JUST OVER AN HOUR from Manila by plane, Dumaguete is the accessible capital of Negros Oriental, the Central Visayas province just west of Cebu. The commonest suggestions you’ll get when you ask about diving the Philippines from Dumaguete is the famous Apo Island for wide angle, or the local macro heaven, Dauin. But you’re unlikely to hear anyone mention a dive site called “Zamboanguita Secret”.
Tucked away in a small area neighbouring Dauin, a cosy six-room seaside resort called Acqua Dive seems like the perfect place to visit the popular local dive sites. Situated in Zamboanguita, the resort boasts both the shortest boat ride to Apo Island and easy access to Dauin, just a few minutes away by road. Yet it was our discovery of “Zamboanguita Secret”, the resort’s house reef, that would have my friends and me coming back to Acqua Dive for more.
“Zamboanguita Secret” is a simple shore-entry dive right in front of the resort off the sandy beach. The site has a big grassy area from around four metres and develops into a rock and sand patch from around 10 metres onwards. And because it’s overlooked by the majority of divers – who generally head straight for the popular dive sites – it’s a relatively unexplored gem.
During our exploratory dives, we found it to be extremely rich in marine life and an ideal place for macro photography. Diving conditions are very easy, as the closeness to the resort ensures no long-distant walks or time-consuming transfers, and the sandy entry offers comfortable accessibility in waist-high water to start your dive. Visibility is mostly “crystal”, though after rainy days, it can sometimes drop drastically.