime area for flamboyant cuttlefish, nudibranchs the size of your pinky nail or smaller, and seahorses.

Really lucky? You might spot a mimic octopus or juvenile frogfishes!


A peacock anemone shrimp on anemone with two little black damselfish
  • (Dive #1) Dive Parameters: Max depth 13m, dive time 73 minutes
  • (Dive #2) Dive Parameters: Max depth 16m, dive time 65 minutes

Among muck divers, Montani is a fan favorite.

For one, just look at those dive times — you can stay underwater in Montani for easily over an hour, just slowly drifting along and looking for critters.

Occasionally, there can be a bit of a surge at Montani, but it’s usually nothing too crazy — it just depends on the tides.

A black leaf scorpionfish in the water in Montani dive site

This dive site is heaven for macro lovers: you’ll find so many teeny-tiny nudibranchs here if you have an eagle-eyed guide (or you have eagle eyes yourself!).

Besides that, you can expect to find seahorses, peacock mantis shrimps, frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, and juvenile fish of all kinds (including an adorable juvenile porcupine fish I saw!) who like the sheltered waters.

Look at this cutie!

A juvenile porcupine fish hiding in a niche in the coral

If you’re really lucky, you might spot a flamboyant cuttlefish or a blue-ringed octopus (incredibly poisonous — never handle!) at Montani too.

I didn’t get to see them, but divers who did Montani the following day when I was taking a break day did!

This is also a popular night dive spot for those who want to search for nocturnal macro critters by night!


Pink and white coral blooming next to a scorpionfish with tasseled beard on his face
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 17m, dive time 59 minutes

This is a great dive site for beginners and macro-lovers in Puerto Galera, located right in Sabang Bay near Sabang Point.

The waters are calm and quiet, so it’s a great place to focus in on small nudibranchs and other little life.

It’s also not too deep, so it’s great for both OW and AOW divers.

West Escarceo

White and black nudibranch with ruffled black margin, antennae and gills
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 15m, dive time 50 minutes

This is another lovely wall dive that makes up part of Sabang Reef, with lots to look at at every inch of the wall — it’s like a new dive at every depth!

Expect to see lots of different nudibranchs as well as sea anemones and the clownfish and porcelain crabs that call them home.

A clownfish looking angry peeking his head out of anemone

There’s also all sorts of colorful reef fish darting among the soft corals and crinoids on the reef, which make it a beautiful rainbow of color.

It’s a really spectacular dive site even though it’s not one of the most famous ones in Puerto Galera.

Dungon Wall

Starfish, other details like soft coral and crinoids on some coral wall
  • Dive Parameters: Max depth 18m, dive time 55 minutes

This was the first dive I did in Puerto Galera and it was incredibly memorable.

There were so many nudibranchs and flatworms that I knew that I’d already fallen in love with Puerto Galera’s dive scene.

Two different nudibranchs with similar markings but slight differences in their coloration

The wall starts at 12 meters and goes down about 25 meters, so there’s a lot for both OW and AOW divers.

There are lots of cool crevices in the wall worth shining your dive light into, as you’ll see things like porcupine fish and lionfish nestled away, and the occasional moray eel as well.

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