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June 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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El Galleon Resort & Asia Divers, Philippines

money goes a long way (visibility, maybe) in this dive spot

from the June, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

After having had my mind blown during a week-long underwater photography workshop at the Crystal Blue Resort on Luzon, the Philippines' most populated island, I didn't have high hopes for my second week at El Galleon. After having Scott Geitler of Bluewater Photography (and founder of Underwater Photography Guide) pointing out a variety of macro critters by day and bioluminescent creatures by night, how could it get better? After seeing my first bobbit worm, I couldn't even imagine.

El Galleon Dive ResortI mention this because the September issue of Undercurrent will feature stories about dive photography courses at two Philippine resorts, so keep an eye out. My course was bliss -- nonstop photo seminars, and "blackwater" nighttime openwater drift dives led by Crystal Blue's owner, Mike Bartick. However, a terrible cough accompanied me during that week (I suspect the sick couple behind me on the flight from Seoul to Manila), so I was ready for a less frenetic pace.

Puerto Galera, a marine reserve on the northeastern tip of Mindoro Island, was close to Crystal Blue Resort, so it was easy to arrange a 90-minute transfer south by a large wooden double-outrigger, a.k.a. bangka, to Asia Divers' dock at El Galleon. But as we approached the resort on Sabang Beach, I wondered if I was wrong about a less-hectic pace. In the double-crescent-shaped harbor, scuba divers were mounting a veritable naval invasion -- one bangka after another was either unloading or loading up six to 12 divers at a time, mostly Asian, descending narrow planks from boats to wade two-feet-deep shallows to the beach. I've never seen as dense a mob of divers in one place, not even on Cozumel's most crowded shores.

Well, Puerto Galera is a top dive destination in the Philippines, so duh. Plenty of Undercurrent reader reports and travel features gush about its incredible -- and incredibly inexpensive -- reef and muck diving. I can attest to both, but I'll add that this bustling little town is one place where it's easy for people from different countries and socioeconomic statuses to regularly bump up against each other....


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