Before landing on Palawan, in the Philippines, we had only heard and read about the buzz surrounding the scuba diving off of El Nido and Coron. Our goal was to experience the diving in both Puerto Princesa and El Nido and find out for ourselves if one location was that much better than the other.
In our experience, when one place receives all the hype there are one or more nearby places just as wonderful but underrated. To find answers we partnered with Dive Puerto Princesa Dive Center to see if Puerto Princesa was one of those neglected dive areas.
After two morning dives with DPP, it was evident Puerto Princesa should not be dismissed as a prime scuba diving location. Not only was the diving incredible, but the professionalism and experience with DPP were remarkable. We felt relaxed, comfortable, safe and looked after with Nap, our Divemaster.
DPP has two locations in Puerto Princesa. Dive Center 1 serves more as the educational and merchandise center. Dive Center 2 is the meeting hub and departure location for all dives. Upon arrival, Nap and Romel fitted us with our gear, asked about our diving records and if we had any health or safety issues to discuss, and what kind of dive we would like to experience. Romel took note of every answer and adjusted our gear as needed.
As in most locations, especially during rainy season, the weather plays a critical part in planning each dive site for the day. Flexibility and patience are required of each diver to enjoy the day as it unfolds. We were lucky and had a beautiful sunny day with light wind. Nap was able to take us to two dive sites and one swim site for the morning.
During our two dives, we saw lots of fish, a purple ribbon eel, stone fish, a few clownfish, turtles above water, shrimp, tons of corals and the funniest remora who followed us our entire second dive. Sadly, we saw sections of bleached coral (when water is too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white) caused by El Niño and rising temperatures. This was my first experience witnessing the impact of coral bleaching in SE Asia, and it was unsettling, to say the least.
A favorite part of our experience with DPP was we never saw our divemaster touch, harass or feed any of the animals. He had a pointer he used to indicate animals or corals to us. This was the first dive either of us had ever completed in which the divemaster & other divers entirely left the sea life alone. Diving with ethically caring people who made it a point not to stand on or touch the coral or chase the fish made our experience that much sweeter.
The diving around Puerto Princesa was beautiful. Even with the bleached sections, it was rich in colorful coral and animal life. The overall serenity of the location set the tone for the morning. Matt experienced his two best dives, and we both attributed his impressive experience to the tranquil location and our Divemaster, Nap. His calm and attentive manner made all the difference.
When in Puerto Princesa, Palawan schedule at least one morning to dive or snorkel with Dive Puerto Princesa Dive Center. Puerto Princesa’s dive locations hold their own and are just as rewarding as El Nido dive sites. Romel and the entire team will make sure to show you the best the island has to offer.
Contact Romel at their office for current available dive packages and prices.
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. We had the pleasure of diving with a local who regularly uses DPP for her dives. When you have folks returning to a business over and over, that’s a sign of a good establishment. Type of traveler rating – adventure, relaxation, historical, diver, conservation, animal lover, sea lover, nature lover
* Thank you to Dive Puerto Princesa Dive Center for the complimentary dives. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.