If you have never dived in the Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle, you have missed out on the perhaps the lushest diving the world has to offer. Puerta Galera on the Philippine island of Mindoro is the perfect launching point to try it. The Verde Island Passage cuts Mindoro off from Luzon, the biggest island in the Philippines. Dolphins and pilot whales play about in the channel and you have a good chance of spotting them.
The area is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, but there is one superstar species that stands out: seahorses. Dive sites such as Giant Clams are abundant with the little chaps drifting between corals and sponges. If you want something a bit edgier, you can dive the wreck of the cargo ship Alma Jane, which was deliberately sunk in 2003 to provide an artificial reef. She is 35m long and lies upright at 30m. The fish who explore her alongside you include batfish, snappers and lionfish.
If the spirit of adventure takes you, then Shark Cave is the dive for you. You can see whitetip sharks flitting through the shadows. It’s down at 28m so not one for beginners.
Because the dive sites are all close to the shore, you can comfortably do a number of dives in a day spending recovery intervals on dry land.
Puerta Galera is well developed, but not to excess. It has very pretty waterfalls, such as the Talipanan Falls on Mount Talipanan where you can see monkeys if you get up early; or the Tamaraw Falls which cascade from a wooded ravine. You can soak yourself in pools at the bottom. For something less active, you can put your head through the door of the tiny Excavation Museum which includes some examples of local pottery artefacts dug up over the years.
We also offer diving packages elsewhere in the Philippines, other favourite spots are Coron, which has incredible wreck diving, based around a dozen Japanese navy boats sunk by the Americans during the Second World War and Sangat where you can spot sharks.