Southern Leyte Diving
Untouched reefs and amazing macro diving
Southern Leyte diving is known for its untouched reefs and amazing macro diving and is located in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. I was so excited to be leading Australia’s first ever Dive Educational to this region and even more so after doing some research into the dive sites.
Our first stop was the impressive Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu, on arrival at the hotel foyer – one of the most luxurious I’ve seen – was a welcome sight after a slightly delayed arrival. A quick bite to eat then everyone rested up for a few hours in rooms that put the foyer to shame.
How to get to Southern Leyte
We were up bright and early for Day 1 in The Philippines with a Weesam Express ferry from Cebu to Maasin (the capital of Southern Leyte). The ferry terminal is just a stone’s throw away from the Radisson Blu and the journey took just a couple of minutes and after a quick head count of bodies and dive bags, we were settled into the ‘First Class Cabin’ . The calm crossing of around 3 hours lulled most weary travellers off to sleep – present company included – and we arrived fresh in to Maasin. We received a cheerful meet and greet with the Tourism Department of the Eastern Visayas and representative of Southern Leyte Divers for the group – NICE!
Our first stop in Southern Leyte Diving
Southern Leyte Divers Resort is located about 30 minutes’ drive from the Ferry Terminal and sits right on the water’s edge. This resort is absolutely gorgeous and has stunning views of the ocean from most of the rooms however the ocean was calling so after a fast lunch and we were assembling our gear. Gunter ( the owner ) and his crew provided a tempting overview of the dive sites and we were off in traditional Philippines style Banca boats that comfortably could accommodate up to 14 divers. Our dive sites for the day were Medicare South and Medicare North, both dives were stunning wall dives that were absolutely teeming with life. The quality of hard coral was some of the best I have seen and we were bumping into turtles around every corner! The highlight of the dives was two Giant Frogfish our guides spotted, perfectly camouflaged in the hard coral.
A quick break on land and snack and we made our way out for a night dive. The famous Padre Burgos Pier was our dive site and is apparently a haven for weird and wonderful critters- ideal for the photographers in the group! The dive did not disappoint with Stargazers, Ornate Ghostpipe fish, Seahorses and my first ever Flamboyant Cuttlefish being spotted during the dive. The 65 minutes went by in a flash and we were soon back in the resort excitedly chatting over dinner about the excellent diving we had experienced. The food at Southern Leyte Divers was phenomenal, with a great mix of western and Asian cuisines on offer, along with an extremely well stocked bar.
Sun’s up on Day 2
After a solid night’s sleep and a satisfying breakfast we made our lunch choices and headed out. Dive sites for the day included the walls around Limasawa Island, one of the most popular dive locations in the area famous for being the first stop of Ferdinand Magellan in the 1500’s. The dive sites did not disappoint with Adrian’s Cove and Gunter’s Wall (Named after the very owner of Southern Leyte Divers and his son!) producing some gorgeous diving. The reef started just 5 metres below the surface and sloped down to over 40 metres, making it accessible for all levels of divers. Once again, the turtles were out in large numbers with moray eels, titan triggerfish and a number of banded sea kraits making an appearance. After a relaxed surface interval and a scrumptious lunch we descended for our third dive which was another wall just a little bit further along the island. Once again, we had a very relaxed dive with the dive crew of Southern Leyte Divers with some great drop offs and brilliantly coloured coral.
Day 3 or Part two of our Southern Leyte diving experience
We transferred bright and early today to Sogod Bay Scuba Resort which is located just 10 minutes away from Southern Leyte Divers. Sogod Bay Scuba Resort is another great dive resort that offers diving and accommodation services; we are warmly welcomed by Phil McGuire and his team and quickly dropped off our bags to our respective rooms so we could make the morning dives to Napantao Island, directly across from Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. The marine park and premier dive site in the region put on a fantastic show even though the weather took a turn for the worse on us. Gigantic gorgonian fans were abundant along the wall which seemed to drop down to more than 50 metres. The group even spotted reef sharks resting under some table coral towards the end of the dive. Once again, there were numerous turtles to be found along with an abundance of the usual reef fish. Pedro, the dive manager indicated this is where they expect whale sharks during season (note to self – come back in season). After a gentle cruise back to the resort and a quick freshen up we had an incredible meal at Sogod Bay before making our way to the house reef for the third dive. A strong current met us as soon as we descended and we drifted past some a great macro sites with Frogfish, ghost-pipefish and even a few Sea pens were spotted.
Already at the last day of our Southern Leyte diving tour and we made the most of it; getting in 3 dives located just North of the resort. The dives varied in depth and all had some great coral formations but I must admit I was looking for the big schools which were lacking. After the 3 great dives we packed up and started our journey home with a pit stop in Cebu inclusive of a nice half day tour and lunch – thank you to the Philippines Department of Tourism. All the flights home courtesy of Philippine Airlines ran smoothly with all passengers getting away on time for the journey home to their respective ports. All feedback was generally very good although I slept for the entire journey home (having snagged myself an exit row!).
Overview of Southern Leyte Diving
The diving in Southern Leyte provided some of the best walls and colour that I have ever experienced. The visibility was always in excess of 15-20 metres bar a few dives which had a bit of current, and also provided some great little critters for the avid photographer. The dive teams at both resorts were absolutely top notch with everyone making sure that we were well looked after.
A huge thank you and shout out to everyone involved at Philippines Tourism, Philippine Airlines, Southern Leyte Divers and Sogod Bay Scuba Resort for hosting our team.
This Tour would not have been possible if not for the continued support of Allways Dive Expeditions by The Philippines Department of Tourism who graciously organised this trip for us on behalf of Philippine Airlines, The Radisson Blu Cebu, Southern Leyte Divers and Sogod Bay Scuba Resort.