Surface Interval; Worldwide Scuba Diving Reviews.

Surface Interval; Worldwide Scuba Diving Reviews.

Scuba diving in Puerto Galera Photograph by Charles Davis

Scuba diving in Puerto Galera Photograph by Charles Davis

As a writer that specializes in Scuba Diving and Scuba related travel, I spend a great deal of time looking at websites. Recently, Surface Interval (www.surfaceinterval.co) has announced they are now launching their new website. Surface Interval is looking to create a site that highlights Worldwide Scuba Diving Reviews. Scuba divers can leave reviews of the dive centers they have used.

Surface Interval is quoted as saying:

Information about scuba diving is scattered across different websites. Our goal is to bring all the information divers need together on this website. We are convinced that the more people we can convince to start scuba diving, the more people care about what’s under the surface. They will be more aware about the plastic they use, the things they throw away etc.”

For those of you who are familiar with my writing and may follow me on Deeperblue.com, will see that their quote hits a topic I strongly believe in. It sort of hits two. I totally agree that as a group scuba divers are more concern about the environment. In the news recently was the launch of The Ocean Clean Up device — System 001, “Wilson”. That company’s goal is to help clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They are doing a test run of the technology they developed and if the test run is successful, they will start a full effort of gather plastics and other items from the garbage patch. How does this relate? Boyan Slat, the 18-year-old CEO and founder was shocked at the amount of plastics in the water on his very first scuba dive. He set his mind to changing that.

The other point that Surface Interval makes is the need to introduce more people to diving. Any effort like that I applaud.

For Divers:

As with any new business or website, growing can be slow. I am adding a few reviews of dive centers I have visited in the last six months, maybe you can do the same. To be effective, the site will need current information from the divers that have been there. Let other divers know what you liked and disliked on your recent dives. How was the dive center? What was the condition of any rental equipment? How was the diving? Anything else that might help a diver to understand how your trip was.

If you are planing a new trip, take a look at the dive centers they have listed. They show having over 2,000 dive centers around the world.

Sabang Beach, Puerto Galera photograph by Charles Davis

Sabang Beach, Puerto Galera photograph by Charles Davis

For Dive Centers:

If you are a dive center check the website and see if your information is there. They state they have 2337 dive centers listed. While they have been in contact with many dive centers, the listing have come from different sources. It is possible that the information for your dive center came from an outdated source. Take a look at the listing, update it as needed and let your clients know that it is available on the site.

About Surface Interval

Here is some additional information from their website:

What are the best places in the world to go scuba diving? The best way to find out is by hearing other scuba divers’ opinions. And this is exactly what Surface Interval is for!

Reviewing dive operators

The possibility to review dive operators worldwide (dive shops/schools, liveaboards or dive resorts) decreases your chances to choose the wrong operator. Do they use new equipment, safe dive boats, small diving groups and do they care about conservancy? Important things to know before choosing your scuba diving operator, right?

Getting inspired

When you read what other scuba divers have experienced while diving, it easy to get inspired and plan your next trip.

Surface Interval

Churches of Pampanga Philippines

St James the Apostle Church: Betis, Guagua Pampanga This church is considered one of the finest remaining example of a Colonial Spanish Church. The details in the ceiling paintings and the quality of the carvings behind the alter attracted the devoted and art lovers alike.

St James the Apostle Church: Betis, Guagua Pampanga
This church is considered one of the finest remaining example of a Colonial Spanish Church. The details in the ceiling paintings and the quality of the carvings behind the alter attracted the devoted and art lovers alike.

Churches of Pampanga Philippines

From the late 1500’s to 1898, the Philippines were a colony of Spain. The Spanish’s mandate from the Pope was to find new lands and convert the heathens to Christianity. At the time, the Lubao River and what is now called the Betis River were navigable and it became a natural place for the Spanish to develop. The Spanish settle at a small native village and in 1576 established the Pueblo of Bacolor. The local “land lord” was Don Guillermo Manabat.

The Bell Tower of San Guillermo Parish Church The first church was built on this site in 1576 with the establishment of Pueblo of Bacolor. Present church was built in 1764.

The Bell Tower of San Guillermo Parish Church
The first church was built on this site in 1576 with the establishment of Pueblo of Bacolor. Present church was built in 1764.

San Guillermo Parish Church

Spanish towns were built with a common concept. There was a plaza, often with a fountain in the center, on one side of the plaza was the church. The clergy selected Saint William the Hermit as the town’s patron saint. Saint William’s Spanish name was San Guillermo Emitano and the church became know as San Guillermo Parish Church. Today Bacolor is a small town shadowed by its larger neighbors San Fernando and Lubao. It has a very important past however.

  • In 1745, Bacolor was the acting capital of Pampanga which at that time cover an area now divided into 6 provinces ( States )
  • In 1755 it became the official capital of the province.
  • In 1762 when the British attacked Manila, the Spanish government moved the National government to Bacolor.
  • In 1764, while still the national capital, the original church was replaced by a stone one that still exists. By Royal Degree Bacolor became Villa Bacolor, one of only three “Villa” in the country.
San Guillermo Parish Church This stone church was built in 1764, replacing the original church which was heavily damages by some earlier earthquakes and had its dome collapsed a few years earlier.

San Guillermo Parish Church
This stone church was built in 1764, replacing the original church which was heavily damages by some earlier earthquakes and had its dome collapsed a few years earlier.

San Guillermo Parish Church Close up

San Guillermo Parish Church Close up

The church that remains today has most of the features of the church built in 1764, however there has been significant changes due to the force of nature. In June of 1991, Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted with one of the strongest eruption in recorded history. The eruption change the course of history for many Filipinos and the effects of the eruption was felt worldwide as the ash cloud in the atmosphere eventual covered the entire earth and raised the worldwide temperature. Highly productive farmland was turned into waste land in the area around Bacolor. After the initial disaster, more follow in the form of lahar. Lahar is a combination of the ash that reached the ground, small debris and water, it looks like the concrete coming out a commercial cement truck. Thick,slow moving and unstoppable. Like concrete when it dries out it is super dense. Every heavy rain brought more material off the mountains. In September of 1995, the situation became so bad that half of the 12 meter high ( about 40 feet) church was under the lahar and the town of 50,000 had to be evacuated.

Interior of San Guillermo Parish Church

Interior of San Guillermo Parish Church

In the photograph above, the green banners are above the top of the 12 meter high walls, as you can see today they are much less than 12 meters. In the photograph of the front of the church the entrance doors were at one time about 20 feet tall. If you look closely at the bell tower photograph, through the tree you will see an arch, it is just above ground level. That was the second level of the tower. The first level and the entrance are all now buried.

Alter and Retablos This area is well known for the quality of the alters and the Retablos. A Retablos is the structure behind the alter.

Alter and Retablos
This area is well known for the quality of the alters and the Retablos. A Retablos is the structure behind the alter.

As you walk around the outside of the church you will see small half circle windows, these are the top two or three feet of what once were large stain glass windows. Rounding the back of the church you come to a large open field, with a few triangular shapes sticking out and a small dome.

: Campo Santo De Bacolor The cemetery of Bacolor was in use from 1776 till 1991 when it was covered with six meters of lahar.

Campo Santo De Bacolor
The cemetery of Bacolor was in use from 1776 till 1991 when it was covered with six meters of lahar.

This is the church’s cemetery used for about 250 years, there are thousands buried here. However the graves are all covered with about 12 feet of lahar. The roofs of the structures you see in the cemetery are two stories tall. There are plaques along the walls showing the names of those that are buried here according to the church records.

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga Immaculate Conception Parish dates back to 1590, the last major modification was in 1892. destination a Historical monument in 1982

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga
Immaculate Conception Parish dates back to 1590, the last major modification was in 1892. Designated a Historical monument in 1982

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga

Within ten miles of San Guillermo Parish Church are another twenty or so churches built before the Spanish left in 1898. Each has its history, and some really stand out. Immaculate Conception Parish, in Guagua Pampanga is about four miles away. While much of the outside of the building is hidden from view, inside some of the original portions of the building can still be seen, while most of it is from it renovation in 1892.

 Church of Lubao Founded in 1572 and moved to current location in 1602. current building dates to 1630. building is made of brick, the mortar to hold the bricks in place was made from sand mixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao
Founded in 1572 and moved to current location in 1602. current building dates to 1630. building is made of brick, the mortar to hold the bricks in place was made from sand mixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao

Here is something for you to think about as you eat your eggs for breakfast. The Church of Lubao was built in 1630. the tower is part of the original structure. It is made from bricks. Like any masonry work, mortar is used between layers to stick them together. In this case the mortar was made of sand fixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao Designated a Historical site in 1952, it was also the church where President Macapagal the fifth President of the Philippines(1961-1965) was Baptized in 1910

Church of Lubao
Designated a Historical site in 1952, it was also the church where President Macapagal the fifth President of the Philippines(1961-1965) was Baptized in 1910

In addition to the religious history of this church, the church was used as a revolutionary headquarters in the uprising against the Spanish in 1898 and in 1899 was used by the Americans as a hospital.

Lubao alter The alter and Retablo of the Lubao Church

Lubao alter
The alter and Retablo of the Lubao Church

Lubao Bell Tower Bell tower of Lubao Church was used as an observation point by the Revolutionaries in the late 1890's

Lubao Bell Tower
Bell tower of Lubao Church was used as an observation point by the Revolutionaries in the late 1890’s

Christ Statue, St James Church While Betis artist were known to work mostly in wood, in the later centuries they also became renown for their work in stone and even more recently have adapted Lahar to be used for statues.

Christ Statue, St James Church
While Betis artist were known to work mostly in wood, in the later centuries they also became renown for their work in stone and even more recently have adapted Lahar to be used for statues.

St James Church

St James the Apostle Church often called the Betis church is in the Betis section of Guagua Pampanga has been called the Sistine Chapel of Asia. The ceiling of the church has a number of finely painted panels with various scenes. It is a Baroque inspired design that was built initially in 1660 with wood and other lightweight material, however that structure was upgrade as it caught fire a number of times, in 1770’s the church was rebuilt with concrete materials.

St. James Ceiling The painting in the ceiling at St. James date back as far as the late 1700's. They have been restored a number of times with major work done in 1930 and 1970.

St. James Ceiling
The painting in the ceiling at St. James date back as far as the late 1700’s. They have been restored a number of times with major work done in 1930 and 1970.

St. James Dome Another example of the art work in Saint James church

St. James Dome
Another example of the art work in Saint James church

Betis Pampanga is a little town with an international reputation, a reputation for fine furniture. The local artisans produce some of the best hand carve furniture in the world. There are many myths and stories about when this started, most people discount the stories saying it is a recent development but archive documents suggest differently. Betis is the name of a wide river in Spain. When early Spanish settles arrived in the area they saw a similar looking river and named it Betis and the town took the name. In the Spanish archives there are many references to Betis carvings, however they had been attributed to the area in Spain. However documents found in the archives in Manila from the Spanish colonial period seem to indicate that the Betis was the one in the Philippines. The most accepted fairy tale is that in the late 1600’s the local workers learned wood carving from Chinese Slave labors who were task to build the interiors of the newly constructed churches. The Filipinos quickly learned and adapted the traits, they also became very skill at being able to reproduce items of arts from drawings and painting of the items. Being highly skilled wood carvers and devote ( whether voluntary of not) Catholics they spent considerable time creating beautiful alters and Retablos.

 St James Alter The Alter and Retablos of St. James

St James Alter
The Alter and Retablos of St. James

The Betis church has eight chapels within a few minutes walk from the church. Each of these also have very elaborate Retablos. They are consider the finest collection of Spanish Retablos from their era.

Ceiling painting at St James It is hard to estimate the sizes of the ceiling paintings but pacing off the distance on the floor looking up, I would estimate this ceiling painting is about 10 feet by 15 feet.

Ceiling painting at St James
It is hard to estimate the sizes of the ceiling paintings but pacing off the distance on the floor looking up, I would estimate this ceiling painting is about 10 feet by 15 feet.

Wood Carving A wood carving in the style that Betis became famous for. Date is unknown but expected to be a few hundred years old.

Wood Carving
A wood carving in the style that Betis became famous for. Date is unknown but expected to be a few hundred years old.

Smaller wood carvings like this one that is on the wall at St. James’s were a status symbol in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The Spanish controlled the wealth and very few Filipinos were allowed to have the finery that the Spanish enjoyed. The locals used the carvings as their show of devotion and if it was expensive and everyone knew it, well that was secondary.

The Spanish left their influence on the Philippines in many ways, but most of those ways center around the church. Churches such as these with long rich histories are a product of that time.

Note: This article was written about 3 years ago for another website. However, I had retained all rights. That website is no loner active, so I uploaded the articles here. It was one of 6 photo essays that I did for the other site.

Concrete Ship Wreck of Subic Bay

A Concrete ship of the same class as YON-146

A Concrete ship of the same class as YON-146

The Concrete Ship Wreck of Subic Bay YON-146

World War II saw many interesting ship building activities, Concrete Ship building being one of them. Since the large ship yards were turning out capital ships, the corn field ship yards created the LST. These ships yards got that nick name because many of them had been farms before the war. Far inland, they used the nations waterways to get the ships to the coast. All this ship building put a strain on the production of steel. Steel production limits meant critical items were often delayed. Fuel barges being one of them. Concrete boats or more accurate ferrocement boats had been made many years before. The origins have been lost but some suspect that there were ferrocement boats as far back as the Roman Empire. In WWI, 12 ferrocement ships were built by the US Navy but with poor results. The Cement industry had a pamphlet showing the benefits of ferrocement.

WWII saw the effort renewed and learning from previous mistakes 24 ships were ordered. Early in the war it was

Concrete Ship YON-146 during WWII

Concrete Ship YON-146 during WWII

seen that fuel storage was becoming a issue. The success of this ferrorcement concept and the need for fuel storage lead to the ordering of ferrocement barges. These are barges in the sense that they had no engines and were pulled by tugs. They did, however, appear as ships. The first fifteen of the barges built were designed to transport oil from the Texas coast to the East coast oil refineries. Additional contracts created both bulk cargo barges and liquid barges. The largest barge was the B7-A2 design which was 375 feet long, 360 feet at the water line, with a beam of 56 feet. It had a height of 38 feet of which as much as 26 could be draft. The Landing Ship Tank was only 326 feet long and 50 foot beam. 22 of the B7-A2 were built, they were classed as “YO” if they were to carry bunker fuel and “YOG” is carrying “clean” fuel such as diesel or gasoline. The “N” was not always used, it designated a non-self propelled vessel. One of the barges was modified before launched to have half of the tanks aviation fuel and the other half water.

Two concrete ships were scuttle at Normandy to create a breakwater. Breakwaters containing floating concrete ships from WWII can be found in the Powell River in B.C. Canada and the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.

YON-146 was built in National City Ca, starting on 23 Feb 43 and ready for launch on 16 May 43. She officially

Seafans on the Concrete Ship YON-146

Seafans on the Concrete Ship YON-146

entered service on 12 Aug 43. While the war records for the barge is sketchy at times, she is known to have been initially assigned to Asiatic-Pacific Theater at Port Purvis Anchorage, Florida Island, Solomons Island Group. She seem to been moved to Guam in 1945 and in early 1950, she was towed from Guam to Pearl Harbor where she entered dry dock for a short time. This information of her time in Guam comes from the University of Hawaii. Acanthophora Spicifera is a type of red algae also know as Spiny Seaweed or Prickly Seaweed. It is the most common type of sea weed in Hawaii, however, it did not exists there before 1950. A heavily fouled YON-146 has been “accused” of bringing the seaweed and two fish species to Hawaii. Research has clear her of the fish but she still listed as a possible source of the sea weed invasion.

YON-146 was back at an Pacific Area advance base (probably Subic Bay) starting in June 1951.She was involved in Operation Ivy at Eniwetok Lagoon for most of 1952. Operation Ivy was a nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands. After the operation she returned to Subic Bay here she was active until added to the disposal list on 24 Apr 57. However, YON-146 was lost by accident in July 1957.

 

She is the largest ship wreck at Subic, however, she is seldom dived. Subic Bay has very poor visibility at times and this wreck sits at the mouth of the largest river. The B7-A2 has a 36 foot freeboard and this wreck sits upright in about 120 feet of water, however silt has filled in around the wreck so that she raises only about 10 feet from the bottom and the holds are mostly filled in with silt. Still divers who explore her will find huge sea fans and schools of small fish.

ice_cream_barge

While concrete ships might seem unusual there is one that is in its own category. The Navy adapted a Army Barge, refrigerator, light to a floating ice cream factory.

 

History of the Spanish Armed Transport San Quintin

History of the Spanish Armed Transport San Quintin ex S/S Andes

A BOILER OF THE SAN QUINTIN © 2015 CHARLES W. DAVIS JR.

A BOILER OF THE SAN QUINTIN © 2015 CHARLES W. DAVIS JR.

For decades, we have called the San Quintîn wreck a gun boat. Recently I started to try to find a better description of the San Quintîn to improve what we know and possibly find a photograph or one of a similar vessel. In the process, I found some items that did not fit with this wreck being a gun boat. Over time, I decided to start researching based just on the name and the reason it was sunk. Once I eliminated that it was a gunship, I was able to find other references to a Spanish ship by the same name. After a couple hundreds hours of research, I was able to find an authority reference to the sinking of the Transport San Quintîn. The San Quintîn performed numerous duties until she was scuttled in 1898. Some times she was a mail ship, providing service from Manila to other Spanish outpost. At others, she performed duties as a Armed Transport. Many times she was accompanied by the Armed Transports Cebu and Manila.

I am sure there may be those who not accept my version of the ship’s identity on face value, and others who might appreciate the steps that lead me to the history. I will post a separate article, giving more details on the research itself.

History of the Armed Transport San Quintîn

The lines of the Cunard Lines S/S Andes

In 1850, the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ordered four identical iron screw Passenger/cargo vessels from the Scottish ship builder William Denny & Brothers. They were the Andes, Alps, Australia and Sydney. The ships were listed as 1275 grt/866 nrt , the length of 236.6 feet (72 meters), beam of 33.2 feet (10.1 meters) and depth of 24 feet (7.3 meters). The ships were mail ships. These were basically passenger ships that also operated under a contract to transport mail. The ships were design to carry 62 passengers in first class and 122 in second class. Prior to these ships, all the ships of this company were side wheelers and most wood. Only a few more side wheeler were built by the company after this and no more wooden ships.

In 1850,the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company changed their name to Cunard Lines. Before being completed, the Australia and Sydney were sold to Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation company. The Cunard Lines took possession of the S/S Andes on August 18, 1852 and the S/S Alps five weeks later. The S/S Andre made its maiden voyage to New York sailing from Liverpool on December 8, 1852, however, problems with it propulsion system forced them to return to port. The problems were corrected and the ship arrive in New York on Christmas Eve. The Ship continued to sail that route until 1854. In 1854, with the out break of the Crimean War, the British government leased the S/S Andes and the S/S Alps. The two ships were initial used as troop transports and later the S/S Andes was used as a hospital ship. After the war, they returned to service with Cunard Lines.

Walters, Samuel, 1811-1882. S.S. Australian 1862. oil on canvas ; 71.3 x 107.7 cm. National Library of Australia

In 1859, the Spanish government bought both the S/S Andes and the S/S Alps. The S/S Andes was renamed to the San Quintîn and the S/S Alps renamed to Mandingo. The San Quintîn’s initial role seems to be primarily as a mail ship.

Note on names: The Andes is often shown as Andes (1852). This is to keep it from being confused with two later mail ships named Andes in the 1900s. San Quintîn is also seen spelled as San Quentin.

While there is not a definitive history of the San Quintîn, there are many historical references to her.

  • Cuba seems to have been one of the early assignments for the San Quintîn. The New York Times has a number of mentions of her arrivals and departure from Havana. This is from a NYT story of March 1862: The steam transport San Quintin, of the Spanish Navy, which arrived a short time ago from Vera Cruz with nearly two hundred sick soldiers, left again for the same place the day before yesterday, with provisions for the army and forage and maize for the horses and cattle of the expedition.
  • The Micronesioan Area Research Center, Guam published in 1998 a book titled: Chronicle of the Mariana Islands. Recordings in the Agaña Parish church 1846-1899. This book is a translation of the Parish records of the church in Guam. Most of the record was written by Father Aniceto Ibáñez and records the activities of the church and reflects the life in Guam. Only the introduction of the book is available on line. The introduction is mostly about the priest of the church. It notes that the entry for 1884 is short but does include that Father Franciso Resano return to Manila for health reasons aboard the steamship San Quintîn.
  • 21 August 1885 the San Quintîn arrives in Yap to establish a capital for the Caroline Island. The following day the ship Manila arrives. The San Quintîn, under the command of Capt. Guil de Espana, brought the new Governor-general, two priest (one being Father Aniceto Ibáñez as vicar) and others to Yap. Between the two ships they had soldiers, laborers and the materials needed to build a church and the governor’s residence. The ships were unloaded, however, the governor did not like the location. The group spent three days searching the surrounding areas until they found a location the governor’s liking. He sent runners out to notify the locals to be at the location the following morning for a flag raising ceremony. When the group arrived back at the ship, they found the German flag raised and the German cruiser Iltis in port. The Spanish withdrew, however, the public backlash almost caused a war between Germany and Spain. Some reports state that it was the S/S Carriedo that accompanied the San Quintîn. This was the transport Manila’s name before being purchased by Spain. It was owned by a private firm doing mail service between Manila and Singapore.
  • March 14 1887 the transport Manila transported a new Governor-general by the name of Posadillo, soldiers, priest, workers and colonist to the island of Pohnpei. They were to set up a government and establish a colony. The actions of the new government was harsh on the natives mostly the actions of the governor’s executive Manuel Torres, a Spaniard born in the Philippines. At the end of June, the natives refused to work. Posadillo send Torres to the chiefs to demand they attend a meeting, Spanish soldiers were sent to enforce the attendance. The natives killed most of the group. Those that survived reported back and the colony evacuated to a ship that had been grounded and damaged. The Governor stayed in his residence until 3 July, when he tried to escape to the ship. He and all of is staff were killed, however, the Filipino troops were left unharmed. The natives offered to let the colonist return home unharmed but they stayed onboard ship. In August, The San Quintîn arrived on a routine run and discovered what had happened. She left behind supplies and reported the event to Manila.
  • In 1891, The transports—the Manila, Cebu, San Quintîn, and Marquez de Duero carried an attack force of 1,240 men against the Maguindanao and Maranao (Muslims in the southern portion of the Philippines). The attack was unsuccessful. Moro reports had the transports Manila, Cebu, and San Quintîn bringing supplies to the Spanish Colonies in the area until 1894. No Spanish records confirm this.
  • Current records show that the San Quintîn was decommissioned in 1894.
  • In his nearly 1,000 page book “ The Spanish American War” published in 1911, the noted Naval Historian Rear Admiral USN (retired) French Ensor Chadwick discusses every naval aspect of the war. At the beginning of the war, then Captain Chadwick was chief of staff to Admiral Sampson, commander of the North Atlantic Fleet. The Captain was also the commander of the USS New York ACR-2. The book shows a partial transcript of a planning meeting held on March 15,1898. Admiral Montojo meet with General Primo de Rivera and the Governor-General to discuss defense plans. The admiral’s plans were approved. The admiral issued orders to Captain del Rio to sink the transport San Quintîn and two old merchant vessels.
  • While not specifying the type of ship, Admiral Montojo’s battle report verifies that the San Quintîn was sunk as ordered.

sanquintin.subicStorms and the passage of time has reduced the wreck. At the time of her being scuttled she would have been just below the surface. It seems likely that the majority of the ship is below the sea floor.

A great deal of time went into research and writing this article and I retain full copy right over its contents. Unless noted, the images used here are believed to be public domain. I will authorize rights to use this content provided that the following is included:

Contains material © Charles W. Davis Jr.

 

 

Philippines

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2014-06-24 09.46.19

Diving Malapascua Island Cebu Philippines

I recently had the opportunity to take a working vacation to Malapascua Island. The island is located in the strait between the Island provinces of Cebu and Leyte in the Philippines. It is about a four and a half hours by bus or a two and a half hours by car trip from the Cebu International Airport. At the northern tip of Cebu you will find the town of Maya which provides ferry service to Malapascua which is about a 30 minutes boat ride away. The island is small, only about 1.6 km long and .6 km wide.

Most of the resorts are along a white sand beach at the southern tip of the island called Bounty Beach. Boats from Maya drop passengers at the west end of the beach. West and north of the beach is the area that is generally called the village. It is the largest of the nine little settlement around the island and the only one with paved roads. Most people walk to their destination but if you want a ride you can catch a motor scooter and back ride. The infrastructure is basic, some will even say primitive. Fresh water is limited as is electricity. There are no high rises or international hotel chains. It is a typical island fishing settlement. In the early 1990s, the island had a small tourism industry. It was mainly backpackers who stayed for the wonderful white sand beach, crystal clear waters and the genuinely friendly people. There were a handful of beach huts for rent. Back then Lonely Planet called it an undiscovered paradise. Dik de Boer a Dutchman and his Filipino wife read a Lonely Planet article and visited the island in 1996. They loved it and when they returned the following year they brought scuba gear and a portable compressor with them. Following tips from local fisherman they were soon diving with Thresher sharks, Hammerheads and Manta Rays. Continue Reading →

Dive Subic Bay

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Subicdive_html_m4c7b5539Subic Bay is the place to dive if wreck diving is your favorite type of diving. Subic Bay and Coron are the two leading destinations for wrecks. Subic has a greater number and they are closer together, Coron has better visibility, better reefs and caves. Subic Bay is a tourist destination, while Coron attracts mostly divers and a few other adventure tourist.