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<font color='#3BB9FF'>Has anyone been to Puero Galera in the Philippines recently? I'm thinking of going there in July as there seem to be some pretty good accommodation/diving packages.
Any info. on any of the dive shops/hotels would be most welcome.
    Thanks a lot
         Trevor
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>Well now - you have come to the right place for that question.  

Gav and I were searching for a suitable destination to spend our 2002/2003 Hogmanay ("new year" for the sassenachs) and following a recommendation from Darren Carpenter (Daz on this forum) we went to Atlantis at Puerto Galera for 2 weeks.  It was there that we met Paul Hinchliffe (also a member on this forum).

The accommodation at Atlantis is very good (Andy Pope, the manager there works really hard at promoting full customer care and satisfaction) (you won't find "fancy" 5 star accom' anywhere there, but I think Atlantis is acknowledged to be one of the best in the area).  It is quite rustic in design; it is clean with hot water, air con, Sat TV and a fridge.

Food at the hotel was good, but there were plenty of decent places to eat out and about.  Food and drink is also very cheap.

All the dive guides were great - nothing was too much trouble for them.  Basically, you arrive for your first dive and put together your own kit (just so the boat staff can see how you like it) and thereafter, they will get all your kit ready for you for each dive, carry your kit to the boat (minus weight-belt, fins and mask - big deal!), help you get your kit on on the boat, help you back into the boat, carry your gear back to the hotel and then rinse it all and hang it out to dry for you!!! (THAT is how diving should be!).

The dive groups were never more than about 6 people and the guides were really good at finding suitable dives for the level of experience/interest for everyone.

The diversity of sea-life was fantastic - certainly more nudibranch than you could shake a ****** stick at! Rays, a turtle, lots of reef fish, some sharks, shrimp, seahorses, triggers (eek!), puffers, stonefish, eels ........ etc.

Water temp was about 26 to 28 (in January) and viz ranged from about 20 metres to one day it jumped down to about 5 (but that was only for the one day).

There were however 3 downsides:

1.  It is a F*****g long way!!!!! Our journey back (boat from Mindoro to Luzon, car from beach to airport, change in Abu Dahbi and then London to Edinburgh) was a grand total of 35 hours!!!

2.  There was more sex tourism than I felt comfortable with.  Lots of "girly" bars and lots of lone, large, middle-aged Western men walking around with young Filipina girls.

3.  If you are going with friends or family who don't dive, I didn't see that there was a huge amount for them to do (although that said, I believe that trips up into the rainforests for a bit of walking or white water rafting can be organised - we just didn't do any of that ourselves).  There is certainly not a lot of shopping (see - typical girl) to be had there.

Hope that helps.

By the way, if you are looking to do any technical courses this is the place to do it, but no doubt Paul Hinchliffe can fill you in more about that.
 

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<font color='#000080'>Ummm,  yeah like Fi say's,  I suspect I did come back raving about the place and too be fair,  the diving was in my opinion some of the best to be had anywhere.

I guess the pluses are the diving, the dive operation, the staff at Atlantis and the local resturants.  I guess the negatives are the rest.  There is not really anything else to do unless you are a large aging western bloke !!

Would I return ?  Like a shot.  If you treat it like a liveaboard diving holiday and exclude any other activities it is superb.

I will confess that I did not really pay much attention too what is going on outside Atlantis,  they do appear to have a thriving sex tourism industry, but nothing compared to Bangkok.  

They also have another resort at Dumaguette, more suited for family type holidays but you are pretty much tied to the resort unless you take taxis and I would say the diving is nowhere near as diversified as PG.

Definetely not a couple and kids type destination or non divers.

http://www.atlantishotel.com/

Daz
 

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<font color='#3BB9FF'>Many thanks for the info. I have also been looking at the various websites and it looks great so I'm really starting to look forward to the trip.
Asian divers seem a pretty good outfit too so I think it comes down to how much I want to spend.
I'm lucky as I'm not going to the Philippines via UK. I fly there from Saudi (where I work) so it is a direct flight (eight hours I think).
Anyway, I'll post a report when I come back.
 

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whats left to say about the place I think Fi(hi Fi) and Daz have just about covered it all, I noticed on your profile(trevor) that you like wreck penitration, John Bennett does an excellent TDI wreck course in subic bay its abit of a treck but it really is worth it, get inside the USS New York its amazing, if you wanted to do this course it would be worth giving him a bell to book it as it takes quite a bit to organize let me know if you need his number.
Asia divers are also a very good outfit and in my eye run a very close second to atlantis.
You can do things a lot cheaper, but as you work in saudi money wont be an issue, only wish I could say the same.
It is a fantastic dive area and I know youll love it, do me a favour and give my regards to Ron Loos at Atlantis if you remember.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (daz @ April 28 2003,15:15)]There is not really anything else to do unless you are a large aging western bloke !!
Wow! It sounds just the place for me. Seriously, I just wanted to say that for anyone who wants a bit more life and good shopping, Visaya (the area around Cebu and the surrounding islands, further south) is a good choice. The diving is excellent and there are lots of nice resorts and good dive centres. If you fly to Mactan Airport (e.g. via Hong Kong), you can spend the last day off-gassing and shopping in Cebu City, where there are some excellent shopping centres. The Philippines is a first-rate destination for a diving holiday, in my opinion (and I've been around).
If anyone is interested, David Dixon has written a nice report on a diving holiday in Visaya on the BSAC Travel Club website.
 

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<font color='#3BB9FF'>Hi Paul, John thanks for the info.  I had in fact been thinking of going to Subic bay too as you are right I am interested in getting into wreck diving and recently did a PADI wreck course in Phuket which I enjoyed.
However, I think I'll be only going to Puerto Galera this time.  I just have to make up my mind where to stay.  Coming from Saudi I want to stay near a decent choice of bars/restaurants but don't want a room on top of a disco!  
Never mind, I've got about seven more weeks to make my mind up where to stay.
 
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