Diving Puerto Princesa

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Puerto Princesa, Philippines

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Country: Philippines  Area: Philippines

Water Temp: 27 - 29°C (81 - 84°F)

Visibility: 5 - 35m (16 - 115 ft)

Depth Range: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

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Although lots of visitors seem just to pass through here on their way to Coron, Busuanga, El Nido and Roxas yet there are certainly many good reasons to spend a while.

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The city has many beach resorts, beautiful beaches and has won cleanest and greenest awards for its spotlessness. It is a tourist city with many great attractions including their subterranean river which is the longest in the world and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Underwater the colourful reefs are home to pretty reef fish, hard and soft coral but the big ticket attractions are the sharks, whale sharks, manta rays and hammerheads.

Underground River, Credit

Climate

Temperature is relatively constant throughout the year with annual average highs of 31° (88°) and lows of 25° (77°). The most rain can be expected between May and November. Water temperature ranges from 27° (80°) in December to March and 29° (84°) June to October.

The Beach, Credit

Marine Conservation

The area has very strict litter policies which have led to the city winning prizes for being the cleanest in the country. The region comes under the strict policies that protect Tubbataha Reef.

 
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The Diving

Puerto Princesas dive sites range from 5 to 40 min from the beach by speedboat.

White Beach and Red Cliff are inside the bay and excellent training dives featuring slopes and shallow drop offs beginning about 7m (23ft) deep.  Whale sharks, mantas, and hammerheads have been seen at these sites but only by the lucky.

The Lighthouse is a cavern and sandy bottom dive which starts at 12m (40ft) and is home to fan corals and schooling fish. Currents can be an issue at The Lighthouse as with the Crossing and Putol Na Ilog where frogfish and sharks can be spotted respectively.

Hello Star, Credit

Petes Reef, Galo Wall and Tablehead are further south in the bay. Petes Reef is 22m (70ft) and is a sea mount which due to current can be inadvisable for beginners. Large schools of hunters, as well as a reef rich with marine life, is the reward for the intrepid.

Honda Bay has a range of dive sites to offer to a maximum depth of around 24m (79ft). Pandan Island has some good reefs and drop offs too, again you have a chance to see mantas. Juvenile whale sharks are known to frequent the area, but the exact location is carefully guarded.

Arreceffi Island and Panglima Reef are coral and boulder structured dive sites liked by the Gray Reef Shark. Helens Garden is a small shallow reef with lots of variety of hard and soft corals, Juvenile blacktip sharks are seen here too. Henrys Reef is a shallow 10m dive where you can encounter lionfish, cardinals, snapper and sweetlips.

Love it here! Credit

If you fancy a split location holiday, Taytay Bay is around 5 hour drive north of Puerto Princesa and has some great dive sites too. Port Barton is also 5 hours’ drive north on the west coast. This is a new diving area and great if you like the adventure. Shark Rock, as maybe you might expect is a great place to see black and white tip sharks and maybe a whale shark too. Royalist Shoal dips to 40m (131ft), but the shallower regions around 12m (39ft) are plentiful. Go to Ten Fathoms for your chance to see hammerheads, leopards and nurse sharks.

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Getting There

Puerto Princesa International Airport is just 1.5km outside of Puerto Princesa itself.

Direct flights can be taken from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Busuanga, El Nido as we as Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

Immaculate Conception cathedral, Puerto Princesa, Credit

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Going out

Rizal Ave is the city’s main entertainment center and is home to many bars and restaurants and where to head if you want to browse.

Grilled tuna! Credit

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Other Activities

The subterranean river is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and has a great zip lining experience afterwards too. Ugong Rock is a 23m (75ft) high limestone formation with spelunking and zip line on the way to sub river. Honda Bay is great for beaches too, check out Snake Island, names for the shape of its sandbar and Bat Island which is named for the bats that fly out at sundown to feed on the mainland.

Other option for adventure, Credit

For a bit of WWII history head to Plaza Cuartal, which is a grim reminder of war. This garrison ruin was where Japanese soldiers burnt 143 US prisoners of war. The Palawan WWII Memorial Museum always gets positive reviews for its historical content. 

Family Friendly Activities

There as some pretty and calm, easy reefs for children to dive and some good snorkelling too. Beaches are always great family fun but if your children love animals then, there are some really fun land animals to go and see too. Take a boat dolphin watching, go firefly watching at Iwahig at night, check out the butterfly garden and go meet the crocodiles at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Mouth of the cave leading to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Credit

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Tips

Credit cards are not so widely accepted so do ensure you have plenty of cash.

If you are travelling in the busiest months, it is recommended to book two to three months in advance.

If you want to visit the subterranean river, you must pre book your ticket at least 2 months a head of time!

Wildlife bird, Puerto Princesa, Credit

 

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