Tom and Ginnie Reynolds

Sabang, Philippines 2007


There are many places to dive in the Philippines, and most are relatively inexpensive. We chose one of the least expensive and easiest to get to, Sabang. The area is typically called Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro. Mindoro is the island West of Luzon. Puerto Galera is a one-hour boat ride from Batangas on Luzon. Batangas is a two-hour car ride from the main airport in Manila.

We chose Action Divers because they advertised that they would pick us up at the airport anytime, day or night, and deliver us the Portofino Resort next door. True to their word a driver was waiting at the airport. After an interesting (interesting meaning I'm glad I lived through it) drive, we were at the waterfront. After waiting the better part of a not too awfully anxious hour, the boat arrived. The late night crossing was beautiful, and in about an hour we arrived on Little Sabang Beach. We disembarked and were shown to our room at the Portofino, our copious luggage toted behind us by the boat guys. (Oops, forgot to mention - disembarking included exiting the little shore boat into 2-foot deep water and wading to the shore. Note to self - next time remove airplane shoes and don sandals for this event. Humph.)

A Portofino Studio room and two boat dives per day with Action Divers can be had for $72 USD per diver. The low cost belies the fact that the Portofino is an excellent resort, and Action Divers is a competent and professional organization. Breakfast was free, and lunch & dinner at the Portofino were inexpensive, making this vacation ranking #1 for bang for the buck in our book.

Diving in Sabang is by boat. Dive staff tote the dive gear to the boat. Divers don wetsuits & booties on land and wade out to the boat. Once on the boat each diver gears up and sits on the edge of the boat for the short trip to the dive site. Upon arrival, everyone backrolls into the water. On some sites the reef was quite good. However, the best critters we found to photograph were off the beach of Sabang where there is very little coral. The Action Diver guides were very good. We were allowed to dive our own profile and signal the boat ourselves when we ascended. My advice is to bring a squawker and a large safety sausage with 50 feet of line on a finger reel in order to signal the boat operator. There are many boats and divers in the water and it takes some time for the boat operator to sort out who belongs to whom.

We ranked the Portofino/Action Divers combination first in bang-for-the buck, slightly ahead of Bonaire. In terms of macro critters it is not up to Wakatobi standards, but is better than any of the places we have been in Fiji or the Caribbean. The reefs were unexciting. The dive boats were primitive and spartan, but the ride was VERY short. The Portofino studio room referenced above was quite adequate. We upgraded to a one-bedroom apartment that was excellent. The food was very good, but nowhere near the excellence of Wakatobi or Little Cayman Beach Resort.

Portofino/Action Divers is on Little Sabang Beach, well away from the nightlife at Big Sabang Beach, although a 10-minute walk will get you to Big Sabang. We occasionally ventured forth a few doors away from Portofino to visit other eating establishments.

We are scheduled to repeat this trip in August 2009.


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