WITH WORLD-CLASS DIVE SITES in the Philippines too numerous to count, diving in the Philippines is often defined by a handful of exceptional options. One of the most deserving but underrated spots is Mactan, just 40 minutes’ drive from Cebu City and with its own international airport. Boasting resorts to suit every pocket, Mactan has a 30-year history of diving and its warm waters make it the perfect place to learn to dive.
The “hard-core” divers that land in Mactan tend to head straight for the more well-known dive destinations two to three hours’ drive away, failing to realise that Mactan offers easily-accessible underwater secrets of its own, including some spectacular wall dives. The quality and variety of diving is such that local divers call it their “quick fix”.
“Punta West”, short for the west side of Punta Engaño peninsula, is Mactan’s secret macro heaven. Known to a very select few, this dive site’s charm is revealed when you take things slowly, inspecting every rock face, searching every feather star, and staring carefully at the white sandy bottom until you realise there is something looking right back at you!
It is the location of this dive site that makes the critter count especially unique. The Cebu-Mactan channel straddles it, sheltering the site from the monsoon winds. While the mild currents play their part, the abundance of rare and hard-to-find critters here is likely due to the presence of an aquaculture company since 1995. If the farm’s standards are not met, or an order falls through, excess prawn larvae are released into Punta West’s waters, each release providing an added nutritional boost that allows the small critters living here to thrive.