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Western Luzon

Dive Map Western Luzon Voice of AmericaFagg Tanks Research Reef Subic Bay Nasugbu
Luzon is the Philippines' most populous island and home to its capital, Manila.

The west coast of Luzon has some good diving areas that are all very easily accessible due to their proximity to Manila.

Due to the strong military history of the area, there are many wrecks to waiting to be discovered. La Union in the north has also become a popular place to learn to dive.

Wreck & Diver Barracuda Feather Star Wreck Dive Map Western Luzon
 
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Dive Photo Starting in the north, La Union is becoming a popular place to learn to dive. Sitting in the Lingayen Gulf, it's calm clear waters are ideal for beginners and the area has some nice beaches too. Sadly, the coral is not what it once was in some spots due to destructive fishing practices.

Research Reef is a popular spot for training dives & novices. The site is characterised by many ridges & gullies that provide shelter for many types of fish. There are lots of caverns & swim-throughs in this area for divers to enjoy. At the southern end of Research Reef are the remains of a Japanese WWII freighter, the Hashi Maru. The wreck, which is quite broken up, sits in around 30m of water and is home to some interesting marine life.

Voice of America reef is another easy, enjoyable dive - a shallow reef sloping down to around 22m with plenty of colourful hard & soft corals. The area’s most famous dive is Fagg Tanks. Here, three WWII M10 tanks that were dumped at the end of the Second World War lie in around 39m of water and make an excellent dive for more experienced divers. A huge Moray Eel has made his home in one of the turrets. If conditions are right, when time is up, you can drift along Fagg Wall. The corals here are damaged but plenty of interesting species can be seen on the wall, including Whitetips & even the occasional Whaleshark.

Further south is Subic Bay. A natural deep harbour, the bay has been a key strategic base of the US Navy since the Second World War. Now the US Navy has left and the area has been opened up to tourism.The main feature of the area are the numerous ship wrecks, a result of the area’s history. These wrecks, along with the other sites in the area, were completely off limits to divers until 1992.

One of the area’s most popular wrecks is the USS New York. After a lifetime of service, she was scuttled by US Forces in 1941 when Subic Bay was taken by the Japanese. She nows lies in 27m of water on her port side. Her huge 17-inch cannons are still intact and the wreck is home to plenty of marine life.

The El Capitan is an old Spanish Wreck from the time when the port was in the hands of the Spanish. The 90m wreck lies in shallow water and can be penetrated easily, making it an ideal wreck dive. There are many other wrecks in the area too, for all different levels of divers, plus coral reefs.

Nasaban Point & Grande Island to the south have some of the best reefs in the area. Sadly, the area suffered badly from the Mount Pinatubo explosion in 1991, covering the area in ash and destroying some of the corals. Prior to this time, Sharks, Dolphins & Turtles were regulars in the area, but now are rare. Hopefully, given time, they will return.

Further south again, near to Batangas Bay in the south is Nasugbu. The area is only a short distance from Manila and has some excellent diving. About 15km off the coast is Fortune Island. The island owes its name to the plentiful supplies of booty hidden here by pirates. Sadly the best of the booty is long gone, but the island has some interesting diving, including a Bat Cave, a penetrable wreck & the Blue Holes - three large holes in the coral that bring you to an underwater cavern with crystal clear water & Whitetip Reef Sharks. Cuttlefish are common in the area as they use the Bat Cave as a breeding ground.

Closer to shore are Twin Islands, two rocks jutting out of the sea. Below is a site known as Pink Wall. Starting at around 10m, the wall descends to great depths and is covered in beautiful pink soft corals. Coral Gardens, also at Twin Islands is a pretty, shallow dive that is ideal for beginners.

To the north, a series of underwater pinnacles has recently been discovered that attract plenty of life and make a good dive, while further out to sea the Simo Banks have an abundance of life and no shortage of passing Sharks.

The sites of Luzon’s west coast are relatively protected and can be dived all year round. The best months are normally from January to June.
  Soft Corals Turtle Cave & Divers Nudibranch
 
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The two major bases from which to experience Luzon's best dive spots are La Union & Subic Bay.

Both are ex-American military bases on Luzon's west coast & just a short distance from Manila.

  • La Union
  • Subic Bay
  • Nasugbu

Dive Map La UnionDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in La Union

La Union is a base for divers in the Lingayan Gulf, 220km north of Manila in Luzon. The main town in the region is San Fernando. The gulf has numerous islands and has a strong military history with a lot of fighting in the area during WWII, which has now created wrecks to dive.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are a couple of dive shops in the area, which is quite a convenient place to reach from Manila and a good place to try diving due to the calm waters.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach the area, simply take a bus or car to San Fernando from Manila, the capital. Manila has an international airport with connections to many major cities in Asia & beyond.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There are a few places to stay, most of which are budget or mid-range. San Fernando has most options and there are a few resorts spread along the coast.

Do Phuket  Do
Other attractions include visiting local islands, many military monuments, botanical gardens & surfing on San Juan beach, just north of San Fernando.

Dive Map Subic BayDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Subic Bay

Until 1992, Subic Bay was a US military base and effectively closed to the general public, especially divers wishing to visit the area's many wrecks. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted, causing a great loss of life and covering the area in ash. Since then however, Subic Bay has slowly built itself up into an interesting & enjoyable place to visit.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are a couple of dive shops close to the main town, Olongapo that make daily trips to the numerous local dive sites, most of which are large shipwrecks.

Travel Phuket  Travel
The area is easy to reach from Manila, the capital. You can fly to Manila from all over Asia & beyond, then simply take a flight, bus or taxi to Olongapo. There is also a ferry connection between the capital & Subic Bay.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is now a wide range of accommodation around Subic Bay. It is possible to stay in Olongapo, but there are some nicer places just to the north on the beaches around Barrio Barretto and Subic Town. There is also accommodation in Subic Freeport zone near Olongapo. Blue Rock & Johan's - the area's two main dive shops both offer accommodation as well as diving.

Do Phuket  Do
There is plenty of other activities in the area. Plenty of watersports are offered and it is possible to get close to nature, both in confined spaces & in the wild. There is pretty good restaurants and nightlife to enjoy too, as well as a couple of golf courses and good shopping.

Dive Map NasugbuNasugbu is a large but sleepy town on Luzon's west coast, just north from Anilao. It is famous for its lovely white sand beaches. Its name, which means 'rice' in the local dialect, is thought to derive from a mis-communication between locals & Spanish soldiers.

Dive Phuket  Dive
The Nasugbu area is just opening up as a diving area, with a few dive shops making trips to the best local dive spots.

Travel Phuket  Travel
Nasugbu is very easy to reach, just an hour or two drive from Manlia to the north and also only a short distance from Batangas, where there are ferry connections to Puerto Galera. Manlia has a large airport with both domestic & international flights.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There are plenty of places to stay in Nasugbu, which has begun to open up more to tourists in recent years. Most people opt to stay close to the lovely beaches rather than in the town itself.

Do Phuket  Do
Relaxing by the beach is one of the most popular things to do in Nasugbu. For more active types, there are nearby mountains to climb, you can visit Taal Lake or hire a car & explore the countryside & local villages.

 
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