Sabang diving in the last 30 years.
by Terry Llewellyn
(Chelmsford, Essex, UK)
Fun waitresses at the El Galleon Resort
Yes it was 30 years ago when I first visited Sabang and Puerto Galera and if those days it was just a friendly little fishing village.
I used to stay in the El Galleon resort at Small La Laguna as did many of the foreigners coming here to dive, but back then as a diver you only stayed at Captain Greg's or El Galleon.
This was when the Philippine Department of Tourism had yet to discover what a treasure they had in the corals and marine life. To be honest the divers back then were tight lipped about the place. We were a small group of enthusiastic divers that had dived all over the world and although it was selfish we did not want the world to know about Sabang and for hordes of tourists to come.
Anyway, no secret of this size could stay secret for very long and eventually he Dept. of Tourism realized that almost nowhere on earth could match the diversity of the marine life and corals scattered round the Philippines and particularly off Sabang.
Investigation later showed that the amazing quantity of marine life and corals around Sabang is due to an ocean current that brings highly oxygenated and nutrient rich water to Sabang. This current is known as the Verde Island Passage and the entire area was made a protected Marine Reserve.
The fishermen had been convinced that their incomes would improve if they threw their efforts into scuba diving and tourism, which they did. Fortunately the Famous Philappino friendliness is unchanged to this day.
In the last 20 years however the sleepy little fishing village has changed beyond recognition. It is no longer a village but is a thriving town with shops, restaurants and nightlife known the world over.
Whereas I can remember when dozens of divers came to Sabang each week, now we count them in thousands. Fortunately there are over 20 big dive sites within a 20 minute boat ride. Beach resorts abound here and range in price from around $30 US a night up to the class resorts at roughly double that. Not only are the resorts cheaper than in most of the world, but so are most other things.
There are some of the finest restaurants in all Asia in Sabang. Dozens and dozens of bars, and half a dozen discos as well as lots of live entertainment.
So, to the question of would I go again? I spend all of September every year staying at www.asiadivers.com and it is the high point in my calendar.