Diving in Subic

Subic Bay is renowned to be one of the best wreck diving sites in Asia owing to the war between US and Spain in addition to World War II where Japanese vessels sank within the area.

The US Naval Facility was located in Olongapo City where Subic Bay is located and it is considered to be the largest one in the Far East. Many wreck divers from across the globe consider Subic diving sites as one of the best and has become their favorite diving exploration destination.

It is notable that only the Coron and Subic Bay are the only dive sites in the Philippines that are rich with wreck diving sites. Thus many wreck divers specifically go to these places in order to enjoy a more pleasurable wreck diving exploration. Among the famous wreck diving sites in Subic are the following:

The USS New York Sea Wreck

Divers enjoy the picture perfect underwater exploration on this wrecked vessel from World War I vintage battle cruiser that was active in serving the Philippine-American War until the Chinese Revolution and World War I.

This dive site is located between the Alava Pier and the northern end of the runway and is 27 meters deep with no current which makes it perfect for underwater photography. The wreck vessel of USS New York still has its cannon intact.

Many divers enjoy the sights of barracuda, spotted sweet lips groupers, lion fishes, lobsters and spotted rays that inhabit the wrecked site. However wreck divers are cautioned to be careful diving on this site since a number of divers were reported to have been lost from this wreck site.

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The Wreck of AN LST Dive Site

This is the vessel wreck of a landing craft that is located about 32 meters below while sitting upright and its door open. Located along the southern tip of the runway and Grande Island, it gives divers an average dive of 28 to 35 meters with 15- 30 meters of visibility. Although this wreck diving site is a bit deeper than the rest of the wrecks found in Subic with a small current it remains to be a safe diving site.

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The El Capitan Dive Site

This is probably the most well known and visited of the many Subic dive sites. At a depth of 20 meters you will get to see the ruins of the great ship, whose unknown origin make it all the more fascinating. You can see several parts intact, including the boiler room.

There are other attractions here as well, not the least of which are the colorful fishes (jacks, frog fish, lionfish, and rays among many types) and also the beautiful coral reefs that have grown around the ship, particularly the hull. The good visibility afforded this place also makes it a good spot to take pictures. Because of the immensity of the site you will want to bring a guide with you if you are inexperienced.

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Seiun Maru Dive Site

Along the northern end of the runway and the Alava Pier is a Japanese cargo ship that sunk after a battle with the US Navy in 1945. This cargo ship weighs about 30,000 tons and it is found about 27 meters below lying on its port side.

The dive site gives a visibility of 5 -15 meters with negligible currents. The dive site can begin an average of 18 meters to 24 meters deep. One can also find spotted sweet lips, talakitok, coral tout and other marine life species on its cavernous holds.

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The Oryoku Maru Diving Site

One of the many Japanese “hell ships” that were sunk in the latter years of World War II, the Oryoku Maru sank a kilometer away from the Alava Pier, and there she remains to this day. Apart from the ruins of the great ship the Subic dive site has also become the home of coral reefs and the various creatures that call it home. There are also numerous fishes swimming across the ruins, which at 18 meters make it suitable for novice divers.

This wreck diving site gives divers a 20 meter dive with a 5 to 15 meter visibility located about 400 meters off the Alava Pier. Divers can find the Oryoku Maru, a passenger ship that was attacked by the American aircraft with families and American war prisoners aboard during the attack.

Due to its shallow depth the wreck was flattened by explosives in order to provide a safe navigation to other vessels passing by. The dive site is also a home to different marine life such as angle fish, lobsters, barracuda, spotted sweet lips, clown fish and talakitok.

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The Japanese Patrol Boat Diving Site

Situated off the Triboa Bay, this patrol boat rests some 25 meters (82 ft) from the surface. Little is known about the vessel, only that it was sank in late 1944 around the same time as most of the other ships in this part of Zambales. While the boat in this Subic dive site is relatively intact, it can be difficult to get inside it, but probably not for experienced divers. But even if you do not go in there, there are plenty of coral reef and fish to see in the area.

As with most of the diving centers in the area, the best time to view them would be during the dry season, from January until June, as the ensuing months bring rain, making it difficult to see and navigate around the waters of this and the other Subic dive sites.

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The San Quentin Diving Site

About 12 meters deep with a weak current and good visibility, the ship can be seen and easily discernable. The wreckage already lies flat on the sand although the bow and the stern remain to be intact.

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The LCU Dive Site

The LCU (Landing Craft Utility) is found at the Triboa Bay and is some 20 meters (66 ft) deep. Approaching it you will see that it is resting on the starboard (the right side of the vessel). At 30 ft the visibility is good enough for you to take photographs of the ruins of the ship and the surrounding area. There are also plenty of fish and corals to see, making this Subic dive site quite an attractive place to visit both by beginners and advanced divers.

The LCU “officially” did not exist in World War II, but its main function (that of transporting men and equipment across the sea) was carried out by the LST instead. However, the name has stuck, and this came about after the war when the real LCUs were created by the military.

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The Camayan Reef

This is one of the most widely visited of the many Subic dive sites for several reasons. One is that it is not difficult to navigate; with some areas less than 15 meters deep (50 ft), it is very easy for even beginners to swim. They can admire the many varied coral reefs, and also the assorted fishes, seahorse, shrimps and crustaceans.

Moreover the Camayan Reef is right along the islands of Grande and Chiqueta, meaning that it is only a stone’s throw from the other wreck sites, so not only will you get to enjoy the site here but the others as well. For these reasons, this has been the place where diving centers often take the new and prospective divers for their initial exploration of the depths.

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The Barges

On the west end of the Grande are the Barges a popular Subic dive site, and where a lot of new scuba divers go and train. The reason is simple; not only are the currents here manageable, but even though some of the pontoons lie some 30 meters down, a lot of the marine life here can be seen without plunging in too deep.

It has often been remarked that the marine life at this area is the most diverse in the region. There are myriad forms of pipefish, eels, parrotfish, clams and many more. Whether it is day or night, there is always something to see here and explore.

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The Canyons Reef

Not too far from the Camayan Reef, the Canyons Reef is also a favorite Subic dive site for those who are just learning how to snorkel and scuba. However, for those who want to try more challenging areas, the reef also provides locations where you can swim along with the currents.

On the northern point are situated some of the most varied aquatic life forms to be found in any center. From the garden eels to the manta rays, from crabs to prawns, there is something to see, so much so that underwater photographers go here quite often. Aside from the marine life there are the sands too which are interesting in their own right, making this Subic dive site a multi faceted wonder.

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Dive Centers

Scuba Shack

Considered as the oldest dive center in Subic, Scuba Shack is situated along Waterfront Road at Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales. This establishment started to offer specialty dive courses to locals and tourists when the U.S. Navy left the area in 1992. Many tourists register in the dive courses at this establishment because it employs professional and outstanding dive instructors and dive leaders. Some of the specialty courses at Scuba Shack are Master Diving Course, as well as Wreck and Reef Check Train Program. Aside from these dive courses, this Subic dive center also offers rentals of equipment needed for some water activities like parasailing, jet skiing, and kayaking. In addition, it has a restaurant and bar where students can eat delicious snacks and refreshing beverages.

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Johans Adventure and Wreck Dive Center

Another inviting and famous dive center in Subic, Johans Adventure and Wreck Dive Center is known for its numerous dive courses. For beginners, they can register in any of its fun programs like Bubble Maker, Discover Skin Diving, and Discover Local Diving for as low as 2,500 pesos. On the other hand, those who want to learn advance diving skills, they can enroll in the professional dive courses including Technical Wreck Diving, Trimix Diving, and Apprentice Technical Diving. Specialty courses available at this Subic dive center include Search and Recovery, Master Scuba Diver, and Night Diver. All the instructors and dive leaders are Johans Adventure and Wreck Dive Center are knowledgeable about several languages like Spanish, Dutch, and German, so students can surely communicate with their teachers.

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Blue Rock Dive Center

Blue Rock Dive Center in Subic takes pride in the affordable dive courses that it offers to everyone. Some of the courses available at this dive school are Master Diver, Digital Water Photography, and Bubble Maker. Rates of specialty courses at this Subic dive center start at $10 so even those who do not have ample budget for diving can still try this exciting water activity. In addition, instructors and dive leaders at Blue Rock Dive Center in Subic can speak different languages like Malay, French, and English so foreign students can surely communicate with them. For the convenience of everyone, this establishment offers affordable accommodations to students. Moreover, Scuba Schools International and Professional Association of Diving Instructors International to ensure the safety of all its students accredit its diving facilities. Some of the dive sites commonly visited by its dive teams are Lighthouse Reef, Castle Rock, and Serian Maru.

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One of the most inviting scuba diving schools in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Masterdive is very accessible to some of the popular dive sites in the area. This dive center has established a good reputation in scuba training and wreck diving. Some of the specialty courses available at this school are Dive Master, Underwater Videographer, as well as Search and Rescue. Meanwhile, beginners can always register in any of the basic diving courses like Bubble Maker and Discover Scuba Diving. For the comfort of students, this dive center in Subic features a restaurant named Vasco’s Helm, which serves tasty international dishes. In addition, it has guestrooms that students and guests can occupy.

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Diver Down International

Situated within the premises of Subic Bay International Hotel at the corners of Santa Rita and Labitan Roads in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Diver Down International is considered as one of the newest diving schools in the area. This dive center in Subic is very popular because it is the only school that follows international standards for scuba diving. Even if the rates of dive courses at this place are more expensive than in other dive schools, students can surely get the right value for their money since all of the instructors at this center are accredited by SSI and PADI. Moreover, they use modern equipment to ensure the safety of all the students. In addition, the place has a restaurant that serves delicious and affordable meals to everyone.

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Ocean Adventure

One of the most renowned and inviting tourist destinations in Subic Bay, Ocean Adventure also offers affordable dive programs to everyone. People who want to have remarkable and unique shipwreck dive experiences should register at the Shipwreck Dive Program at this place. Professional divers can enjoy this program since for as low as 1,250 pesos on first dive and 1,000 pesos on second dive, they can explore various ships. Meanwhile, to those who want to admire the beauty of Subic dive sites like Chiquita Island and Grande Island, Ocean Adventure offers affordable Marinelife Dives to everyone.

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Boardwalk Dive Center

Another famous dive center in Subic that offers interesting dive programs and specialty courses is Boardwalk Dive Center. Some of the programs that it features are SDI Scuba Dive, SDI Open Water Course, and SDI Rescue Dive. Professional divers can also enroll in other advance programs including SDI Advanced Adventure, PSAI Nitrox Diver, and PSAI Advanced Nitrox. Rates of these programs range from 3,000 pesos to 50,000 pesos.

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