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Puerto Galera, Philippines

It's Christmas!!!


When we were in Japan I had a bit of a panic about booking somewhere in advance over the Christmas and New Year period in the Philippines; I'd researched that it is massively celebrated because they are mostly Christian and that places can get extremely busy. Without really knowing too much about the areas of the Philippines I booked us into Blue Ribbon Dive Resort in Puerto Galera for 10 days; firstly because it is relatively close to Manila and secondly we knew we wanted to treat ourselves to some diving over Christmas and had heard it offered some great spots.


We flew from Cebu City back to Manila and picked up some of our luggage from a hostel we'd left it at previously. It's then a short bus journey to Batangas (we used Swagman bus/ferry company for ease) and then an hour ferry to Puerto Galera itself. The journey on the wooden, rickety and crowded ferry was interesting; an old Australian man exclaiming to people around him that he'd been sunk twice on this style of boat over the years, but not to fear because he had his own knife with him this time to slash through the material roof if necessary...just what I wanted to hear mid-way through the rough crossing!


Sabang Beach, Puerto Galera, looked quite pretty from the boat...green and mountainous with brightly coloured guesthouses dotted along the bay (don't let this scene fool you). It became quite clear that it is primarily a resort for white, western, middle aged men (generally speaking) to go and be entertained by pretty Filipino girls in GoGo bars. I felt really disappointed at first because we'd just left the idyllic Malapascua where we would have been more than happy spending Christmas on. Luckily we'd picked a really nice resort to stay at and immediately felt at home.


Blue Ribbon Dive Resort is on Laguna Beach (next door to sleazy Sabang Beach) and has some of the friendliest staff working for them. Fernando was the restaurant/bar host and always made sure my cocktail glass was topped up. Melody was the really smiley waitress, who second guessed my regular order of beans on toast and gin juice. Shirley ran the reception and knew everything we needed to know. Herbert and Jeff were our Filipino dive matters that lead us on some amazing dives. The place had a really nice set up; beach front, nice bungalows, weekend bbqs and live band, cocktail hour and relaxed atmosphere.


On Christmas Eve we were asking Shirley about what they were offering for guests on Christmas Day...they were being very cagey about it and weren't really answering our questions about Christmas food. In the end they said that we had to be in the restaurant at 8.30pm for a surprise...what could this be? We sat down to a 4 course meal (soup, mango & prawn salad, full turkey dinner and Christmas pudding with brandy cream), beautiful bouquet of flowers, bottle of wine and Christmas card... an amazing surprise from my brother, Tom, and his girlfriend, Nicola. Thanks guys, we had a lovely evening! X


Christmas Day was definitely strange without family and friends around us. We woke up early and went for an early morning dive and had a late breakfast; I had beans on toast and jason had a Thai curry...not what we would normally have been doing at home. Unfortunately the weather was awful, warm but extremely rainy, so the plan of topping up our tans was on hold. You can see the photo of me on Christmas day pointing to the only glimmer of blue sky. So instead we lounged around on our balcony hammock, drank cocktails and had pizza for our tea. The main thing I was looking forward to was waiting for our family to wake up in the UK so I could Skype them. We managed to speak to parents, siblings and grandparents, which made me get that Christmassy feeling back.


We were so unlucky with the weather, it seemed like we'd had days of torrential rain. We had planned to go exploring inland, hire a motorbike, kayak to our own secluded bay...but unfortunately the rain put a stop to all of this. This just meant that we stayed wet and continued to do more diving instead. You don't have to go very far to see some beautiful coral reefs when you dive here (much prettier than Malapascua) and we added some additional special sights to our diving log books too...we saw a turtle, white eyed moray eels and a pygmy seahorse (extremely rare).


Can you spot the pygmy seahorse on this photo? I promise its there








Juvenile sweetlip


White eyed moray eel


We went out on a whole day dive trip to the Verde Island, including three dives and BBQ lunch. We only managed two dives as our first dive of the day was a fail. We were diving in an area with strong currents and were in a group of 5, including our dive master. I just couldn't descend...the current was dragging me upwards and sidewards rather than down, I was kicking and still couldn't submerge myself, Jason even tried pulling me down but I continued to stay on the surface. I was so frustrated with myself. That was until all of our group met on the surface and even the experienced divers in our group couldn't get down either. Phew...I thought it was just me that was struggling. The next dive made up for us missing the first one, it was a huge wall of beautiful coral and underwater creatures. Overall we had a really good day.


I have to include a paragraph about BBQ pork ribs. OMG!!! The pork ribs on the BBQ evening at our resort are one of the tastiest pieces of meat I've ever had. There was so much meat on them... we were big fans! They went perfectly alongside my gin juice (gin, slushed ice and lime juice).


Unfortunately our New Years Eve celebrations were cut short. I could tell Jason had been struggling with the days dives, feeling tired and achey, and he just got worse as the evening went on. You know when Jason's ill if he can't manage an ice cold beer in the sun. He stayed out for as long as he could manage, watched a bit of a live band at our hotel, and then went to bed at 10.30...the fireworks sounded like they would have been spectacular anyway. Still feeling bad the next day we got a doctor to see him (just in case it was dengue fever or something) and the blood tests said he was fighting an infection. It took him a good few days to get over it and we had to book an extra night at Blue Ribbon too. Despite the doctors cost, I still think it's better to be safe than sorry.


On our last day Jason was feeling a bit better, not up for diving, but instead fancied seeing what Puerto Galera town itself had to offer. It's a short jeepney ride and turned out to be a very disappointing visit. There really isn't much there; a row of shops, dirty beach and polluted roads.


In summary...we really liked Blue Ribbon Dive Resort, disliked Sabang Beach and Puerto Galera, really enjoyed the diving, but probably would have chosen to spend Christmas in a more picturesque island area of the Philippines.


Posted by bloorsontour 01:29 Archived in Philippines

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Wow! The Go-Pro has really come into it's own in these photos. Absolutely stunning underwater shots. Sad to see Jason looking a bit peaky - glad he's recovered - but you're right, better to be safe than sorry! xxx

by Ma & Pa

PS - couldn't spot the seahorse!?? x

by Ma & Pa

As we'll never experience underwater for ourselves we really enjoyed looking at your photos.Glad Jason is feeling better. xx

by the wrinklies

The underwater photos are amazing. What a brilliant experience xxx

by Mutsi

Awww so glad you enjoyed your little Christmas surprise :)
Lots of love xx

by Nic and Tom

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